Monday, May 16, 2011

Through the Wringer


"Cindy, whatever you do, don't get your hands
 near those rollers!"

Do you know that delicious dreamy feeling when one first wakes on a summer morning, with the twitter of birds in the air, and the fresh breeze coming in at the open window--when, lying lazily with eyes half shut, one sees as in a dream green boughs waving, or waters rippling in a golden light? It is a pleasure very near to sadness, bringing tears to one's eyes like a beautiful picture or poem. And is not that a Mother's gentle hand that undraws your curtains, and a Mother's sweet voice that summons you to rise? To rise and forget, in the bright sunlight, the ugly dreams that frightened you so when all was dark--to rise and enjoy another happy day, first kneeling to thank that unseen Friend, who sends you the beautiful sun?

Lewis Carroll
Easter Greeting
1876

Recently I came across this Easter greeting from Lewis Carroll to the children who loved his Alice in Wonderland.  I had been trying to describe the summer mornings to Clint when I would go next door to my grandmother's on wash day.  Lewis Carroll described my summer mornings perfectly in this greeting.  The only difference is my mother did not draw back the curtains or summons me to rise.  She didn't have to.  I had places to go and things to do like go next door to my grandmother's house and watch her wash clothes!  I am guessing I was about seven years old. There was nothing I liked better than being in her basement when she was washing clothes.

Repeatedly she had warned me not to get my fingers near those washing machine wringers. She would tell me a horror story of some kid up in the country that had a accident with a wringer washing machine.  When I could sneak and do it when she had her back turned, I would put my finger on the opposite side of the wringers where the clothes were inserted.  It would repel your finger and push it away, kinda like a game for me.  One day I got my wringer sides mixed up and got my hand caught in the rollers.  Bless her heart, by the time my grandmother could help me, it had drawn in my arm. I remember her frantically attempting to free my arm and thank God, she was able.  My hand was very sore and I remembered wash day was not as much fun after that ordeal.  One thing for sure, I never got near that wringer washing machine again!

Clint has his own very similar wringer washing machine story.  He played "the game" I played when his grandmother had turned her back. His finger was caught but he was able to pull it out. 

I look back and regret I put my grandmother through this experience. 

I'm sorry, mamaw, I didn't listen to you.

I loved running through those sheets hanging on the line.


Of course she always had that box of Tide.

5 comments:

Shady Del Knight said...

Cindy, your story reminded me of the famous Elvgren pin-up entitled Belle Ringer:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3035/3100623692_d108fe5197.jpg

Isn't it funny how children insist on finding out the hard way that fire burns? I don't remember inserting my fingers in the ringer but I distinctly remember my mother operating her ringer washer in our basement during the early and mid 50s until it was replaced by an automatic. I also remember dashing and darting through the sheets hanging on the clothes line. My little friends and I even played a game of hide and seek using the rows of sheets flapping in the wind as a maze. Nowadays the challenge for every one of us is to retain that childlike wonder, Cindy. The moment you lose it... you're old.

Clint said...

Yeah, I recall the basement and the Monday mawnin' washdays and the serious admonishin's about the WRINGER. Ha...

Funny now, o' course. But at the time, when my finger was bein' pancaked, it was a different matter altogether. (another ha)

Reminds me o' the ole Garden o' Eden---Everything was super cool as long as A 'n E didn't disobey God. Of course, they couldn't help themselves.

That's why my damn finger got crushed. Another Ha.

Cindy Ellison said...

The Belle Ringer illustration by Elvgren was cute and a creative idea. I do love that old art. Thank you for sharing this.

Running through those sheets was such fun. I can still remember that scent. Once again, a memory that not many kids will have today. They aren't having many memories at all of being outdoors and getting dirty. It's sad. We sure do need to keep our sense of wonder, I'm still wondering about lots of things. Thank you, Shady!

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

I Cindy! I like a lot this kind of story :-) it is so nice for me to read about american life, I know America only trough book and film..

Crystal Mary said...

Washing used to take a whole day, it was great for us kids watching but a huge chore for the woman working..I can imagine your curiosity, and placing your fingers near that wringer, never imagining they would get caught.
I still hang my washing on the clothes line..its something I won't let go of.
Have a blessed sunny day.