Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday wash day

Monday has traditionally been designated as wash day, though you wouldn’t know it these days unless you read it on your dishtowels.

They say it is because of the labor involved in doing a load of wash the old way. Sunday was the day of rest so Ma was fresh and well-rested to do the laundry come Monday morning.

Labor, you say? Yes. Drawing and hauling buckets of water to fill the tubs, boiling the water, scrubbing the clothes, wringing, rinsing, hanging up the wet clothes to dry, draining the water tubs, taking down the dry clothes, and preparing the clothes for ironing- the Tuesday task.

Power was eventually added to the equation in the form of a gas engine. You could agitate the clothes rather than scrub them. And a crank type wringer would squeeze the water out.

Along came electric street lights in the 1880s, but the lines went dead during the day. No one had a use for electricity when the sun came up. (The exceptions were the factories where electric motors were used. Some had their own power plants. Still, the residential grids were turned off during the day.)

Then Thor came along in 1908, the first electric washer. Thor’s no longer around, but Whirlpool and Maytag are. By 1911 you could purchase any of the three.

Soooo…the electric company left the power on during the day on Monday so women could wash. By 1920 electric steam irons appeared and women wanted power during the day on Tuesday as well.

And the power company got the message. We wanted, and got, electricity 24 hours a day.

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