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Wash day


I remember an old picture I saw of a pioneer woman positioned next to a large cauldron, surrounded by fire — a nineteenth century hot water heater! It was laundry day. There was no wringer to squeeze water from clothes. There were no rinse tubs in sight.

Things got better with time: electricity was harnessed, inventions were made, and eventually, even a teenager could handle most of wash day (my daughter did).

As I remember from my youth, wash day was always Monday, that was in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, before most women had jobs outside the home. Now teachers couldn’t keep that schedule but my mom did; and then clothes were hung on the line, in the backyard.

She had a conventional washer with a wash tub, agitator, wringer and two rinse tubs. She used something called “blueing” on white shirt collars and cuffs. The same wash water was used for everything: whites first, followed by lights, towels, dad’s work clothes, and my brother’s jeans.

When we moved to the country, the clothes line circled the house. Mom insisted we use a clean towel and washcloth every day. There were the free washcloths and towels that came in the brand of detergent she chose. That’s also how we got our glasses.

Now anyone can do laundry, any able-bodied member of the family. Unfortunately that is my husband. Wash days are Saturday and Sunday (two loads each day). He doesn’t often complain, he just does a wonderful job, like everything else he does. I’ll have to thank him today!


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