grew with the wheat
childhood we are cautioned to always wash our face and hands before eating. Most
old homesteads and ranches provided a back porch complete with washstand, wash
pan, bucket of water with a dipper, bar of soap and a towel hanging on a nail.
A few wash areas sported a mirror, comb and brush for the more fastidious.
and boarding houses had a somewhat fancier more private wash stand in each room
with a porcelain wash bowl, pitcher of water, towel and mirror. Sometimes they
even changed the towels between customers. Often, a razor strop was furnished
to aid sharpening your razor.
The early Trew home south of Perryton
in the late 1930s provided a wash bench on the back porch for washing up. During
summer the bench sat outside on the sidewalk, in the winter it was moved inside.
At first, a cake of mild lye soap was furnished. Later we used Lava soap with
grit to cut the grease and grime.
After the dust quit blowing and with
a couple of decent wheat crops under our belt the Trews progressed to a concrete
wash house out by the windmill tower with a water storage tank sitting on top.
The elevated tank and gravity pushed the water into the main house and furnished
fresh water to the facilities below inside the wash house. The old wash bench
was moved to the wash house where a new propane-fueled hot water heater made washing
up more pleasant.
Each Monday the wash house became a laundry complete
with a gas-powdered Maytag washing machine. In 1939 we hooked onto the REA for
electricity, acquired an electric powered Maytag washing machine and the hygiene
of the family and employees improved immensely.
The change from gas power
to electric power on the washing machine was the most outstanding progress remembered
as a little boy. My job was to fasten the flexible exhaust pipe to the old gas
motor, unroll the pipe and point it downwind. The pipe stank to high heaven from
the oil and gas fuel mixture and the pipe remained greasy at all times. A better
chore was to tip the wash tubs of water onto the floor and let the drain hose
down on the washing machine. The resulting miniature lake in the ditch outside
the washhouse was always a favorite place to play. My brother and I had toy cars,
tractors, wooden ships and all kinds of things to use as we built towns and farms
around the wash water lake created each Monday.
My Grandma Trew kept a
wash pan, bucket and dipper right by her kitchen sink as long as she lived. Soap
was kept in a coffee can alongside the can of cow udder ointment used for cracked
and chapped hands.
We boys stood on an egg crate in order to reach the
wash pan. Lord help you if you forgot to wash up before sitting down at her table.
And, you better not say a cuss word either or she would wash out your mouth with
Lava soap. Boy did it taste yucky.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 3, 2009 Column
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