Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, October 7, 2011

Summer in a Quonset Part Five

More of the story, as told by my Mom, Enes. From her journals . . .

It takes a great deal of courage to meet the challenges in our lives without any discrimination of our fellow beings - how much more courage we need with it.
I believe our children were faced with an overload.
I certainly admired them for their determination and diplomacy. They were in constant contact with the human element and from my observation, carried on beautifully.
"Are you really living out there in the shed?"
"Why yes, we are. We love it out there. Everything is so convenient and we have lots of fresh air and no grass to cut! We can just step into the car and drive out or our friends can drive in! We only have to walk a few steps and we can pet the animals! We don't have to worry about our muddy boots, though Mom does insist that we leave them by the door. We have great times playing hide and seek among the crates and boxes and the hopping game is the best of all. That is when you hop from box to box without touching the floor. We only play that game when Mom isn't around!"
By this point, the little friend was so entranced she couldn't wait for an invitation.
"May I come and stay with you sometime?"
"Sure. You can come any time you like," was the superior reply.
And the children did come and they danced about in happy glee. They fetched and carried and made the beds. They swept the floor, washed and dried the dishes and tidied the living room.
They helped me make pies and set the table. It was a happy, carefree experience.
And they left wishing they lived in a quonset.
There were problems with the clothes washing and the baths, but somehow, everything seemed to work out.
We 'borrowed' the bathroom of a friend.
Mom's 'home away from home'.
But the twice weekly trip to the Laundromat was an experience in itself.
I never knew there were so many interesting and unusual people in the world.
They must all frequent Laundromats.
I was constantly amused, entertained or shocked.
Laundromats seem to have a way of revealing and exposing personalities.
For instance - some people are very careful with their washing. The clothes are sorted in batches as to colour and material. White with white, dark with dark, nylon fabrics and socks and overalls separate. Warm water for most fabrics and especially wash-and-wear materials. The shirts and towels were washed separately and the white shirts and under clothing usually went about half through the cycle before the synthetic materials were added and so on.
Very particular.
Then there was the careless type who threw all the clothing into the washers in reckless abandon. Lumps and tangles with no thought of colour or material. The water temperature was set on hot and the sheets and dainty under things sloshed around with the overalls and socks. This type usually relined in a corner with a package of cigarettes, a bottle of coke and a tabloid magazine.
There was obviously no communication with the bread-winner of 'clothing provider' in that household. It must have been a monumental task to provide enough money to replace all the 'shrunk up' socks, 'shredded' underwear. And TV dinners.
The Laundromat was also frequented by frustrated young fathers with baskets of dirty diapers. The rude awakening from the romantic courtship and few short months of happy wedded bliss had left its anxious furrow forever etched on their foreheads. The diapers were dumped (lumps and all) into the washers and the wastes gradually wore away in the water. If they hadn't dissolved, they were left in the washer or caught in the dryer or dried on the diaper to be peeled off at home, before the baby wore it again.
I had a pleasant conversational exchange with many men and women, young, old, or medium.
Many revealed all their family secrets with was sometimes embarrassing. I couldn't help but think that it would be convenient, sometimes, to have a little switch that would cut off anything you didn't want to hear!
One old retired gentleman would come in with his small bundle of smelly laundry and the only family he had in the whole world, a skinny red Irish setter. He would dispose of his varied assortment of clothing into the washer and then he would settle himself on a bench and look about hopefully for a willing ear. Having found one, he would unwind and unload all his experiences of the last 75 years.
Many times, I provided the 'ear' for him and often wished I had more time to listen to him. He always talked me right out the door and I always felt as if I had very rudely left in the middle of the conversation. All the way home and most of the day I would chastise myself for not giving up a little more time for the sake of the poor, lonely old man,
Several times I invited him to come out and visit but he never came.
One day, I happened in as a young mother was taking her clothing out of the drier. She had thrown her husband's wash-and-wear trousers into the washer and set the dial on 'hot'. You never saw such a wrinkled up mess in you life.
She was almost in tears. "What can I do?" she whispered.
I tried to console her. "Maybe if you washed them again in warm water, the wrinkles may come out."
They never did and her husband must have been furious with her.

6 comments:

  1. I absolutely detest laundramats..you never know what was in that machine before you. I can just imagine your Mom taking a good look before she used a machine. Just in case one of those young fathers hadn't been there before.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved this one!! Almost like I lived there!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't like laundromats either. I'm a germophobic that way. But when one doesn't have a washing machine, one must use a laundromat!

    I feel like I've stepped back in time somewhat as I read these posts. I love it. I am just so amazed your mom took so much time to write such detailed journal entries. It makes me feel ever so guilty for not keeping a journal when my kids were little. I'm already forgetting which kid did what. Everyone kept telling me I would forget, but I didn't believe them. Now I regret it! You are so blessed to have these journals to remind you of your childhood!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This made me smile! You can definitely see the whole of humanity on parade at the laundromat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting and fun post - thanks for sharing with NOBH!
    Stefanie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Living in a UK house with a UK washer/Dryer combination I have had to use the Laundromat for the first time in my life. WOW you are not kidding about the types of people you see there. I wonder what category you would put me in:)!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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