Maytag Memory

Content Tools

609 S. First St. Odessa, Missouri 64076

The washing machine made soft swishing sounds as it washed the clothes. I stood at the large window in the laundry room and watched as my grandchildren changed the large box into a fantasy of their imagination. They seemed to be enjoying the box as much as I was enjoying my new Maytag washing machine.

I heard Deric say, 'It should be a jet so I can zoom across the sky.'

'No, it should be a skyscraper reaching up, up, up,' declared Mindy.

'I know what let's do,' Deric said with excitement in his voice, 'Let's pretend it's an igloo and we'll be Eskimos!'

As I stood watching my grandchildren change the box into anything their imaginations dreamed up, my thoughts slipped back to the summer of 1939. . .

Very early that Monday morning, the appliance store truck rolled down the dusty lane leading to the farmhouse. The men of the household were already in the field plowing. Grandma and Mom saw the truck coming, and eagerly bounced out the door and stood at the yard gate as the truck came to a stop. My brother Don and I were excitedly waiting to view the contents of the box on the back of the truck.

Two men climbed out and said cheerful 'Howdies' to the small group standing there.

'Howdy, boys,' Grandma replied. 'We began to think you weren't comin' today.'

'Well now, Sadie, it's not all that late,' said Hank, the older of the two. 'Why, it's only 7:35.'

'Most of the mornin's gone,' Granny fired back. 'We expected you bright and early. If n you had been earlier, the men were affixin to help you, but since you're a middle of the mornin' like this the men folk had to go on to the fields.'

Hank spoke around a cud of tobacco, 'Where you aimin' to put this here thing, Sadie'?

'Take it thar,' Granny said as she waved toward the screened-in porch. Then she and Mom both rushed over to prop open the door.

Hank and John heaved, grunted, and tugged as they worked to get the box in position to carry it onto the porch. Mom and Granny were going here and there moving things and clucking like excited chickens. The men, with a sigh of relief, set the box down in the middle of the porch floor.

'Phuwee, that booger is heavy,' Hank mumbled around his tobacco.

I was fascinated with the way Hank talked with all that stuff in his mouth. I had witnessed him spitting a squirt of tobacco at an old Rhode Island Red hen, hitting her smack in the eye. That really amazed me.

Don and I and Granny and Mom all hovered around that big box with anxious anticipation. The men tore and cut the top of the box, then four corners down to the bottom, letting the sides lay down. There stood the most beautiful Maytag washing machine.

Granny and Mom oohed and aahed. 'What a beautiful washer!' Mom whispered.

'Yessireee, that's a beauty, a mighty fine Maytag. It'll last a lifetime,' Hank declared with a husky voice, making me wonder if he had swallowed some juice. Don and I stood there gazing at that beautiful gray machine with the wringers and the red Maytag decal.

John took out a long snake-like thing. 'This is the exhaust hose,' he announced, attaching it to the engine. 'Now, are you ladies ready to see how this here thing works?'

Granny and Mom nodded in unison. Don and I stepped closer to the machine, staring in wonder at the gleaming beauty. Mom shooed us back beyond her imaginary line for being in the way.

'This here is a measuring cup,' said John as he held up a small metal can. He then demonstrated measuring the oil and gas carefully'. He poured the mixture into the engine without spilling a drop. Then, putting his foot on the pedal, he pushed, then pushed again. The engine burst into sound, a sound that I'd never forget: 'Put, put, put...' The flywheel flew 'round and 'round and didn't stop.

John showed how easy the rollers worked. By turning a lever, the rollers rolled to squeeze the water from a garment. All we had to do to move the whole wringer from the washing machine to the rinse tub and back again, was to turn the lever in the opposite direction.

'Sadie, to get this agitator going, pull this here lever on the tub.' He pulled the lever to show the power of the agitator.

Mom and Granny just stood there gawking. I couldn't believe they were speechless as they watched John go through all the marvels of the washing machine.

'Well, ladies, I believe it's ready to go to work,' Hank declared.

John and Hank gathered up the box and taped the sides. They knew it would find its way to the shade of the oak tree where it would no longer be a cardboard box, but a castle, or a car, or the back of a dinosaur. The machine was still making those 'put, put' sounds, indicating that it was still working all right.

Don and I grabbed the box, pushed it out the door and headed for the old oak tree.

As the men drove off in a swirl of heavy dust, Granny and Mom were busy taking hot water out of the cook stove reservoir and pouring it into the machine.

They had immediate plans for that Maytag. There would be sheets flapping in the summer breeze before long.

The new Maytag washer quietly ended its cycle as I heard Mindy say,' I think it should be a computer now.'

'No, it is going to be a helicopter,' Deric replied stubbornly.

I listened with envy, then I took the clothes from the new Maytag washer and put them into the dryer.