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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wash Day Blues

I'm participating in Vintage Thingies Thursday again, hosted by Colorado Lady. Go visit and see who else is posting their vintage thingies.

If you think you hate doing the washing and ironing today,
be glad you didn't have to do it in the so called good old days.

It was a chore then and here are the vintage thingies to prove it.

This is a vintage wooden wash stand with a wringer in the middle. You sat your tubs full of water on both sides and put your wet clothes through the wringers. You turned the crank on the side to make the wringers turn.
If you've ever seen the movie Far and Away, you will notice in the Oklahoma scene where she is washing clothes, she is using one of these.

Here is a close up of the wringers.

And here is a side picture of it all folded up for storage. Notice the little screen door hinge attached in the middle that fastened to the legs when you pulled them up for storage.
I think that's kind of neat how they did it.
If you click on the picture for a close up, you will notice patent
dates of Nov 10, 1901 and June 18, 1895.

And here is the most dreaded part of washing clothes.
The ironing the next day.
These are called Sad Irons, and no they're not called that
because you were sad it was Tuesday and you had to do the ironing.
They were called that because in 19th century dictionaries
one of the definitions for sad was heavy, solid or dense.
And let me tell you, these irons are heavy!
I believe the one on the right is the oldest one.
It is only one piece. The other one has a wooden
detachable handle so you can change sad irons
when the first one cooled down.
These were put on your cook stove to get hot.

Hope you enjoyed my wash day vintage thingies!
Do any of you remember using these?


  1. Janet, I smashed my fingers in a wringer washer when I was a toodler. Our washer wasn't as old as the one you have. I have not seen one like that. Thank you for the lesson on sad irons. I've always wondered why they were called sad.

  2. I am feeling sorry for my ancestors
    after seeing this washer. I have
    not seen one this old. I appreciate
    modern washers and irons a lot more now!

  3. wow those are amazing! If it was me I'd have those on display in my laundry area. I think we've got to be grateful for the modern things we have now.

  4. Just as Bea did, I also squished my fingers in a wringer washing machine..and let me tell you, it smarted. A lot. I didn't want a repeat of it..:). I've seen the old irons..and I would have been very sad to have used one. Thankfully, we've come a long way.
    But did you ever stop and think, in a hundred years..what will they say about us? :). Happy VTT and have a wonderous day.

  5. I needed this washer this week! What a great post to read after my working all week cleaning some of my vintage things. Loved it and how fun to read. I think we have it made in todays modern world...but the charm of yesterday items there just is no match...most likely because we did not have to use them~

  6. look how complicated the washer is.. hehehehehe.. never mind, I skip that washer for the electrical ones.. hehehehehehe.. but the iron.. I have one at home.. as vintage as yours.. have a great day..

  7. I love vintage laundry thingies but i'm ssooo glad we don't have to use those treasures now ;)

  8. Wonderful laundry items-the wringer is simply ingenious. I've only seen them attached to old washing tubs, never as a stand.

    Sad irons is so the right name -I'm a sad enough ironer as it is.

  9. This has really been preserved well, you are very lucky!
    Fortunately, I grew up with a washer and dryer, although we hung our laundry to dry most of the time.

  10. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to haul water in 2-gallon buckets from the creek under the hill from where we lived. I remember she used to have rain barrels under the drip of the house to catch any rain water for warshing, since it was much easier. I remember she used an old warshboard and used mangles. It was an all day chore, and this was in the late 1970's! But since we didn't have any water except a spring, they could run an automatic wash machine on that. When I was about 5 or so, Mom and Dad bought a 1932 model wringer washer, and they nicknamed it "Fairlane". Fairlane lasted for many years. Now, since Mom and Dad got a well drilled a couple of years ago, the have an automatic washer, but Mom still asks Dad if they can get another Wringer Washer. She said she liked the old wringer washer better than the automatic. None of us have been able to talk Mom into getting a clothes dryer yet, she still insists on hanging clothes outside, summer and winter.

    I also have a photo of my great-great grandmother and a great-aunt doing laundry about 1900. It is something to see, they have pans and tubs out in front of the house and are scrubbing away, with a grin on their face. I couldn't imagine.

    Neat post.


  11. My grandmother took in laundry during the depression--now I wonder what she used. This makes me happy its in the past because my iron is my right hand especially when sewing.

  12. Wow, Matthew you mom was a hard worker. I remember Mom's wringer washing machine. It sat on our back porch. I bet your gr gr grandmother just smiled for the camera, I can't imagine enjoying all that work. But our ancestors were something else weren't they. Thanks for your comments on warshday.

  13. I got educated today!!! My mom had an old wringer washer and scrub board, but the washer was one of those white round thingies, not a wooden one like yours! How cool! What a time travel!

  14. Can you imagine??? My grandma had a hand-crank wringer all her life and used it even when the new fangled appliances were available! Thanks for sharing!

  15. I've not seen a washer like that before. Only the commercial wringer washers.
    I have seen a sad iron. My mother had one in storage.
    I don't remember either actually in use.

  16. I remember my Mom washing on the board and wringing by hand, she didn't have a wringer. We didn't have electricity until I was 10 or 11, then we got a Maytag wringer washer. Dad would not buy anything but a Maytag. Mom always had to carry water from the spring. I raised 6 children with a wringer washer and carrying water from the creek or up a hill from a well. As a young girl I can remember using the sad irons also.

  17. Your things are amazing. It certainly makes me appreciate the way we are able to do laundry today. One thing I do think must have been nice....they had to do the laundry outside and on nice days that would have been pleasant I think .What an interesting post!
    Elaine :)

  18. I'm 62 - I remember as a small child having a wringer washer and I remember how happy my mother was when we got one with an agitator! My mother's friend who died about 3 years ago had a wringer washer when she died and it's all she had ever used. blessings, marlene

  19. now that wringer is something else! What great shape it is in:), love your irons, and now I know why they were called sad irons:) I have my greatgrandmother's sad iron.

  20. I feel so laundry educated now, and what a lovely lesson it was. What I found most interesting was the definition of "sad" at that time.
    Very interesting and I must say, days certainly must have had more hours in them back then.

  21. Hey Jan, you sure got a lot of comments on this post. It was interesting. I don't ever remember the irons being called sad irons. I remember John's mom had one that sue used to prop the door open with.

  22. My grandmother used a wringer washer until the early 1980's. When we used to visit her in the summer we would wash our clothes in it and then hang them out on the clothesline. I am lucky enough to have a couple of her sad irons.

  23. Such neat old appliances-but I'll keep the ones I use! Great post!!

  24. My Mom loved old things as well, and we actually had a wringer washer that we used for a few years. It's fun to know how to use one...

  25. My Mum always had a couple of those irons on the back of the big wood stove-you needed two so you could keep ironing when one cooled off!
    And boy they were heavy.

  26. My grandma used these sad irons even tho she did not have to. She also had a small CocaCola bottle with water in it. It had a sprinkler thingy inserted in top to dampen different things she was ironing. Never understood the need to iron pillow cases tho!!! She always tested the temperature of the irons with a licked finger lol

  27. Janet, LOVE this post! I adore vintage things such as this, and would love to own this yours!? How awesome of you to share it! Love the new look of your blog! I haven't visited you in a while and I am so sorry. I am so behind in seeing everyone's blogs, and I will try to catch up! Thank you so much for visiting mine!


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