Friday, 3 March 2017

Wash Day Blues

Newly married and penniless students, we very grateful to have been given an old twin tub washing machine.    



Image found somewhere on the internet



Because we were studying all week  Saturday became our wash day. 

Dirty laundry had to be sorted into little heaps whites for the first wash,  a boil wash, then coloured cottons, etc.  all the way down to socks, etc.

By the final wash the water was more than a bit murky as everything went through the same water.

Washing was transferred from the wash tub to the spinner by means of a pair of large wooden tongs,  one had to be careful to try to keep the spinner balanced.  

On many occasions I found myself embracing the machine as I tried to stop it foxtrotting around the kitchen because I hadn't quite got the balance right.

It was labour-intensive and I didn't cry when we were eventually able to afford an automatic machine.

I may have found that tedious, but imagine having to do all of this:


Sort the Clothes

Put tablecloths, collars, cuffs etc into maiden tub but with cold water.   Soak them some time then peggy them a short time, wring them and then empty the water.  Put about 1/4 lb soft soap into boiler with a small teacupful of wash liquor.   When hot put the clothes back into tub, pour the hot water etc on to them.   Peggy well for 5 or more minutes, then rub, boil and then rinse three or four times in cold water.    Blue  in warm water.
Fold collars, cuffs, handkerchiefs in a clean cloth after wringing out and put away wet in a drawer till they iron.

I found these instructions in one of my old kitchen journals, dated 1880.   Pity the women/girls who had to do that with each wash load.


Memories of my grandmother doing her washing in the mid 1950's are very clear in my mind.    She had a single tub machine and a mangle and I was always intrigued by the Blue bags which she used in her white washes.     

However, it was the mangle which was the big attraction.  I loved watching the wet washing being put through it,  the water was squeezed out and the items came out like cardboard.    I desperately wanted to make that magic happen, but I was thwarted.    

Grandma was very short and had silver hair, flat to the top of the head and then rolled, curled and pinned like a long sausage around her head.   She wore a pretty floral pinny, one of those all encompassing wrap around ones, something like the one below.



sorry, I couldn't find  source.

Strangely, I can't remember how my mother did the washing at that time although  I do have vague memories of a copper in an outhouse, but I can't remember anything else.      

I was obviously blinded by my love for the mangle and the blue bags at Grandma's house, or perhaps my mother rather cleverly let me visit Granny and then got on with her own washing while I was out of the way.

Nostalgia is great but I am very happy with my modern washing machine.   I enjoy being able to tell it to do any one of a number of wash, rinse and spin programmes.   I can tell it to come on in the middle of the night, or when we are not about.   I simply have to remember to switch it on.

I have been guilty of forgetting that one vital procedure on more than one occasion.   

Ooops!


I dry our washing in the old fashioned way, whenever possible.  The sight of washing flapping in the wind always makes me happy, and so does that wonderful smell which is only found on line-dried washing.      

Although I know they are popular, I dislike those scented fabric conditioners, they really offend my nose.   No right, no wrong, just personal preference.



31 comments:

  1. Our first washing machine wasn't until we'd been married for four years. I had a bad knee and couldn't stand at the sink to do the washing by hand - even blankets were washed by hand in the bath (imagine trying to wash a thick woollen blanket in the bath today!) and husband had a go at doing the washing for me. The next news was that we were down to the local electrical shop buying an Indesit washing machine, an automatic one - this must've been one of the first of the new breed of automatic machines, and I remember the day it was installed and we put two kitchen chairs in front of it, switched on and saw my husbands shirts get all tangles with my panties which caused us a bit of a laugh (little things made us laugh - they still do after 52 years of married life!) Since then I've had several washing machines, but I can remember the old twin tubs and my next door neighbour had a washing machine (top loader) with an agitator and then the water pumped out into the sink and fresh water put in to rinse the clothes and then there was a mangle on top through which the clothes were put and the pile of washing then hung out to dry. I can remember dolly blue bags from my youth, they were put in the last rinse to make the whites appear whiter.
    They just looked blueish to me!
    Margaret P

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    1. Hello Margaret, Finding the fun in life is so important, even better when you can share the laughter! Last week we celebrated 41 years of marriage, in some ways that doesn't seem possible - and then we realised that our firstborn will be 40 years old next summer. We have two of our grandchildren staying with us tonight, wish us luck!

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    2. The photo you have put of the twin tub reminds me of the Rolls Electromatic which my mother eventually had. They were from a company run by a chap called, I think, John Bloom, but I could be wrong, this is just a childhood memory from the middle 1950s. But I remember the machine being about 63 guineas (a lot of money then) and it was in cream and turquoise.
      Margaret P

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    3. I think ours was just a Hotpoint, or similar. Isn't it amazing, the amount of memories and little details which we carry inside us!

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  2. Your post has brought back the memories of my mom using the mangle/wringer. The clothes were just as you said....straight as cardboard. I also remember when I first married, devoting a single day to ironing. We are so fortunate now. Enjoyed your post.

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    1. Hello Meggie, I am one of those strange people who quite likes ironing, as long as I can listen to the omnibus edition of a very long-running radio sage - "The Archers" while I am doing it. It lasts for one and a quarter hours, more than enough time to do a week's worth of ironing. Better still, it is my time and no one interrupts!x

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  3. Oh, memories of the twin tub. Many a nappy was washed and spun in that one, and like you said, Elaine, you could always break the monotony and foxtrot around the kitchen with it if the spinner was a bit lopsided.

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    1. Hello Molly, Goodness, me. Yes, the nappy washes! Buckets for this and that, a nappy wash and then a line full of them flapping in the wind! Rather different from the disposable ones of today. Have a lovely weekend!

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    2. Nappies soaking in Nappisan ... such memoires, such smells!!!

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  4. I love the smell of laundry from the line. I even like towels that are from the line!

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    1. Hello Sol, That hard to define smell is one of my absolute favourites, it ranks right up there with fresh bread and coffee! I love it when I smell it on the fresh bedding. Have a lovely weekend.

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    2. Yes, the smell of fresh laundry from the line is wonderful - wish we could bottle it, along with newly mown grass and the wonderful smell of primroses. But laundry from the line is right up there at the top ...
      Margaret P

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    3. I am biased but laundry in Devon or Cornwall smells better than the Cotswold. I dont know what it is, my laundry here in the Cotwolds doesnt smell quite right.

      Line dried = Ozone, crisp. I cant name it. Fresh air! lol

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  5. I remember the washing lines, from when I was growing up. One went from the back of the house, up to the two story garage. Then came the stationary but round and round one, in the back yard. :-)

    I have not been able to hang clothes outside in ages. When we built this house, around 1968, the "laundry" was down in the bowels of the cellar. Ugh! I didn't want to lug wet clothes, up those stairs, through kitchen and hearth room, out beyond back patio. And we had had a dryer, for some years.

    Those laundry-in-the-cellar arrangements, were "the pits."

    A number of years ago, when I got afraid of the use of the cellar stairs, we had some work done, to allow a washer and a dryer, to be fit into our downstairs "powder room." Best thing we had ever done!!!! :-)

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    1. Hello Luna, Miles and miles of washing lines! We now have one of those rotary ones, in some ways it makes life easier and it takes up less space, but I am not a fan of them, unfortunately the varying levels in the gardens make it difficult to have any other.
      I don't blame you for opting for the much more practical arrangement, far too dangerous and tiring to be going up and down to the cellar.
      Have a lovely weekend.

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  6. I had a twin tub when I married in 1984- it had been passed on to me by my Mum and did sterling service for a number of years. I used to do the washing on Sunday mornings while J was off playing football. When it gave up the ghost I went to the launderette which was in a local street. I used to love using the mangle when I went to stay with my grandma in the 1970s!

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    1. Hello Scarlet, Aah, the fascination of those mangles - and you got to use one, I am green with envy! We are having Merry and Hector to stay for the night - Merry came across earlier, she said she has an enormous bag packed ready...I hope she realises it is one night only! Her mother has just confirmed, the bag is BIG. Have a lovely weekend.

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  7. I remember all of those! My grandmother always used a blue bag, we had a twin tub growing up.i still have to grab our washing machine now and again to stop it dancing all over the terrace. It's old and many times mended but does the job it was made for. Can't complain

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    1. Hello Linda, As long as it does the job that is all that matters. Dancing around the terrace sounds so much more fun though! I bet you get much better drying weather, too! Have a lovely weekend.

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  8. We are indeed very spoilt these days.
    I remember having one of those twin tubs as a student. My flat mates were so happy with their bargain find! I'm afraid I only used it a couple of times and ended up going to the launderette. I'd have a bath there while my washing was in the machine as we didn't have a bathroom only a toilet on the stairs outside. Happy memories!
    I was always envious on my granny's pinnys!!
    Thank you for the trip down memory lane! Have a fantastic weekend :)

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    1. Hello Prunella, Those pinnys seemed to have very capacious pockets! Oh the joys of student life, fun at the time and great to look back on, but I wouldn't want to be there now! I recently found a stash of letter written by my Nana and Granddad, they stirred up lots of lovely memories.
      Have a beautiful weekend.

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  9. Now I remember my mother useing a boiler and a mangol nd reincing the clothes in the sink before getting a twin tub I also remember those little blue bags sh put in the boiler for the whites. She use the two tub till it gave up and I ened up plumbing in an automatic like we use now. Makes liek a lot easier

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    1. Hello Bill, Washday used to take up a lot of time and take over the kitchen/scullery! I remember that when I was very young, crazy as it sounds, there was a bath in our kitchen - and the toilet was outside. I am truly grateful for most of our modern appliances and take them for granted until I take a meander down memory lane. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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  10. Your post is a nice step back in time, Elaine. How well I remember the days when I helped my mother do the week's wash in our new fangled wringer washing machine. It was my job to keep the clothes from going back around the rollers by catching each piece and gently pulling, all the time being careful not to let my fingers get caught up in the thing. Mom and I always had a great time talking and laughing on wash day. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

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    1. Hello Chip Butter, and Welcome. I would have been green with envy that you got to help, while I only got to watch. If this has stirred up some happy memories of times with your mother, then I am delighted! It always amazes me just how our mind will release little snippets, once triggered. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to find a box full of old letters written by my parents and my grandparents, they brought back so many memories and it was wonderful to see their oh so familiar handwriting again. enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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  11. It's funny, I don't remember much about my Mother washing clothes either, but I remember helping my Aunt Berlie, when I would spend a few days with her. She would let me catch the clothes as they came through the wringer. She had one of those old green wringer washing machines. I LOVE to hang washing out on the clothesline to dry.

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    1. Hello Henny Penny, My husband was joking that perhaps he should indulge my nostalgia and buy me an old wringer for my washing - I think that could be an indulgence too far. Better for it to stay as an unsatisfied desire and in my memory bank! Pegging the washing on the line and watching it flap in the wind, drying for free and acquiring that mysteriously wonderful smell is a simple but very real pleasure. So glad you enjoy it too. Have a lovely weekend.

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  12. I remember my mother boiling the whites on the stove! They did come out nice and white too! She had this enormous mangle outside in the back yard and I remember her huffing and puffing over it as she tried to get as much water rung out from the clothes as possible. I couldn't move that handle until I was quite a bit older. I didn't have a washing machine until my daughter was 4 years old...just couldn't afford it :-) It just seems a normal fixture now.

    keep well

    Amanda x

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    1. Hello Amanda, The things we take for granted now! I know people used to take immense pride in getting their whites to be really white in that way, whereas chemicals seem to be the answer these days. I know I probably sound like the old fuddy duddy that I am, but I honestly think that a little of having to make-do, especially when we are young, is character-building. Did you develop enormously strong arms and hands or did you use a launderette? ;)

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  13. What a wonderful post! I'm doing the laundry as I'm sitting here and typing this. We really do take things for granted when we've never known any other way. Nothing beats drying your clothes out on a line in the fresh air. No matter what kind of fancy machine you have!! : ) xo

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hello Wendy, Thanks for calling by. I hope you manage to get your laundry dried on the line today. I did two wash loads and managed to get them dried on the line and back indoors just before the rains came down. Even better, none of it needs ironing.
      Enjoy the rest of your day!

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