An Intergenerational Conversation about doing Laundry

Editor’s Note: After the holidays, the GeriActors are at full swing, devising new plays. Here is a post by Bill Yong about the experience.

Today the GeriActors shared stories about how they did laundry when they were young. We heard stories of doing laundry with a maid in Trinidad during the 1970s, washing dirty diapers in Leicester, England in the 1960s and using snow in Athabasca, Alberta in the 1960s. Each story was unique in its challenges and approaches in solving this simple everyday problem: how to clean dirty clothes. As we began to have a conversation about everyone’s experiences, the younger people were baffled by how much work it was to clean clothes and change an infant’s diaper: we simply throw our dirty laundry into the washer and buy disposable diapers.
We began to ask questions: How much do we take for granted today? How much waste and energy would be saved if we changed the way we did our laundry? What can we tell about someone’s life or values by the way they do their laundry/ change diapers?

Here are a couple tools used for laundry shared by the GeriActors:

Scrub board: You had to be careful how you used it or you’d hurt your knuckles scrubbing your clothes on this tool.

Scrub Board.jpeg   

Mangle: Used to squeeze out as much water as possible after washing. You had to be VERY careful not to get your fingers in the machine.


Copper: Filled with hot water, Liz used it to clean the dirty diapers.

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