This morning I was folding laundry, and as I usually do, I counted the week’s worth of each type of underwear and found one pair of Frank’s briefs missing.* “Who didn’t change their underwear?” I had my chuckle for the day remembering my mother shouting that out as she was doing the same chore. She knew which of us owned what – she even made a few stitches in red in my sister’s or my undies because we usually wore the same size. The culprit was usually my brother. I don’t know why he’d wear some undie or other for only a half a day, but if he did he’d put it aside to wear again and he’d mess up Mom’s count.
As I do, perhaps because it was what she did, I wash once a week for each type of laundry: sheets and towels, outer wear, and underwear. This last was always a bleach wash for Mom, but with so much colored underwear these days I rarely use bleach. I do not envy those moms who have scads of kids’ clothes to wash, and fold, or (gasp!) iron.
I do remember my mom hanging out the wash on the line from our Queens apartment to a handy light pole, and I remember things coming in frozen stiff in the winter. I know my grandmother had a washing machine with a wringer attachment, but at that time my mother hand-washed everything on a washboard in a big sink in the kitchen, wringing everything by hand. Later, in a new house, she got a washer, and then even later, in a bigger house, a dryer too. Luxury! Her machines were down in the basement; for the last twenty-five years or so mine have been right by the kitchen. I can’t think of anything handier.
*They had fallen between the machines – of course!