Nashville History

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wash Day!

This beautiful day, November 29, 2016, reminds me of wash day.  It was easy to wash clothes in the summer in Nashville, TN.  OK not easy, but convenient.  Most days from June through September ranged from warm to very hot, and not a lot of rainy days.  Fall, winter, and spring provided challenges for getting the washing done.  Any fall (or winter or spring) day that started as this one has, became wash day.  For my mama that meant up early to fill the wringer washer with hot water and all the dirty white clothes for the first load.  I always had an automatic washer but did not always have a dryer.  The washing was easy for me, just putting in a load of clothes and letting the machine do it's job.  Still, I had to start early to get all the clothes dry on the shorter days of fall time.  I loved hanging out the clothes and it was especially pleasant to take them off the line and smell the goodness of the sunshine and fresh air.  I often just had to bury my face into an item and just take it all in.  It was more than a smell.  It was an experience, like no other. Like anyone else who had no access to a dryer, I hwould hang out clothes, year round.  If the weather was particularly bad for an extended time, I had to resort to the laundromat, or wishy-washy as we called them in Nashville.  I hated that, so I hung the clothes out whenever possible.  Why is it that we never think to make a photograph of the simple everyday things, that once they are gone, become so important in our memories?  I did find a photo on pinterest that remind me of mama's clotheslines, but there was no credit.

Copied from pinterest, no credit given

I borrowed this excerpt from another of my blog posts to share here.

Washing clothes! Oh if kids today only knew.  At our house wash day started early, as soon as Mama got Daddy off to work and out of the house.  We had a wringer washer and she had to use the bath tub as a rinse tub.

Mama would pull the washer near the bathroom door and fill it with hot water and add powdered tide.  White clothes always went first. If there were a lot clothes the water would be changed but usually one tub of water did all the clothes.  Load the clothes into the hot water, let the machine agitate for awhile.  Then run each piece of clothing through the wringer and place it in the tub.  The machine I remember most was electric but the older ones had to be agitated by hand and the wringer had a handle that was turned to wring the clothes.  Ours had a motor that turned the wringers as clothing was fed through.  After the clothing was rinsed in the clean water, it went back through the wringer again and into a basket.  Then out to the clothes lines.  We had five or six lines strung between metal "T" poles that had been secured into the ground with concrete, so the weight of the wet clothes would not pull them down.

Once I was tall enough I helped hang the clothes.  Mama wouldn't let me use the wringer.  She got her hand caught in one and was afraid I would get hurt.  We had a lot of people in our house at times and a lot clothes.  By the time enough had been washed that all the lines were full, usually the first clothes hung, had dried and were taken down to make room for the next load.  In the summer my sister Ann and I were always home to help but once school started Mama was on her own.  It was an all day job and Mama washed the clothes and hung them out year round.  Rainy days would delay wash day and in the winter she sometimes had to wait for the warmer days.  I do remember when clothes froze on the lines, but they seemed to dry anyway.  When I was about 10, I think, an automatic coin laundry opened in the old Roxy theater.  By then my sister was married and she would bring her laundry and we would take Mama's and go there to wash clothes in bad weather.  Mama still washed and hung the clothes in good weather until she moved from Meridian in 1972. And next came ironing day!