Family Home in Chinook

Laundry Day

Just past the stove reservoir was the back door leading into the back porch. This was the laundry area containing the Maytag and two laundry tubs on the laundry bench (remember, Dad ran the power plant so we had power).

This room was designed with screens or storm windows on two sides depending on the season.

You stepped out of the back porch onto a three by six foot landing and from there took three steps to the ground. Our landing had a big cast pump mounted on the east end of it. This pump went down a seventeen-foot cased well which Dad had drilled so that he wouldn't have to carry wash water from the town well three blocks away.

This well was a partial success in as much as it did deliver just enough water for the Monday wash. The water however was loaded with salts, minerals, and bacteria.

Any time this water evaporated it left a plentiful deposit of quite tasty white residue. Had the well produced any quantity of water we could have put Borax and Epsom right out of business.

Mother used our well for rinsing the work clothes, but when I got old enough to carry it was "Ray I need one tub filled with good water for the last rinse". This was carried from the town well three blocks away.

Our Maytag was a big square monster with big rubber wringers on a pedestal above the square tank, which stood on four legs. Below the washing body and mounted between it's legs was the electric motor and transmission.

Every Monday I used to look forward to the steam and soap smell, and the chug, chug, chug sound of that old Maytag as it processed the piles of dirty clothes while Mother stood out on the back landing and deftly pinned each article in its proper order.

I can clearly see the wooden kitchen chair with the holes in its bottom where the back used to be. This chair stayed in the back porch to be placed on the landing below one of the two clothes lines so as to hold the basket of clean clothes to be hung out or taken in when dry.

Drying Laundry

Clothes dried quickly in the summer. The wind was always with us and it seldom rained. The demon to watch out for was the sudden dust storm. Mother kept her eyes peeled and was ready at a moment's notice to reel in the lines whether clothes were dry or wet.

Winter was quite a different matter however. They were long and they were cold. Freeze dried foods are very common today, but when I was growing up all we had was freeze dried clothes. I mean it. This is no lie.

Mother often had to let them hang for two days, but it worked. The first day the sheets froze solid and hung like a sheet of plywood swinging back and forth in the wind, but on the second day, they started to move, starting from the bottom edge and flapping their way up to the line. This was the signal that the freeze dry process was complete.

Now all we had to do was get the clothes pins off each corner and carefully pry that corner of the sheet off the steel line without having it snap off. Mother had to hem many a sheet corner because of this winter freeze dry process. In fact most of our sheets had round corners.

I was often pressed into service to carry one end of a full sized sheet through the doors and around the room corners (heading for the living room) when because of fog and ice crystals the sheets stayed frozen and had to be draped over the sofa for the night.

Chilblains started in my fingers and worked up to my wrist. Often we had to stop and warm up between taking in each sheet. You may have heard of fun "between the sheets". This was not the way to do it.

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