I was clueless what my mom had done.

Not much thinking on my part about what my mom had done to do the laundry for us kids and her and my dad as well. And I mean going back to day one. My first memories of laundry days at our little adobe home in East L A had my mom sweating over a wringer washer. A washer with just an agitator tub with a roller wringer up top. A very manual process.

First she had to collect the mountain of dirty clothes, sort them, and run a hose from the adjacent faucet into the washer tub. Adjusting how much hot water to mix in or not for each wash. Hotter for grubby clothes like jeans, socks, dirty underwear, and my dad’s work clothes. Less hot with more cold water for nicer color items like my sisters nice dresses and our church clothes. Once it is all washed it has to go through the wringer. Squeezing out the water leaving washed clothes damp and placed in a large galvanized tub. A heavy tub of damp closed carried outside by my mom and then pinned up on the clothes line in the backyard for drying. After the clothes were dry she was only half way done. Whew!

Then she or maybe my sisters would go out and take down the dried clothes and bring back into the house for more sorting, ironing, and folding. Certainly a task that took almost all day. All the while my mom listening to our Sears console radio tuned to any number of soap operas. My True Story, Winslow Jones, Young Widder Brown, Stella Dallas back stage wife, and usually starting off in the mornings with Don McNeal and the Breakfast Club broadcast live fromChicago.

Then there were distractions like an occasional Hobo coming to the front door asking for something to eat. My mom would stop what she was doing and scramble up an egg, put it between two slices of white bread, and hand it out the front door to the homeless guy and send him on his way. Then sometimes when my mom was in the middle of laundry here comes a couple of men in business suits demonstrating and selling vacuum cleaners. Or encyclopedias. And if it weren’t that it was the Fuller Brush man or the Jewell Tea salesmen. Then when she thought it safe to go back to the laundry, here comes a Jehovah Witness couple. My mom loved to argue with the Witnesses.

Then by the end of the day the laundry might be done. Then after school comes four hungry kids to feed. Just enough diddling, walking, and laundering to wear out an Okie mom. Whew! However a few years later my mom bought a brand new Maytag ‘Automatic’ washer. But still had to hang the clothes out on the clothe line for drying. Whew! This is not to mention what she had to do when she and my dad were first married. Living in a house in Oklahoma without running water, electricity, or gas. She had to fill that same galvanized tub with water, put it over a wood burning fire, and use homemade lye soap and a scrub board to clean their clothes. Whew-whew-whew!!!

Published by OkieMan

I come from a family who migrated from the parched red dirt Plaines of southern rural Oklahoma. Migrating to blue collar working class community of East Los Angeles. There is where I was born. I am Mr. Writermelon. I can only write what my grammar and spell checker allows. I am neither profound nor profane. Boy howdy! Send comment to: Mr.writermelon@gmail.com

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