I was talking to my Aunt Sandy a short time ago, and we were discussing past history and how things used to be done. She mentioned something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I have seen these, as I’m sure many of you have, and I even saw one on Facebook yesterday. These machines, which really have no business being called machines, since it is completely run be your own arm power, or elbow grease, as my mom would call it. I’m talking, of course, of the wringer washing machine. At one time, I’m sure this was the crème de la crème of washing machines. Prior to that marvelous invention, women scrubbed their clothes on a wash board, and wring it out by hand. Even after the wringer machine was invented, the clothes that were really stained had to be scrubbed on that old washboard.
Aunt Sandy told me about her own memories of washing clothes on that old wringer washing machine, and just how hard it was to use. Of course, as a kid, she might have liked working that old machine too. It can be fun for a while. I’ve had occasion to try one of those wringer washers before, and I can tell you first hand that when the clothes went between the two rollers of the wringer, and you had to be the one to crank those wringers, you found out real fast what elbow grease was all about. It wasn’t long before your arms felt like wet dish rags…very sore wet wash rags. And the next day…well you could hardly move. Maybe that’s why they only did the laundry one day a week. I mean, who could stand to do it more often than that. I know that it would give most of us more than sore arms. We would probably have a headache too.
So much has changed since those days. Washing machines really are machines now, and they wash the clothes with no effort on our part. There are sprays to get the stains out and the machine does everything from the scrubbing to spin drying. The hardest thing we have to do is fold the clothes when they are done drying in the dryer, which is a machine now too…as opposed to the clothes line and the wind.
When I think about how little time has really passed since the women of yesteryear worked a lot harder to do the same work that we do in a matter of minutes these days, I am amazed. From the mind of one inventor creating the wringer washer, to the mind of another creating a machine to do all that work for you, our world has progressed from the harsh and almost primitive way of doing laundry, when women scrubbed their clothes on a washboard or even a rock, to the ease of our modern machinery that takes all the work out of a big job, and makes it easy.