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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

Through the Wringer: 1942

Through the Wringer: 1942

"To keep your wringer operating properly, dry rolls thoroughly after use with a soft cloth and then release lever which removes pressure from the rolls." View full size. Photograph by Ann Rosener for the Office of Emergency Management.

You have been warned...

...I was about 8 years old when I ran my hand through the wringer of one of these behemoths. My brother was babysitting me and had told me to STAY AWAY from the machine while he was doing laundry. I, of course, thought he was just being a poot. So while his back was turned, I tried to run something through the rollers. My hand got caught, I screamed bloody murder, and he started pounding on the emergency release button above the rollers. It wouldn't work (which was ironic, since the rollers would sometimes pop apart at the pass of a handkerchief) so he had to wring my hand BACK THROUGH the rollers to get it out. He felt terrible and I felt worse.

I lucked out in that I was young and had the spongy bones of youth, so nothing was broken. But I had a friction burn between my index and second fingers that was not to be believed!

I can still hear how that machine sounded when the agitator was in action...splashy!

Practice

It's not just practice that makes perfect, it's perfect practice that makes perfect!

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

P.S. "Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?"

"Practice, practice, practice!"

Wringer washer

To the anonymous tipster who lamented not being able to find a wringer washer - Psst! Over here.

Apparently, wringer washers are still in regular use in the deserts of the Middle East (hence this one being manufactured in Saudi Arabia) because they use less water than a conventional machine.

How not to use a wringer washer

Do what the guy in that YouTube clip did. We had a wringer washer when I was a kid and I never saw anyone - including me as a little kid - make such a hash out of putting a simple shirt through the wringer.

The thing that used to amaze me about the wringer was the little trough that directed the wrung out water back into the washing drum. You could adjust the position of the wringer (for lefties I suppose) and the trough was balanced on a pivot like a teeter totter. If you pushed up on it you could make it dump the water over the side but if you let it go it would always go back to where it was supposed to be

Wringer Washer

Wringer Washer Redux

I was still using one of these in the early 1980's. I loved that thing and would have one now if I could find one.

Washday

I grew up with a wringer washer just like this and we felt fortunate we weren't doing laundry by hand! It was definitely worth the air-dried smell of sheets on one's bed - something I still miss. And after washday came ironing day -- a lot more tedious. Everything is relative, even the definition of labor.

Through the Wringer

I remember well that our Chicago brownstone apartment had one of those machines in the basement. While we'd take laundry to the laundromat, she would now and then go downstairs and use this monster. Perhaps when cash was running low...it was hard work.

I can clearly remember her warning me to keep my hands away from those rollers, though.

We women have NO IDEA how hard it all used to be...

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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