Sunday, July 26, 2009

Woman Washing

Greetings! This is going to be Wash Week here at Old Picture of the Day, and we start with this picture from 1937. I find the picture fascinating. It shows the camp of a homeless family set off by the side of the highway. The family has lost everything, and it has come down to them living in a tent by the side of the road. The thing that is amazing is that with all this, you can see the woman washing clothes. The family has lost all, but they will have clean clothes, thanks to this dedicated mom.

I have become convinced that 90% of all the washing that has ever been done, has been done by women. I am not saying that it should have been that way, and I am not saying that washing is "women's work". I am simply saying if you tallied up all the washing that was ever done, you would find that it was done by women. Of the maybe 10% of the washing that has been done by men, that washing was likely done under the influence of women. I would explain it this way. Imagine a bachelor with 14 pairs of socks. He would wear one pair each day. At the end of the day, he would throw the used socks in a pile on the floor. At the end of 14 days he is out of clean socks. His natural instinct would be to make one more round through socks, and start re-wearing the once-worn socks in the pile. It is likely that most bachelors would in the end decide to wear the socks one more time. But, some bachelors would realize that they might run into a woman they liked that would be offended that they were re-wearing already once-worn socks. Based on the concern of offending a woman said bachelor might like, he probably would decide to go out and buy some new socks. If he did not have the extra money for new socks, he would probably first try to see if he could invite his mother over for dinner, in the hopes she would wash his socks while there. If that fails, he is out of options, and he might actually wash the socks. In this case, we have a man washing, but it is under the influence of women, in that he is concerned of how a woman might react to him wearing dirty socks.


  1. My husband seems to enjoy doing the laundry! Lucky me. In the picture - I wonder who will set the outhouse back up. Judi

  2. A modern bachelor, realising that
    there are more things to wash than
    socks, buys a washing machine for

    Using a laundrette costs $5 a wash,
    so within two years the machine has
    easily paid for itself.

    Said bachelor now has clean clothes and more money. The ladies see the man is clean, smart, and knows how to handle money.
    Everyone's happy.

  3. Ray,
    My assumption was said bachelor had a washing machine, just chose not to use it.

  4. Begging you pardon but I'm a bachelor and I enjoy doing laundry; cleaning the house; and especially cooking. I've done so for 30 plus years

  5. PJM

    Then said bachelor, now with washing machine but doesn't use
    it, is unlikely to find a woman.
    They, thinking him an idiot.

  6. My Grandma had 2 big black wash pots, she would fill them with water, build a fire under then bring the water to boil. She cut home-made Lye soap in then and add the whites (sheets, towels etc). She let them boil, all the while punching them around with a stick (sawed off broom handle). They were then transferred to a tub of hot water where they were scrubbed on a washboard, then over into a rinse tub with Bluing added.The last load to be washed was the work cloths.

  7. PJM:

    This will be my favorite week.

    With respect to laundry, this is what my life is like every day.

    My husband and daughter take two to three showers a day and throw everything down as soon as they touch it.

    And it was worse when my daughter was in high school and competing in dance and gymnastics.

    And, when I'm not doing OUR laundry, I'm doing my dad's.

    I recently burned through Maytag Neptune washer and dryer set - each applicance was aboug $1,200 and supposedly indestructible.

    Haha, not in MY house. Four years of college, graduate school, technical school, and laundry is now my life.

  8. I worked many hours and didn't feel like washing so much so I kept buying socks. One day I gathered all my socks for a grand washing day and I had 60 pairs, mostly black.

  9. The tale of the bachelor buying socks reminded me of a true story I read many years ago.
    A member of the Rumanian aristocracy had come to America as an attache to the embassy. When WWII broke out, he was out of a job - and a maid. Up to this point, he was accustomed to having his clothes disappear from the hamper and mysteriously reappear in his closet, and gave it no thought.
    However, when no clean clothes turned up in his closet here, he went and bought new ones, until one day he couldn't get the lid of the hamper closed. He had to ask a co-worker how to solve this great mystery! Talk about a babe in the woods!

  10. It really aggravates me when my husband says I “waste too much time” doing laundry every day, but then not ten minutes later he will yell “where are my jeans?” if they don’t reappear in his closet within 24 hours of throwing them in the hamper.

    I have a friend who has a more laid-back attitude about this sort of thing; and she once told me a really funny story. They have a very busy household, and every time her husband wanted them to go out or do something, she would say - “just give me one hour,” during which she would quickly straighten up the house, make the beds, and throw in a load of laundry so that she didn’t have to walk back in to a mess.

    So . . . one day, after saying the usual “just give me an hour,” her husband said to her “you don’t know how to manage your time, and you don’t NEED an hour, why don’t you learn to just let things GO? The laundry and the cleaning, can wait, you need to re-think your priorities, etc. etc.”

    Now, would have gotten really angry, but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she just quietly let some things “go.” And one of those things was the laundry, and specifically, the bath towels. She timed it out so that there would be no clean bath towels when her husband was getting ready for work one morning. So, when he got out of the shower, there was nothing for him to dry off with except one ratty little face cloth.

    Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened. He started yelling, “where are the clean towels?”, to which she sweetly replied, “well I decided to take your advice and let some things “go” and one of them was the laundry. and you know, you were right - I feel really good about it!!! so maybe you can run downstairs and wash some if you feel like it. but I find it much more relaxing just to let them “go.”“

    Well, that ended THAT!!!

  11. What a tale the photo tells; the wash comments are interesting, but there is so much more. It would seem they had been there for some time, as there are stains ont he top of the tent. There is a man of the house (or tent), as there is an axe on the ground. However, there is no wood. My guess is that he is out looking for a job, or at least for some food to bring back to the family. The woman is doing laundry, in an attempt to maintain order and civility in the family. Note that the kids are still asleep in the tent; some things never change. However, it must be early in the morning.

    The woman is wearing a nice dress, and there is a pair of shoes on the ground. They obviously had money at one time. There are no tire tracks, so the family lost their car and the man is now afoot. There is also a newer tent behind the foreground tent. Either they managed to acquire another tent for the parents, or someone else moved into the neighborhood.

    There is a dedicated fire area, so this is intended as a camp ground. there is also a fence in the background, so it is not too secluded inspite of the the fact that it is a dirt road.

    I wonder if the family got back on their feet. How would it have felt when they again could close the door behind them and wrap themselves in the seclusion of their private home. We certainly take many things for granted.

  12. I wonder if I may point out that men have washed their own socks for thousands of years as can be confirmed by this refrain by that well known composer Anon :-

    While Shepherds washed their socks by night,
    All seated round the tub,
    The Angel of the the Lord came down,
    And gave them all a scrub.

    (set to the tune of While Sheppards watched their flocks at night)

    So there !