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Working Class life in the 1940s & 50s – After Wash Day

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After comes the ironing


My Admiration Grows

In my previous hub, I looked at Washday, but of course washing the clothes is not the end of this story.

Everything that mum washed she, of course, had to dry. Even when the washing was dry my mum still had to iron it all.

Getting the washing dry was not an easy task. This task was even harder in a crowded working-class area of two up two down terraced housing.

It is amazing how quickly we get use to the conveniences that come with living in today’s world.

I had almost forgotten what life was like back in the 40's and 50's until I started writing these hubs.

There are now several generations who have no first-hand knowledge of those times.

Writing these hubs has made me appreciate so much more, the many things that I have been taking for granted.

As I write these hubs my admiration for my mother and her generation continues to grow

 A woman hanging out her washing next to the new Anderson air raid shelter in her back yard.

A woman hanging out her washing next to the new Anderson air raid shelter in her back yard.

Mangling The Washing 13th September 1941: Peter and Pam putting washing through the mangle to wring it dry for their mother. Original Publication: Picture Post - 859 - The Life Of An Airman's Wife - pub. 1941 (Photo by Kurt Hutton / Picture Post / Ge

Mangling The Washing 13th September 1941: Peter and Pam putting washing through the mangle to wring it dry for their mother. Original Publication: Picture Post - 859 - The Life Of An Airman's Wife - pub. 1941 (Photo by Kurt Hutton / Picture Post / Ge

You can see the handle that controls the width of the space between the rollers, on the top of the mangle

You can see the handle that controls the width of the space between the rollers, on the top of the mangle

What to do with wet washing

On fine weather days of course my mother would peg her washing on the clothesline in the backyard to dry. In the summer she could get several wash-loads dry during the day.

During the winter months, even when it was not raining the washing did not always dry. Some dry days it was still sometimes difficult to get the washing to dry outside on the line.

Damp winter's mornings when there was no breeze, the washing would hang limp on the washing line. On days like this when we took the washing in, it could still be as wet as we put it out.

This is where the big old cast iron mangles came in. The mangles usually had two huge wooden rollers. Mum fed the washing between the big wooden rollers. When I was big enough I was the one who would turn the handle that caused the rollers to go round.

On the top of the mangle there was usually a handle of some sort. This top handle could turn to alter the gap between the two rollers.

Surprisingly, these old fashioned mangles got a lot of the moisture out of the clothes. I remember my mother feeding the bed sheets into the rollers as I turned the handle on the mangle.

The sheets would come out the other side of the mangle almost horizontal. It would come out a foot or so until the weight of the sheet got too much and then it would start to bend .

We kept our mangle, like a lot of people did, outside in the back yard. We had a cover that we placed on it when it was not in use.

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Mum always put her wet washing through the mangle, the wringer for my American friends. Often the washing would go through the mangle more than once before hanging it on the line.

Once it had gone through the mangle a couple of times, it was amazing just how much drier it was,

As the handle on the mangle turned the washing being fed through the rollers, had the water squeezed out of it.

So, even when mum couldn’t put her washing out on the line her washing wasn’t dripping wet.

If mum couldn’t dry the washing outdoors for any reason then of course she had to get it dry indoors.

A home help fills a coal bucket with coal during a visit to the house of an invalid, so that there will be a plentiful supply of fuel within easy reach.

A home help fills a coal bucket with coal during a visit to the house of an invalid, so that there will be a plentiful supply of fuel within easy reach.

It was difficult to dry washing indoors.

There was no place in our house to hang a load of dripping wet washing.

Our home didn’t have a bathroom so mum couldn't hang wet washing over a bath.

The only rooms in our home with a stone floor were the scullery and the pantry. These two rooms had red quarry tiles on the floor.

Unfortunately, both of these rooms were too small to hang washing in. There was no space for washing to hang except maybe for the odd tea towel or hand towel.

The tea towel and hand towel were in use in the scullery, and we often hung those after using them over the cooker. The heat from the cooker would often dry them out.

It was difficult to dry indoors, but mum did manage to get her washing to dry indoors.

In the winter mum always had a coal fire burning in our living room. The rest of our house was usually left unheated.

Each room, including the bedrooms, had a fireplace in them. Only the attic room, where I slept did not have a fireplace.

Apart from the living room the fireplaces in the other rooms seldom had a fire lit in them. In working class homes, it was quite usual for only one room in the house to have heat.

My dad was a coal miner so we always had coal. But even we would have struggled to heat more than one room constantly in the winter.

Coal miners had an allowance of so much free coal per year. I am not sure what that was, it was certainly at least a ton.

I can remember my dad sending me to stand by the coal house door to count the number of bags. I would count each bag as the coal-man threw the coal into the coal house.

I think that this was more to keep me out of the way of the coal-man than it was to keep a tally of what he put in our coal-house.

The coal man would put the emptied sacks into a pile on his cart so that he could keep tally how many bags he had delivered. We never went without a fire in the living room in the winter months.

Many of our neighbours were not so fortunate and many ran out of coal. In the cold weather, I can remember the odd neighbour would come round to our back door with a bucket. They would ask my mum if she could spare a bucket of coal until pay-day.


The Kitchen Range

When I was young the fireplace in the living room was an old-fashioned range which had a hearth and a fireguard.

Mum would sometimes put the damp washing on the fireguard to finish off drying. When mum put washing on the fireguard to dry she would watch it carefully.

Mum would keep an eye on the washing because there was quite a lot of heat given out by the kitchen range.

Sometimes if the lump of coal had a fault in it, it would explode. The red hot embers from the faulty coal would then fly off in all directions. On the rare occasions that it happened, the fireguard stopped the flying embers.

But if there was washing draped on the fireguard, an ember could set that drying washing alight. It was also easy for the drying washing to scorch if not watched.

A Maiden or Clothes Horse

A Maiden or Clothes Horse

A Paraffin Heater similar to the one we had

A Paraffin Heater similar to the one we had

The Maiden or Clothes Horse

Mum would also use something called a maiden or a clotheshorse. We would put the wet washing onto the frame of the maiden.

Maidens were made from of wood and could be closed when not in use.

Mum would drape the wet washing over the frame of the maiden until she had used up all the space.

We placed the maiden in front of the living room fire after the wet clothes were on.

Mum would leave the maiden there until the washing dried or the weather got better.

As soon as the weather showed any signs of being able to dry the washing the washing was taken back outside to dry.

Sometimes mum would put the maiden in front of a paraffin heater that we had in the front room.

Mum would light the paraffin heater especially just to dry the clothes. Then she could shut the drying clothes away in the front room out of sight and out of the way.


Blanket Tents

When the maiden was not being used my brother and I would use the maiden as the frame to make a tent or blanket fort out of.

We loved making tents indoors and we played for hours in these tents. It is amazing how different and so much better a sandwich and a drink tastes from the inside of such a tent.

My brother and I spent many happy hours building such blanket tents. We would use all sorts of household items in their construction not just blankets.

Sometimes we would build them upstairs in one of the the bedrooms. Sometimes we would build it downstairs in the living room.

This is the type of frame for the Flatley and the frame fitted on the heater.

This is the type of frame for the Flatley and the frame fitted on the heater.

The Flatley Drier

Later on mum bought a Flatley Dryer this was a wooden airer that you fixed on an electric heater.

When you had put all your wet or damp washing on the airer you would then put a shaped cloth bag over the clothes. The cloth bag reached almost to the floor. The bag enclosed the washing over the the top of the heater at the bottom.

This was so that the hot air would circulate inside the bag concentrating and conserving the heat. The clothes got the benefit of the heat and so dried quicker.

It sounds good but in reality it use to take ages for the clothes to dry this way. It was not unusual to hear about clothes that had caught fire when using a Flatley.

To be fair our Flatley never caught fire but then we didn’t use it very often.

Mum didn’t use the Flatley often because it seemed to eat the electricity.

I have to admit that I never actually knew of anyone personally that had a fire using a Flatley. But the stories we did hear were enough to make us careful.


The Pulley

Finally if all else failed mum would use the pulley in the living room to put the wet washing on.

Because the pulley was in the living room over the sideboard, in reality only damp washing could be put on it. Otherwise wet washing would have water dripping onto our wooden furniture and ornaments.

The pulley was fixed to the living-room ceiling. Mum would lower the pulley using a rope which was tied to a hook on the wall.

Depending where on the length of rope you tied it to the hook, determined the hight of the the pully.

The pully would stay at that height until she had put all the washing on and pulled it back up again.

When mum hoisted the pulley back up to near the ceiling she tied off the rope again to keep it up there.

The pulley could hold quite a lot of washing. But mum usually used the pulley to put the freshly ironed clothes on rather than wet washing.


The Flat Iron or the Sad Iron

When mum had finished drying the washing she then had to iron most of it.

Now that is not a particularly big deal today because the type of irons that we use now.

My iron can be adjusted so easily to the temperature to suit almost any fabric. I also have a steam setting for ironing the harder to iron fabrics.

My first memories of my mother ironing are of her using what we called a flat iron or sad iron.

The flat irons are made from solid metal. Mum heated the irons either on the stove or if there was a fire in the range then she heated them on there.

I can see my mother even now in my mind's eye testing the temperature of the flat iron.


Testing the Flat Iron's Temperature

My mum had several ways in which she would test the temperature of the flat iron. The first and most usual way that I saw mum do this was she would take the iron off from the heat and spit on it.

If the spit sizzled and bounced about she would pronounce it ready. Sometimes I would see mum lick her finger and touch the surface of the iron. Again if it sizzled or hissed she knew that the iron was ready.

Finally mum would simply hold the iron very close to her cheek. She would be able to tell by the heat coming off from the surface of the iron whether it was hot enough. I found this photo on the web of a lady doing just that.

While mum was using one of the flat irons to iron the clothes the other two irons would be heating up.

Ironing especially in the summer was a hot and time-consuming job. Ironing was not a job that my mum was fond of.

The nature of the flat iron meant that mum had to change the irons over every few minutes. This was because once off the heat source they soon lost their heat.

I found this image on the web of a lady using a flat iron and you can see two other flat irons are heating up ready to be used. The irons are on the top of the range over on the right hand side of the picture.


Plugged into the light socket

Most houses in our working class neighbourhood around this time had few power points.

At the beginning of the 1950s mum got an electric iron. But she didn’t plug it into a wall socket, as we didn’t have one back then.

Mum plugged the iron instead into an adapter, which plugged into the light fitting. fig. one shows the type of adapter used in the UK.

It was a double adapter that fitted into where you would normally put your light bulb.

The double fitting meant that mum could have both her light bulb on and her iron on at the same time.

The second photo fig. two is of an American version of this type of adapter, which some of you may be more familiar with.

Fig three shows both ends of the British bayonet plug fitting. Of course the hole you see on the photo would normally have the wire coming out.

Back then mum did not have an ironing board. Instead she used to iron on the kitchen table. This table was directly underneath the light fitting.

If the light was on when mum was ironing then the bulb would swing about all over the place as she ironed. It was off putting having the swinging light-bulb casting shadows as she ironed.

I was glad when we had power points fitted in the house and we didn't have to use the light socket as our power source.

Thankfully by the time I was old enough to be called upon to do some of the ironing we had a wall socket and an ironing board which made the task much easier all round.

Funnily enough my kid brother never did get old enough to be called on to do any ironing or any other kind of housework come to think of it.

The lines drawn back then between what was called woman’s work and man’s work were very sharply drawn and clearly defined.

Girls were definitely brought up differently to the boys back then but that is a subject for another hub. Lol

I hope that you have enjoyed this little wander down a working class memory lane, if you have you might like to check out some of my other hubs featuring the working class lifestyle of the recent past.

Orcheta's version of the public wash house.

Orcheta's version of the public wash house.


maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on July 02, 2018:

@ amanda jjj Thank you for your comment like you I do not want a tumble drier and fortunately living now in Spain where we have sunshine pretty much every day I don't need one. I also like the heavier irons they seem to do the job so much better than today's light weight models. I would find a pully in my galleria very useful so I wish I had one some days. Thanks again for commenting

amanda jjj on December 21, 2017:

i use a pully in my kitchen to dry my clothes as i am unable to dry them outside and dont want a tumble dryer. my iron is a (heavy to todays standards) 1960s dry iron and i cook my toast in a toaster that you have to open the doors by hand to turn it over dates from somewhere between the 30s and 50s i guess

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on June 19, 2017:

@Helen Stuart

Hi Helen of course when I was young any kind of washing machine would have been considered state of the art technology lol...

We could have done with one of those Mesquite Thorn bushes. When you take a look back like this we have come a long way in a relatively short time, well at least technologically anyway. I think we may have lost in part some very precious things along the way. too

So sorry that it has taken so long to respond not on much these days.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on June 19, 2017:

Hi Maggs. A great walk down memory lane from you here. I remember it as you do. Our toilet in the yard, our tin bath on a nail on the yard wall. One cold tap in the kitchen of our 2up 2down in Manchester - Best wishes.


Helen Stuart from Deep in the Heart of Texas on August 30, 2016:

My aunt, who lived almost her whole life in San Angelo, Texas, always kept her mothers old fashioned washer and mangler. We borrowed it once, and after "mangling" a pair of underpants, we would hang them on a mesquite thorn and they would be dry in 5 minutes. (dry and hot.) My mom also said when they listened to the phonograph, if the needle broke, they would just go break off a mesquite thorn and it would work perfectly.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on October 09, 2015:

@ Mrs40sHistoryBuff I cannot apologise enough for not getting back to you. I have not been around HubPages much, having been occupied with other things on other sites. I remember reading your comment at the time and a reply on here just didn't seem enough. I remember starting to write something that I was going to try and send you whether I got in contact with you or not back then I cannot remember. If I didn't then shame on me, after all the work and time you put into your fabulous comment. I can remember thinking that there was enough interesting material in your comment for you to publish it as a Hub. I think that I wanted to tell you that and offer to take it down from the comments.

I am going to try to contact you.

Mrs40sHistoryBuff on October 06, 2014:

Hello! I wanted to let you know how much I have been enjoying your hubs, and what a wonderful treasure-trove of fascinating information they are. As my screen name implies, I am very interested in the history of life that came before me, specifically the 1940's, the War Years not just on the battlefront, but the Homefront most especially. While the men and women of the military fighting for the Allied cause met with daily battles of personal and group sacrifice, and still untold hardships, those left to slog it out at home were frequently the heroes that didn't get the recognition they deserved, keeping the homes going for the folks on the battlefronts to fight for! With nothing to come home to, no families to make sacrifices for, or to make a better world for, the whole thing would have developed a hopeless flavor that nobody would have a taste for.

I have special interests not only in what was happening in the USA during this time, and for several years after, but also what the folks in Great Britain were having to deal with. Their sacrifices, greater shortages, more extended and deeper rationing postwar tends to make our own look rather shallow and a good bit more plush by comparison. In some ways, anyone here who whined and complained about doing with a bit less during wartime sounded rather spoiled and selfish when compared with the sacrifices required of a much smaller country, completely separated from all their sources of much greater food and material imports, as well as suffering direct attacks which destroyed infrastructure and civilian life of all ages, social backgrounds and gender. But, an argument can be made for relative deprivation, in that one's required sacrifices are measured relative to one's own existence. But only a small one, since the details of need behind the Lend-Lease program, as well as other charitable donations made in the name of helping our British Allies as much as possible were made quite clear by the ever-grinding U.S. Propaganda Machine, in the form of newsreels at the movies, radio programs, posters, the movies themselves, a la "Mrs. Miniver," "Journey For Margaret," and so many more. In any case, every country had its own burdens to bear. By comparison, every country could also find another who had it worse.

I also enjoy researching how societies were able to recover again once the conflicts were over. Many people don't realize that a good bit of war-time rationing in Great Britain continued for years after Peace was declared, even though in the USA it pretty much ended with a few weeks, without many exceptions.

I look forward to reading through many more of your posts and learning much more from them as time goes on. I'm grateful that you have decided to share so much of your history and experiences with us, as the history and life experiences of the everyday individual are rarely, if ever, addressed in the history books. It's important to keep this information out there for people to read and know about, if for no other reason than to establish a basis for comparison, so that our current existence can be viewed in its proper perspective.

I saw you mention in one of your replies above about wanting to see more information on "cork sprinklers." I remember my mother using them in the early 1960's, when preparing my father's shirts for ironing. I'm sure she used them for other things as well, but the shirts are what come to mind first. Before ironing his shirts, dry off the clothesline, they needed to be dampened so that the starch in them would work best. The most efficient way at the time, before the advent of steam irons, was this sprinkler method to avoid over-wetting spots, or missing others all together. The reuse thought process was still heavily engrained in most housewives of the time, so the only part that needed to be purchased was the sprinkler "head" that was constructed of a cork stopper connected to an aluminum mushroom-shaped head with many small holes in the top of it, and the cork portion fit down inside the top of a soda pop bottle, which was filled with water. The shirt would be laid out flat and generously but lightly sprinkled with water, and then the sleeves folded in toward the center, and the shirt then folded up long ways and then rolled up to keep the moisture in, and allow it to distribute throughout the fabric as much as possible. More shirts were subjected to the same treatment, refilling the glass soda (Coca Cola) bottle as needed. Other items besides shirts were done, and once everything was dampened, ironing commenced with the first item sprinkled. If you want to see what one of these look like, you can Google images for "cork sprinkler" and you should come up with quite a few, based on my description. I did, and there were many options provided, in different views, and in or out of a bottle. If not, I can send you a photo from there, or post a direct link to several.

Thanks again for all your great work, and I'm looking forward to reading much more!

Best Regards, and Many Blessings!

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on January 29, 2014:

Thank you Hendrika for taking the time to leave a comment. It was the early fifties when rationing finally finished and we entered a bit of a boom time.

Prosperity seemed to be touching so many that the Tory Prime Minister of the time in 1957 Harold Macmillan said to the British workers that they've never had it so good.

For the first time for many families modern conveniences began to become widely available,

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on January 29, 2014:

I find this very interesting. I was only born in 1951 so I did not really see any of this,by the time I could notice anything we had all the modern conveniences.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on April 24, 2013:

Thank you Fitzy I am glad that you enjoyed it :D

fitzy on April 24, 2013:

Brilliant memories..

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on March 14, 2012:

Thank you marinandee I can see from your profile that you are too young to remember any of this yourself :D You are right things are so very different now many tasks have been made easier through the advances in technology.

marinandee from Kuala Lumpur on February 20, 2012:

Greeting maggs224,

Just found your HubPages on Google. What you've wrote here is something that other people not prefer to write it. I'm not born on 1940s-1950s but still I can see here how's the technology on that era.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on December 30, 2010:

Hi dswan, thank you for your kind comments. I wanted to record some of the everyday stuff in a working class home in this era before there is no one left to remember it. This is not the stuff that our history books write about and these are not the people that are usually written about. I am glad to say though, that through the invention of the Internet and that access that ordinary people have to it has made it possible for ordinary folk like me and thousands of others to document our own little slices of our common history.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on December 30, 2010:

Hi Bunyip, I love your story about the recycled playpen that was turned into in to a drying hoist. Those were the days when nothing was wasted and if something could be reused in another form it was. I am sure that your dad got a lot of satisfaction from building that hoist for your mum. I bet it made him feel good every time he saw your mum use it. Thank you so much for sharing your interesting story with me I love reading about these kinds of ingenious re-use of everyday objects to do something completely different from their intended use. I bet you are proud of your dad.

dswan9 from Amsterdam and London on December 23, 2010:

some very amzing and insightful stuff, as I attempt to look back into my life I have to try and remind myself what it was like for my parents being brought up in the 40s/50s..thanks

bunyip on December 23, 2010:

I have memories from the '60's of the by then disused old mangle mounted on top of my grandmothers washing machine in Sydney Australia. My aunt use to tell horror stories of the injuries that could occur using it.

When my father built our home just before the Korean war he built a double width brick backed recess, to the left was an elctric oven with hot plates on top which we used in hot weather while to the right was a solid fuel stove - oven, plate warmer and cooking surface on top. We burnt wood or coal as fuel. The coal ash/embers were horrible to remove. This was lit first thing in the morning and left to go out during the evening. Above the stoves were drying cupboards. Dad built a hoist in the ceiling so mum could lower and raise the wooden rack which was a recycled section of a broken playpen.


maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on November 13, 2010:

Hi Laurie, thanks for your comments and for sharing your own memories. It is amazing how each other’s memories can stimulate memories that have lain dormant for decades.

You brought back my memories of frozen washing being brought in off the line. The washing was so frozen some of it could stand up unaided.

LaurieDawn on November 13, 2010:

Greetings Maggs,

What a wonderful hub! It brought back so many memories of my grandmother doing her wash that way! Her old-fashioned hand wringer washing machine, her standing out in the winter hanging up her laundry on the lines, and bringing it in frozen!

Thank you for such beautiful writing and for wonderful memories!



maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on October 14, 2010:

Hi Nell, When I was a little girl one of the popular things for a mum to do to a little girls hair was what they called ‘Putting it in Rags’ a very long winded process for turning your straight hair into ringlets. I never liked sitting still for long and so I am glad to say I only had my hair done this way a few times.

When I lived in England it was not uncommon on a wet day when everyone was out for me to put the wet washing on the radiators. Here in Spain I don’t have any radiators but I am glad to report I don’t have any wet washing either Lol… In this lovely climate I can put my washing out on the line and in about half an hour it is dry.

Thank you for leaving a comment with you own experiences in. I find the comment sections of the Hubs fascinating it is amazing what you learn from reading the comments.

Nell Rose from England on October 14, 2010:

Hi, maggs, this was really interesting, I remember my mum telling me about the irons, and she also said they had curling tongs to do their hair that they had to put on the stove! I tend to put damp washing on the radiator even now when it's raining, and when I lived in a caravan we had a mangle! I still think they are a good idea, thanks for a great trip to the past, cheers nell

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on September 13, 2010:

What a kind man you are to leave such a nice comment. I have just been and read two of your poems and I was very moved and touched by them both. I am so glad that you left a comment that led me to your Hubs I will be back to read some more.

amorea13 on September 08, 2010:

Maggs224 - what a wonderful hub! Thank you - I remember so much of all that your words explained but only after your words had been 'printed' in my memory - thank you.

Actually I reached your hub-site because I was researching pictures for a hub I have just written about Evacuation. Your name and hubs came up and I so thank you for that too.

I shall read more of your writing now that I have found it - and thank you again. You write with great sensitivity and unassuming skill.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on September 07, 2010:

Hi Story, I am totally in awe of the women of my mother and grandmother’s generation. The older I get the more I come to realise just how hard it must have been for them. You are right my brother and I both had a wonderful childhood and I was a very lucky girl indeed.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on September 06, 2010:

I love this, combined with photos which have been carefully researched. You respect your Mum a great deal and it is with such gratitude that you remember what must have been a tough life for your mom anyway. Playing under tents consisting of rugs was a wonderful childhood, I observe. She evidently did you right, lucky girl. Great job.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on August 21, 2010:

Hi James I am glad that you enjoyed your little trip down my memory lane. I think that back then many people had a more a thankful attitude than complaining one.

Most people at that time still had very vivid memories of the war and all the deprivations that wartime entailed. Just having the streets lit or shop windows illuminated was a cause for appreciation.

It was a time when almost everyone had experienced the loss of someone near and dear to them during the war. Even if your family had emerged unscathed you would have known some one personally whose family had not been so lucky.

This factor inevitably changed the way people viewed their lives and possessions. Because of this I think that they lived their lives focusing on what they still had which gave rise to an attitude of gratitude.

It was through this attitude of gratitude they viewed and experienced what they had and of course this changed how they felt about everything. Thanks for your comment

James A Watkins from Chicago on August 15, 2010:

Fascinating. We are truly spoiled today. But many complain more than in the old days. I enjoyed your Hub very much.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on July 27, 2010:

I am glad that you enjoyed this little peek into the past, these cork sprinklers that you mention really have me intrigued you will have to tell me more. Thank you for leaving your comment and I loved your ‘How to succeed’ hub. It was a real honour to to find myself as one of your featured hubbers your kindness to me is very much appreciated.

Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on July 24, 2010:

What a wonderful banquet of nostalgia. I'm glad you didn't talk about the bathrooms (or the distance to them) ha ha. I remember the cork sprinklers my mother used and many a time I have heard people say "I felt like I was put through a wringer today." I would love for you to visit the unofficial HP gathering we are having at my "How to Succeed..." hub. You are one of the featured hubbers. Thanks for a fun read. =:)

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on July 23, 2010:

Thank you for your kind comments I am glad that you enjoyed taking a peek into a time gone by. Like you I think a glance or two backwards does help us to appreciate more some the things we have begun to take for granted.

billyaustindillon on July 23, 2010:

What a great history of washing, drying and ironing. We forget how tough it was and how much time went into things - we have so much more time now and we just don't appreciate it. These are great photos too and seeing how it evolved.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on July 21, 2010:

Thank you so much for your kind comments they have really made my day.

The Pulley did keep the freshly done ironing in one place and stopped it getting wrinkled up again before it was put away. In a small terraced house the pulley kept the feeling of clutter down once it was pulled up to the ceiling.

I am glad that I never had to iron with those flat irons,how mum gaged correctly the heat required for the different materials I will never know.

SilverGenes on July 17, 2010:

That pulley system is quite ingenious. I wouldn't mind having something like that now. The irons? Well, they make good doorstops now. Women would not need gym memberships at all working like that! I really enjoyed your description of the swinging light while ironing. Thank you for another wonderful hub! This is where I will come whenever I want to feel all warm and fuzzy :))

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on July 12, 2010:

Thank you KoffeeKlatch for the really nice comment I appreciate it very much.

I sure would not like to be without my automatic washing machine, using my old twin tub was such a chore compared to an automatic.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on July 12, 2010:

What a step back in time. I don't think many of us could do with the inconveinces of days gone by. Wonderful reasearch and love the writing style.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on June 18, 2010:

HI Tony, Many of the people I grew up with all say the same thing as you, that time provided many great memories which we look back fondly on.

It is my pleasure to share, writing these hubs stirs up my own memories of that time and that give me a lot of pleasure, I am glad that you enjoyed your little amble down my old memory lane.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on June 18, 2010:

Great memories were brought back to me by this fascinating Hub. So many of the things you have mentioned were part of my childhood also!

Thanks for sharing.

Love and peace


maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on June 18, 2010:

Calling Crow, Thank you so much for your very kind comments, like you say it was hard work back then but there was something about a simpler lifestyle in a simpler time that is very appealing even today.

Calling Crow on June 17, 2010:

I absolutely love reading about the days-gone-by! While it is nice to have all our wonderful conventions, a days work back then really required a lot of thought, planning and true effort. Not to say we have it easy now, but it sure is a lot different. I can't help but long for that "simpler" time.

Thanks for sharing this! I can't wait to read your other work!

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on June 05, 2010:

Hi Juliette Seems like every cloud does have a silver lining your poor hubby gets the broken washer and I get to enjoy your visit.

I think that looking back sometimes helps us to appreciate some of the things that we now just take for granted. Having something breakdown can also do it too, when the washer is working we hardly give a second thought, but when it breaks down we suddenly realise just how much we have grown dependant on it.

I hope hubby gets it fixed soon though the little village that I can see from my window does have a communal outdoor washing area that you are welcome to use if you get stuck. Lol

I have put a photo below so you can see how it was done in Spain I don’t know why it is not showing but if you click on it you will then be able to see the full sized photo.

Juliette Morgan on June 05, 2010:

Hi what a hard life they had - I'm reading this as my other half has the washing machine in bits - one of my bra wires was the culprit so I'm popular! Never heard of the flatley drier- sounds like a Godsend at that time. Really good interesting information, thank you.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on June 02, 2010:

Hi 50, Great to have your input I love your comments thanks for taking the time to contribute like this. When my kids were young we always had milk delivered to our doorstep by the milkman. As they grew up and the money got tighter it was more economical to by the milk from the supermarkets in four pint cartons than in the one pint bottles from the milkman.

The same milkman who made the video you saw also made this video which is a video ride in the milk float and there are text captions that tell you about the milk float like how long it goes on a single charge etc. I think that you might find it interesting.

50 Caliber from Arizona on May 29, 2010:

A fine video of a person with a job, trudging through the snow and ice to set down a bottle of milk seemed tedious at face value. I wonder if the recipient is grateful, I know that a fresh ice cold bottle of raw milk would get swallowed quite quickly today as the temperature is headed back to 100 degrees. The colors of the Fab ware that I linked are the same as what I have. In those days our tables were chrome plated piping with the tops colored the same as the Fab dinnerware. You mentioned Fab and I remembered the brand. I'm enjoying these hubs, thank you so much. 50

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 28, 2010:

Hi 50, In 1967 my husband was in the Royal Navy we took over the house of the man who my husband was replacing. We shared this house with them for a couple of weeks until they returned to the UK. Linda the lady of the house said to me that she was leaving me her fab coffee mugs and fab bowls. I thanked her for her generosity, I liked the mugs and bowls but I thought that calling them fab was a bit over the top.

It turns out she didn’t mean that the mugs and bowls were fabulous by her remark but that they were in fact Fab mugs and bowls. Fab was a brand of washing powder and if you bought a box of this washing powder you would get a free gift such as a coffee mug or a bowl. I was to amass my own collection of Fab items over the next two years just like your mum did so I can really identify with her. Unfortunately I cannot find any photos of the Fab free gifts.

I loved all the photographs of the Divco trucks, especially the little pint sized ones that they use to give free to the dealerships it sure beat a free coffee mug that’s for sure.

Our milkmen also used to deliver to the doorstep using electric driven milk floats; they still do in the UK. I can’t find any footage of a milk float from the past, but the floats really haven’t changed that much and here is a link to a video taken this year on the 6th of January by the milkman on his round in the snow.

When you hear the unmistakable sound of that electric engine starting up you would know right off even if you couldn’t see it that it was a milk float because the sound is so distinctive.

Your comments send me on new trips down memory lane each time, thanks for taking the time and trouble to make them. Maggs

50 Caliber from Arizona on May 28, 2010:

Maggs, we did have a truck that ran every morning but Sunday that dropped off glass quart bottles of milk, butter, eggs, and washing powders. I remember and have a 5 place setting of Melmac Dinnerware and accessories, like gravy bowls and butter bowls as well as napkin holders, the washing powder company would give one piece a week in exchange for buying some amount of their brand I don't remember, I just recall my father getting after my mother for buying enough washing powder to open a laundry company just to get free plates. I was amused as a child that my Mom could get in trouble too. and

In 1980 I bought a property in Santa Ana, California that was "Arden Dairy Co." they were closing down from the business of Milk and dairy morning delivery. I had a large room, 60ftx60ft that had foam walls close to a meter thick to keep products cold. In summer on days of 90 degrees the inside stayed 60 degrees and less, I sat the offices and parts department, for a truck repair company, up in side the room to keep from paying for cooling as well as heating bills, in the winter a small electric space heater intended for a small room would keep it warm. It was located near three other companies in the same business and the products were delivered by large trucks to them in the early morning hours so they could be delivered in the city by 6am to the door steps of customers. I had 2 qt bottles of raw milk delivered to my home until the last finally went out of business in the mid 1980s. Progress has caused us to loose some nice services, I sure miss farm fresh raw milk, especially ice cold. Not all things passed for the good in my opinion. Cheers, 50

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi DeBorrah, having a thankful heart is a great blessing, and having a great mom is a wonderful thing to be thankful for. I think if you are fortunate enough to be brought up in a home where people love you, then no matter what the hardships are that you have to endure you can still come away with happy memories. Thanks for the peace and blessing both gratefully received.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi Ethel, I find it the same for me when I read all these lovely comments, it brings back so many more memories and I am always amazed how many things we have in common with other people in countries all over the world.

It is great that we also have many different experiences and I get to learn a lot about how other ordinary folk in other countries lived during this time.

Just read Old 50’s comments and you will see what I mean. He gives a delightful insight into the American way of life back then. Thanks for being kind enough to leave a comment it is always good to see your name.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi fastfreta, I am glad that this Hub took you on a little trip of your own and I am glad that you found reading the hub interesting. I spend a lot of time looking for the right photos, if I don’t have one from my past that illustrates what I am talking about I search till I find one that does. Often they are not quite right so I spend time making them more appropriate for what I need. Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment it is always lovely to hear from you.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi Gojijuice, I am glad that you enjoyed reading the Hub. Thanks for leaving a comment I appreciate it.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi Sandy, Written records of these everyday ordinary events in a normal household are not the kinds of things that make it into the history books. That is why I wanted to put down in writing somewhere some of the ordinary mundane experiences of working class people back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Hubpages gave me this opportunity and I am so grateful, and judging from the comments I get these ordinary experiences have taken others to visit their own experiences of the past and that has given me an enormous amount of satisfaction.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi marijanareynders, I am glad that you enjoyed your little walk down memory lane. I love the old AGAs I think that they are wonderful. Over the years we have had narrowboats and we had woodburning pot bellied stoves and I loved to smell the smoke of the burning wood, different kinds of wood gave off different kinds of smoke. Thanks for the memories you evoked,

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi itakins, I know what you mean; in late 1969 we had just returned to the UK after a two year posting in Singapore. My husband was a Sailor in the Royal Navy and we had just had a married accompanied posting. During that two years we had a servant that did all the household chores for me. That included all the washing and the ironing. My husband use to put on a fresh uniform each day and when he came home from the base he would put his ordinary civvies on. This meant that he got through at least two sets of clean clothes a day. Within days of coming back to the UK where I was once again in charge of all my own chores I had to have a little word in his ear. The conversation was about how were not on a tropical routine now and he better get use to wearing stuff more than once before it found its way into the washing pile. Lol

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi Hello, thank you so much for your kind comments I appreciate them very much. Although by today’s standards times back then were very hard in comparison to now, when I look back the past only seems to hold happy memories for me. I was talking to my brother via email the other day he had just read my hub on train sets and train spotting and he put me right on a couple of things I had got wrong. He said in the email the same to me that those days held for him very happy memories.

maggs224 (author) from Sunny Spain on May 27, 2010:

Hi Old 50, as always your comments are a delight to read, I would love to see all these wonderful things that you have and are still using in your home. That is one of the things I really like about stuff that was made in the past, the fact that it was really made to last and we see the proof of that in your home and stories. I wonder how many things manufactured today will still be going strong just ten years down the road never mind fifty plus years.

I have not mentioned block ice delivery because we never had block ice. Most homes at that time in our neighbourhood didn’t have a fridge or any means of storing ice. To keep things cool we had a big stone slab in the pantry which was the coolest place in the house. Of course in the summer months butter would melt and go rancid, milk would curdle or just go sour, and meat would go off quickly.

The way we dealt with this was when buying foodstuffs that had a tendency to go off; was to buy only what you needed for that day.

The nearest we got to having something to keep stuff cool was a thing called an Osokool It was a metal box covered in Plaster of Paris with a dish shaped indent at the top. You poured water into the indent and it drew the heat away from the metal box and so kept the objects cool. This would only keep cool objects cool, it would not cool down stuff it would only keep it from heating up. It was all to do with the evaporation of the water making the metal insert cool. I have found a photo of an Osokool but I don't know how to add it to the comments.

The other thing we would do was fill a bowl or bucket up with cold water from the tap then stand the milk bottles in the cold water and then cover the bottle with a wet tea towel and this would keep it cool. None of these means was very satisfactory. Thank God for fridges.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on May 27, 2010:

Maggs, This was wonderful as well as informative! I learned some things! My admiration grows as well! I am just that much more thankful for having a great Mom! I was born at the right time! So thankful for a washer and dryer! Thank you for sharing, In His Love, Peace & Blessings!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on May 27, 2010:

This brings back so many memories. My aged great aunt used a flat iron until she died in the mid 1970s. The wringer and clothes horses were used at home. We also had a pulley similar to the one shown. Dad had made it. Wonderful hub. Thank you

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on May 27, 2010:

Wow Maggs, this takes me back. You know, while reading this I never thought of what my mother did during the winter for washing. I've never seen the wringer that you showed here. Actually I've never seen a lot of the things that you show pictures of. How do you get these photos? Oh, but the iron, I used to use that. I really got caught up in this hub. I really enjoyed this. I need to go back and read more of your hubs.

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on May 27, 2010:

Wow, this is great hub! I feel like I'm reading the Reminisce magazines!

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on May 27, 2010:

Nice write up of this time. I seen an older washer that my grandma had. It is hard to imagine doing laundry this way.

marijanareynders from Toodyay, Western Australia on May 27, 2010:

Maggs, again a wonderful walk back into the past (my past and also my present in a way). I still dry washing on my AGA (wood fired stove) in winter :-) How interesting to read about how washing was dried in your part of the world ... so similar and a walk down memory lane holding my grandmother's hand. Thank you.

itakins from Irl on May 27, 2010:

As always ,brilliant.I am inclined to think that if I had to go through all that to get clothes clean I mightn't encourage kids to change so often-gosh it was tough for those ladies.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on May 26, 2010:

Thank you for giving so much joy. I loved every bit of it. I often tell my son that if there are bad times, I mean really bad times, that generation would type into the computer 'potatoes' and will be surprised that there none coming out, apart from a picture.

50 Caliber from Arizona on May 26, 2010:

Maggs, this is certainly a trip back in time and a mess of delightful memories. I have thought of a few you've yet to mention or I must go back and read like block ice delivery or the block ice dispensers, much like a coke machine except 50 pound or 25 pound blocks came out. I still keep ice picks in the kitchen drawer, funny as you have to search for block ice and there are few machine left, while I still use it for different things. I've got the old coal bucket and scoop I use it now for a huge smoker for smoking meat in and Mesquite wood charcoal or chunks is what it scoops now. The cast iron 5 pound and 10 pound as in your photos are door stops now. It was just last month I was at a flea market and bought a Flatley clothes dryer. The man I bought it from said "those sure are nice when a fellow needs one". I told him I doubted many don't even know what it is any more. Then it showed he was fishing to see what he just sold for 5 dollars so I filled him in, and it's laden in the kitchen right now. I keep it in side as the dogs have a field day with my socks and such and I have to hunt them down in the yard outside, if you could call it a yard. The old electric sockets are in use in light fixtures here in my home. I have old electric Irons and a sprinkler cork that was designed from aluminum to fit in old quart Coke bottles to sprinkle clothes with water as you iron to create the effect of a new steam iron for those who could not or would not afford one back in the 50s. The cranking the mangler reminded me of us kids fighting over who got to crank the ice cream maker and who had ti sit on top of the burlap sack on the top of chipped ice and salt. Now days you'd have to beat a kid to even dream of cranking much less sitting on an ice cream maker. Helping around the house at all is above them. I doubt they would have survived the times back when there was no computers and cell phones and child labor was a must. I suppose they would die if rotary telephones still had to be dialed. They would hate it here as there is no phone at all.

It's been quite fun reading and I thank you for such good articles, I'll have to catch up on them, old 50

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