Wringer Washing Machine Blues

12 Sep


A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites


One day my mother asked if I wanted to help her with washing the family laundry.  At the time, we had one of those barrel shaped washing machines with the clothes wringer attached to the top and side of it.


I must have been about 7 or 8 and had only watched my mother and grandmother do the laundry, but as a young boy intrigued with all things mechanical, I was eager to see how everything worked.  She showed me how to turn on the water to fill the tub, how big a load of clothes could be washed, how much soap powder to add, and all that technical stuff.  I watched carefully so I could do it myself the next time she needed help with the laundry.  After she got the washer going, I stayed around to see how long it took to wash the cloths and how everything worked.


When the washing was done, the tub had to be drained and the cycle repeated to rinse the clothes.  After that was all done it was time to wring the water out of the clothes so they could be hung on the clothesline to dry.  She was very careful to show me how to feed each piece of clothing into the rotating ringer so I wouldn’t get my fingers pinched.


This worked well for a while until I figured I was a pro at that job and got careless.  As I was feeding a piece of clothing into the wringer, I pushed a little too hard, and my middle finger went into the wringer with the piece of clothing.  “Ops! Just pull it back out dummy.”  But that didn’t work and by now that wringer was eating up my whole hand.  It didn’t hurt that much but I was scared and I screamed as loud as I could.  My mother came running but by the time she got there, I was up to my elbow in that hungry wringer’s rollers.  She tried stopping the wringer but didn’t think to just pull the electric cord from the wall.  By now I was up to my armpit and was sure I was going to lose my arm.  I’m sure my screaming didn’t help my mother’s concentration.  She grabbed me around the chest and pulled with all her might, stripping my arm out against the rollers.  This time when I screamed it was because of the pain and the vision of my arm coming out of its socket.  I must have had my eyes closed or something because I really don’t know how she got my arm out of those rollers without pulling my arm off, but she did.

I had painful scraps all down the inside of my arm but thank goodness I still had my arm.  I really don’t like to think about what could have happened if my mother hadn’t been there to pull my arm out of those rollers in time.    Back in those days, I don’t think there was any kind of safety overload switch that would have stopped the rollers when my body got to them.  I would have come out looking like a cartoon character, or worse, Flat Sam.  I think of it as just another case of Someone up there watching over and protecting inquisitive young kids.



Scripture: 2 Peter 3:17



2 Responses to “Wringer Washing Machine Blues”

  1. Linda Lewis October 18, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Wow. I feel as if I”VE been through the wringer just reading about your awful experience. I hope you didn’t have nightmares about it. Good for your mom for having the persistence and added adrenaline strength to get your arm out.


  2. DiVoran Lites September 12, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Here’s our Bill, once again being saved by the grace of God.


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