Thankful for dryers …

People have inquired whether these posts are actual excerpts from my book, “Baby Boomer Reflections: Eighteen Special Years Between 1946 and 1964.”  They aren’t.  The book is scheduled for release in May 2015.  It is an actual story.  These posts are fun memories I believe we need to share.  If you agree, please share them as well with your FaceBook friends.

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A friend, who lives in the northeast, where it’s currently frigid, and getting colder, recently sent me an email in which she commented how happy she was for having a clothes dryer. She had been reminiscing about how it was when our mothers, assisted by those of us who were old enough to help, did their laundry. In fact, one of the highest compliments a woman could ever get was that, “she did a nice wash.”

In the early 1900’s, a North Dakota inventor, J. Ross Moore, was fed up with having to hang wet laundry outside in the frigid winters. He built a shed, installed a stove in the shed, and hung his laundry inside of the shed so it could dry. Over the next 30 years, Moore worked on developing an automatic clothes dryer, and he finally convinced The Hamilton Manufacturing Company to begin selling the new machine.   About 6,000 of them were sold between 1938 and 1941, and then we went to war.

In the early ‘50’s, only about ten percent of American households could afford a dryer. They cost about $230, a lot of money for an average household back then. Most women had wringer-washers that sat in the corners of many kitchens. Those wringer-washers had a washer and two tubs for rinsing. After agitating in the soapy washtub, the clothes had to be removed from the washer, put through an attached wringer and then placed in a rinse tub. The wringer then swiveled, and the clothes were taken out of the rinse tub and put through the wringer again. And then, the clothes went into the second rinse tub, and the process repeated itself again, except this time, the clothes wound up in a basket to be taken outside to dry.


The clean clothes were hung outside on clotheslines using clothespins. If the outside temperature was below freezing, the clothes were brought into the house, and they were stiff as a board. The now frozen laundry was hung over furniture to thaw out and finish drying.

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Everything got ironed including pillowcases and sheets. There was another machine, a mangle, that was available for ironing large items like sheets and tablecloths. It was a scary device.

In the mid-‘50’s, a gas dryer was introduced that cut the drying time in half, and about 60,000 electric and the new gas dryers were sold annually.  The manufacturers started to develop matching designer sets of colored washers and dryers to supplement the more standard white color.  In the ’60’s, two popular hues were avocado and harvest gold.  I must admit, I’d never seen the following color until I discovered it on the Web.


10 thoughts on “Thankful for dryers …

  1. How many people opened the refrigerator door to find clothes dampened, rolled and waiting to be ironed? LOL 😀

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    • Such good memories. I recall getting my fingers pinched in the wringer many times. Ouch!! And yes Judy, I also remember my Mom sprinkling the clothes and rolling them up and putting them in the “frig” until ironing them. LOL!!


      • My mom had one, too. It led to compulsive ironing of everything–socks, underwear…. It was fun to run it, though.


  2. Grandma had a mangle. This is the first time I ever heard the name for it. My other Grandma loved her washer and dryer. They were born in the 1880’s. They went from washing clothes in an iron kettle to electric washers and dryers in their lifetimes.


  3. Now that’s bringing back some bad memories — hanging up the wash before going to school!  Frozen clothes


  4. We had galvanized clotheslines and had to wipe them down before hanging out clothes or there would be black streaks from the wire on all the clothes.


  5. Ross Moore was a friend of my dad’s at Hamilton Manufacturing. He was often at our home, but I didn’t know his history or the story of his patent until today. Ironically, I don’t have a dryer because here in So Cal clothes dry quickly on a line.

    Did you know that Ross Moore was a Jeopardy! Question last year? My mom and I answered it, but no contestants did. Of course not.


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