Thursday, September 20, 2007
The wringer washer and its place in my life or a little nostalgia (a very little)
I have to confess it has never held a very LARGE place in my life, - the wringer washer. It was not exactly a priority, - something I could just not live without.....
But an awareness of the wringer washer did arrive fairly early in my childhood.
I have mentioned the Water Glass container that lurked in our basement, and whose main purpose in life (besides preserving eggs in a most fiendish manner) was to scare the living daylights out of small children.
As small children grew a little older and more capable they were introduced to the wringer washer, which I was told we were really fortunate to have. It was one step up from the scrubbing board, - which was one step up from pounding with stones and mashing with feet..... It was accompanied by a slatted foldable table on which sat two rinse tubs (sometimes used for bathing children or giving them a treat on hot days - pre-plastic swimming pools). We were fortunate in that we didn't have to heat water, but could rely on a hot water tap and hose to fill the washer and the tubs. However, our nemesis was the wringer that moved around from tub to tub.
The washer we had was a vile beast that lay in wait for whoever was chosen to be washer woman this week. It had a wringer that periodically went berserk, whirling around and around at a furious pace, catching anyone who was unaware of impending doom and was within the radius of its mad circling. Its secret weapon was surprise, - it didn't always act up, - sometimes it was docile and cooperative, lulling one into forgetfulness and complacency. So that when it DID indulge in its wild round-a-bout the danger was particularly sudden, and resulted in shrieks and screams and frantic dancing to and fro as one reached for the plug to quieten its madness.
I have discovered that a " Berserker" was a furious Scandinavian warrior of heathen times, and it describes our wringer washer to a T. The dictionary tells me it was, in fact a "legendary Norse warrior whose frenzy in battle caused their transformation into a wolf or bear, made them howl and foam at the mouth (hence ‘to go berserk’), and granted immunity to sword and flame. Such warriors were an elite associated particularly with the raging war god Odin ". (if you click on Odin you can probably find out more about this subject.)
I think because I had a Scandinavian name (meaning noble woodcutter's daughter) it was especially drawn to inflict its machinations upon me. Although I do consider that my sister would probably challenge this statement, having enduring many a frightening flight from the Mad Wringer herself.
I had a milder version of the wringer washer when I was first married, and also a scrub board, - the day the automatic washer entered our house was certainly a celebratory one. But I still have the washboard.......... I use it for felting and cherish it as an antique.