Camilla with my clean laundry, folded. Before a move from a 2-story historic townhouse in November, 2010, into a smaller historic carriage house in Ellicott City, I had not experienced the term "W D F" or laundromats, do-it-yourself (Coin-ops) for that matter. We, then I, always had a washer and dryer. Regular sized, apartment sized......and then, none.
My initial reaction to "none" was fearful and negative; then, for some odd reason (not maturity), I re-gained my composure and looked for alternatives. First, I used my son's washer and dryer...but as time went on, I decided to take the matter into my own hands--so to speak--and find a laundromat in the area.
One day, while at Normandy Shopping Center (located on Normandy Center Drive and Route 40) where I usually went to a UPS Store or to True Nails, I noticed a sign on one of the stores up a level-- LAUNDROMAT: WASH DRY & FOLD.
Of course, I was wary categorically of a new experience and this was an unknown to me as to the product quality; I certainly never wondered about Laundromat history! Now, I am a regular customer at the Normandy Laundromat and have gotten to know the helpful professional staff there--Naomi, Missy and her Mom, Brenda...and Julia.
Brief History of USA Laundromats: Wanting to know more about the first laundromat (wash-a-teria) in the United States, I first queried Wikipedia. Not being sure about the information, however, I went to primary sources online to find a photocopy of a newspaper, (see below).
TEXAS LANDMARKS TRIBUNE Vol MMXI, No 108 April 18, 1934 Wednesday Evening. US gets first Laundromat. Fort Worth Celebrates. First Washateria opens. FORT WORTH. On this date in 1934, the first washateria (laundromat) in the United States was opened by C. A. Tannahill in Fort Worth.
Additional research, back to *Wikipedia: A self-service laundry is a facility where clothes are washed and dried. They are known in the United States, Canada, and Australia as laundromats (from the genericized trademark of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation). George Edward Pendray created the word "laundromat" for Westinghouse. Laundry Equipment Service made the first Laundromat. MORE from *: Staffed laundries. Some laundries employ staff to provide service for the customers. Minimal service centres may simply provide an attendant behind a counter to provide change, sell washing powder, and watch unattended machines for potential theft of clothing. Others allow customers to drop off clothing to be washed, dried, and folded. This is often referred to as Fluff & Fold, Wash-n-Fold, bachelor bundles, a service wash or full-service wash. There are over 35,000 laundries throughout the United States.
Fluff n Fold services. Known in my part of the country as W D & F. The evolution of self-serve laundry services have been seen in some "fluff n fold" services provided by various laundromats. These services provide the end user with wash, dry, and folding services on a per pound basis.
Cut to Present: Now, once a week, I take my 10 lbs. or so of various types of laundry to the Normandy Laundromat. Generally, it costs me about $10.00 or about $1.00/lb. What I get back all neat and folded, and wrapped up, is well worth the money. I was never to nice to my clothes. It makes me "want to be a better person," that is, put them away with more sensitivity. Shown: Missy and Mom, Brenda. Brenda started working at Normany Laundromat in 1984; Missy in 1991. Missy exclaimed the first time I asked her about it, "I grew up here!" That stuck with me.
According to Naomi, pictured here, there are a variety of sizes: "We have 20, 30, 40, 50 and 75 gallon machines." She added, "What I find most interesting is folding baby clothes...so tiny...all the little hooks and buttons..."
Naomi told me she grew up in Puerto Rico and recalled her Mother employed in a laundry business washing clothes in a river, using a blue bar of soap "that smelled so wonderful. Oh, I can still smell it!" Her description was so vivid that it painted a beautiful picture in my mind.
Now, laundry soap is available from a coin-op machine, of course, but most customers bring their own, I was told.
NOTE: After I hand in my sack of dirty clothes at the WD &F counter, I need to pay the $10 in cash and get a receipt before work may begin. I always try to have the correct change.
Above: Missy tells me more about the laundromat and how it functions every day. Always bright, swept clean, and very organized--with friendly professional staff--it is a genuine pleasure to take my laundry to NORMANDY LAUNDROMAT.
Blog feature: Kay Weeks