Saturday, March 29, 2014

Of Course the Laundry Case

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, writing -- if memory serves -- about a business model, I found a writer sneering about how inefficient it was for his uncle to send his dirty laundry home from college.
Not so, my young friend!  What else was Uncle supposed to do with his laundry – those white shirts with starched collars and cuffs -- with perma-press still decades in the future? Sending out to a professional laundry would break the student’s Depression-era budget.  Uncle could hardly expect to manage those shirts in the soapstone tubs in the dorm basement.  The Bendix, the pioneering automatic washer, wouldn’t hit town till manufacturers got hold of materials after the War --  and if WW II was still on, btw, why wasn’t Uncle overseas altogether?
Of course the dirty laundry went home to Mother, in a special laundry case, at low postage rates.  And when it came back, there was probably a fresh-baked kuchen tucked in the middle.


  1. I know you'll enjoy the reminder that Jane Austen sent dirty laundry home as well. A few of her letters to Cassandra in Chawton during her visits with brother Henry in London discuss arrangements for sending dirty clothes home via the Southampton coach. Laundry was a difficult business at that time no matter where you were, but I'm sure that it was cheaper for JA to do it this way than to pay to have it done in London.

  2. what would the kuchen have been wrapped in? surely the plastic bags that are ubiquitous now were not so then. A tea towel and then cardboard box? waxed paper and brown paper bag?