Monday, May 20, 2013

My life in washing machines

So what is wrong with women today that they don't wear a twin set or a suit and heels when doing the washing? More likely to see them in jeans and a tee, or worse a track suit. Absolutely appalling. Look at the washing machine. It is an automatic. Think of the time she has saved that can be devoted to the comfort of her husband and family. She may not even have a headache when it comes time for rest in the marital bed.


Mother's first washing machine was a Pope and although it looked like it should have a wringer, it didn't and must have had a spin cycle. Why she did not take it to the farm, I don't know. It looked something like this only without the wringer.


It is rare for me to lose anything, but I cannot come across the manual for my grandmother's washing machine which I know I would have never thrown away and I have had to search on the internet long and hard to find a similar picture as is on the front of Grandma's washing machine manual. Nor can I find a photo of it online. Grandma bought herself a shining new automatic Frigidaire washing machine and Mother inherited her old Lightburn which was an excellent washer and who knows what speed the spinner went at, but the clothes were dryer than anything modern. We used to refer to it as the concrete mixer. You had to fill the tub with buckets of water and then Mother would put an immersion heater into the water for a time. I think the lever had three positions, Empty, Wash and Spin. It travelled from Oakleigh to the farm at the foot of Mount Baw Baw in 1961.


When Tradie Brother was born, Father bought Mother a shiny new automatic washing machine and had by then installed a hot water service. It was a Frigidaire too but so much more modern than Grandmother's. As a young gay boy, I made sure the machine always sparkled, with a liberal coating of Mr Sheen. I even cleaned its crevices with a toothbrush. Quite like this, but sparkling.


Mother did have options when it was bought though and considered a Hoover Keymatic. I recall the brochure.You selected your programmes for the washing machine by slides on a square object, like a floppy disk only bigger, and inserted it into the slot in a certain direction. I was rather sorry that model wasn't chosen.


Shortly after Grandma died, I moved into a flat on my own and took some of the furniture from her house, including her still working early 1960s washing machine. It then went with me to Elwood when R and I met. When when we moved from Elwood to East Malvern in 1982, we called on dyke friends who had a flat bed truck to move us. Grandma's washing machine fell off the truck gangplank, but was none the worse for wear. It went on to serve us for a few years. It was replaced by a sturdy Hoover washing machine, that left clothes quite wet after spinning.

We inherited a small washing machine when we moved to Glen Iris which was a lifesaver as until we renovated, there was no space for our larger one.


The Hoover came with us to our unit in Burwood and the laundry door architrave had to be removed to get into the laundry. When we sold, we sold the washing machine to the buyers.

We moved to Balaclava and bought ourselves a Fisher and Paykel, which were then a very popular New Zealand made machine. It moved to the Highrise and after about twelve years service since new, started playing up.



Our current machine is its replacement, another Fisher and Paykel.The day will come when either the washing machine or dryer needs to be replaced and the next machine will be a two in one front loader which will use far less water.

27 comments:

  1. OK now we show women who do noy wear a twin set and pearls when doing the washing. And we may laugh at the time she has saved in the laundry that can instead be devoted to the comfort of her husband and family.

    But now we exploit women in advertising in a different but just as obnoxious a way. Now women have to have big boobs, skinny body, a big head, flawless skin, no body hair and fresh pudenda. Or they will not get a partner, a good job or fame.

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    1. Hels, yet when blokes are asked, they don't expect a prospective partner to be like that, yet I worry about teen males thinking along those lines.

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  2. I remember my mum's first washing machine, a Simpson with a wringer on top. I believe Simpson and Pope were the same company. Before that mum washed in the big zinc baby bathtub with a rippled scrubbing board and bar soap and two extra tubs for rinsing and wringing by hand. When I went to live with her years after she left, she'd bought a huge automatic machine which did a fine job, although you had to lift the lid to rearrange the clothes fairly often during the spin cycle as the load was often unbalanced. my first washing machine was a Hoovermatic twintub. It did a fantastic job and lasted for years. It was still going strong when we decided to upgrade to an automatic top loader. In less than a year, I downgraded again to a twintub. Eventually, I bought my current machine, an Asko front loader. It has several different wash cycles and two spin speeds available. 900 spins per minute or 1400 spins per minute. I rarely use the 1400, as the 900 leaves the clothes so dry I could almost wear them. Hanging things on the line on a breezy day means they are dry within an hour or so. The tub is self balancing too, spinning first one way, then the other during the wash cycles and after the spin cycle which goes for 9 minutes, there are four more slower spins, one way, then the other and repeat, to untangle the clothes. It is 17 years old now, has moved house with me 5 times, the last move saw it get dropped off the hand truck as it came off the trailer, but she is still working perfectly. I see no point whatsoever in dressing up to the nines to do any type of housework at all. Wear stuff that can get grubby, not a twinset and pearls.

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    1. River, they well have been the same company. There is not much info about old washing machines online, although there are collectors. Those Hoover twintubs were great, but they were labour intensive. You don't really see Asko around so much now. Yours is doing well.

      Yes, I don't know that many women did housework dressed to the nines.

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  3. I wear my dom gear when I do the washing, it's so much fun ;)

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  4. River, before I moved back to the city ten years ago, I still used a twin tub. The best water savers ever invented.

    Andrew, it never occurred to me before... but trying to sell an appliance branded "Frigidaire" with a picture of an ecstatically delighted stepford wife seems a tad ironic. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

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    1. FC, remember you had to put some sort of rubber pad over the top of the clothes in the spin dryer of a twin tub. What was that about?

      The irony did not occur to me, but yes.

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    2. To stop the clothes from flying out of the spin drum. Those things can work up some serious revs.

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    3. I recall that Hoover Twin Tubs used to spin very fast, but surely nonsense when centrifugal forces ensure that to not happen.

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  5. That advertisement seems really interesting. I enjoyed the progression here.

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  6. Keith, Frigidaire was a huge US company. Was it owned by GE?

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    1. From 1919 to 1979, the company was owned by General Motors. During that period it was first a subsidiary of Delco-Light and was later an independent division based in Dayton, Ohio. Frigidaire was sold to the White Sewing Machine Company in 1979, which in 1986 was purchased by Electrolux, its current parent........
      Mother started out with a Pope wringer moving to a frigidaire in the 60's, Grandmother had a Thor Automagic before moving to a Hoover keymatic, Various Aunts had , in no particular order, a Lightburn, Hoover twin tub, Bendix frontloader - rare in the 60's in Aus, Frigidaire SEMI automatic, Kelvinator with 240 "fingers of water" - and hence my love of washing machines bugan - jus' sayin :)

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    2. Great info AEM. Thor Automagic intrigues me.

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    3. A washing machine and dish washer in one unit. Built long before you and I were aware of multi tasking!

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    4. http://gogd.tjs-labs.com/pictures/thor-day-05-01-1947-005-M5.jpg

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    5. How terrific is that AEM. But I am not carrying my dishes to the laundry. Yes, mothers multi tasked before it we blokes were proved to be inadequate in that area.

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    6. Err, I have made an assumption you are male, AEM, but for no real reason. Women may well be interested in washing machines.

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    7. Male ...correct. Also happily gay. An Olympic baby to boot. Melbourne Olympics.

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    8. Errrr. .....or is that gaily happy...mmmmmmmm....:)

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    9. Ah well AEM, if you haven't sorted yourself out by the age of 60, you probably won't. Gaily happy is good, regardless.

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  7. My mother only had a wringer in the 50th and had to cook the laundry in a big pot first. What a work ! She got her first real one in 1959. I always had a washing machine and think it's a great invention, together with the dishwasher and the lawn mower robot. I feel like super woman, I can do 3 things at one time !

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    1. Gattina, my grandmother had to do that, light the copper fire and boil the clothes, then rinse them but she didn't have wringer and wrung them out by hand.

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  8. We may both have a F & P Andrew, but I never wear a tack suit while I'm loading it haha! How about you :)

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  9. I don't own a pair Grace, nevertheless, I am not always pretty when loading the washing machine.

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  10. Anonymous11:27 pm

    iirc those lightburns were direct coupled to a four pole motor which spun at 1440 rpm (crompton motors interestingly were uses in cement mixers of that era aswell) love the Hoover 620.... those were a force!

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    1. Thanks Anon. So maybe it wasn't just the shape of the machine that made us call it a concrete mixer. Hoover 620 were tough machines, but as I mentioned, the spin was too slow.

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