When young people get married today, their first purchase is usually a new washer and dryer. All our young ladies (and young men) grow up today knowing how to use a washer and dryer by the time they reach adulthood. All of them also know that a quick touch-up “ironing” can be done by tossing the garment in the dryer for a few minutes. These young folks would go into cardiac arrest if they had to do laundry the way our grandparents did.
Can you imagine when our grandparents were first married? Below, is a “recipe” for washing clothes as passed on from an Alabama grandmother. I don’t know the exact origin of the “recipe”, except that my dear cousin Betty Earley in Oklahoma sent it to me via email.
This is an exact copy of the “recipe”, as it was found in an old scrapbook. No grammatical errors were corrected; no spelling has been changed.
WARSHING CLOTHES Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in
eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.
Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.
Take white things, rub dirty spots on
board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don’t boil just wrench
Take things out of kettle with broom
stick handle, then wrench, and starch.
Hang old rags on fence.
Spread tea towels on grass.
Pore wrench water in flower bed.
Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs..
Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.
If you are prone to complain about the chore of laundry; you need to print this. When you feel the need to complain about washing and drying clothes; read it, and think of your great grandmother.
For you non-southerners – wrench means, rinse
source: email from Oklahoma Cousin Betty Earley