OUR “WASHING MACHINE”
Nearly a hundred years ago, when I was born, electricity was a recent phenomenon. After thousands of years it had finally arrived and our government had a special department whose purpose was to convince farmers they might want an electric light bulb in their parlor.
We had “ice boxes” in the kitchen then. A man with a leather apron rang the kitchen door bell, asked how many pounds of ice we wanted, produced a hunk of ice some way and used an ice pick. We had no idea where he or his ice came from or thought to ask how he got to our top twelfth floor apartment in New York’s Manhattan.
Our future perfect Washing Machine was an elderly Polish woman, Mrs. Lutz. She had borne fourteen children, and came to us equipped with a scrub board, and, in two tubs that were in the kitchen, dealt with all our sheets, dresses, shirts and curtains, then put them in a basket and carried them up to the roof to dry on ropes. Her soap was a large, hard brown cake which she chipped with a knife. Each time she went home, she dropped some of her money in a church poor box, but not before she let two small, lonely children know she loved them.
Mrs. Lutz was our plus perfect washing machine.
She didn’t come from Maytag.
She came from Poland.