Local Laundry

Washing clothes has a long tradition.  Before the Industrial Revolution, women would take clothes to the river and rely on the water’s motion to agitate the dirt out.  Instruments of agitation included bats and sticks; how very violent!

I found some interesting information about laundry here.

It’s hard to imagine laundry life being so complicated and difficult, but a little internet research would probably provide me with information about a “laundry culture” that evolved from the work of cleanliness.  It doesn’t sound unpleasant.

My mother, Saint Helen of Immaculata, loves doing laundry.  She has laundry routines, special laundry tools and products, and she probably has special Holy Days of Laundry Obligation.  She hangs her laundry outside on the clothes line my father built for her and very rarely uses a clothes dryer.

When I got married, my parents bought me a washing machine and then my father promptly installed a clothes line like my mother’s at the house in Portland, Maine.  When I got divorced and we sold the house, I left the washing machine with my ex-husband.

I still miss the clothes line.

When I moved to The Coop, I used the small laundry room available to me there.  It had three washing machines and three dryers.  Some of my neighbors had compact washer and dryer sets and I looked into buying a set too, but since I knew I wouldn’t be staying there forever I didn’t make the investment.

I didn’t mind carrying my LL Bean boat and tote bags of laundry over the laundry room once or twice a week; it was good exercise and it was often peaceful and quiet there in the evening.  Once in a while, I might meet my condo neighbors; I met Mary and Dave in the laundry room last year and I told them I was thinking of selling my condo.

That story had a happy ending.

Here in my new home, I have a large “laundry room” with, as yet, no appliances.  Saint Helen and I have been to the local appliance store and scoped things out; Agren’s is having a big sale this weekend and I’ll probably buy a washer and a dryer.

Since moving, I’ve accumulated some laundry.  Lisbon Falls is a clean town with two coin-operated laundromats.

It’s hard to believe, but in forty-nine years, I’d never been inside the Main Street Laundry.  It’s always been there, right next to John’s TV and Appliance Store.  Glen, John’s son, still owns the appliance store, but it’s not open anymore.  He stores appliances there as part of some other business venture.  In the same block, a Chinese restaurant is in the former Mid-Maine Mutual Savings Bank.

I was surprised at how quiet it was at the Main Street Laundry.  Maybe it was because it was Sunday night and the Patriots were on, or maybe it’s because Lisbonites do their laundry on other days and at other times.  I went to the Chinese restaurant while I was waiting for my clothes to spin and met Mei; she was friendly and the crab Rangoon were very good.

I found some beauty at the laundromat, too.

In my two visits to the Main Street Laundry, I’ve had time to think about my hometown and the types of businesses that are needed for a good quality of life.  Main Street Laundry is a good, solid business and it fills a need.  It wasn’t always a laundromat; something else was there, something different.  Some simple internet research might provide me with the answer or a phone call to my father.

I think I’ll take a trip to the Lisbon Historical Society on Thursday instead.  Al and Dot will know what was there and they’ll direct me to old newspapers which might have more details about Main Street “back in the day.”

I might even dig up some dirty laundry.  That’s how it is to live a local life…agitating the dirt out.

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