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Why We Loved the 50's, 60's
I think if you ask many white Americans about the ’50s they will smile as they speak. It was a simpler time. The American economy boomed … cars with chrome and fins carried us to large, new construction homes in the suburbs. It was “Happy Days” … even Richie Cunningham had hair.
While I recall those things, I also recall laundry day. My mother worked outside the home. So while there were daily chores I was assigned to do after school each day … the big cleaning day was Saturday. And that meant laundry. The washing machine was in the basement. The drying was outside. Four clotheslines suspended between two posts cemented into the ground in our backyard.
Since I don’t have a lot to do during the lockdown, I did some research before starting to write this morning. (Since I did the work…you must endure the history lesson.) The first automated dryer was patented in 1892. Of course, we had a more modern version based on the “June Day” model developed in 1938. But WWII halted production of the unit, so we were among the majority of American families that didn’t have a dryer
until well into the 60s’. But even after my father somehow maneuvered the gleaming, hunk of steel next to its partner in the basement we continued to hang certain items outside for years to come. I don’t recall exactly when the posts and lines were removed, though I am certain it had something to do with keeping up with “the Jones”.
Today, in much of Europe, you know when your neighbors are doing laundry because you see it outside their window. Lines on pulleys stretch across windows. It really doesn’t take that much time to dry and given the cost of electricity offers significant savings.
Our D7 accommodations did not have clotheslines, so we used the drying rack you see at the beginning of this post. This rack is also helpful, of course, on rainy days … which we had a lot of when we arrived. While our current temporary apartment and our soon-to-be more permanent apartment have lines…the unit still comes in handy.
We should also note that both of these apartments have the washer/dryer combined unit. While an upgrade, we seldom use the drying function. First, the unit has limited load capacity … i.e. it is small. Second, when utilizing the dry function it seems to run forever. Finally, we are in a country that promotes energy efficiency … so why not live like a local!
How do you remember the laundry days of your youth? Did your wind-dried sheets smell better than the fabric softener sheet? On winter days, did you hang the laundry in the basement or garage? Let me know below.