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U3A Writing: Thank Goodness For Washing Machines!

Jean Imrie and her brother hated Mondays - washing day.

It was only a couple of years ago that my brother and I discovered we both hated MONDAYS. As in most households, before we all had a washing machine, Monday was washing day. My mother was very house proud, so before the washing was started the house had to be dusted and polished from top to bottom.

After the housework was complete, the gas boiler was pulled out from under the draining board, filled with cold water, and heated to boiling point. The washing was sorted into whites, colours and woollens. The whites included sheets, pillow cases and my father's stiff white collars. The bed linen was put in the sink and washed by hand, and then transferred into the boiler, together with the towels and scrubbed collars, and boiled for 20 minutes.

The kitchen was filled with steam, the doors and windows wide open (in the winter it was jolly cold). Invariably the boiler would boil over and put the gas out under the boiler and the water would flood the kitchen floor. All the clothes, in turn, were put into the sink and washed, before going into the boiler, excluding woollens etc. (I think we must have been very dirty people, because the bed linen was washed and boiled).

After the washing had been in the copper, it was rinsed in two lots of cold water and finally, all the whites were put through a blue rinse. (The blue rinse was made from a small block of blue chalk-like substance which was supposedly good for wasp stings).

After the blue rinse, my mother would then make starch with boiling waler. It was made into a fairly thick paste into which she would put the collars. After they were removed from the starch, she would dilute it and put the pillow cases in. When all the rinsing was done the clothes were put through a wringer.

All these routines seemed to take for ever. My brother and I hated the house full of steam, and we always had to wait for our meal until all the washing was finished. I must say my mother's washing was the whitest washing hanging on the lines.

I think everything wore out through washing and not wearing.

Thank goodness for Washing Machines!


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