Friday, June 5, 2009

Wash Day

Wash day used to be a day to look forward to. We used to have a huge kettle outside under some trees, that had a built in firebox that we used to heat water to do the laundry. On Monday evenings John and I used to use the garden hose to fill it up.
Mom would sort the weeks worth of dirty laundry and we'd put each pile into a five gallon pail and then fill the pails with water yet too and let them soak overnight.
On Tuesday morning Daddy would get up early and start a fire in the kettle, and by the time we were done with breakfast the water would be boiling. He would fill the washing machine before he left for work.
We would hurry with the dishes and then head out to the washing machine, Mom would check the gas in the little Honda engine and start it up. She would put the Sunday clothes in first and let them wash for a few minutes and then got a long wooden stick that Daddy had made for her and lifted the clothes out and let them drop into the rinse water. She would add some more soap and turn the wringer to the side of the machine and lifted a 5 gallon pail that was filled with the soaking dirty clothes, up on a backless green chair and start feeding the clothes through the wringer into the washing machine. Once the pail was empty she would go to the rinse tub and take one piece of clothing at a time and plunge down into the water as deep as it could go and then lift it up and let the water run off a little and then plunge it in again. She would repeat this three times with each article of laundry. John and I helped with the smaller pieces. We didn't mind getting splashed as we all rinsed the clothes with energy, singing the whole time we were doing it.
As each piece was rinsed it was put through the wringer and into a pail and then we'd head for the clothes line where we would hand the clothes to Mom, which saved her from having to bend down for every piece she hung up.
And so it continued until every batch of laundry was done, and all the clothes were flapping merrily in the breeze.
We would eat a quick lunch and then head out to check to see if the first few batches were dry already. Mom would take the clothes off and John and I would stand beside her with our arms stretched out and she would fill them with the dry clothes. We would run in and put them on the table and then run back outside to get another load.
There used to be a big mountain of clothes on the table by the time Mom got back inside. and we would all start folding. John and I got to pair the socks and fold the smaller things while Mom did the rest. She made up a little song that she sang whenever we were folding and putting everything away.
Thank you Lord for this nice day.
Bless us as we put away,
All the garments clean and bright
That were dried by wind and light.

There were some more verses but I can't remember them right now.


  1. Your wonderful stories so remind me of growing up and raising my children in Lancaster County, PA. We had many Amish and Mennonite families in our vicinity. On Sunday mornings, I remember the horses and buggies going by our house on the way to church at someone's house.

  2. I know I have said it before but this is so intriguing. I have never been to PA and would love to go.
    When I think of my laundry piles it makes it so hard to imagine that people choose to do laundry in this way - that it is their lifestyle.
    I love your story - it is one of love and family togetherness, the song brought tears to my eyes because it just reminds you of a more wholesome day and age.
    Next time I even think about complaining about my piles of laundry I will remember this post and remember the Amish people and being grateful to have clean clothes and a family to help fold them!

  3. I'm over by way of Cherie. Love this tale of your days of doing laundy growing up. Doing most things as a family is fun. Making family memeories. Sweet.

  4. I lived without electricity for almost 8 years, and this is the way I did laundry every Monday morning...
    It was hard work, but oh so satisfying!
    I don't get near the sense of satisfaction, just turning on the washing machine!

    Thank you for sharing your memories!

  5. My grandmother washed clothes that way too...I thought it was a treat when she let me carefully put the clothes through the wringer...I had forgotten about the use of a well rounded stick! Thanks for the memory!

  6. You paint such vivid pictures with your words. Fun to hear all about it.

  7. When I read the part about the wringer, I remembered my little sister stuck her arm into Mom's wringer before she knew better! I hope that never happened to your family.

  8. This is how families are supposed to be. Helpful united, kind, supportive.
    Todays family is like, come home, do everything quick and leave. Then come home to sleep.
    The home has been turned into a hotel where people bump into each other on their way to other things and I feel this is such a loss.
    People used to get angry at how to fold socks and today no one cares lol

  9. How on earth did she find time to blog???? ha ha People think I'm bizarre because I love to iron, but I do - it's relaxing to me and I feel like I've gotten something accomplished. I think it's neat that your mom made it fun for you and your brother - that's how you get things done! Would you use regular laundry detergent for that and fabric softener? Or did your mom make some soap? I love the smell of clean laundry - especially clean sheets!

  10. I am so glad Cherie over at Bakow Babble told us about your blog! What a wonderful insight to your life then and now. I cannot wait to read all your posts. Please come visit me at grannymountain!
    joy c.

  11. Came to visit from Cherie's blog, and so glad I did. I have enjoyed reading about you and your family, you life. Thanks for sharing your stories. I'll be back.
    Have a great day.

  12. And to think I complain about my pile of laundry! What a beautiful attitude and I love the happy little song. :)

  13. I am from Australia and visited PA for a while and am very intrigued. Great post and I am not sure I will complain about my pile of laundry either after reading this. Will be back!

  14. I'm visiting from Cherie's blog. What a fascinating post! I felt as though I was reading a scene out of Little House on the Prairie. It's sweet that you sang and enjoyed the time together.

  15. I love how as a child you were involved in the everyday things of running a household. I hope to be better at doing that with my own children. That they would learn the joy & satisfaction of a job well done and finding fun in the simple things of life! Was laundry done on a specific day? I do my wash on Mondays...and I LOVE hanging it out on the line, especially bedding and towels! :-)I'll have to see that song with my Annie! :)
    Thanks for sharing your memory!

  16. Thanks for stopping by!!

    I've spent awhile this morning reading through your posts, and I'm so glad that I did!

    Thanks for sharing your stories with us!!!

  17. What a lovely find in clicking onto your blog! I just love this story and the way you convey the moments.

    My business partner and I were busy cleaning filthy windows yesterday and trying to come up with new designs and we were commenting about how much we dislike cleaning our own house windows yet spend hours doing it for our business and then we went on to discuss our most dreaded house chore and we both agreed that it was laundry. This story makes me appreciate my washer and dryer and gets me motivated to put my laundry away - life is good.

    Nice meeting you,
    Juli of Deja View Designs

  18. Funny Laundry is the story of the week! I just started a facebook page and I've found my High School friends and Laundry is the topic! How do we wear so many clothes???!!
    Thanks for stopping by hope to see you again soon!

  19. Thank you for visiting my blog. I have added your name to the list.
    I have truly enjoyed visiting the other blogs.
    I must say you truly "paint" a picture with your words. I loved the story and will certainly remember it each time I do laundry.
    The work shared by your family is wonderful in this time when so many families have so little time to share even a dinner. What a blessing from the work. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story of your family.

  20. I remember wringer washing machines. My mom had one when I was small. My parents built a new house when I was five and when we moved into it she got a modern one. But, her wringer was inside in the kitchen and hooked up to hot water from the water heater. I have more memories of my great-grandmother and aunt having and using them up until I was around 12.

  21. I did a post about your blog a day or two ago in case you are wondering why all these people came over.
    I continue to love your blog - It makes me think and I love how you write with such feeling!

  22. I also did a post about your blog the other day because I am enjoying it so much. This is the kind of mother I want to be to my kids, as I do laundry, with my children with a cheerful heart! Your mother is someone I would like to be like, I didn't have a mother like that!

  23. I came across your blog via Peter's Peapod. I love the little song....and I love families working hard together. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Since it took so long to get clothes washed,
    I would have worn things a lot longer than I do now. Get 'em nice and dirty before I went to all the work to clean 'em!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, appreciated your comments.

  25. I so much enjoyed your wonderful story of being close and helpful to one another. A family working together, sharing the load. Those are the ties that bind.

    There was a time in my early childhood we, my parents, older brother and sister, did the laundry together. We had an electric washing maching that had the wringer build on top. By the time my younger brother was born we had moved into a larger home fully equipped with modern appliances and a dishwasher. Your story took me back there.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely story.

    Enchanted Rose Studio

  26. Oh wow. I know it's just common thing to you, but i think that washing your clothes like that is so neat. And singing, and making it fun, that would be so much fun. Even doing things like that with the family builds memories that are never forgotten. Thanks for sharing that story.

  27. That actually does sound like a lot of fun...especially as a child. When we involve the entire family in choring it becomes more like a game than a task, doesn't it?

    Thank you for stopping by my blog today. :)
    xoxo Caroline

  28. What a great story! Thanks for sharing.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog! Hope you enjoyed all the animals! They can be quite the characters!

  29. Wringers and boilers were fascinating as a child but not as I grew older and experienced the kitchen floor flooded when the water boiled over and the wringer that failed to wring. Why couldn't my experiences be as wonderful as yours. I loved the happy song.

  30. When I left home & went flatting my first washing machine was the old wringer type boy how I missed my beautiful Mum doing my washing & ironing for me not to mention how I appreciated even more all she had done for us growing up. You know I could almost smell your washing while it was hanging on the line drying in the wind... such hard work compared to now days but oh so very very satisfying. Thank you for sharing with us....

    Lyn xxx

  31. How happy I am that you left a comment so that I could visit your lovely blog.

    When I lived on the island of Crete 11 years ago our neighbor across the street would do her laundry in a similar fashion every Monday. I would sometimes assist her. Much pantomiming went on as my Greek was a good as her English. Her name was Sophia and she was in her 80's. Thank you for bringing back a lovely memory.

  32. Your post proves that work, coupled with a good attitude is fulfilling. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Oh I loved this post !! It brought back so many memories to me.My grandmother washed our laundry this way too.The back less chair, handing the pieces up to her and then holding out our arms for the dry ones. I had forgotten about these little things. Thanks so much for your story.And thank you for stopping by today !

  34. My grandmother washed like this. They lived in a "hallor" in rural KY. I remember her telling stories of how they thought they had struck it rich when they got their first electric washer and dryer many years later.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog & leaving a comment. I sure hope you come back to visit again.

  35. As I'm reading, I'm thinking ....washing clothes sounding like fun! What a way to spend close family ties.

  36. Beautiful story, very hard work. Reminds me of my visits to my grandmothers home. My sisters and I spend the summers with my grandparents. They worked hard, they had chickens, a vegetable garden, outside bathroom or Outhouse. Lots of baking and picking blueberries. Thanks for your beautiful stories.

  37. Wow and I complain that I have to lug my laundry around because we don't have hook ups. What great memories you have from doing the laundry. Thanks for sharing. You help me appreciate that I can still do my laundry at my sisters.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.