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June 17, 2013


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I love reading all of the old stores I am 30 so I do not remember any of this but I am a wife and mother of 5 and I do all the laundry by hand it is a lot of work thanks for sharing your memories with us all

This was at the plant in Marshall NC..where he worked in the plant.
He would walk down the hill behind
his farm to the river, take his
little wooden boat across to the dam. Work all day, take the boat back across and walk back home uphill to the house! Otherwise he
would have to drive all the way into Marshall and take a road back on the other side up to the small dam.
It didn't become Progress Energy until way after my Grandfather retired, actually after he died in the 40's or 50's maybe after that....
At any rate we knew of the companies changes since
many letters from the company stock would arrive worrying my Mom to death! She cared for her Fathers stock in the company
like they were her babies,
until the day she died a couple of years ago at 93, a
promise she made to her Dad! LOL
Thanks Tipper,

At one place Mama lived as a young woman, they got their water from a spring at the foot of a hill from the house. They took the wash pots & clothes down to the spring instead of toting the water uphill. Spent the whole day down there doing the wash. Dried it over bushes or on clean patches of grass.

Bring water up for the house, Mama's younger sister got into a yellow jacket nest in the ground & she & their little dog were getting stung all over. Mama didn't know what to do but finally threw her bucket of water on her sister & ran away. She thought the water might run off some of the yellow jackets.

For those discussing Duke Power here, we live in the sandhills and had Carolina Power then Progress Energy for over 30 years. Then Duke Power took them over, and their customer service is seriously lacking.

Due to the storm that went through here late last week, we were without power for 30 hours. Whenever we were without power with Carolina Power, we'd call and usually within 2 hours, we'd see one of their trucks going up and down the road inspecting the lines. We called Duke Power at about 6pm Thursday night and didn't see a single one of their trucks anywhere near here until 9:30am the next morning.

We shared about it online and were told Duke and Progress had the very same emergency procedures and nothing had changed. Well, baloney with that, we could see it had changed, and almost everyone sharing online said the very same thing.

I dread thinking of a hurricane coming this way cause I'm thinking if this is the best Duke could do with a bad storm, hurricane damage would totally swamp them, and pray for all who would be affected by it.

So Duke Power - pfffttt to you!!!

God bless.


Our paternal Grandma had a wringer washer with a soap tub and two rinse tubs in the basement for years and years after the automatic washers came about. She didn't like the automatics cause they didn't aggitate long enough and there was only one rinse cycle. Sunny days, the clothes dried outside on lines, rainy ones, the clothes dried down in the basement. Our Aunt Joan and Uncle Stanley lived with them right after getting married, and I think it was when their oldest was born that the automatics finally came into Grandma's house. But still, there were many things like flat goods - towels, sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, etc., that were still line dried because they came out flatter, were less wrinkled and easier to iron after they were dried. I don't think she like that sometimes when you put something in the dryer, it comes out a little crooked, off the seams, etc. If you don't fix that right after they come out of the washer, you never get it right.

We still hang our flat items out to dry. I like the extra absorbency it gives the towels. When we bring the sheets and pillowcases in off the line, we tumble them in the dryer for 10 minutes or so to fluff them off and take the stiff out of them which would be uncomfortable to sleep on.

God bless.


Re: Jim's comment about my diapers being stinky...there is an appropriate saying here:

The first smeller's the very feller.

B. Ruth, just so you'll know - I worked for Carolina Power and Light for 15 years (in a former life). In those days, I thought exceptionally highly of the Duke Power way. It was an engineering company which was managed by an engineer, and operated as an engineering business - namely to deliver power to their customers. And they mostly did right by both their employees and their customers.

In these latter days, it is run by *&#^ lawyers and bean counters. As a professional engineer, my regard for the way that company now does business is considerably diminished (from very positive to very negative).

For what it's worth, there is a Duke employee in our area who has told me that when someone asks him where he works, he still says Nantahala Power and Light - clearly disassociating himself from the charlatans in Charlotte.

B Ruth-sorry to say Carolina Power and Light became Progress Energy and then merged with Duke Power to become Duke Energy, the largest utility company in the country. Their next move will probably be to merge with Walmart and Microsoft. Then they will own the whole world.

I loved the wash day story! Interestingly enough, I still have "wash days." With only my husband and I around, I do our washing every Thursday. And I change linens and wash sheets on Tuesdays. But with a great washer and dryer, it's not such a big chore. Well, except for folding those king-sized sheets.

and Charles...great post! I loved the story. When we moved to our first little house, Mom had an old wringer washer. She would hook the hose up to the kitchen sink. The "Hot Water Heater" lol, never heated the water enough for her so she had a kettle that she heated water in and then added to the washer. I can almost hear that thing sloshing back and forth, such a special sound. It had I think electric wringer rollers...The clothes had to be spread a little to get them thru the wringers. She would warn me not to clump in a wad before pushing thru the wringer. When I did the things would spread apart make an awlful noise and sometimes jam...Trouble, trouble...Then after all that some of the blouses, shirts, etc. had to be starched. I hated that too. The starch was hot and we used a tub and a big wooden spoon to dip them in. They were wrung out again and went to the line.
They were stiff as a board when brought in after drying. In the winter they were all stiff from cold and starch. The starched clothes then had to be dampened, and rolled up for a while. Then by that evening the dampened clothes were ironed. I was always trying to figure out a way that we could starch the clothes and iron without having to dry and then redampen. It never made sense to me. Mom used bluing on the sheets if she thought they were getting a little dingy! Of course, these were all cotton clothes so bleach was used as well. It seems like the bluing help soften the clothes too...but maybe not.
The worst thing about hanging out sheets in the spring is those little clover mites that get on the sheets...at certain times. We would have to shake the dickins out of them...
Thanks Tipper, and Charles....
My Grandfather helped with the power where we were from Carolina Power and Light Company...retired from there without ever missing a days work!

This story fills me with appreciation of those stalwart women who have gone before me, and gratefulness I never had to wash or wring by hand beyond the few times 'spinner' broke down.

Tipper: thanks again for subjects that dredge up memories of the wonderful past . today people tend to think of these tasks as drudgery,i don,t recall my mom or my grandmothers complaining,it was all part of family life in the country. as a matter of fact, when my mother was 90,i found her on a ladder cleaning windows. how i would like to find her doing that today. regards to all k.o.h

Thank you for sharing your memories, Charles! I don't know how women faced such a daunting workload in the old days, and washing seems to have been pretty grim back then. We were raised on stories of Great-grandma washing the family laundry on rocks in a creek back in Italy. I have often wondered what she would think if she heard me complain about going to the laundramat.

My grandma Rance had a wringer washer all her life. I used it a few times and I must say that it got the wash cleaner than any fully automatic washer I've used. Grandma also hung the laundry out to dry in the summers. In my childhood nearly every home had its clothesline, now you'd be hard-pressed to fine a single one. It is sad to think that there are a couple of generations out there who have no idea how wonderful freshly air and sun dried laundry smells.

I enjoyed Charles' recalling of
times when he was a kid. Life was
so much simpler then, but it was
harder too.
I've stood where mama use to wash
clothes in a mountain branch way
before I came along. And I've seen
the remains of their old heavy
stoves and wondered how in the world daddy got them there, even with the help of oxen.
I'm just Thankful to have some of
the conveniences of today...Ken

As always I enjoyed reading Mr. Fletcher's reminiscences.
When I was a little lad we didn't have lectristy up on Wiggins Creek. Mommy washed all her clothes and all her kids in a big galvanized wash tub. She heated the water for washing the clothes on the cookstove. She used a scrub board for extry dirty stuff.
She would put the tub in a sunny place, fill it with water and let the sun warm it up. Then all of us took a bath in the same water. Sometimes all at the same time. She would inspect us and if she found any rusty spots, we had to go back and scrub some more.

hmmm - so many thoughts running through my head:
1) my family has always called that water heating device a "hot water heater" - and, yes, my husband's educated city family made fun of that.
2) I remember helping both Grandmas with the laundry as well as my mother - and, getting my arm caught between the ringers when it got caught in the sheets I was trying to feed into the ringers while grandma cranked the ringers and made sure the sheets fed out into the laundry basket and not onto the floor. She was a very practical woman and asked me what I'd learned after I caught my breath.
3) recalling an ad for an electric washing machine touting the huge amounts of spare time a woman would now have to read to her children and to teach her girls valuable cooking and sewing skills. All too often it seems we have filled that "spare" time with less worthwhile endeavors and still too often slight the family. Also - we do a heck of a lot more laundry than we used to.
4) Lots of daydreaming time spent cleaning the clotheslines, hanging the clothes, then taking them down and folding them as I did so.
Thanks for the memories.

Great memory post! I remember the washing board, not so much the boiling part. However, we did have an old roll type washing machine. My mom always worried I would get my fingers caught in the rollers. I was fascinated with turing the crank to removed the excess water. I'm spoiled - I've got the modern thing - washer and dryer. I still, however, enjoy the smell of outside drying, especially for towels and sheets.

Tipper--Being longer of tooth and thus memory (imperfect though it may be), I'll add a few thoughts to Don's posting. I remembered the progression from hand-wringing to the hand-cranked wringer. Also, there was a wonderful pair of colored women, old Aunt Mag and her daughter, Emma, who lived just a couple hundred yards from us. They did Don's diapers outdoors (Mom surely farmed them out because they were intolerably stinky) in a huge black kettle over an open fire, stirring them with a big hickory stick. Of course I suppose they did my diapers and those of our sister. I just wouldn't remember that.

One other part of the washing activity, or more precisely, the drying, involved using metal stretcher frames to dry pants. They put the crease in the proper place and meant little or no ironing was required. I'm pretty sure Daddy continued to use those up until a few years before his death.

I detested all things associated with washing and drying clothes, and the same held true for doing dishes. Outdoor chores were another matter, but I got my share of all of them, no matter what.

Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with Don's assessment of Duke Power. They epitomize corporate greed, insensitivity, and all that is wrong with big business in today's world. As a side note, some of their high power transmission lines pretty well ruined a beautiful piece of bottomland belonging to a cousin of ours.

Jim Casada

Mom did the wash on a scrubboard for years until she got a Maytag wringer washer. I hated wash day! My little skinny arms had to carry buckets of water almost as big as me. As a teenager, I hated ironing even more. We had to put the ironing board on the front porch. I was so worried that one of the few cars that passed might have the local boys in it that I liked to flirt with. I certainly didn't want to be seen knee deep in wrinkled clothes I was sprinkling with water from a pint jar with holes in the lid. I thought that was so uncool, but their sisters were probably at home doing the same thing.
I'm not nearly as old as Charles, but where I was born and raised, wash day went on as he described through the late 60s. When Mom got an automatic washer and dryer, she didn't want it. Dad did the laundry from then on.

Jackie-LOL I'm one of those hot water heater people : ) I don't think I could call it anything else even if I tried really hard LOL! Thank you for the comment : )


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

My goodness, what a lot of work! Who did the wash when the woman was having babies. Women had lots of babies back then.
I can remember my grandmother doing laundry in her basement with one of the electric wringer washers. It was a big production to me as a child but not nearly as much as the boiling pot of water.
Clothes sure would have to be sturdy to survive that kind of laundry. Most of my clothes now wouldn't survive one trip through the boiling pot. I guess that is why there were heavy duty denim jeans.
Tipper, that's my grandmother on the right in the picture, Dollie, she is the one I saw doing laundry. Maude was her sister in law, married to my granddad's brother. I don't know who the child is. In this picture Dollie sure does look like my dad, domething around the eyes.

Very nice, Charles.

At least in our home, things gradually evolved and devolved over time. At the time as far back as my memory goes, Mama had a wringer washer, but drying was done on the clothesline or on a rack inside the house. Sometime around the early 60's, Mama's washing machine died. From then until I was out of high school, she took laundry to a laundromat downtown. It was there that she first used a machine dryer.

In Mama's later years, when she had a dryer, she would still hang some of the wash on the clothes line, especially in summer.

When we do the wash now, it normally either gets hung on the line or - in winter - on the combination of racks and on clothes hangers hung on 4-penny finish nails on the edge of door frames, on the dining room chandelier, etc. It might not look like much, but it works. A good side effect about drying inside in winter is the moisture that gets added to the air.

I must say that there is a feel good aspect to not using a powered dryer - not just doing things in old ways, but in not paying sorry Duke Power, which bought out Nantahala Power a few years back, then proceeded to:

a) jack up our rates,
b) cover the mountains in ugly transmission lines under what I consider the largely false premise of improving reliability, and
c)hire non-English speaking crews to put brush killer chemicals indiscriminately - for example spraying young dogwoods which would never grow to threaten the power lines.

Like many other aspects of life, when you have folks from outside of the mountains imposing their way of doing things on mountain folks, things get worse, not better.

I enjoyed Charles' story. By the time I came along, my grandmother had an electric wringer washer and even an electric butter churn. They were getting to be modern.

Charles didn't mention 'battleing'. I remember my grandmother had a huge block of wood and a paddle to loosen the dirt especially in the boy's pants. She laid the overalls on the block and spanked the dirt loose. As a teenager I filled the wash pot for mom and kept the fire going. Mom used hot water for the wash and for the first rinse. Cold water was used for the second rinse to completely remove the soap. Even after we had an automatic washer this had to be done because we did not have a water heater. (Or as some in NC call a 'hot' water heater) It heats cold water people. If you have hot water you don't need a heater.

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