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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Oxydol: 1942

Oxydol: 1942

March 1942. Phoenix, Arizona. "Washday at the FSA Camelback Farms." 35mm negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

Tubs bring back memories

We lived on our grandparents' farm in the late 50s. They had a utility porch with tubs like this. There was always a bar of Lava soap in the soap dish, which Grandpa used to wash up, when he came in for dinner. My sister and I always begged to be able to take our baths in the stone tubs (actually, I probably did, since she was barely old enough to talk at the time.) Once in a while, our request was granted. I vaguely remember a wringer washer on the porch, too, but I wasn't allowed out there when it was in use.

My mother's hand

My mother ran her hand through the wringer back some time in the 50s. She started to panic. Fortunately, my grandmother was there, and she calmly ran the wringer backwards to get Mother's hand out. But she still has a white spot covering the back of her hand.

Generic ever since

My late grandmother had generic terms for most things -- any cooler was a Frigidaire, and any laundry product was Oxydol!

Through the wringer

I worked for Maytag in Newton, Iowa. We produced millions of wringer washers but they didn't look quite as primitive as this one. We built them with electric or gasoline motors so they could be used out where electricity hadn't reached yet. Seems so long ago. Our parents for the most part worked much harder than we do. That type of wringer was a luxury for them. Thanks for the memories.

Wringer washer

My Mother got her arm caught in one of these at around this time in the early 40's. As she's gotten older, the residual effects of this have become more visible. You can actually see where her little arm was flattened out.

Kind of runs a chill up your spine to be honest.

I love the Oxydol packaging btw.

Haircut the hard way

My stepmother got her waist-length hair caught in the electric wringer as a child. Ripped a big patch of scalp right off of her head. She said it was so traumatic that she cut her hair short after that and never wore it long again.

About Lux soap: When I told a friend of mine that I was going to name my daughter Lucy, she asked me what the name meant, and when I said that it was from the Latin for "light" -- lux -- she decided that Lux would be a great name for a girl and lobbied very hard to get me to use it. I told her that anyone over a certain age who met my child would think "soap flakes," which was not exactly the effect I was hoping for. I guess I could have named her sister Palm Olive!

Amos n' Oxy

The commercial power of Oxydol was demonstrated by its being the sponsor of the long-running No. 1 radio program of the era, "Amos n' Andy."

Wringers, sticks and Oxydol!

That box of Oxydol brings back memories of my childhood! I can still see my mom cursing that wringer washer. I grew up in rural Oregon in the 1950s. Saturday was washday and I was assigned to help my mother. To this day I can still see her with a stick forcing things through the wringer and her telling me how dangerous it was. She would cuss like a sailor, and sometimes had a cigerette hanging from her lips. In the meantime I would run outside so she couldn't see me laugh until it hurt. Precious memories!

Oxydol taught me to read.

According to my mother, the big O on the Oxydol box caught my attention when I was about 3 years old. She explained how that big round thing stood for the letter O, and how each of the other things stood for other parts of the word. From then on I started looking at other packages and learning more letters and words.

Soap Flakes

Anybody remember the Oxydol competitor back then that my mom bought called Lux? There used to be an hour-long broadcast Sunday nights from Hollywood, "Lux Radio Theater," that featured big-name movie stars. It was always a fight because it finished late and we couldn't listen 'cause Monday morning came by early for school.

Speaking of the fire of a thousand suns

You all are going on about the washing, but my first thought was "Ugh, living in Phoenix before air conditioning." Even with A/C it's pretty unbearable-- it's supposed to be 114 this weekend. Those poor, poor people.

(And don't believe that "but it's a dry heat" nonsense -- so's an oven)

Those Sinks!

We also had those same double sinks in our farmhouse "utility room." Long after my mother got a modern washer the sinks were still put to good use. Even though I was barely tall enough to reach into the sinks, it was my job each day to stand on a wooden stool near the sink and wash the dozens of metal pieces (some with sharp edges) that made up the attachments to the motorized cream separator. The big sinks were used to soak my dad's greasy clothes, to wash the dog, and the most fun of all was that my brother and I got to use the sinks simultaneously for our baths. I remember the sinks had washboard ridges in the slanted walls.

Modern Technology

Looks like there is an "EASY" button on the front of the roller section, wonder why she is not using it?

[That could be truer than you think. Easy was an early manufacturer of washing machines. The round tub in the foreground might be an example of the Easy SpinDrier. - Dave]

Trapped in my own mindset

My first thought on seeing this was, "Wow. That's a LOT of pasta!"

My mother had one of these too

In the early 70s. I remember that when we finally got a real washing machine (and given my dad's talent at frittering away money on worthless doodads, that was an event), Mom dragged the wringer washer into the back yard and smashed it up with a hammer so that nobody would ever be forced to use it again. She hated that thing with the fire of a thousand suns. I remember her taking two jobs so that we could afford modern appliances, and my dad whining all the while that "the old stuff is good enough and you're just being picky." Of course he never did a load of laundry or washed a dish in his life.

Washday Tales

Small brown bottle of Clorox bleach on shelf behind the lady.

I grew up with every Monday being washday. ALL DAY. First load was delicate whites, then regular whites, followed by colored clothes, with Daddy's overalls last. Rugs were *dead last.*

Two best tales: before I knew the washing pecking order, I once let my 1960s madras shirt ("guaranteed to bleed") share the washer with Daddy's overalls. For about three weeks, Dad had pale pink striped Big Smith overalls . . .

One day, toward the end of the washing cycle, Daddy asked if I would wash the gunny sacks he used on his fishing trips. Let them wash for about a half hour and then put them through the wringer into the rinse tub. The last one would NOT go through the wringer -- it took about three or four tries of raising up the wringers to accommodate it. When I threw the sacks over the fence to dry, a small bullhead fell out -- with a distinct curve to it!

Thanks, Fanhead

I had forgotten about the quick release on the wringer, but I can't say I ever got caught. However, I do remember my mother had a washing machine on the back porch powered by a gasoline motor -- probably late 1940s. About the same time, my uncle owned a dry cleaning business. There were some awesome and frightful machines in there as well.

Ironer Lady

My mother had an electric mangle. It cut down on the ironing (for seven children and a college prof husband). She was very careful to not just turn it off but unplug it and stow the cord away when she was done. Little pitchers have prying fingers.

Washday workout

Who needs aerobics classes. No wonder that generation was thinner -- from real work.

Oxydol in action

If you want to see Oxydol in action, there's a fantastic film from the Prelinger Archive. You'll note that this woman is much prettier than the actress housewife in the film.

Soapstone or concrete?

The house I grew up in had a double sink like those in the picture (and I can remember the wringer washer too). Ours though was concrete and when it (and the wringer washer) got replaced, we knocked out the center partition, buried it in the back yard, and had a beautiful goldfish and lily pond for all of the years we lived there.

Wringer Pain!

My grandmother used to roll her big tub washer out on the big front porch to do the laundry. Like Fanhead, I loved to put things through the wringer too -- and got caught at least once. I still remember how much that hurt -- some 60 years ago!

How did we all manage to live through machines like this?

Cute but not too bright

We had a tub ringer washer in the back yard under a pole shed in the early 50's. I of course being a 4 or 5 year old boy was fascinated by it .Mom would leave it unattended once in a while and I would take advantage by seeing what I could put through the rollers (mostly blades of grass, weeds, and I tried a cat once. The cat was not amused and scratched me up pretty bad before he made his escape). Several times I caught my arm in the rollers.I would start screaming and she would come running out and hit the release and pull me free. Wish I could tell you it only happened once.

Soapstone Washtub

When I was a kid in the 40's, we had one of these dual tubs in our basement. The water faucet and soap dish were the same also. They probably weighed 300-400 pounds. Three years ago, my wife and I had our kitchen counters made frome this stone. It weighs 20 pounds per square foot.

 
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