Monday, August 30, 2010

Remembrance of Times Past: the Laundry Box

 Kids are going off to college, as many of us once did.  Kids will have dirty clothes, as we did.  How do clothes get washed? 

The answer to that simple question was, for many people in the late 1940's and 1950's, the laundry box. It was an ingenious way to extend the domestic slavery of women, forcing them to do their kids' laundry even after they'd shipped them off to school.  The kids would package their dirty clothes in an aluminum box and ship it by parcel post to the mother; the mother would wash and iron the clothes, put them in the box and ship it back to college. 

I reached college just at the time when the new dorm had coin-operated washers and driers, so the first small step to liberation of mothers occurred around 1958 or so.

I suspect the laundry box was a reflection of the post-war boom in college attendance.  Before the war people who attended college probably had enough money to engage laundresses around the college.  After the war, it was cheaper to ship laundry back and forth.

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