Wash Day On The Farm In The Forties

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Ted Richards, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Ted Richards

    Ted Richards Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2017
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    On wash day, mom heated water in two galvanized tubs on top of an outdoor furnace fueled by wood. All the water was carried by hand in buckets. It required about 12 buckets of water to fill a tub. I got to do the pumping with a hand pump on our well. Mom did have one modern convenience, a Maytag wringer washer. A gasoline engine powered the washer and it had a kick-starter like on motorcycles. That was about as close as she ever got to a motorcycle. The washer was also outdoors close to the furnace.

    Mom used near-boiling water and washed whites first. Those went into the first tub of rinse water after she ran them through the wringer to remove the soapy water. Then she loaded the colored clothes into the washer. While they were washing, she got most of the soap out of the whites and ran them through the wringer into the second rinse water with “bluing” to make the whites whiter. After the second rinse and wringing, they were hung on the clothes line to dry. As you can imagine, this was an all day job.

    Permanent press hadn’t been invented yet and the fashion was starched and ironed. (The casual look was still in the future.) Mom used flatirons for ironing. She had several flat irons so that some were heating while another was being used. They were heated on the wood cook stove, summer and winter. In the summer, it was pretty hot work, and not much fun at anytime.
  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member

    Jun 9, 2015
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    ironing was one of my chores growing up. My three favorite words are not, 'I love you" but, "Never needs ironing." ;)
    Yvonne Smith likes this.
  3. Ann George

    Ann George Active Member

    Sep 14, 2017
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    Totally agree .... I absolutely HATE ironing as well. Me also thinks , that we may be the last generation that knows what an iron is actually used for. ;)
    Shirley Martin likes this.
  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
    Moderator Registered

    Jan 21, 2015
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    I can remember when we didn't have indoor plumbing. We did have a hand pump outside that we'd haul water from. Walking the the outhouse at 3 am on a Michigan February wasn't any fun. We still had the outhouse long after we got indoor plumbing and a septic tank, and still had to use it sometimes when the pipes would freeze in the winter.

    Baths were a pain in the butt, having to haul water and heat it on the wood stove. Unless I wanted to use water that someone else had already used, which I didn't, I would have to haul and heat my own water, so it was usually barely warm. We had only one pot large enough to heat a good volume of water in so what was poured into the tub would mostly cool off by the time the next pot of water was warm.

    Mom had a gas-powered washing machine that was kept in the yard covered by a tarp when not in use, and clothes dried on the line, even in the winter. I never really understood that one, but mom would hand the clothes on the line in the winter before bringing them in to hand somewhere in the house for a while before putting them away.

    Now, I rarely iron anything but when I did, I would iron them before using them. Mom would iron everything that needed to be ironed before hanging them in the closet.

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