Thread Number: 71795  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
I remember this like it was yesterday...Ms. Fitzgerald's (the substitute teacher) Whirlpool washer
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 949763   7/24/2017 at 02:50 (359 days old) by superocd (PNW)        

It was a hot spring afternoon during recess in third grade, 1997. My elementary school was at the edge of my small Midwestern town. On one side the parking lot faced the highway and a large alfalfa field where some H-frame power lines passed through (something I was really fascinated in at the time). The other side faced a well-shaded neighborhood with older one-story homes. One of those homes was owned by a substitute teacher, Ms. Fitzgerald. She looked like Miss Quan on "The Cat in the Hat" movie, glasses, big mole near her lip and all. Very strict. She drove a late 70s-early 80s Thunderbird. I remember that car because of the odd-looking tailights and the car looked creepy to me even though it was reasonably well-kept, just like her house and yard.

One time at recess, I wandered away from the play area for no reason. I was near Ms. Fitzgerald's house and didn't think anything of it until I heard a very familiar chugga-chugga-chugga sound through an open back door. Aha! Washing machine! I was fascinated with washers and just had to know what kind Ms. Fitzgerald had. Was it a Maytag? a GE? A Kenmore?

So I dashed under the linen hanging on her clothesline and crept in the back door where Ms. Fitzgerald's laundry room was. There it stood, an avocado Whirlpool Imperial with the matching dryer. I always thought the Whirlpools were interesting because of the slanted control panel. I promised just to peek through the doorway but I had to see what the agitator looked like and if it had the "strange-looking W with the swirl logo" embossed on the agitator cap, something I was obsessed with ever since I saw a Whirlpool washer with one at an auction. So I promised that I'd open the lid to see the agitator just a glance and then get out of there stat. As soon as I opened the lid, Ms. Fitzgerald walked in and gasped. "What are you doing in my house?"

All I can remember was that my eyes were as big as baseballs. I didn't say anything, the lid slammed and I bolted. The next day the principal called a conference with my parents, Ms. Fitzgerald and myself. When my principal asked me what my parents would think of me going into other people's homes without permission, I told him, nervous as I'd get out, "my mom and dad would tell me not to come into her house".

Ever since then, every time I heard Three Dog Night's 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' as a kid I thought about the time I sneaked into Ms. Fitzgerald's house to see her avocado Whirlpool Imperial washer. Of course, I didn't know what the song meant as an elementary kid but for some reason I associated that song with this incident. I heard the song the other day and thought of that day.

Oh, to be a kid again...

Post# 949765 , Reply# 1   7/24/2017 at 03:20 (359 days old) by brucelucenta ()        

Which of course always makes me wonder what determined the kind of washer and dryer different people bought? Always interesting, particularly when there were so many different kinds to choose from back in the day....

Post# 949768 , Reply# 2   7/24/2017 at 03:56 (359 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

Wandered the neighborhood for some one-- or some thing-- doing laundry.  Laundry tended toward garages.  If the lady was there I'd ask if I could watch.  Some passed out cookies.  Like Washoween. 


If not I just did.  Don't recall anyone running me off.  Not that a precocious 4yo represented the threat in 1950 they do today.  Nor did adults.  Now there's a whopping cultural shift in an unfortunate direction.

Post# 949800 , Reply# 3   7/24/2017 at 10:20 (359 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Curiosity is a pretty strong motivating factor in kids.

Most machines in the neighborhood I grew up in were inside the home, somewhere. Kitchen, basement, or purpose-built laundry room. Basements and laundry rooms were dangerous places where you could be busted by angry and hostile household staff who didn't want to be blamed if you did something that created a problem. Kitchen locations were great because even if adults were there they were always offering something to eat or drink that would justify being there. You could usually shmooze a homemaker or housekeeper with a few practiced lines like "how interesting to see you load a machine like that",If they did not use detergents, then, "interesting how you wait until the agitation begins to add the Ivory Snow (or any type of soap) and then the clothes" (which people did to allow the soap to dissolve".Sometimes, I would just come right out with "how interesting this machine is, can I just stand here and watch"? (Standard line for watching a Kelvinator in action). I cannot recall just walking into someone's home uninvited, but, maybe I did. Curiosity.

I loved to go visit the relatives of some of my friends who lived in very different neighborhoods, where the laundry equipment could be found in a room off of a car-port, or detached garage, even a back-porch. Those were the easiest machines to get to and were "out of sight, out of mind". I thought nothing of wandering into these areas to sneak a peek. I think this is how I saw the most variety of types when I was little. I remember sneaking into an out-building to observe a Frog-Eye only to discover that something had malfunctioned and the water was overflowing the machine! I got away from there fast for fear I would be blamed. First time I had observed anything like that.

A friend had folks that lived out in the Candler/Macafee area. Small red-brick homes with carports. I remember how many of them with old Frigidaire flat-tops that had a long hose aimed down the driveway and drained into the street. Sometimes a hole cut through the wall and drained into the yard. I don't think any of those homes were built to accomodate an Automatic washer and I didn't see any "set-sinks" either. Must have kept a manual machine in the kitchen and wheeled it over to the sink back in the day. I can remember my mother commenting on "primitive plumbing". I thought it was pretty cool to see a sudz-cake sliding down someone's driveway!

Post# 950088 , Reply# 4   7/26/2017 at 01:12 (357 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I used

To try to look in peoples closets to see their vacuum, If I had gotten caught my mother would have worn out my behind with a switch...That WAS NOT a idle threat with her!!!LOL, Never killed me and I see kids doing things today that WOULD have made me WISH I was dead!!!LOL

Post# 950130 , Reply# 5   7/26/2017 at 10:53 (357 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

daveamkrayoguy's profile picture
Me, it was peeking in kitchens, laundry rooms, under sink counters and even in closets!

My ex-girlfriend and I were at a friend's house that in the '90's had an '80's all-GE kitchen, that after dark when the lights were turned off in it, I opened that top-freezer, then refrigerator door, to get some light to see what time it is (and the light was down in the latter) --when the microwave had a LIGHT-UP DIGITAL CLOCK!

Boy, was I soooo ANNOYING back then...!

-- Dave

Post# 950156 , Reply# 6   7/26/2017 at 15:39 (356 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

countryguy's profile picture
Whenever my parents would take me to their friend's homes, I would also try to find out what kind of vacuum cleaner they owned. I remember one time my mom and her friend were having coffee in the kitchen and I went wandering. I found her Rainbow D in the hallway. I undid one of the latches holding the water pan but I couldn't figure out how to lock it back in place. The next day the lady called my mom wondering if I had played with her vacuum because when she lifted it up the water pan fell off spilling water everywhere LOL


Post# 950191 , Reply# 7   7/26/2017 at 22:54 (356 days old) by seedub (South Texas Hill Country)        

A few times before going out to visit people in their homes, Mother would advise me not to be poking around their houses looking for their laundry equipment.

Post# 950495 , Reply# 8   7/28/2017 at 16:50 (354 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
"worn out my behind with a switch"

Hans, I remember when I was a kid and acting up that my mom would tell me that she was "going to wear me out" if I didn't behave. Also remember my aunts & uncles in MS telling my cousins the same thing. I don't remember hearing it up here other than from my mom, so it must be a southern thing.

Post# 950504 , Reply# 9   7/28/2017 at 17:46 (354 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture
Never got around neighbors machines much. My cousin next door though had a pair of 1956 Westinghouse front loaders. Remember many times watching the wash action through the window. Other than that it was our own 66 GE Filter Flo.

superocd-Got a question. If you were born in 1994 (as per your profile) how were you in third grade in 1997?

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy