Recently a picture of clothes pins popped up on Facebook (Thanks, Ann) with the question “What Do You Remember About Laundry?” It turns out I remember a lot.
What made everything about laundry different in my family is that we never owned a washing machine. My mother sent sheets and my father’s shirts to a commercial laundry, and she and my Aunt Dot washed the rest by hand in the kitchen. On Wednesdays, my certifiably schizoid Aunt Gertie came to help them, and I could write a whole other story about her.
By the time I was twelve, I was doing my own wash , by choice, the only helpful thing I did. But here’s where the clothespins came in: I LOVED hanging clothes on the line, whether in the yard or the basement. There was something about securing the clothes by jamming on a clothespin that appealed to me. And when I brought the clothes in from outside, they had the most wonderful clean smell . A hold-over from those days is that I totally enjoy folding clothes, especially warm from the dryer and will happily fold clothes for whole families if we are together!
I have one very unpleasant memory associated with laundry. While vacationing in Maine when I was twelve, I became friends with the au pair at our inn. One day I decided to help her with the laundry since it fascinated me that she was using a washing machine with a wringer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying that much attention, and suddenly my left hand was going through the wringer with the clothes. It was before automatic releases, but luckily she had enough presence of mind to shut off the machine. A hasty trip to the emergency room ensued, but miraculously I had not broken any bones although I was in a lot of pain. I was there with my Aunt Dot and Uncle Sam, and we finished the vacation, but it was the end of swimming in the ocean. At home, we went first to the family doctor who took off the bandages to disclose two enormous blisters on the hand. He wanted to operate, but my Aunt Dot wouldn’t hear of it. She took me to my pediatrician who lanced the blisters which eventually healed and left me with two large scars on my hand.
If in years to come, I’ve ever said, on a really tough day, “I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer,” I know whereof I speak!
Dorothy C. Judd (c) 2015
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