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
‘No, it should be a skyscraper reaching up, up, up,’
‘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
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
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
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
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
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
‘Sadie, to get this agitator going, pull this here lever on
the tub.’ He pulled the lever to show the power of the
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,’
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
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
I listened with envy, then I took the clothes from the new
Maytag washer and put them into the dryer.