I was just thinking about laundry last night. We sure do have it easy these days when it’s time to do laundry!!
Brack and I were talking about what we’d need to “get the job done” as far as washing dishes and clothes if we didn’t have access to things like dishwashers, washers, and dryers. Well, since I never lived in a place with a dishwasher until I got married, that part wasn’t too hard to imagine. But surprisingly, I started thinking back to various times when we didn’t have a washer (much less a dryer) when I was growing up on the mission field…and then again when I was a missionary in Romania myself.
I started telling Brack about the last year my family was in Mexico…in the picturesque city of Zacatecas, where a big battle was fought between Pancho Villa and the Federales way back when. We lived in the bottom floor of a three story building…an area which had formerly been a dance club before the landlord and his family (who lived on the second floor) got tired of all the noise late at night. They decided renting to a missionary and his church would be much quieter, I guess!! The third floor was unfinished, but would be apartments later.
Since the floor we lived on had been a dance club before, there weren’t any real interior walls except for the bathrooms. One big unfinished partition separated our living area from the church area and another partition divided off my parents room. My sister and I had a “room” formed out of a couple walls and a couple wardrobes and my brothers just had an area that could be curtained off for privacy.
There was a “kitchen” of sorts in that there was a counter with a sink in it and a stove and tiny fridge over in one corner. When we moved in there was no hot water or way to bathe, but after we moved in a hot water heater was installed in a corner of the living room with a hole drilled in the wall to run a pipe through to a bathroom stall where the toilet had been removed and a shower head installed!! It all sounds so primitive (and in a way it was), but my mom knew how to decorate and make it feel like a home and all in all it was very nice.
The one real big difficulty in all of this really was the laundry. We had no washer and definitely had no dryer and with seven people in the family there was always plenty of laundry to wash!! So my mom put us to work!!
Washing all of that laundry strictly by hand would have been too much, so mom would run water from the shower into a big plastic tub, add clothes and detergent, and we’d take turns rolling up pant legs or tucking up skirts and hopping in!! Stomping around in circles with the clothes underfoot while singing our way through all four stanzas of a couple hymns would imitate the agitating motion of a washing machine. We’d then squeeze out as much water as we could from the various garments and rinse them out one at a time in a tub of fresh water…then once again squeeze every drop we could out of everything again and pile as much as we could carry into a bucket.
Why? So we could then carry that bucket out our front door, around the corner of our building, and back in another side door…to then haul up three flights of unfinished stairs with no rails to the clotheslines strung up on the flat roof!! It was quite a feat, but we much rather preferred to haul and hang clothes versus “stomping” them clean. We could dawdle with the clothes hanging a bit, getting fresh air and sunshine, people watching from high above the street, and occasionally pouring buckets of water down on siblings who would step out of our door to holler up at us to hurry up!! Sure, it was hard work, but since that was just the way it had to be, we didn’t usually complain!!
Thank goodness that was the most work we ever had to do to have clean clothes as most of the time at least a washer was available somewhere (even if we had to haul our clothes to the laundromat or a friend’s house)…and the period of time we had to “stomp” clothes clean was for less than a year!!
Kinda makes having a washer and dryer in the laundry room in our house seem like SUCH a luxury, though…doesn’t it!!