Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Electric Washer

This picture was taken in 1945, and shows a woman with a new-fangled electric washing machine. The system is similar to earlier manual systems, but the clothes wringer is driven by an electric motor instead of a crank. The agitator in the tub is also driven by an electric motor. While this system still required lots of attention from the woman, it required much less manual exertion. Info with the picture indicates that the major advantage of the system is that women would have the laundry done by mid-day, leaving them "fresh" to complete the ironing by the end of the day. Wow, I have to say that I think that we forget how much easier and comfortable life is with the simple things like modern washing machines, and refrigerators.


  1. When I was growing up, we did not have electricity on out farm. So my mother had a gas powered washing machine. It was set up near and a little down hill from the windmill so we did not have to carry water. Washing was done with cold water back then.. FAB laundry detergent worked good with cold water.

  2. I'm really enjoying this weeks subject. Hope the guys are not too bored.

    In the early 1970's I worked at a friend's lodge in Wyoming, and we did the lodge's laundry with a gas powered set up similar to this. It is probably still much the same, as the lodge has no electricity outside a gas powered generator.

  3. Ah, I did love my old wringer machine! I still hang my clothes on the line whenever possible, although with as much rain as we're getting in the Baltimore area, it's been hit and miss. Sheets *absolutely* must go on the line; I'll put them in the freezer if it is raining or snowing until I can get them outside. I generally only use the dryer to fluff up the bathtowels after they come off the line.

  4. My grandmother (Lometa,TX) had a washing machine similar to this one. Hers was set up just outside of the kitchen in the shade of the smokehouse. Nearby was a large cistern that caught rainwater off of the roof. She would use that water as a rinse for her clothes as well as her hair so they would be soft. A cousin was helping with the wash one day and her arm was caught in the ringer. It crushed the bone and she suffered permanent damage from it.

  5. Rebecca:
    Where was the lodge? My friend ran Big Sandy Lodge in the Wind Rivers back then.

  6. PJM, what were you and that strange woman doing in our basement using our washing machine?!?

    Wow! That photo is almost an exact duplicate of our basement and machine about 1954. Mama used to bathe me and my sister in the cement sinks when it was hot. I used to love watching the water rush out of the hose into the sink when she drained the machine.

    The wringer had an emergency quick release. That came in handy the day that I, age 3, decided to test the wringer workings by putting my hand in. I still carry a small scar.

    I still hang my laundry out to dry, and my girls are learning the benefits of that too. Not only does it smell good, by my estimate, we save about $10 a month on the gas bill doing that.

  7. My baby sister got her arm caught in the wringer of an old Maytag when she was about three. My first go-cart was powered by a the motor from a Maytag gas powered washer.


  8. How strange, I, too, got my arm caught in the ringer while my sister and I were feeding little pieces of paper into them as my Dad wotked on the agitator(?). The last thing he said to us was don't reach for the paper if it gets caught in the wringer, but being a smart but not always obedient son, I reached in to catch the paper and the next thing I knew, the wringers were reeling me in like a fish.

    I hollered and Sister screamed as I got pulled closer and closer to my sholder. Thankfully Dad had the presence of mind to shut the washer down and release the spring. All I got was a bruse at my elbow, but my ego was crushed when Dad just gave me his patented "look" that was known to melt steel.

    Brused but not defeated, I continued life and received a great number of looks from him. No need for additional punishment; displeasing him was punishment enough.

  9. Photographing Mrs. PJM cleaning your tidy whities is over the top.

  10. My grandmother had a wringer washer (Speed Queen) in her cottage even in the 1970's because they used less water. It was easier on septic systems.

    They're still being made in Saudi Arabia, probably for the same reason (water consumption).

    We were always told to stay away from the ringer...

  11. The link-- again

  12. This picture reminds me of my mother and my childhood.

  13. That looks like the washing machine my Mother had.

    There was no way that she was "freed up" to do the ironing in the afternoon.

    In those days there was breakfast, lunch, and dinner to prepare. There were dishes to be done. Our Mother worked at home, all the day long.

    Monday was laundry and Tuesday was ironing. Keeping floors mopped and carpets vacuumed, and the bathroom clean was a never-ending chore.

    We were always warned that the wringer was dangerous. However, we were not permitted to be around the machine when it was in use.

  14. Many years ago (when I was in college), I picked up some old copies of “Modern Priscilla” magazine from the 1920s from a flea market. They are in perfect condition.

    This publication was sort of the forerunner to “Good Housekeeping” and it contained stories and tips for running a home with all of the “technology” during the Industrial Revolution. The magazine went out of business in the 1930s.

    Some of the photographs in this week’s series remind me of that magazine. I still have them and look at them from time to time. Fascinating.

  15. Brother Dave:

    We had a neighbor who did her housework on a schedule just like your mom. She was a true, turn-of-the-century “domestic engineer” who took pride in what she did.

    On Mondays, she did laundry; Tuesdays were ironing; Wednesday was the marketing; on Thursdays she took the bus downtown for lunch at the Tea Room and had her hair done; and on Fridays she cleaned the house, changed the bed linens, and went to the fish market. She cooked a full Sunday dinner every week, putting in the oven before going to church. And she prepared every meal for her family from scratch, three meals a day, her kids came home for lunch.

    She’s the one who had the washing machine with the wringer that we always were fascinated with.

    We used to call her “nana,” because our grandparents passed away before we were born. I was always in awe of her. She lived to be 101, and I am still friends with her daughter, who is . Since I stopped working several years ago, I try to pattern my schedule after hers. I keep her photo on my dresser. Some things never go out of style.

  16. The comment above is me. typo in the name sorry.

  17. I too knew someone who's arm got caught in the wringer. His inner arm above the elbow had some really weird scarring on it where it had been all twisted to hell. I'm sensing a trend here.

  18. PJM, we miss you. Are you okay?

  19. If you had a tractor, you could do this!

  20. Two days with no update. I pray you are OK.

  21. PJM:

    Where are you? Is everything OK?

    We're all getting worried.

  22. We are for a fact; maybe your internet is down again?? Hope all is well

  23. There have been some bad storms here in this part of Texas. Hopefully the internet or power are down.

    Something simple and healthy.

  24. My mother traded a rebuilt army Harley Davidson for a gas powered washing machine to wash diapers with. I would like to know the price of a new gas powered machine in 1954.....I'm wondering if she got ripped off! LOL.



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