Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Washday has come far since the washboard

An old camp song is called "Today Is Monday, Monday’s Wash Day." And so it was. Women proved their worth by being the first to have the entire washing hanging on the line each Monday morning. Tuesday was the day to iron.

Sunshine and gentle breezes made a great day to change the bedsheets and hand them out in the fresh air. They smelled so sweet when you crawled in between "solar-dried" sheets.

Rural electrification came to Boone County in 1937, and many women bought the newfangled electric machines. When everyone washed on Monday, the demand for electricity went sky-high.

Consequently, the late Joe Martin, then manager of the local REA Co-Op, asked women to join the IWWOM club.

IWWOM means "I won’t wash on Monday." Many women were so happy to be liberated from the washing board that they did as Joe suggested and moved washday to some other day of the week.

Toss a load of laundry into the machine and come back to read about washday, all over the country, about the turn of the century — the way it was before electricity.

At the turn of the century you could buy a standard, family size Red Star washboard — with extra heavy solid zinc of fancy crimp on one side and plain crimp on the other for 33 cents. What a bargain! What did you pay for your new washer?

The board was made of hard maple legs and steel rod bracing and would probably last forever. You might wear out — but not Red Star. If you wanted the smaller size, to be used in a "pail," it was only 12 cents.

Of course, you’d need other equipment besides the washboard — a tub, for instance. The woman who had a cedar washtub was "right up there." Pine tubs cost 85 cents, but the heavy cedar tub, slightly smaller and holding only 27 gallons of water, cost 10 cents more, almost a whole dollar!

The Sears and Roebuck ad said, "Those who are familiar with the lasting qualities of cedar shingles and fence posts will appreciate the value of this material when used in tubs and pails." Maybe you’d just as soon have pine and save a dime?

The clincher was the "No wood known to man will resist decay equal to Virginia White cedar … they’re guaranteed never to fall down." Honestly, is your automatic guaranteed against falling down?

And how about your dryer? You could have had a "boughten" clothesline on a reel for next to nothing. Why the reel? That allowed you to take the clothesline rope in out of the weather to keep it clean. Who wants the clothesline to stay out in the weather and rot, anyway? Also, there is the matter of birds.

Five gross of clothespins — called pegs by some — cost 53 cents. That’s quite a sum for only 270 clothespins. In fact, if you have four or five kids, you might need five gross of clothespins just to hang up the white socks.

Clothespins cost almost as much as a folding drying rack made of basswood and requiring no pins at all, but it won’t accommodate all those white socks.

Now, quit reading and go take the clean clothes out of the washer and stick them in the dryer and push the button.

Grandma never had it so good!

A Really Neat Idea

We were in a youth hostel in France when Paula, one of my college students, said, "Mrs. G., there’s a thing in the laundry room that says, ‘Dry Your Bathing Suits Here,’ but we can’t make it work." I went to help.

I started her wet suit between the two rubber rollers and said, "Now turn the crank." The suit went right through. Paula said, "Gee that’s neat! Why didn’t somebody think of that a long time ago?"

Somebody did!

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