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Rainy Days and the Laundromat: A Winter Memory Hub Challenge

Updated on January 24, 2016
Rainy days bring rainbows and clothes that can't be dried outside
Rainy days bring rainbows and clothes that can't be dried outside | Source

Rainy Days Doing Laundry

Have you spent a rainy day at the laundromat?

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Winter Invokes Rainy Day Memories

Jackie Lynnley has put out a challenge to write about a winter memory. As I've never done a challenge on Hubpages, I thought I'd give this one a go.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s. I cannot think of winter without imagining rainy days spent at the laundromat and what fun my brother and I used to have there. Only a young child could see such a tedious day as an adventure.

There were seven of us in my family. My parents had 5 kids within 7 years. This meant my Mom often had more than one child in diapers at a time. We produced a heck of a lot of laundry. We used to wash one load of towels almost every day. If we didn't, sometime around Tuesday someone would be reaching for the toilet paper after their shower. (That never happened...I think.)

We didn't have a clothes dryer until I was in high school. Instead, we had a clothesline with several lines extended across the backyard. We'd clothespin as many things as we could, the weight of it all sometimes making the rope collapsed. What joy finding a newly washed load laying in the dirt.

It seemed that the hamper was never empty and the washing machine was always running.

Rows and Rows of Laundry

My siblings and me (I'm on the right) ca. 1968.  If you look in the background, you can see one of our early clotheslines lining the backyard.
My siblings and me (I'm on the right) ca. 1968. If you look in the background, you can see one of our early clotheslines lining the backyard. | Source

Clotheslines are Useless in the Rain

In the winter, it rained quite often. For the wetter days, we had a rack my that my Dad set up over the bedroom door molding near the wall heater. Being short, it wasn't all that easy throwing the clothes up over the poles.

In the morning, my mom would turn on the oven to dry our clothes the rest of the way. We'd dress right there in the kitchen where it was toasty warm. Nothing like warm underwear and socks to start a chilly, damp day. It helped speed things up as she tried to get five kids ready for the school bus.

We made do until the weekend during the rainy season. By the weekend, we'd have several loads of laundry overfilling the laundry basket. It wouldn't be long before we ran out of things to wear.

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes

A more modern laundromat than the one that used to be in my town
A more modern laundromat than the one that used to be in my town | Source

And, We're Off to the Laudromat!

“Over the river and the through the woods to the laundromat we go...” Okay, it wasn't all that dramatic. The laundromat was only three blocks away. We did have to drive down a busy street where there were sometimes prostitutes hanging out on street corners. The biggest danger we faced was my Dad trying to avoid our questions about why they were dressed the way they were.

My Mom would fill three or four big duffel bags with the laundry. Then, my brother and I would jump in the car. My Dad needed assistants. I'm not sure why we were always elected. It's most likely because we were the youngest and didn't have enough sense to realize no one else wanted to go.

Once we got there, we had to stake out several washing machines. My brother and I would fight over who got to use the change machine since everything took quarters. Once the washers were going, we entertained ourselves. If the laundromat was empty, my brother and I would give each other rides in the carts (shhh...don't tell anyone!). Otherwise, we'd play with whatever toys we stuffed in our pockets. You can play with Hot Wheels pretty much anywhere.

Don't worry about my Dad. He was off talking to someone. It didn't matter if he knew them or not. He would talk to anyone.

When the machines were done, we'd grab the carts and head over to the dryers. I don't really think the other folks liked being there at the same time as us. We took over half the machines.

We had an hour or so to kill. How would we keep from getting bored? You can only watch the clothes roll around in the dryer for so long.

Founded by Verne Winchell in 1948

This Winchell's Donut House in Southern California looks very much like the one in my old neighborhood.
This Winchell's Donut House in Southern California looks very much like the one in my old neighborhood. | Source

Winchell's to the Rescue

I'm sure you guessed the real reason my brother and I were so eager to help my Dad. Winchell's Donut House was next door to the laundromat.

We'd order a couple dozen doughnuts to take home for the gang. If we were lucky, they just put out the fresh ones.

My Dad would get a cup of coffee and we'd find a booth. Then, we'd help ourselves to a doughnut or two. I always went for the regular chocolate, my brother went for the old fashioned, and my Dad loved the crullers (I used to think they were called crawlers).

Wouldn't you know it? The woman at the next booth had a son on his baseball team last season. My brother and I could be doomed to an hour or more of waiting while my Dad talked about Little League. Thank goodness we were saved by the dryer timers. People would take your clothes out if you weren't right there. Didn't want that to happen!

Which One Will You Pick?

A selection of doughnuts
A selection of doughnuts | Source

Glazed and Frosted Memories

What's Your Favorite Doughnut?

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Heading Home with Our Duffel Bags

By the time we were sugared up, it was time to check the loads. We'd have a few more rides around the building in a cart before we'd stuff all the clothes in the bags and go home.

We'd race to the car to beat the rain--and to see who was fastest. I'm pretty sure we were more worried about getting the box of doughnuts wet than ourselves.

Until now, I didn't think about what a special thing those doughnuts were. It was expensive raising five children. We didn't have what you'd call extra money lying around between paychecks. Although a box of freshly made doughnuts only cost a couple bucks back then, it was splurging. And, what a wonderful treat it was!

Thank Goodness My Clothesline Days are Behind Me

I was so happy when we finally could afford a dryer. I've heard others wax poetic about the joys of drying clothes outdoor on a line. Ah, the smell of sunshine. Not me! All I remember is the endless loads being put up and taken down, the rope collapsing dropping everything in the dirt, and finding moths in my tops when we left the clothes out on the line too late. I had enough of that, thank you very much!

Winter will always invoke images of dreary, wet Saturdays spent at the laundromat and scarfing down doughnuts. Those were fun times getting out of the house and spending time with my Dad. A child's idea of an adventure for sure!

Thank you, Jackie, for putting out this winter challenge!

© 2014 Melody Lassalle


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