New Yorker cartoon, 12/30/1972:

Two housewives are talking over a breakfast table. One says to the other, “And didn’t you love Rinso White, Rinso Bright, Happy Little Washday Song? They don’t write them like that anymore.” (This was in 1972.)

My mother used Rinso all the time, and their jingle is very familiar, as familiar as any nursery rhyme. Wash days were a happy time, at least for me. I think for my mother, too. As I recall, it was always on Tuesday, except on rainy days.

She would haul the wicker laundry basket filled with the week’s laundry down to the basement (we called it the cellar) to the Easy washing machine with two tubs: a wide tub for washing and a narrower tub for spinning the clothes dry.

Washing clothes took all day. She must have gone down at least four times, first to light the hot water heater, then to do the wash, then to transfer the wet clothes to the spin-dryer (considered more modern than a mangle), then to gather the damp clothes to hang outside to dry, waiting about an hour between trips. She also did something with laundry blueing in the laundry sink, but I don’t know how that worked. Starch was also important for many clothes back then, but I don’t know how that worked, either.

She was a strong lady in those days.

Clothes props, long poles notched at one end to hold up the sagging clothes lines full of wet clothes, were common in everyone’s back yard. In my mind, they were mostly to poke things caught in high tree branches. Eddie Vetter used one to tight-rope walk along our back fence with disastrous results. I don’t remember how he got home, down the end of our street, but he walked funny for the next few days.

Tuesday night was also bath night. If we were going somewhere special, we would have another bath on Saturday before going out, but usually, it was one bath a week on Tuesday night. (But not in Rinso. Rinso was for clothes. Lifebuoy was the soap for people.)

Rinso was a brand name of laundry soap and detergent marketed by Unilever. The brand was created by Robert S. Hudson and originally branded Hudson’s Soap, which was sold to Lever Brothers of England, in 1908. It was introduced in the United States by Lever Brothers Company in 1918.

(Rinso is still sold by Amazon, but only as an inch-long miniature box for a doll house. I suspect the box is empty.)



About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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