This is what washing clothes was like before the washing machine

The Ole Black Wash Pot

by

Jean Butterworth

The ole black wash pot now has more uses that it used to. Where is yours? Mine was given to me by a grandmother so long ago I have forgotten which one. My wash pot is used to hold a blue Hydrangea bush and is so beautiful when it blooms in the early summer.old wash pot

Tales of washing clothes only on Mondays gets less and less attention. My Grandmother Champion would on an early Monday morning get up early to start putting the water drawn from the well into the wash pot. The she would strike a match to the kindling around the pot to make a good start to boiling the water. It would take a while for the water to get hot. Next, came the soiled clothes which were put into the wash pot.

Nearby she had two big wash tubs filled with cold water to rinse the soap out. Another item she used was a long wooden paddle to stir clothes. The soap she used was large yellow oxydol bars. After boiling the clothes for some time she would then lift the white clothes out of the wash pot into the cold water rinse

Washing on Mondays was an all day affair, but you would bet that those clothes came out clean and white!

Next, came the wringing out of the water from the heavy sheet by hand and then hanging them on a wire clothes line in the back yard.clothes-line

After drying the clothes were taken down and folded. What a wonderful smell those clothes had after being in the sun all day.

Our lives may have changed with all our modern washing machines, running water and electric driers but you can bet we don’t appreciate them enough!

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth

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1 Comment

  1. Remember washdays around the wash pot very well except that we did not hve a handy well to draw from. We carried the water from a spring about 200 yards from our house. It is also where we got our drinking water. You left out the wash board that Mama and Grandmama Johnson hand rubbed the soiled spots. The two rinse tubs were exactly right. A first rinse and a final rinse before hanging things on the line to dry. You are also right about the smell. I can still remember how fresh it was. They may not have really been the “good ole days” because of the hard work but I remember them as being that. I don’t think that I would want to go back to them though. At least not for long.

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