Laundry in the 1950’s Part 1

imageWhen she first married in 1946, Mother washed on a rub board.  By the time I was born, they’d come up enough in the world to acquire a second wringer-washing machine.  It cut her work tremendously.  Wash days were so much more pleasant and relaxing.  All she had to do was sort the laundry into whites, colors, towels, and work clothes.

imageShe manually filled the machine with hot water from a connection on the back porch as well as several pans of water boiled on the stove for her whites.  Adding plenty of Clorox and laundry soap, she turned on the agitator and loaded her whites.  The machine agitated the wash vigorously till she turned it off.  When she was satisfied the whites were clean, the water was was usually still steaming hot.  She’d turn the agitator off.  While the clothes were washing, she’d fill two big galvanized tubs with rinse water, using the hose.

imageimageAfter switching the wringer on, she’d fish the whites out of the scalding water with a stick and carefully run them through the wringer, allowing the wash water to drain back into the washing machine tank.  The flattened clothes fed from the wringer into the first rinse tub.  She worked them up and down with a plunger to rinse, then swiveled the wringer into position between the galvanized tubs, to wring the wash before the second rinse, plunging and wringing again and winding into a basket for the line.

Water had to be added to the the washer and tubs after each load, since a great deal of water remained in the clothes and ended up on the floor.  Between loading, agitating, and rinsing, the laundry not requiring starch had to go on the line.  The washer had to be manually switched into drain.  Since the washer was on wheels many times the drain hose ended up on the floor, instead of the drain, ensuring plenty of excitement and extra mop up.

Now the good part, starching.  Using powdered starch, Mother cooked up a thick batch of starch on the stove.  Refilling the washing machine with hot water, she mixed the cooked starch in, making sure to stir till the mixture was absolutely smooth  Our good cotton dresses, pants, shirts, and Daddy’s work clothes went back in to agitate, then were run through the wringer, into the laundry basket for the line.  Of course, they were very hot.  As the family got bigger, Mother had to starch two or three loads.

The floors were a dirty, sloppy mess by the end of laundry day, necessitating a thorough scrubbing.  The greatest hazard was getting caught in the wringer, hence the phrase, putting you through the wringer.”

Tuesday was ironing day, another treat.

 

Things Mothers Do

imageI miss all the things my mother used to do for me. Even though she had to get up to a freezing house at five-thirty in winter to do it, she always had a hot breakfast on the table when we got up, usually hot biscuits, eggs, fresh milk, homemade jam or preserves, and either grits or oatmeal.  Like most kids, I didn’t want it, but she insisted. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”  After the whirlwind of getting the older  Continue reading

Aunt Bonnie

Aunt BonnieI knew Aunt Bonnie before I knew myself. Long before I was four years old, Uncle Edward and Aunt Bonnie parked their tiny, green and white egg shaped trailer home in the shade of the sweetgum tree in our side yard while he worked a construction job in the area. In the days before Continue reading

Things Mothers Do

aI miss all the things my mother used to do for me. Even though she had to get up to a freezing house at five-thirty in winter to do it, she always had a hot breakfast on the table when we got up, usually hot biscuits, eggs, fresh milk, home-made jam or preserves, and either grits or oatmeal.  Like most kids, I didn’t want it, but she insisted.  “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”  After the whirlwind of getting the older kids on the bus, she’d wash, iron, clean, sew, tend the garden, and when she finished her own pleasant tasks, do whatever extra things Daddy had to help her pass the time, all between taking care of however many of the children might be babies or toddlers. Continue reading