Saturday, June 25, 2011

Laundromat Lizard

The Mount McKinley of laundry I struggled with intensely today.
First, let me say that I HATE doing the laundry. Not because I mind loading the machine, but because I have an undying aversion to visiting the Laundromat. It seems that I always time it just right to get there when the little kids laundry basket races are happening while indifferent parents look on. While they push each other around the place there is a half-hearted, "stop that" as they make the 30th lap around the place. Then the parent snaps his/her fingers and go's back to texting on a cell phone. The kids never even take notice. I'm not mad at the kids. It's just that I need one of the baskets to load my wash. And of course I don't want them to get hurt. There is a huge sign at the place I go that tells parents not to allow kids to race around in the baskets. Nobody pays attention. I've seen a couple of kids get hurt, and of course the parents threaten to sue as they are loading the kids into their vehicles for a trip to get stitches.

I have quite a history with laundry. I'm old enough to remember seeing laundry boiled in pots over a fire in deep East Texas at my Grandpaw's farm. Also, I remember both my Grandmothers washing things in a dishpan with P&G soap. (I got washed with it a time or two myself.) The clothes were  then hung on the lines behind the house with the old wooden clothespins--the kind without the wire springs. And no clothes ever smelled fresher than the ones dried in the sun.

The first washing machine I remember was a small table model that mom used when we lived in an apartment on South Presa in San Antonio. It wasn't much bigger than I big bean pot and looked sort of like a pressure cooker. (You youngsters look that up.) She plugged it into the socket on the overhead light bulb. Later when we lived on Commercial off Military Drive, down from an early ice house called the "Ize Box," (That was the way it was spelled and like its descendents, its big selling item was beer.Thirsty Kelly workers and airmen stopped in every evening for brew.) Mom had an old wringer washer in a wash house in the back yard. The clothes agitated in the tub and then you fed them through the wringer. I feared the thing, because Mom told me about all the folks who had lost arms, hands, and fingers by getting them caught in the electric wringers.
My college dorm was the scene of petty laundry larceny. Some guys found out that you could cut dime shaped pieces of plastic from deodorant can lids (Right Guard was the favorite.) and they would work as good as real dimes. (This was a tip passed on from the seniors to the incoming freshmen.) Guys used to go up and down the hall begging the lids you had 'cause they wanted to wash clothes. There used to get togethers where they cut out a big supply of the fake dimes. I was in the laundry room one day and the guy came to empty the change box. Suddenly I heard a stream of profanity. He emptied the box on the table and t
There were about eight dimes and forty plastic plugs.
In California I witnessed an interesting scene in a small neighborhood laundromat in Sacramento. I was washing my clothes and a hitch-hiking couple walked in. They emptied their packs of the few clothes they had. They threw them into the washer, and then proceeded to strip down to just their jean cut-offs. The girl calmly peeled off her top and put it in too. While the clothes washed and dried we carried on a friendly conversation while the well endowed girl jiggled. Then they put their shirts on, packed the rest of their clothes into their duffel, and hooked 'em. The wild and wooly sixties were something.

So, I spent the afternoon destroying the mound of dirty clothes. They are now neatly put away. It wasn't a complete loss. I got a blog post out of it. It may be of questionable value, but it is one. And I won't have to go back for a long time. I have plenty of T-shirts and I must have fifty pairs of underwear briefs. That way I can minimize my laundromat travail. I kid you not.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this blog as it brought back my childhood memories of doing laundry in my grandparents basement in PA during my summer visits. I first washed in the old agitator, then put the clothes through that infamous wringer, then into a metal tub of water to rinse, then put them back through the wringer to get out most of the water. I then hung them with those same wooden pins (without springs) to dry on a line in that big basement. Who would have thought of laundry having such wonderful memories! These are memories I only associate with my long gone grandparents.

Deborah J. Lightfoot said...

This brought back lots of memories for me! I remember my West Texas grandmother's wringer-washer and how careful we all were to keep our fingers out of the wringers. But as young as I was (5 or 6, as I recall) I was allowed to use an old wooden spoon to help push the wet laundry through the wringer. Yikes! These days, no parent or grandparent would let their kid anywhere near such a dangerous piece of machinery. Back then, though, kids were given credit for possessing a little common sense.

Your hitchhikers story reminded me of the trip Gene & I made to England in 1989. In Yorkshire, we had our first experience with British laundromats. The locals felt compelled to show us how to use each machine. I suppose they viewed us as savages from the wilds of Texas who had never before done laundry. But in fact, we benefited from them hovering over us, because they had a wringer that was a separate machine from the washer. After our clothes went through the washer's "spin" cycle, we proceeded to put them directly into the dryer. But, no -- the locals insisted that we first put the wet clothes through the stand-alone wringer, and THEN transfer them to the dryer. They were right -- the initial (very hard and fast) wring-out from the stand-alone wringer made our clothes dry much faster in the dryer, saving us money and time.

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