Thread Number: 75290  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Historical perspective, first Laundromat
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Post# 991285   4/18/2018 at 17:25 by appnut (TX)        

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The following was the daily history/trivia segment one of my local TV stations.


On April 18, 1934, the first Laundromat, which was then called a Washateria, opened in Fort Worth, Texas.  These first facilities weren't coin-operated, attendants were always on duty.  Not until the late 1940s were the first unattended Laundromats opened.  Today, according to the Coin Laundry Association, there are about 35,000 coin laundries in the U.S. that generates nearly $5B in gross annual revenue.  (The accompanying photo was wringer washers)

Post# 991346 , Reply# 1   4/19/2018 at 00:20 by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Interesting news ~

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Were you able to identify the make & model of the washers, Uncle Bob? Would you post the photo, if the station's website offers it?

In the recent past, Launderess put up a pic of an early laundromat featuring Maytag Wringers, but it may have been available only to the inhabitants of a huge apartment complex, rather than an actual laundromat--although it did look like one.

Post# 991377 , Reply# 2   4/19/2018 at 07:31 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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I recall reading some time ago that the first "pay-to-wash" Washeteria business was in Ft. Worth and they caught on quickly. During the depression, there were many displaced people migrating west to California, etc. that needed laundry facilities along the way and places like these were very popular.

Here is a picture I found a long time ago, not sure it's the one Bob saw in the article, but it's similar to the described scene.

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Post# 991389 , Reply# 3   4/19/2018 at 09:47 by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
How cool!

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Three rinses prefiguring the coming front load protocol OR.... 2 rinses and a beach or bluing. Love the plumbing: hot and cold hang-downs from on high. Zooming in, the agitator column looks wider than the early gyrators I've seen.

How comforting that none of us is old enough to remember 1937.

Post# 991522 , Reply# 4   4/20/2018 at 10:32 by Jetcone (Schenectady-Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
Not what I expected

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I expected a line of shining new Bendix Home Laundry. 

What a chore.


Post# 991557 , Reply# 5   4/20/2018 at 14:58 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

This set up was to actually wash and rinse large loads, Jon, but I'll tell you; one person doing the work stayed damn busy if you tried to rinse and hang out each load while the next load washed and getting those clothes on the line was important to get them dry by late afternoon. Then you had to fix dinner. UGH!

Post# 991563 , Reply# 6   4/20/2018 at 16:21 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Would kill to find those old galvinized tubs NOS

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Modern offerings sold today all leak sooner or later.

Sadly when have come upon anything vintage they are rusted and or otherwise clapped out.

Post# 991564 , Reply# 7   4/20/2018 at 16:31 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Here ya go!

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In April 1937, John F. Cantrell opened the first self operated electric laundry in Fort Worth, Texas. Customers paid to rent machines on an hourly basis. Name of the new service was Washerteria.

Westinghouse got into the coin operated laundry business in 1947 via their "Laundromat" washers (which explains why every darned spell check insists on capitalizing the word as a proper noun).

The other player in this field was Bendix who placed their coin operated their "Launderette" washers via a distributor (Telecoin).

Telecoin began actually distributing Bendix machines by late 1930's or early 1940's. But they did seem to concentrate on the "on premises market". Meaning apartment houses and so forth.

Either way Bendix, Telecoin, and Westinghouse all found themselves involved in anti-trust and other lawsuits.

Post# 991566 , Reply# 8   4/20/2018 at 16:45 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Maytag laundromats

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More like wash houses, but never the less yes; Maytag wringers were used in public laundries.

My older Maytag service manuals speak to how often certain parts were are to be replaced based upon "commercial" or residential use. Since cannot imagine an industrial/commercial laundry using wringer washers, am guessing they meant for "laundromat" type settings including maybe apartments or other housing where residents had access.

Post# 991567 , Reply# 9   4/20/2018 at 16:56 by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
From a Bradross post in Launderess' link above ~

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The first Maytag Repairman on the left, wearing the iconic unform, to boot! How fun.

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Post# 991601 , Reply# 10   4/21/2018 at 01:42 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Since we're going down laundromat memory lane...

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Post# 991614 , Reply# 11   4/21/2018 at 04:53 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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