My Mom thought it was time to wash the king size mattress pad we have. She tried every way possible to fit it into our washing machine, but it just wasn’t going to happen. I heard her tell my Pop that she had to go to the laundromat. I’d never been to a laundromat, so I volunteered to help her. Just getting the mattress pad into the hamper was difficult, but I finally got it to stay put and off we went.
I never thought about it costing money when doing a wash at home, but at the laundromat, you have to put quite a few quarters into the machines to make them work. Since my Mom said she didn’t have a lot of quarters, she asked me to get change for her. Lucky for me, my Mom only had a $20.00 bill. I put the bill into the change machine and lots and lots of quarters came out of the machine, making this great clinking sound as they hit the tray. I put the quarters in both my pockets, and my pants almost fell off from the weight of all of them.
My Mom didn’t think it was funny when I suggested she put a lot of soap in the washer. I saw an I Love Lucy show about that ~ the bubbles just kept coming out of the top of the washer. I guess it wouldn’t have been as funny here, because I would have to clean it all up.
There wasn’t much to read and people kept to themselves. No one looked up from their books, Kindles or newspapers to say hello. I mentioned to my Mom that washing clothes seems like a very lonely kind of chore. She laughed and then told me about washing clothes a long, long time ago … like when there wasn’t any electricity or even washing machines.
My mom said that back then, the women went down to the river or stream or some kind of body of water to wash their clothes. They would talk together about their life and the kids would be playing nearby. Even now, in some places that are less developed than here, the women still wash clothes by the river. It’s really hard work. The women wet the clothes and then rub them together or pound them with stones.
My Mom said that in the late 1700s, something called a washboard was invented. No one knows who exactly invented the washboard, but it’s believed it all started in Scandinavia and then was used in France and Italy a lot, much more than in America. Notches were cut into the wood to rub the clothes against to clean them. Oh, and sometimes, the clothes would first be soaked in ash and urine (yeah, I know, gross!), but it helped make the clothes whiter. They called this bucking, though I’m not sure how they came up with that name.
In the 1800s, large wood tubs were being made to wash clothes in. Water needed to be heated and then the clothes were soaked. By this time, there were bars of soap to help get the dirt out. It was about 1920 my Mom said that soap flakes were used to wash clothes in large metal tubs. She said though that the soap flakes didn’t make the clothes very white. This company called Proctor & Gamble started experimenting, and finally made a detergent in the 1930s that cleaned clothes pretty well. It wasn’t until 1943 that they invented Tide, which could get out really ground in dirt, like when you play ball and slide into home plate type of dirt.
When we got to this part of the story, it was time to put the mattress pad into the dryer. Now, this looked like a lot of fun. My Mom said it wasn’t a Disney ride, and it was very, very hot in there (maybe, but it still looked like fun)!
My Mom said that once washing machines made from metal rather than wood were invented, people were coming up with all sorts of ideas to make washing clothes easier. She said there was one washing machine my Grandma had that had a wringer attached to it. Once the clothes were washed, you put them through the wringer to take out the excess water and then you’d hang them outside to dry. In the winter, the clothes would freeze and be as stiff as a board. My Mom said my Grandma would put the clothes over the radiator to dry them. In the 1940s, the Maytag company introduced the top loading automatic machines similar to what we have today. We’re really lucky to not have to scrub and wring and pound. Washing machines now are really smart and easy to use.
My Great-Grandparents opened a laundromat on Collins Avenue in Miami in 1945. They were like one of the first to do that (or so the story goes in our family). When my Great-Grandpa lived in the Bronx, he sold washing machines, which was really lucky for my Grandma. She always had the latest washing machine. People say I look just like my Great-Grandpa, because we’re both so dapper.
Well, pretty amazing to think how someone or lots of someones can come up with these inventions to make life easy … and it all started by a river with rocks. I guess it takes a little ingenuity and lots of motivation and passion to bring your dream into reality.
Here’s to living our dreams!
Thanks for reading my blog. If you liked this one, you may want to look at some of the other ones we wrote. You can find them on the upper right side of the blog. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to go to The Dolls Are Alright and “like” us! We’d sure like that if you did. You can also follow us on Twitter! Until next time ~ Petie.