Monday Washday Blues

Yes, I have a clothes dryer, but my preference is to let things air dry. Even when it turns cold, if the sun is shining, the laundry is hung outside. Ridiculous cold, however, is a whole other thing, and sunny day or not, the basement is turned into a drying room of sorts. And so it is today, with piles of laundry accumulated and the temperature at zero degrees.
It’s freezing in Florida, too, and my sister who lives there doesn’t have a basement, and so, not the luxury of an alternative to hanging the clothes outside.
Most vintage homemakers were in the same architectural predicament – no basement at all or a dank and dirty cellar that housed the coal chute and furnace. In bad weather, Monday washday was blue indeed.
I’d assumed inclement weather was one of THE domestic nightmare for women of earlier generations. But on a trip last year to Washington, D.C. and a tour of Mr. and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson’s home, I learned otherwise. A different ilk of homemaker, Mrs. Wilson had a clothes dryer (circa 1920)!
According to the House and Garden article dated January 1921 that the curatorial staff provided me, In the heated air dryer is found a solution for questionable Monday weather. It is

feasible for the private home. Electricity, gas or kerosene supplies the heat and fresh air is constantly circulated so that the clothes are thoroughly ventilated.

I’m beginning to work on a new exhibit with The Women’s Museum in Dallas that will further examine the apron and other cultural icons that have so richly figured in women’s domestic lives. I hadn’t considered the importance of the everyday appliance to the homemaker. But on a day like today, I sure am!
And on a totally different track – amidst the mess of my creative space, I came across this cartoon, cut out of the newspaper in 1995. I mean, do they ever learn or what?

Waving bye bye to 2009 wasn’t difficult. Wishing y’all the happiest of everything in the new year.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!


  1. That dryer is HUUUGE!!! You’d have to build a new room to house it!

    We lived many years with out a dryer and suffered the occasional frozen shirt when temps dropped before all was dry. My kids were so excited when I finally bought a new dryer. “No more stiff towels!”

  2. Holy Cow! I never thought about drying clothes. I always thought they’d use the extra warm kitchen, fireplace, or wood stove that was usually in the middle of the house.
    I have never seen a dryer from back then. Amazing.
    I also would like to invite you to stop by for my Vintage Alphabet get-together. Jan. is “A” and of course that begins our favorite collection. Aprons1 Hope you can join in!

    Melody, Brown Gingham Creations

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