Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Wash Day Blues


Before the Washing  machine was invented, women would take their laundry down to the river and wash them. They would beat the laundry against the rocks in a stream, or beat them with the use of a laundry bat, stone or board which was the ancient way of getting the dirt out of the clothes. Another possibility of washing clothes was to put them in a wooden wash tub and trample on them with bare feet. The wet clothes would then be  draped over lines, or hung over bushes and rocks to dry in the hot sunshine. During the Victorian era, the attics were used for hanging laundry. However, most clothes had to be wrung out by hand.  Then along came the wringing machines in the mid-80’s which consisted of two rollers, with a hand crank which an item would be slipped in between the rollers and pressed with the hand crank to remove the excess water. There was no such thing as permanent press, so all clothing had to be ironed when they dried. This is where the flat-iron came in. It would be placed on the kitchen range to be heated. Of course one had to have several of them going at the same time, since they cooled quickly.
The Ironing  board was supported by two chairs or one part on the table and the other on a chair. This was commonly used in the 19th century. An ironing blanket would be wrapped around the board then topped with a cotton sheet which had to be changed and washed when soiled. Alva Fischer a native of Chicago during the late 1800s after finishing High School wanted to invent something. His mother suggested that he should create something that would help her around the house. So he decided to invent a better washing machine. Using his mother’s existing wash tub, he attached electric pumps to bring the water in and to pump it out, He then attached an agitator to the motor and finally the wringer was also attached to the motor, so there was no hand cranking effort. His first model was unveiled in 1905. Wringers remained a part of washing machines until after World War II. After certain drawbacks,The machine worked well enough for Fisher to sell the design to Westinghouse Corporation.In 1924 the Savage Arms Corporation redesigned its washing machine in order to take full advantage of electricity. As a  result of New Technology, the finished product became  the first washing machine that resembled modern washers. Since the 1924 design, the basic washer design and function have not changed.               

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