Monday, November 29, 2010

Elbow Grease

My Grandma Finnegan swore that her wringer washer got clothes cleaner than agitator washing machines. In 1986 the one she'd bought in the sixties died, and she went to the trouble of special ordering one from Sears. I'd have liked to have been a fly on the wall when that transaction took place. The sales clerk likely showed her the latest models, and I'm sure she politely looked. But in the end the wringer washer was the only machine for her.

Grandma was a great believer in the power of elbow grease. The wringer washer experience epitomizes this ethic. When my parents used to take my sisters and me to Montana every July, I spent many happy hours helping Grandma send all our clothing from the washing tub through the wringer into the rinse tub, and through the wringer again. Did the clothes really get cleaner this way? Maybe it was one of Grandma's illusions. At least every article of clothing was touched four times in the process.

Anyone who uses a wringer washer is going to forgo the dryer and use a clothesline. That's fine in July, when the daytime temperature is in the eighties. Fast forward to when I lived with Grandma in the 1980s. She wasn't going to let a little thing like minus 20 degree January temperatures stop her from hanging out our clothes to dry. Freeze dry. The wind could be blowing like crazy, and our clothes would not flap. They waved. And they took three or more days to fully dry. After that first experience hanging clothes in  bone-numbing cold, I was a lot more careful to wear my clothing as many times as I could get away with. I was just learning to drive in the snow, for Pete's sake. My thin Californian's blood was no match. Grandma would be out there before dawn shoveling snow, wearing nothing more than a windbreaker over her pajamas.

I'm not suggesting that we go back to the days of using wringer washing machines. I am thinking we could all stand to use a little more elbow grease in our daily living. A little inconvenience is good for a person. If it doesn't build character, it might just build some patience, a virtue all Americans are going to need in abundance in the coming years.

1 comment:

  1. WRINGER WASHER Ho! what a beautiful antiques I do remember how wringer washer was a thank you you are good.
    Clothes can wrap around the wringer and be torn
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?