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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mrs. Maytag: 1938

Mrs. Maytag: 1938

September 1938. "Farm wife washing clothes. Lake Dick Project, Arkansas." 35mm negative by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Major Ouch!

We had a young fellow in my neighborhood from a large family for whom almost every day was washday. While helping his mother one day, and paying less attention than than he should have, backed his elbow against the wringer. Skin went through, but the bone was perpendicular and did not. He lost about a 4 by 8 inch patch of skin. We later found out in gym class that he had a matching patch on his butt where they took a replacement to do a graft. Yikes!

Lady of Leisure!

I remember my mother-in-law telling me in the late 1930's, she so very much wanted a Washing Machine to simplify her life. She went out and found herself a job, only working long enough to pay for the machine.

Can't See The Hose?

How did Curous miss the hose to the left of "Maytag?"

painful memory

One of my earliest memories is being in my paternal grandmother's basement in Cresaptown MD circa 1966 and deciding that those spinning rollers looked like something that I would enjoy touching. Needless-to-say, I did not enjoy having my arm rolled almost up to the shoulder. Somehow I escaped without any real injuries.

I Remember It Well

The day when I was a lad of about 8 or 9 and grabbed the agitator of a running beast such as this. It seems there was a short somewhere within the machine and I lit up like a Christmas tree in what seemed like forever.

It would be many years later that I would feel the pain again when my pet pooch hiked his leg and let loose on a spark plug of an idling lawn mower.

We both learned our lesson.

Just Curious

How do you drain the dirty water out of that thing? I don't see a hose -- presumably it would not spill out onto the porch floor!

[You wheeled it over to the utilty sink and attached the drain hose. -tterrace]


The flat bar at the top of the wringer assembly would release the pressure IF you hit it hard enough. Later models would release by themselves by the time you got fingers halfway in. We used two rinse tubs supported on kitchen chairs because years before the proper folding rack had failed.

Dangerous appliance

We had one of these when I was kid. Most people don't know that this was the most dangerous appliance in a household with kids. The agitator could break your arm and the rollers could break all your fingers.

Lightening the load

What a boon for the housewife. No more scrub boards and hand-wringing clothing, no more hands in blistering hot water. Washday was still a long, drawn out affair in the 1930s, but Maytag reduced the drudgery.

My grandfather sold this very model during the period of the photo, one of the first independent dealers in western Oklahoma. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Rainy Monday

A farm wife would have hung laundry outdoors unless it was raining out, so I'm guessing that is why the inside clothesline is being used. Also in those days, Monday was the common "wash day" when just about everybody in America did their laundry. They even had recipes for easy Monday meals like red beans and rice, washday stew, easy soups and things that could cook themselves with no fussing.

[Looks like a sunny day out there. Appears to be a screened porch, so the clothes would dry and not be subject to unpleasant avian contributions or, as happened more than once to my mother, catastrophic clothesline failure. - tterrace]

It Probably Still Runs

And look: she even has the matching dryer!

Shocking discovery.

Metal washtub heavy with water on power cord could cause a problem.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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