Washday

I remember the massive washing
pot sizzling on the stove, steaming
soap and shiny bubbles, the dolly,
the washboard in the sink. Barely
room for two in her tiny scullery,
I gripped her apron tightly,
behind the comfortable safety
of her body, away from the flames
flickering from washday spits.
Afterwards, on the carmine step,
I turned the wringer handle
while she fed each item through the rollers until
it dropped into the basin below –
how it never trapped her reddened fingers
I will never know.

Kim M. Russell, 20th September 2019

Image result for paintings and artwork washing day washboard and wringer
Image found on Pinterest

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Weekend Mini-Challenge: Grandma’s Kitchen

This weekend Sherry is taking us back to our Grandmas’ kitchens. She asks if they were safe places and whether there were items that stand out for us when we remember being there. She wants us to tell her about it, any form, any length.

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32 thoughts on “Washday

  1. This reminds me of my mother’s sister who had no children of her own and I used to visit her on wash days to help her hang out her washing and your illustration is almost an exact replica of her washhouse!

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  2. Oh my GOODNESS! This took me back! I used to HAVE one of the wringer washers pictured in the photo. But washday was even harder for your grandma, the heavy pot on the stove, the red hands, the washboard and the wringer. Our grandmas worked hard. Mine told me of a time through the Great Depression when she did laundry in the bathtub. They lived in the Prairies and the wash froze on the line. They would bring it inside frozen stiff and stand the clothes around the house to thaw out. How things have changed, with our automatic machines, and God bless whoever invented them. Smiles.

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    1. When I first moved to Ireland, I did the washing in the bath! When Ellen was a baby, we couldn’t afford those new-fangled nappies, so I had to steep the terry ones in nappy disinfectant, hand rinse them and then boil them on the range, and rinse them again before hanging them out to dry. No wonder I got dermatitis on my hands! We also had washing frozen on the line – still do in very cold winters, as there aren’t many places to dry indoors.

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  3. We had one of those wringer washers on the back porch – I used to love to put the clothes through the wringer, standing up in a chair so I could reach the wringer. Our grandmother’s worked so hard to make a home for us. We are truly blessed.

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  4. A neat recollection poem, Kim. I related, we didn’t have a washing machine and always on Mondays Mom and I came to Grandma’s house to do our washing. Grandma had a newer Maytag with a gasoline engine as non of us had electricity.
    ..

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    1. Thank you, Jim. When I first moved to Ireland I washed everything in the bath, wrung it by hand and dried everything on the line or over the range – we had one that we heated with peat from the bog.

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  5. Wow we are so old….I remember my grandmother’s wash house. She had a gas copper and two big laundry concrete tubs with a wringer.. The next time I complain about weather I must remember you northern hemisphere eathlings with washing frozen on the line…. I really dont know how anyone can survive a cold climate…Thank you Lord for automatic washing machines and dryers In fact if I did not have both I would just wear sarongs without underwear….now I understand why they wear these in the tropics….no washing:)

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    1. I love how genuine this feels as a child’s perspective. The details about the machine and fire and how they loom like giants in the child’s mind are wonderful. And of course, the grandmother as the calm mistress of all those larger than life things just cements the trust and awe of the grandchild. Good stuff.

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  6. Oh, I remember those wash days. We had a wash house with a ringer washer and rinse tubs. Mama taught us how to do all of it. I am surprised I still have my fingers. lol

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  7. Ha. My poem also remembered a wringer washer! Imagine the size of our wardrobe if we didn’t have modern washer and dryer! Love the warmth I feel in this poem – Hanging out with Grandma.

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