Wash Day

Have you ever stopped to think about how all those guys who lived in South and East Halls in the early days got their clothes clean?

What?? You haven’t?!?

Well, I have. There really weren’t any laundry facilities in those bare-bones buildings. The answer is that they sent them out. Some went downtown to guys like “Uncle Pike,” who bought this prominent ad in the 1916 Campanile. (I think he might be claiming a bit too much, but hey, why risk it?)

My sense is that many others employed women who lived in the general vicinity of campus. They would come by the back of the dorms in wagons, load up the bundles and then bring back the clean clothes the next day. Here’s a striking image I found today in Carl Knapp’s scrapbook of a local yard on wash day:

Bonus: After the first showing of the spectacle ended late on Thursday night, the set up for the Friday morning procession had to be done overnight. Here are a couple cool pictures sent in by Dr. Keith Cooper, who seems to have gotten little sleep during this extravaganza.

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9 Responses to Wash Day

  1. Andy Arenson says:

    Was the Thursday Spectacle showing for the public or some sort of a rehearsal? If a rehearsal, at what time was it shown?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I think it was shown at the end of the big gala–not sure what time.

    • Keith Cooper says:

      The Thursday night showing was over by 10 or 10:15. Setup began around 10:30. The photos were shot between midnight and 1 AM. Facilities, Engineering, and Planning had people in the quad for most of the night.

  2. I still like to hang sheets and towels out to dry. Saves energy and they smell nicer.

  3. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    Are there any photos or videos of the setup for the spectacle? As a sometimes theatrical lighting designer, I want to know how it all was done!

  4. mattnoall says:

    The Uncle Pike ad is very interesting, “Overstated,” why how can you say that when we are in the middle of an election cycle. Look at that comparison!

    It also reminds me of ads that ran in Houston when I was growing up (and no, while I am ancient, the Uncle Pike ad is well before my time!), from a local nursery. I think it was called Paul’s Greenthumb or something along that line. Perhaps ads like that were a local thing. Kind of like the old Houston Yellow Pages front covers with all the jokes.

  5. Dan Mittleman says:

    Am I reading this correctly? Back in Uncle Pike’s day, it seems that they had four-digit phone numbers. One wonders how many phones were on campus in 1916.

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