Dateline: 12 September 2014
Years ago, I received a long, handwritten letter from a woman reader of this blog whose washing machine was breaking down. She wanted to know if I thought she should buy another machine or start doing the family laundry by hand.
I showed the letter to Marlene and she said, "Well, I hope you're going to tell her to buy another washing machine!"
Unfortunately, I don't think I ever answered that letter. If you're still reading this blog, ma'am, I apologize. I sure did put some thought into it but, if I recall correctly, I had a lot of hay down at the time. Hopefully, you bought another washing machine.
If there is a woman out there reading this who does your whole family's laundry by hand, and you recommend against having a washing machine, your perspective would be appreciated in the comments below.
From my point of view, there are two problems with electric washing machines. First, they break. I understand the newer machines tend to break down a whole lot faster than the old ones. Our washing machine (a Kenmore) is at least 25 years old. It still works, though I have had to come up with some unconventional repair strategies (literally, in part, using baling wire) to keep it going. I don't want to buy a new washing machine because the one we have still works, and it gets worked almost every day. Our three boys are out of the house, but they still bring their laundry home to wash it.
The second problem with washing machines is that they need electricity. When the grid goes down someday, an electric washing machine isn't going to work. That reality will probably be the least of most people's problems, but it's something that is on my mind. I'd like to have the ability to wash clothes without electricity when the electricity is gone.
Thus, over the years, I have been acquiring the tools necessary for post-electricity clothes washing. They are the same tools that were used in the pre-electrical era. I have galvanized wash tubs and a vintage, fold-up, two-tub wash stand with a center section to clamp a wringer on. I have a hand wringer from Lehmans. I have a Rapid Laundry Washer (but maybe I should have a Breathing Mobile Washer). I have Fels-Naptha soap. All I lack is a washboard.
So I did a Google search and was amazed to find that there is still a washboard maker in America. The Columbus Washboard Company in Logan, Ohio, has been making washboards since 1895. According to their web site they are the only washboard company left in America.
It was a delight to peruse the web site and learn about the history of the company. And I bought me one of their washboards. Well, actually, I bought it for Marlene. :-)
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