Now I ask you, “In this day and age, is doing laundry really a chore?” In 1948 doing laundry was a genuine burden.  In fact, the cumbersome task of laundry was usually assigned to one day of the week, and the whole day was spent doing the wash.  When the day was over, the clothes and linens for the family had been washed, dried, and ironed – if ironing was needed. The laborious laundry duty was completed for seven days.Now I ask you, “In this day and age, is doing laundry really a chore?” In 1948 doing laundry was a genuine burden.  In fact, the cumbersome task of laundry was usually assigned to one day of the week, and the whole day was spent doing the wash.  When the day was over, the clothes and linens for the family had been washed, dried, and ironed – if ironing was needed. The laborious laundry duty was completed for seven days.On any Wednesday during the summer months of my pre-teen and early teenage years, I could be found at my grandmother’s home. Wednesday was wash day for Grandma. Grandma’s household included two adult daughters who were not able to walk without assistance. Therefore, the female granddaughters who lived nearby were drafted to help with the household duties including washing the clothes. Each Wednesday was spent getting the clothes clean for another week..  
A concrete patio covered the ground between the kitchen of Grandma’s wood frame house and a utility building. The water pump which supplied water for people and animals was at the edge of the patio. The utility building was the store room for the ringer washing machine and three wash tubs which were used for rinsing the clothes. Three long clothes lines stretched across the backyard were the final objects needed to finish the laundry.  
After breakfast on Wednesday, large pots of water were heated on the stove.  The wringer washing machine and three rinse tubs were set up in a square on the patio between the steps to the kitchen and the water pump.  When the water was hot, it was poured into the washing machine and the three rinse tubs were filled half-way with cold water. Everything was ready to the first step of completing the wash.  
We would help Grandma gather all the clothes and linens that were to be cleaned.  Grandma would separate the clothes into three baskets of whites, light colors and dark. After laundry soap was been added to the warm water which was stirred to dissolve the soap, the white clothes were put into the machine.  The clothes were washed for ten to fifteen minutes. Then one of us would pick up the one item at a time and push a corner of it into the wringer which would squeeze the water out of the cloth. The piece of clothing would fall into the first rinse tub. Then, the next person would hold the garment and swish it in the tub to rinse it; twist the cloth to remove the water and put it in the second tub. This process was repeated until all the items had been rinsed three times and the clothes were returned to the basket. 
The basket of wet clothes was taken to the clothes lines and the individual pieces were pinned up to dry. Pants stretchers were placed in the legs of jeans and trousers that needed creases in the legs before hanging them on the line. The pants stretchers were metal frames that were adjustable in the width. They were locked into position in order to stretch the pant leg and create creases as the pants dried. 
The process of washing the clothes was repeated for the lighter colored clothes and the dark ones.  As the water began to get dirty, some of it would be drained from the washer or the rinse tub and clean water would be added. This ensured that all of the clothing would be cleaned.  
 The final chore each Wednesday was ironing the clothes that needed to be wrinkle free while the other clothes were folded and put away in their appropriate place. The washing machine and tubs were drained of their water, cleaned, and stored in the utility room for another week. Smiles were on the faces of the teenage granddaughters as they returned to their own home and some fun activities.   
The next time you think of doing your laundry as a chore, just think of spending the entire day completing the job. With our automatic washing machines and dryers, we are able to get the clothes cleaned without missing other activities. What a wonderful time we can have today and still do the laundry.

Julia Nation
Author: Julia NationEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Julia Nation grew up in the Humble area and taught for more than 30 years. Email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..