Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Memory - Laundry

I am home alone tonight...Stretch is at college, Squirrel and Dipstick are out at youth group and B is away helping a neighbor with his combine. The house is very quiet right now...the dishwasher is loaded but not running, the tv is off...The loudest sound (outside of the clicking of my typing) is the hum of the dryer running. Which brings me to my "memory topic" of the day - laundry.

Laundry is never-ending in my house. I usually run a load or two at least every other day and there is nearly always clothes waiting to be folded. Thankfully I have the convenience of an electric washer and dryer that basically does all the work for me. All I have to do is sort the clothes, throw them in, add soap and press start. That's a far cry from what doing laundry in Africa was.

Mom ran a laundry day at least once a week. We had a ringer washing machine and rinsing was done by running the clothes through 2-3 tubs full of water. The ringer would turn so that it was over each tub and clothes would be hand-fed through it. As one tub would get too soapy to use it would be rotated out with the new one being the final rinse. I know that Mom soaked some of the clothes in a bucket before running them through the washer and some of the dirtiest would be hand scrubbed. After they were washed someone had to carry them outside and hang them to dry on the lines in the back yard. It was often my job to hang it out - bend over, grab, straighten, shake firmly, clip it up...repeat. I spent those hours day dreaming - weaving stories in my mind. I don't remember what they were about. If rain threatened and we had clothes on the line it was a mad scramble to run and get everything off before it got wet again. The mountain of laundry we 4 kids brought home from boarding school must have been daunting at times...I know it usually took the entire month break from school to get it all done.

Laundry at school was a different project. All our clothes, socks, towels, blankets, wash rags had to have our name on them somewhere. Mom would send away and order name tags which then had to be sewn in. We had large cloth laundry bags that were carried to the school laundry once a week (I think). Our socks had to be in a special net bag as did our unders though boys' unders did not. There were huge washers and lines for drying linens outside. Other things must have gone into dryers...I don't remember that part. Then students came in as a job and sorted and "put away" the laundry - each student had a box and that's where the clean clothes went. Certain afternoons were laundry pick-up days when we had lines waiting for us to hand them their clothes to carry back to the dorms. I worked in the laundry - mainly with other girls. We usually had a good time though there was definitely some teasing that went on as we got to see our current "crushes" pick up their laundry...and maybe be the one that got to give them their clean clothes...oh my be still my heart!

Occasionally - probably more often than I remember - girls did hand laundry in the dorms. That was done to either keep our nicer clothes nice or more often, at least on my part, because I did not have enough clothes to last an entire week - especially not when we no longer had to wear uniforms. I remember hand washing jeans in a sink then literally ringing them out...twist one way as tight as you and a friend could go then release and twist them the other way. Sometimes it was rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. Then when as much water as possible was squeezed out, we would hang dry the clothes the rest of the way. That usually took at least an overnight to finish drying them...sometimes longer.

These laundry memories are not complete. I don't remember how laundry was done when we lived where there was VERY limited electricity nor how it was done when I was very young. Wish I had more memories of those days...instead of just snippets. But this whole writing about memories is good for me and fun. And I would love to post a picture of a ringer washing machine but I don't have the know-how at this point.

5 comments:

Karen said...

Did our washer look like this one?

http://www.automaticwasher.org/TD/JPEG/VINTAGE/2010/chestermikeuk++8-16-2010-05-08-8.jpg

or this one?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chestermikeuk/2956219538/

Seems to me the last one they had when I was home had a spinner compartment. You washed and then put them in to spin, and then rinsed in the tubs and spun again. Is that right?

Suz said...

Sounds like you can help the amish quite easily! :-) Glad you have those special memories! Treasure them! Share them with your grandchildren. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on the floor beside Grandpa Hill's chair, listening to him tell stories while my head leaned against his knee.

Linds said...

I remember my Mum also had a washing machine with a wringer, and we had to stand one side and catch the stuff as it was wound through. She had a huge metal drying contraption which looked like a chest freezer, and had wire netting at the bottom above elements which heated up. Then at the top, there were wooden hangers, and she dried nappies (diapers) and clothing in it. The bigger things like sheets were sent to the wash house. Hmmm. Maybe laundry will be the topic for tomorrow! It is fun remembering, isn't it!

Edith said...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chestermikeuk/2956219538/ More like this one...except I remember it as being bigger and more round I thought.

sachin bani said...

I liked it so much and very interesting, too! Thanks for sharing the experience.
Wonderful post, really great tips and advice:)
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