Minus the stroller and the knitting, and with less grass, (although it probably all applied at some point), this could very well be a version of my Granny doing the laundry. I was thinking about her a bit ago while I was doing my own laundry. I had just taken some of the Tornado’s blankets outside to dry on my makeshift washing line because they are light enough that they will dry more quickly in the sun than in the dryer. That saves a little on the electricity albeit a very small amount. But every little drop in the bucket eventually adds up. Anyway, I was thinking how nice it would be if I had a dedicated washing line to save even more drying time and suddenly, I was jolted into the memory of Granny doing the laundry during one of my summertime visits.
Now as a kid, do you really pay much attention to laundry? Other than having your favorite shirt or pants or blanket, do you really care about how the laundry is done? At the time, I didn’t. But now, with this memory fresh in my mind, I look back at this particular moment as one of those “wow” moments. I really don’t know much about Granny’s childhood but I would bet she was a teen during the Depression. I’m guessing really because I know that my Papa was in World War II and that he joined at around 19 years of age and I think they were married before then. Being a teen during the 1930s, and probably from a large family, she would have had to help with the laundry.
Dryers were not invented until 1800 and the first one was a hand-cranked version invented by one M. Pochon from France. An American, J. Ross Moore, designed an automatic dryer in the early 20th century but it wasn’t developed or released to the public until 1938. Then in the 1940s what we now know as the modern electric dryer, with a glass door so you could see your clothes tumbling around, was sold to consumers. But most households couldn’t afford a dryer so washing lines were still used.
Now back to Granny. From as far back as I can remember Granny had a dryer. She also had her clothes line, which is what she called it, or so memory serves. The thing is, unless it was winter I don’t remember her using the dryer very often. The memory that sprang back to me while I was doing my own laundry was of this one summer, I must have been about 11 or 12 even 13 maybe, and she was getting my laundry ready for my trip back home to my mom’s house in Rendon, Texas. Granny lived in Tulia, Texas-a seven to eight hour drive at that time. She had just taken the small load of my clothes out of the washing machine but she only put my jeans and a couple of heavier items into the dryer. The rest she took out and hung on the clothes line to dry in the sun and heat. I can remember it as clearly today as if I were there again. The way the slight breeze ruffled my hair and swayed the clothes as she finished clipping the edges with the clothespins. The heat from the sun beating down on my fair skin as I helped hand the damp clothes to her, damp because the heat was so intense the clothes were practically drying in the basket. I can even see her Victory Garden and the yellow daffodils that survived the summer heat by hiding in the shade between the house and the detached garage. Daffodils were Granny’s favorite flower. To this day I can’t see them without thinking of her.
Granny passed away on a Sunday in January 1997. She had a leaking valve in her heart and was waiting for surgery-which would take place the following Monday-when her heart just gave out. She had called me the Friday before and we spent a good hour on the phone talking about her newest great-grandson, my Sean who had just been born October of 1996. She never got to meet him but knowing Granny, she didn’t leave this earth without stopping by and peeking in. Granny loved children and they loved her. I got to tell her I loved her, something I think is important to tell people every day. Granny was 68 at the time of her death, my Papa having gone before her in 1994, but she lived her life fully. I only hope I am making her as proud of me today as she told me she was that Friday night in 1997.
Isn’t it funny how something so simple as doing your laundry can remind you of so much?