ON A June day of vivid sunshine, blue sky and sportive breezes, Mrs. Bain and Mrs. Weir, in their respective backyards, were taking in their clothes. So similar was the washing on each line that a casual observer would have been able to deduce that the members of each household were the same in number—two children and a pair of parents.
The two women did not exchange greetings, although separated only by a low hedge. Since Mrs. Weir’s Persian cat had eaten Mrs. Bain’s canary, neighborly relations had been interrupted. Latterly Mrs. Bain had felt that, perhaps, she had been to blame for hanging Dick so near the mountain ash. She wished she had not so openly expressed a desire to wring the neck of the Weir cat.
Mrs. Bain had just removed from the line fifteen pocket handkerchiefs, ranging from young tablecloths to tiny squares adorned with nursery rhymes, when her door bell rang. It announced the arrival of Mrs. Wilmer, a recent bride.
“How nice you look in your knitted suit. No, don’t mind helping me. Just sit on the porch while I bring in the clothes.”
Mrs. Wilmer settled herself in a rustic rocker and gently oscillated to and fro. Her eyes traveled from the wash in her friend’s yard to the one on the neighbor’s line.
When Mrs. Bain, in high heel shoes, came up, panting, with a loaded basket, the bride, thoughtlessly,remarked: “What lovely white things your neighbor has!
I wonder how she gets them so white!” This hurt Mrs. Bain. She knew her own wash was drab. Pettishly she replied, “I expect she uses one of these destructive bleaches. I don’t believe in them myself,” and disappeared into the house. “H’m,” said the bride, reflectively.
Then Mrs. Weir came up the path pulling a child’s express cart on which was loaded a large wicker basket containing her clean wash. Very practical she looked in her low white canvas shoes and blue ticking apron, in the deep upturned pocket of which she had stowed the clothespins as she took them from the line.
“Would you mind telling me how you make your clothes so white?” asked the bride.
Giving a look of approval at the trim figure before her, Mrs. Weir responded, “Why, you must soften the water, which must not be too hot. Use the best soap and rinse it out well in a number of waters. That, and drying in the open air, is the secret of good washing. Lately I’ve got a washing machine, and it makes the work lighter.”
“Is it easy to operate?” asked the bride. “Yes, indeed! Come and see.” Mrs. Bain, reappearing, was surprised to find her guest and neighbor chatting. “Won’t you come and see my washing machine. I’d love you to,” said Mrs. Weir with a pleasant smile.
So the two followed into her neat laundry, Mrs. Bain because she was really glad of an excuse for resuming friendly relations, and also, because she was anxious to know how Mrs. Weir did her washing.
She noticed how conveniently her neighbor’s laundry was arranged. Its walls were whitewashed, making it light. As well as a covered ironing board, there was a broad, padded table with a high stool on which to sit when ironing. The stationary tubs were raised to obviate the
necessity of stooping over them. On a shelf above the tubs was set an orderly row of bottles, soap and packages.
“There are a number of reliable washers on the market,” explained Mrs. Weir. “But I chose this kind because the washing, wringing, rinsing and blueing are all done in one’s own laundry tubs. There’s no need to use a hose or to carry heavy, wet clothes from washer to tub. I stand on this rubber mat and the power does it all. See, here are some soiled tea cloths and table napkins that have been soaking.
I will put them in the machine to show you. But first I have my soap mixture all ready to use.”
From the shelf, Mrs. Weir took down a large glass sealer. “This washing solution is for white things only,” she said. “It is made of one bar of soap (or six ounces of soap chips), one gallon of hot water and one pound of washing soda. I dissolve the soap in the hot water, add the soda crystals and stir over the fire until clear. To each tubful of clothes I use one cupful of mixture. For colored or delicate pieces the dissolved soap without the soda should be used.
“For blankets and flannels the proportion is four quarts of hot water to one large bar of soap and two tablespoonfuls of borax. One cupful of this to each tubful is sufficient. Of course flannels and blankets should never be washed in hot water or soaked, but taken from the water quickly. They should be rinsed in water having a little soap dissolved in it and dried in a breeze; not in direct sunshine or they will shrink.
“Now for the washing,” said Mrs. Weir, quickly filling one of the tubs by turning on the hot water and pouring in a cupful of the soap mixture. “In the first rinsing water, which is hot, I dissolve a tablespoonful of borax.”
Putting the clothes in the tub, she | clamped on the removable lid to prevent I splashing and turned on the power. A | gentle churning made it evident that the soapsuds were being forced through the clothes.
“Now,” declared Mrs. Weir, “we’ll let it chug for fifteen minutes. Are there any questions you would like to ask while Niagara Falls cleans the clothes?”
“No, two hours are enough. I start early Monday morning and sort the wash, putting only the white things to soak. The handkerchiefs go in a pail together, with a good bit of salt dissolved in the water to cut the mucous. The table linen has a tub to itself. Bed linen and body linen I soak together. The water should be tepid.” !
“Do you think for only two in family it ( is necessary to have a washing machine?” enquired the bride.
“Not necessary, but it makes work eas| ier. However, you can get clothes white and sweet by boiling them. This is how you do it. After soaking the white clothes, you fill the boiler two-thirds full of moderately hot water, first dissolving some of the soap mixture in it. A our white things are then put in and boiled for ten or fifteen minutes (stir occasionally with a stick). Colored things should never be boiled. If your clothes are fine, instead of washing soda use the dissolved soap and a tablespoonful of borax. Afterwards, when rinsing, notice particularly if any parts remain soiled; if so, scrub with a small nail brush and soap. After a thorough rinsing in hot water, softened by borax, followed by several cold water baths, the things are ready for blueing.
“To blue the clothes half-fill the tub with cold water, add a little dissolved borax, then squeeze in it a square of blueing wrapped in a piece of clean flannel. If the water looks sky blue when a handful is lifted in the palm of the hand, you have enough blueing in it. I first try the blueing water with an old piece of linen. This picks up any sediment. Then I take each article separately and dip it in twice and put it through the wringer, out of which it comes ready for the garden line, or, in bad weather, a place on one of these ropes overhead.
“I’ve found out a good trick. It’s this,” declared Mrs. Weir. “As I have not yet been able to afford an ironing machine, I put the towels, pillow slips, small sheets and other flat pieces through the clothes wringer. They must be brought off the line before quite dry, folded neatly, lengthwise, and run through the wringer with the screws tight. After being well aired, they are ready to put away.”
“Do you know any way to remove rust stains?” asked the bride.
“Yes, kerosene will remove both rust and fruit stains. It is used this way: Pour a little kerosene in a dish and wash the stained part in it as though in water. The spots must be washed in kerosene before they have been put in soap and water or the plan will not work.”
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