Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/ Everyday Objects of Extraordinary Design (the clothes-pin)

This week's peep-show ends today with the clothespin; if you do not recognize this object, it may be for a variety of reasons.  Chances are that you have never shopped at an old-fashioned hardware store(s) (like Cherrydale Hardware in Arlington, VA or Brown's Hardware in Falls Church, or a variety of others where the mom-and-pop business model is real/nurtures community spirit/provides individualized service unmatched by the big-box stores where help is generally non-existent, and the few good employees who show up after the training period is completed, usually crumble from over-exhaustion and excessive responsibility so that at the first chance they leave for greener pastures; yes, in spite of the so-called benefits and retirement plan.  Only a 501 or 601K could have kept them coming back week after week).

Another reason for not recognizing the humble clothespin may be that you are not truly a design-addict like some fashion and interior-designers/architects/DJ's/playwrights/actors and other arty, creative types who haunt yard sales, thrift shops, used book-stores and hardware stores in search of the familiar/unfamiliar/novel/kitsch/playful/archaic/elegaic/nostalgic/inspiration/odd or just plain old tried-and-true bits of industrial design which can be cleverly integrated into one's environment without purchasing one more piece of schlock through a catalog or overpriced 'design-mecca.'  If you are concerned with the green principles of conservation and conservation you probably spotted it from fifty feet and went right for them. Yes, some of us still think, as well as undertake activities which bring back memories and contribute to our ideas of green and simplicity; such as line-dry clothes, sweeping garden paths, and foregoing plastic as well as paper bags for the multi-purpose, multi-generational grocery tote-bag.

You may not have recognized this strange yet smartly designed object because since birth someone else has been doing your laundry and your visits to the laundry-room have been limited to a quick toss on top of the machine or on the floor of your favorite t-shirt/shorts/cami or sock bag.  If you are a peep-reader of the Baby-Boomer generation cohort #1 (born from circa 1946 to 1955) or of Baby Boomer cohort #2 generation (born from circa 1956-1964), Mom, Gran or Bessie (the twice-a-week maid) did the household chores, and you were left free to attend school, work part-time in the evenings and/or weekends and thus you were spared the drudgery of laundry.  You would have been asked to help with mowing the lawn, or taking out the thrash-cans, or helping with any younger siblings; but it is rare that someone of this generation would have been tied to the endless cycle of wash/dry/fold or press, and then all over again.  You would probably have not recognized the useful clothespin if you were middle-class or, living in any of the industrialized nations where electric washers and dryers quickly became a staple of households and a significant production factor in respective GDP's.  It is recorded that by 1940, 60% of the 25,000,000 wired homes in the US had an electric washing machine.  By 1940, 60% of the 25,000,000 wired homes in the United States had an electric washing machine. During World War II domestic washer production was suspended, although R + D continued.  In 1947 the Bendix Deluxe model (retail price of $249.50) was introduced, as well as the first top load automatic model by General Electric.  Innovations continued with the stacking model, dryer and washer in one unit model; as well as efficiency markers leading to faster wash and dry times and smaller bowls for less usage of water.

Funny isn't it, that no matter how much the advertising companies try to convince us about the speed/efficiency/benefits or any suggestion of satisfaction from doing laundry, as soon as we can afford to do so, we hire someone to come in and do our laundry--wash/dry/fold or iron, and if we can  swing it, have someone get it up to our rooms and put it away.  Sure, sure, young mothers enjoy the washing of Baby's first garments in preparation for his arrival.  Yet even this grows old fast;  Pampers and Huggies rule because it frees us from even more domestic tyranny.  Hiram reminded me that many tired nannies have been sorely tempted to throw out the baby with the bath-water; as well as the plastic duckie!! 

Enjoy the weekend.


PS:  Please visit the website of the GUATEMALA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (GHRC) for updates and to see how each of you can play a part in helping to bring justice, accountability, and stability as part of our stated respect for all human rights.  You can help by calling your senator or a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee and telling them that RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE THE MAIN OBJECTIVE OF THE UNITED STATES' POLICY IN GUATEMALA.  On July 20 President Obama's appointee Arnold Chacon is up for confirmation; with Mr Chacon as our Ambassador, human rights will remain a strong priority of the US vis-a-vis our relations with Guatemala.  Please call and make a difference.


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