All washed up

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20200521tp washing machine2 Submitted

This is the way we washed our clothes …

In the good old days, water had to be hauled in eight to 10 times per day, in frigid or steaming hot weather. Water used for cooking, dishwashing, bathing, laundry and housekeeping that, after it was used, had to be carried back outside and dumped.

One woman estimated that her water supply was 60 yards from her house. At a minimum, she walked to it six times a day — that’s 720 yards per day, or 148 miles per year, carrying water.

A water-guzzling household chore was doing the laundry. It was the most dreaded household chore of the 19th century.

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It took all day, usually Monday, because most people changed their clothes on Sunday and dirt was easier to remove if it was not allowed to harden in the cloth.

The first washing machines were wood and hand-paddled. They worked like a washboard with a paddle taking the place of the hands and fingers to rub the fabric.

One wash, one boiling, and one rinse used about 50 gallons of water, weighing about 400 pounds, that had to be moved from pump or well to the stove and then the tub, in buckets and wash boilers that might weigh as much as 40 or 50 pounds.

The first device that combined a washing machine and a wringer mechanism is credited to Turnbull in 1843. Louis Goldenberg, an engineer at Ford Motor Co., probably invented the first electric washing machine. The Hurley Machine Co. of Chicago was issued a patent in 1910 for its drum-type washing machine that had a galvanized tub and an electric motor.

Noel is president of the Pendleton Historical Museum board.