The magic washing machine

March 25, 2011

This presentation by Hans Rosling about his mother’s magic washing macine makes a lot of good points. He’s the same fellow who did the great 200 countries over 200 years visualization show last fall on BBC 4.

While watching, I was struck by memories of my grandmother Ida. She cooked and baked with a wood-fired stove practically all her life. She heated her wash water – for dishes, clothes and baths – on that stove too. I can recall chopping kindling for her stove and for her fireplaces (no central heat either) during our annual visits to her house.

I didn’t chop a lot of kindling but I chopped all I ever wanted to.

Grandmother had electricity. It lighted her house and it pumped the water from her cistern into her kitchen, which was the only indoor plumbing she had.

She had a washing machine, but it was an older, “tub type” that only agitated clothes. You still had to pull the clothes out and run them through a hand-cranked wringer to remove the water before hanging them to dry. But it was still better than using a washboard.

And she lived until the middle of the 1980s. It hasn’t been that long ago.

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