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Modern Farmwoman: 1940

July 1940. "Farm woman washing clothes in her motor-driven washing machine. Near Lincoln, Vermont." Sliver gelatin print by Louise Rosskam. View full size.

July 1940. "Farm woman washing clothes in her motor-driven washing machine. Near Lincoln, Vermont." Sliver gelatin print by Louise Rosskam. View full size.


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Still wringing

When I moved out on my own in 1967 I found an apartment in Vancouver, B.C. for $80.00 a month. That included the laundry facilities, on the top floor of the 1921 walk-up. When I ventured up there for the first time to wash my clothes, I discovered 3 wringer washers, concrete laundry tubs, clotheslines, and a gas-fired ironing machine. Miss Sigurdson, another tenant, was up there and she asked if I was new in the building. She was kind enough to show me how to use the machines, and not ruin my clothes. When I bought my own house in 1977 I bought one of the machines, a 1944 Beatty, and still use it on occasion. In the U.S.A. automatic washers outsold wringers by 1951, but that point was not reached in Canada until 1968.

Watch out!

My grandmother had the electric version in her basement. I recall being warned that getting one's hand caught in the wringer would be a painful experience.

Happy Washday!

When I was four years old we lived in Hamtramck, Michigan in a four family flat. Washday was a treat (for me at least) when I accompanied my Mother to the basement. The attached picture (1951) shows me at one of the dual compartment cast cement wash tubs which weighted a "ton". The stick at the right is held by my mother and was used to feed the wet clothing into the ringer. The thing which fascinated me the most was when my mother would add the "Bull Dog" brand bluing to the rinse water. The water turned dark blue but it didn't stain your hands. The ringer had an emergency bar at the top which would separate the rollers if your hand got caught assuming your other hand was free. The farm woman is clearly happy with her washer. I wonder if she had the "kick start motor"? The motor oil in the can was mixed with the gasoline, 8 ounces of oil to one gallon of gas. I also noticed the folding rack holding up the two wash tubs. My wife and I picked one up at an antique store years ago. We topped it with glass and it makes a perfect coffee table in the den. Since those wash tubs hold 10 to 15 gallons of water each, the rack was built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

Fun wringing

I used a ringer washer on my honeymoon, up in the hills of Northern California. I found it to be a lot of fun, but then I didn't have to do it all the time and was only washing for two (no diapers yet). Neither did I have chickens to feed, hogs to slop, wood to chop, etc., etc.

Modern Convenience

She has everything she needs to wash clothes: motor oil, gasoline! Love those old Maytag hit & miss engines.

We do this for fun

Dad and I have several Maytag engines and have two washers with the gas engines on them to use at farm shows. The two cycle engines can be quite cantankerous at times. My grandmother used her Maytag wringer washer well into the '70's and swore that the new automatic did not get the clothes as clean. We hear that from a lot of folks at the shows.

The great thing about the Maytag washers is that you could get a meat grinder attachment that was used on place of the wringer and a butter churn that was placed in the tub after removing the agitator. Check out this website for more info.

Gas Maytag in action

Vintagetvs, an excellent call!

Don't Fear the Reaper

Looks like a scythe hung from the overhang behind the woman. It must be secure: she doesn't look concerned that it could fall.

This could have been my mother in 1946

My job was to carry water from the cistern to the rinse tub or water from the cistern to the stove and then hot water in the washing machine. In those days, we had a coal furnace, a kerosene powered cook stove and a path to a shack for the other necessity of life.

The ever-handy bushel basket

I don't think we ever had any other kind of laundry basket until sometime in the 1970s. Treated right they lasted for a number of years.

Gasoline Powered

A Gasoline powered Maytag, you can just see the spark plug under the tub. The engines from these old machines are highly collectible today.

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