Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Since writing my first blog I have been trying to remember how I washed my clothes. I do not remember any dealings with a dry-cleaner. After school began I could not have afforded one. I do not remember public laundries. I do not remember how the wealthy houses handled bedding and other large items. The very first washing machine I ever saw was after we were married and living in Texas. I went to something called a Washeteria. Mud floors. Used soapy water and rinsewater flowing down a little furrow. All of us house wives scrubbing our dirty laundry on washboards. The wringers were manual. Toward the end of the year we lived in Texas there was a single Bendix front loading washing machine in the Washeteria. That's all I remember.

My laundry memories from Sweden are rich and adventuresome. My mother would hire two washer women four times a year. All of us would pray for dry weather. It was a lot of work for my mother for she would have to fill many barrells with water from our well. Here cleaning women say' we don't do windows. In Sweden in those days washer women said 'We don't haul water.' All the sheets and towels (we each got one sheet a week and one pillow case and towel) were soaked overnight. The big boiler tub was filled with water and the wood fire laid to get lit early next morning.

The older woman was called Mor Zerman.(Mother Zerman) Her age was probaly close to what I am now. The second woman was her daughter-in-law and we called her Fru Zerman. When they arrived the coffee had to be ready. They 'drack det pa bit.' (drank it on lump) They poured the hot coffee onto their saucers, put a lump of sugar in the mouth and inhaled the coffee through the sugar. We four children found this tradition fascinating. The saucer had to be placed on three fingers, the thumb, the pointer and the little finger.

They began by wringing out the soaked items and putting them into the cauldron with boiling soapy water. Our soap was actually called sopa and it was green semi liquid ooze. I always asked if I could help, for it was warrm and steamy and the women told funny stories. and sometimes I got to help. A, little barrell with a small wash board was there for me to use. Strange items that I had never seen before. White knitted items. I asked and asked 'what are these and what are they for. When I found out they were for spelial days of the month for women, I never ssked to help again.

I heard the first 'dirty story' of my life. This is how I remember it

Eric told his father that he wanted to marry Tora. The father hemmed and hawed and said 'Son I don't think you can marry her for I think I am her father too. Time passed and again Eric went to his father and said 'I have fallen in love with Luisa and I am going to ask her to marry me. Agin the fater turned red and cleared his throat and finally said 'Son, I am so sorry. But I think I am Luisas father too. Eric became angry and went to his mother to get some sympathy. His Mother said, Eric, you marry who ever you want. He is not your Father.


Jenny, the Bloggess said...

I cannot tell you how much I love your stories. Seriously, you are one of my favorite bloggers ever. Thank you for sharing your memories.

Liz said...

Love the "dirty story"!!

Although I just "turned" 53, I remember helping my grandmother with the wash using a Maytag "washtub" with a hand wringer...and then hauling everything outside to hang up.

On one hand I'm VERY grateful for the automation we now have - on the other, like you enjoying being with the women and hearing the stories, I remember the companionship of being with my grandmother more than the drudgery of the chore.

Emily said...

I love these stories!

I've heard that "dirty story" in the form of the song "Johnny Be Fair" - it's a pretty funny song

Georgia Hardstark said... much information I wouldn't have otherwise. Thank you so much for telling your stories. I look forward to your posts every day.

And that dirty story is hilarious!

Anne said...

Oh, Svensto, how I love you and your stories! I also well remember those wash tubs and wringers. I remember my first first 'dirty story' also. hahhaha

Colleen G said...

I love your stories and I love the "dirty" joke at the end. Very cute. So glad your cancer scare turned out for the best because I would truly miss your stories! Looking forward to many more stories and name dropping from you.