Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Wring Your Hands

 For those of you under the age of say, oh, probably 40, or, wait, maybe even 50 or 60, the machine in the above picture might stump you.  You are looking at something that not many people have any more.  What is it, you might ask?  Well, you may ask me and I will tell you.

It is my washing machine.

 Now, calm down, before you start setting up a 'Save the Idiotic Laundress Foundation' let me explain myself.

I like my washing machine.

In fact, I love my washing machine.  It is a Maytag, and it was built in 1953 which is five years before I was built, and I am sorry to say, it is also in better shape than I am!

I don't think there is any one thing I have ever done in my life that has caused so much of a stir as my laundry habits.  I never knew people would get so passionate about my needing and DESERVING a new wash machine, there have even been a few heated debates about it over the years with my friends when they found out 'how I do laundry'.  You'd think I was standing out by a river, pounding laundry on rocks and hanging them from twigs in the woods.  (Actually, I wonder how that worked..........hmmmm........but there's no river nearby.)   The comments and the blank stares I've received have been funny, to say the least.  People just don't get it.

I also do not have a dryer.  I do have some beautiful washlines (see the rose castings in these babies?) that Carl built for me when we first married, no Plain Jane poles for me, no sirree.  The picture below is my laundry from yesterday.  It was a small wash, about six loads, and it took me under an hour to do.  Yesterday was a glorious drying day and breezy, so everything fluffed up wonderfully. 

 I tried to make sure you don't see any of our'unmentionables' in this picture....horrors, so I took this picture from a different angle so you don't see all the laundry---I don't want this post to be R-rated.  On the left side of the picture is my clothespin apron, a must-have for the Retro Laundress.

I bring this subject up because Ann stopped in the other day for a visit and since I was washing clothes, she lent me a hand.  Ann does not think this is 'normal' behavior either, though she knows I am not normal, so it doesn't bother her.  But she told me how different it is to do laundry the 'new-fangled' way with an automatic washer and dryer and how you can get all sorts of other things done while you're washing.  How you don't have to stand there and tend the laundry until it's done and how it's much less work.  And you don't have to worry about getting your fingers stuck in the wringer (or worse--yes, you've all heard the crude jokes, I'm sure) and you don't have to haul the laundry out of the basement in baskets and trudge out to the washline only to have a not-so-hot drying day and have to haul damp laundry back in.  (I just leave it out overnight, my laundry enjoys a good outing.)

I know clothes dried in a dryer are softer and less wrinkled, but how do they smell?  To me, there is no sweeter perfume than the smell of sunshiny line-dried clothes.  I don't care if the towels are scratchy, it's good for the skin.

So, don't try to convert me, it ain't gonna happen.  Unless I can't get parts anymore.  Then I will have problems.  I own four Maytags now and am always on the lookout for another one.  In March, my in-laws saw one at a thrift store and called me right away.  Joel and I went to the store with the trailer and he bought it on the spot for $30.  When Joel left the store to go get the trailer, I waited around inside for him and did some browsing of the other merchandise.  There were two clerks in the store who were getting the washer ready to roll to the loading dock, both of them were retirees, just volunteering at the store.

One of them said, "What does that young guy want with this thing?  Do you think he's going to use it?"

The other one said, "Use it??  For what? Are you kidding?  He's probably going to plant flowers in it or something.  It might make a good lawn ornament."

Lawn ornament!?  I piped up, "No, that young guy isn't going to use it,  I am."

Both of them stopped and looked at me, and then at each other......clearly this woman is a nut job. 

Yes, I am.

But the nut doesn't fall far from the tree, guess who else washed clothes yesterday?

Reintroducing my 90 year old mother, the Elusive Lucille:

And her washing machine:

An even older than mine Speed Queen!
And she trudges up her nearly 100 yr. old  basement steps with her laundry baskets too.  But check out her basement steps--she painted them last fall...she is always busy.  She thinks anyone who washes clothes with an 'automatic' (said in a disdainful tone of voice) is silly.  Why waste all that water and soap?  She used to make all of her own laundry soap...I learned from her, and have made some as recently as five years ago, from lard and lye---oh, stop rolling your eyes, it's the best soap I've ever used. 

 Here's Mom's clothespin apron, she made this one out of a pair of my late father's bib overalls.

 Mom washed all of her bedding yesterday and is in the midst of fall house-cleaning, and no, I don't help her.  She is fiercely independent.

 This is her back door--and part of her flower garden.  She's kept everything covered so it hasn't been touched by frost yet.

 We keep our tractors parked in Mom's machine shed and I had walked up there yesterday afternoon with Pudding dog to get one.  Mom helped me out by holding on to Pudding for me while I backed the tractor out. See the wash machine in the picture?  That's another one of my 'spares' stored in Mom's shed.  

 I took the tractor home through the cornfield with Pudding in hot pursuit.   There's the view from Mom's house to mine.  We live less than a quarter mile apart on the same farm.
 Mom is so camera-shy, I took this picture from the tractor while she cradled Pudding dog.
The corn is all off now, so I can drive home through the field.  It sure looks like fall, doesn't it?

 There's Pudding, running along behind the tractor just like any other farm dog.  She wasn't always a farm dog, though, she used to live with Ann and spent most of her life being a 'fancy' dog before coming to live here.  I can't tell you how much this ten year old dog loves to run now! 
Oh, one more tip before I head off to do some more laundry today (I'm taking a cue from Mom and am washing all our bedding today, too!).....but here's the tip:
Never leave your wringer in the closed position when not in use.  Leaving it shut will ruin the rubber rollers.

I just KNOW this tip will come in handy for so many people out there.  LOL

Ok, off to laundry!


Michelle said...

I certainly don't get it when people think that their one way of doing things is the best and only way, so I wouldn't dream of trying to talk you out of your way of doing laundry! I'm glad you and your mother enjoy the process.

A while back my husband tried to hint that he likes the smell of laundry dried in the sun. I said, sure, knock yourself out! We bought a set of high-efficiency machines instead, after the death of the old drier introduced us to how much work and time it takes to hang laundry.

Darla said...

I love this so much!! I have been begging my husband for a clothes line for several years now. You just started the debate back up...Your mom and her home is adorable...

Sue at Serendipity said...

What is the laundry detergent recipe? If you don't mind sharing, that is. I have an old Maytag as a porch decoration but last I knew it still worked. Perhaps next summer I will try it out......

Wonderful post-thank you so much for the memories!!

Ginny said...

Karen, I love the way you do laundry! If I didn't have to report to the office each day at 8:30 and stay until 5:30, I'd be hanging my wash on the line, too! Though I probably wouldn't have the type washer you do. Kathleen Norris has written a little book called "The Quotidian Mysteries" in which she writes about the spiritual side of doing laundry and other daily chores. I think there's something therapeutic about doing laundry this way.

FlowerLady said...

What a great post Karen. I've used two different wringer washers, one as a young Navy wife, and the other time many years ago living here, someone gave it to us. I have a Maytag 'automatic' now, that is 10 years old. No fancy bells and whistles, just a couple of knobs and that's the way I like it. I also hang up laundry, do not have an electric dryer. I just hung out a load a few minutes ago and I really enjoy doing that. The laundry smells so wonderful when you bring it in.

I love those pictures of your mom and that she is still going strong at her age. She is a real inspiration to me.

A clothespin apron sounds good. I use a basket for mine, but I think an apron would be better. I need to see about making one from something or other I've got around here. Did you make yours? I love your Mom's.

Thanks for this great post!!!


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, I knew we had other things in common than just gardening. This is the washing machine from my childhood. When I went down to use it, my mother would say, "don't get your arm caught in the wringer." She had lots of horror stories about this. Sometime in the 50's she got an automatic washer, but never a dryer. Those sheets could have stood up in the yard by themselves!

Wonderful post!


Shirley said...

For years my mom did laundry with a washer just like yours. In fact, when I first moved out on my own this is the kind of laundry machine we had in the home. I'm always cautious about those wringers. Clothes hung on the line to dry come in so fresh but it definitely is a pain come winter!

Zoey said...

Oh, my gosh, Karen, I smiled through this whole post.

I thought surely that my 80 yr old MIL was the only person left who enjoyed doing laundry on one of these old wringer washers.

I remember my aunt having one. To me they are too much work! I like to throw my clothes in and do other jobs while they are washing/drying.

I am sure there is some unique quality that I do not understand. I love how you and your Mom use the same type of machine.

What a great post! said...

What a great, funny story and you should be a spokesperson for Maytag. My kitchen appliances are Maytag, and that was a mistake. They did not hold up like the washer and dryer. Your washer is older than me too. That is amazing to keep washing for so long. I remember my mom hanging the wash out to dry. Not many people do that anymore, so sad to say.

Granny Lyn's Garden said...

Loved the post. Wish I had one,mom had one when we were kids on the farm. Mom would use a stick to hold the clothes up to the wringer.It was round and smooth from age. I can relate to hanging clothes outside ,my dryer has been on the fritz all summer.Guess I will need to do something about that soon.
Have a blessed day, Lynda

Jullie said...

Ho! what a beautiful antiques I do remember how wringer washer was,
clothes can wrap around the wringer and be torn,Its you're already happened ? it would be cool to see lady with washer-extractor and twist to see the clothe. I certainly don't get it when people think that their one way of doing things is the best and only way.

Rosemary said...

What an enjoyable read..... I do have a new fangled machine but do hang my clothes out on good days smells so much nicer. Back when I was young I too had a wring machine and it certainly cleaned the clothes.. Your Mom is a testament to keeping young by keeping busy.

Elephant's Eye said...

Delighted to see someone who is green enough to hang the washing out. I know winter is more complicated, but in Switzerland the houses are built with washing lines in the basement laundry. Works for them! Air-conditioner on one hand and the drier on the other must/should add up to frightening electricity bills.

xoxoxo said...

I would love to see a demonstration of this process! Its amazing how little thought I put in to doing my own laundry once a week and here y ou are lovingly washing each and every item!