Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, July 27, 2017

That Summer: Part Five

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


Mom's 'home away from home away from home'.
There were problems with the clothes washing and the baths, but somehow, everything seemed to work out.
We 'borrowed' the bathroom of a friend for showers and baths.
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 reclined 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 or '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 your 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.

9 comments:

  1. It's true about the laundromat bringing out the personalities! Funny, isn't it :)

    It's very interesting to read your mom's thoughts on the various people she met.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never heard he say an unkind thing about ANYONE! She found everyone interesting and unique.

      Delete
  2. Sudsy tales from the laundromat. Your mom sure had a way of expressing herself. I feel like I was right there with her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We used a laundromat briefly. And your mother was so right - and expressed herself so eloquently.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tales of the laundromat! This is the first I have heard these!
    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were already ensconced in the big city. Isn't it great that mom wrote everything in a journal?!

      Delete
  5. I know I have sat on one before- I remember my legs sticking to it. ... That Summer: Part Six - More of the story, as told by my Mom, Enes. From her journals .
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    ReplyDelete

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