Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Memories: the college laundry

Last week I noticed an article in a Toledo paper that reported some Ohio colleges were offering amenities for students as an enticement to stay in the dorms--one being free laundry facilities. So that put me to thinking. How did I do laundry when I was in college? For the life of me, I can't remember how I did my laundry at McKinley Hall at the University of Illinois, but I do have a snippet of memory left from Oakwood Hall at Manchester College in Indiana.

The current Oakwood Hall on campus is a nice modern building, but the old Oakwood that was there in the 1950s was probably about 50 years old and a little down at the heels. It's possible that it was built in stages, so the dorm rooms may have been older than the lounges and porch. Both of my sisters had also lived in Oakwood when they attended Manchester. I think part of the basement was a dining hall for the whole college which everyone entered from the front outside entrance and part of it was laundry facilities with a door in the back.

My roommate used to do her 2 brothers' laundry, and if you had a boyfriend on campus (mine was at the University of Illinois), you did his laundry. Although I can't imagine why, there was some social cachet (and cash) in doing a guy's laundry ["Would you like to go steady and do my laundry?"]. Or maybe the men's dorm didn't have washers and dryers. I think if a guy didn't have a girlfriend with access to the machines in Oakwood, he sent his laundry home to mama.

Although I can't remember what the machines looked like or the route to get there from my dorm room, I remember the laundry room also had ironing boards, and tables set up for sewing and studying. One night Sylvia (friend from high school who also lived in Oakwood) and I were out after curfew. In those days, women had curfews but men did not--the reasoning being that if the girls were safely inside, the boys would be home studying. We stayed out deliberately, but were only walking the streets of North Manchester talking. When we got back to Oakwood Hall, we tapped on the basement window and someone doing her laundry, opened the door and let us in. We didn't even have to crawl in a window, which is what we thought we'd have to do. Sigh. We were so bad at being bad.

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7 comments:

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

When I went to College I didn't experience a boarding house as we had school busses to bring us to and from school. I don't really know how it is to board. Maybe it would have been fun too.
Mine is up too.

Reverberate58 said...

Great story! I like that if they didn't have a girl friend the laundry went home to mama!

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Anonymous said...

When I went to college it wasn't that common here in Sweden to be boarded. They placed you somewhere nearby and you had a schoolcard for the train, which was cheaper than the ordinary price but not for free. Nowadys it's becoming more and more common to study on another location, but there isn't enough apartment for students to rent.

Lazy Daisy said...

Girlfriend you so crack me up....who knew you would be so bad at being bad! Is there life after laundry? Funny memory, nicely told.

Pixie said...

When I went to school, I came home on the weekends & my Mom did my laundry. With piles waiting to be washed & Mt Fold-Me screaming my name.......... I sure miss those days.

Thanks for visiting me today even though I didn't do a MM. :-)

Chelle Y. said...

I hated doing laundry at college! It was such a pain fighting for those machines, and when one was available, it was a pain searching for quarters! Haha!

MaR said...

Those where the days I didn't sort out per colors...everything went in one wash, bedsheets, jeans, white t-shirts... sat in the laundry room for that time once a week, saturday mornings, since some bad ones were stealing your fresh laundry, aaahrgg!