When I noticed this Woodinville backyard scene of Bus Brown's kin Susan Gallager, memories flocked back to me of a vivid 1923 remembrance of my mother and her machine.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
by Oscar Roloff
This Woodinville sight reminded me of an older type machine we had at Union Gap in 1923 when I was five and my two brothers of near age.
Our Pop had tired of seeing Mother bend over a backyard metal tub to wash clothes and bought her a swish back and forth wooden type agitator machine. It was in a small shed in the back.
One hot July summer day of '23, we watched as our mother used the handle to swish the agitator back and forth. We tried to help her.
When through swishing, she began putting the clothes through the wringer. Alas! Her long hair got caught in the wringer. She tried to back it up. No luck. No luck forward. Very tired physically and mentally, she began to weep. We wept, too.
Had no close neighbors. Our Pop wouldn't be home for five hours. Had no phone. No electricity, lived in an old house.
Exhausted, she had to flop over the machine. The pitiful sight we three never forgot. Women had it tough. Not today.
At long last, our Pop arrived and freed her. Weeping ended.
Another short one
Don't think a woman's hardship soon ended. I recall in the 1930s when we were farmed out to the John Carolus family to be raised--one of six different families that took care of us when our parents divorced and we were left adrift, homeless. Of the six families, the Carolus family was the best.
Many a time on the Yakima Indian Reservation, I would see Mrs. Carolus in the back yard, bent over a metal wash tub scrubbing away on dirty, often manure-specked bib-overalls and other clothing. All kids wore bib overalls, even to school.
It was a very tiring thing for women of that day to wash clothes in that manner. The terrible 1930s Depression was on. Yet we were sort of a happy caring type of people. We survived and soon went on to more pleasant things. Yes, often terrible memories, but then again we had pleasant memories, too.