Tuesday, September 25, 2012

World War One Wednesday

Laundromat.

Upon my return from the ACFW Conference this last week, I was met with a formidable amount of laundry to do. No laundry was done while I was gone, and I had all my own travel clothes to wash when I got home. I spent much of Tuesday taming the laundry beast, and I'm happy to say I was all caught up by bedtime...when we changed into jammies and suddenly I had more laundry to do. Ain't that always the way?

While I was washing, drying, folding, hanging up, and putting away, I wondered how the soldiers on the front lines of World War One got their clothes clean. So, I googled the idea. :)

Here's an excerpt from a website I found:

Whether slopping through mud, sweltering in tropical heat, or swimming in continuous rain, combat soldiers do not stay clean very long. Soldiers knew that clean clothing, when provided, did not come often. For the first 150 years of U.S. history, soldiers were left to their own devices for personal laundry. Most did not bother, and the result was substantial loss of combat power due to disease.

The health risk factors associated with poor personal hygiene were well known at the turn of the century. British forces established standards of field hygiene, appointed field sanitation officers, and published manuals on sanitation techniques-including clothing sanitation. Their pioneering efforts were a result of astronomical non-battle casualties. During the Crimean War, the English lost 21,000 soldiers to diseases. Regimental medical officers knew that clothing provided a perfect home for a persistent camp follower and disease carrier--the common louse (the "Greyback" of the Civil War and "Cootie" of World War I).

World War I marked the first real attempt to provide front line soldiers with clean clothes through laundering and sanitation. The "Cootie" problem and its inherent risk of massive nonbattle casualties, coupled with the advent of chemical warfare, jolted slow moving design and procurement activities into high gear.

French and English forces already had mobile laundries in the zone of operations and furnished many of the units first used by American Forces. The first American portable unit was completed in October 1917 by the Broadbent Portable Laundry Corporation and consisted of four trailers carrying the laundry equipment, two trailers carrying supplies, and a steam tractor as prime mover and power source. On the road, the system extended for more than 100 feet and was often associated with the arrival of Barnum and Bailey's Circus.

Laundry companies organized to operate the systems were staffed by one second lieutenant and 37 enlisted soldiers. These companies were separate organizations attached to armies, corps, or divisions based essentially on accessibility of the parent unit since the laundries needed hardstands, good roads, and considerable maneuver space.

World War I soldiers never had adequate laundry service. In 1917, General Pershing requested that every division embarking for France be assigned a mobile laundry. The first system arrived in Europe in May 1918, and three more were received in August. By Armistice Day in November, 24 units were in Europe. Capable of servicing 1,500 men per day, the units operated primarily in the rear. Most trench soldiers did not see clean uniforms until they were relieved from the front lines. This severe lack of laundry service resulted in "Cooties" living on more than 90 percent of American soldiers at the front. Following the war, mobile units were used for salvage, sanitation, and reclamation of clothing for return to storage.

You can read more about how the military dealt with laundry issues by clicking on this link: http://www.qmfound.com/services.htm

I don't mind washing and drying, or even sorting before laundry is done. The place where I get stuck is in the folding and putting away. It's so easy to take that basket of clean laundry and set it on the cedar chest at the foot of my bed, and every day, take out something to wear. Before I know it I have two or three half-filled baskets of clean clothes, and nothing in the closet. I'm making a concerted effort to get things put away right away.

How about you? What is your favorite and least favorite laundry task??

14 comments:

  1. None of it! HA! I do like the fresh, clean scent of laundry on my towels and sheets. But folding all those clothes! My kids are finally at an age where they each have to put their own away, so that's been a huge help.

    Hope you had an amazing time at conference. I'm ready to sign up for next year:)

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    1. I've been known to change my fabric softener or detergent from time to time because I think I get desensitized to the same old scent. :)

      My kids are in charge of their own laundry now. Though my son never remembers he needs to do laundry until I put a load of my own clothes in the washer. Then he's in a panic.

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  2. Yup, I struggle with the putting away. I don't always put my toys away, either.

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    1. My problem is doors. If I couldn't close them on the mess, I'd have to pick it up.

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  3. I have clothes that have set up permanent residence on my bedroom floor. I like the smell when I transfer them from washer to dryer.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. I got a new front-loading washer, but not the platform/lower drawer/thingy to set it on, so I feel like I'm standing on my head trying to get clothes out of the back of the washer when it's done. It's faster and it does a better job of cleaning. I just need it off the floor another foot or so.

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  4. I feel your pain, Erica. My hubby actually did laundry while I was gone, and yet we still had 6 loads yesterday! I'm still working on it. The worst is folding. It's not hard--I just don't want to do it. :) Loved meeting you!

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    1. Loved meeting you too, Jill! I wish we could've hung out more. There never seems to be enough time.

      I either fold laundry while I'm watching tv, OR, and this works better. As soon as the dryer goes off, I take the basket to my room and fold the clothes on the bed. I can't go to sleep that night until they're all put away. :)

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  5. About the only thing I like concerning laundry is the smell of my house from the fabric softener. And that, my friend, is IT!

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    1. LOL! Which makes me want to just put a Bounce dryer sheet over all my heat registers and get the good smell without having to do the laundry!

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  6. So THAT's where cooties came from!

    Before we had our dryer hooked up in this new place (a big kerfuffle with cords and wires are lots of chaos) I had to dry our clothes on racks. RACKS!

    Therefore, having crunchy clothes was my least favorite part of laundry.

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    1. I hate crispy, line-dried clothes, especially jeans and towels.

      Glad you got the dryer hooked up. :)

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  7. I'm another who dislikes folding clothes. There are so many other things I'd rather do.

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    1. I'm imagining all of us with great smelling laundry...in baskets in all our bedrooms. I'm so glad I'm not alone. :D

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