Angela’s post today on washing machines reminded me of one of the many survival skills I learned from my mother-in-law a woman with many talents. She was known as Aunt Susie.

Moving to a cabin for the salmon fishery (transhumance of people and their animals) was a new experience in itself.

I knew about scrub boards. My Mom had one from the days before she could buy a washing machine, it would have been a day busting wringer washer.

So I had knowledge of a scrub board and Mom had even shown me how to use it. But from Aunt Susie, I learned the value of washing as you go. Early each morning, she washed the clothes that was dirty. Stupid me piled up the dirty clothes, until wash day Monday. Hey. Hold on. Give me a break. That’s what my Mom and both my grandmothers did. I said I learned a lesson. I didn’t say how long it took me to learn it. Unfortunately that make me even more stupid.

Anyway, my girls and I spent hours on wash day sorting, scrubbing, wringing the wash with a wringer that could be bolted to the galvanized wash tub Aunt Susie leant me.

I kept up that stupid habit for years. I thought I was smart washing clothes once a week.

By the time Rochelle was born and running around, I did laundry differently. I bought second hand clothes and let the girls wear them out. Rochelle really wore out the clothes – knees and bottoms, as she climbed and skidded on the hard igneous rocks jutting out of the cold inlet.

Later on, after we got running water in our home and an automatic washer, I sent laundry to my teenage daughters to wash for me.

But I still remember Aunt Susie’s lesson — when you have to do it all by hand, wash a little bit each day and the job won’t seem so daunting.

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