Laundry Day

It’s Friday, not Monday, but I’m doing laundry. I ran out of my favorite sweatshirts last Tuesday and I’ve been wearing underwear that continuously needs adjusting…  but I’m a procrastinator, and I don’t like to do laundry – I’d rather write… or read… or play games on my Kindle Fire.

Still, the time had come so… I carried my basket of dirties to the laundry room, shoved them in the washer, poured fabric softener and detergent into the dispenser, and pushed the button. I grumbled all the time, knowing the signal would sound while I was busy with something more pleasant. In the middle of my grumble, I had a flashback… and stopped right there and gave thanks for the convenience of modern technology.

When I was a child, on Monday — every Monday, Mama pulled the wringer washer in place and positioned the two rinse tubs.  She sorted the laundry into piles, heated the wash water on the stove, and mixed a pan of starch. When everything was ready, she put the least soiled load in the wash tub and let it agitate, and then ran those items through the wringer three times — from the washer to the first rinse tub, to the second rinse tub, and into the basket. With the next load in the washer, she hoisted the basket on her hip, slung the clothespin bag over her shoulder, and headed for the clothesline. Every home had clotheslines; no one had dryers in those days. And, hanging sheets on the line in a strong wind with below freezing temps was a challenge.

I still remember the Monday morning smells, laundry soap, bluing, bleach, and starch. Yes, starch. The term, wash and wear, was yet to be invented. Everything except underwear and socks was starched and ironed. As soon as the starched clothes came off the line, they were sprinkled, rolled, placed in the ironing basket, and covered with a couple of heavy towels.

Tuesday was ironing day.

(I believe my grandmother heated her wash water in a large black cast-iron pot over a wood fire, used a washboard ’til her knuckles bled, wrung each item out by hand, and heated her irons on a burner on the stove.)

Did I mention that I’m so thankful for the conveniences of modern technology?


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