Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 21

Acts 16 v 14; John 19 v 2

Wash Day Blues

It is true that you can buy almost anything on the internet but recently I came across something that was for sale that I hadn’t seen in many years. It was a Posser. For the benefit of younger readers, a posser is best described as an upturned copper bowl attached to a wooden handle like a sweeping brush, and used as part of the laundry process before washing machines were invented.

As a very young lad in the mid-1950s it was my job every Monday to help mum do the washing by operating the posser. The ‘Peggy Tub’, (we called it Peggy Tub but some called it a Dolly Tub) was brought out of the cellar and filled with hot water. Just for information, the Peggy Tub was a barrel shaped galvanised metal tub with ribbed sides, just used for washing. The clothes and bedding were added to the tub with some washing powder and I would push the posser up and down to rid the clothes of all the dirt. Eventually mum would empty out both clothes and water from the tub, add cold water and rinse the clothes.

Now there is something else to remember, wooden washing tongs. Mum would lift out the clothes from the hot water with a pair of wooden washing tongs; big tongs bleached white through the washing process, with a metal strap at the end to make then spring back to the open position. She told me they were Crocodile jaws and would chase me round the room with them.

It was the next stage that always intrigued me,. Mum would put all the white shirts and sheets, into the tub and then get a small white muslin bag containing a blue tablet and stir it round in the tub until the water turned blue. This was called a, ‘Dolly Blue’, but although the water was bright blue the shirts and sheets came out sparkling white. It was mum’s little magic trick.

Life changed when mum and dad bought a Hoover single tub washing machine. This was powered by electricity and had a small propeller inside the tub which spun round to agitate the clothes. Unfortunately, it also tangled the clothes into one gigantic knot, the pyjama legs would be entangled with the shirt sleeves and bed sheets were a real problem. It took mum ages to untangle them all. It never happened with the posser.

As time went on we progressed to a Hoover Twin tub machine that had both washing tub and spin dryer. After the washing process mum would lift the clothes out of one tub, (with the tongs) and into the adjacent spin dryer. The whole machine would then vibrate so much that it danced around the room with mum sitting on to try to keep it still.

By this time the Peggy tub, Posser, Dolly Blue and me were all redundant. I was approaching teenage years so helping with the washing was not  the done thing, but guess what still remained on the hook on the cellar wall; the tongs.

In Biblical times the colour blue or purple was significant. It represented sovereignty, power, wealth and authority. Royal robes were always purple to give a visual representation of the King or Queen’s authority and power.

In Acts, Paul meets Lydia of Thyatira who was known as a merchant of purple cloth. She was a very important person in the community, dealing with royalty and the rich and famous of her time. She was wealthy and it is said she had two houses. She befriended Paul and his companions and after hearing him preach she gave herself to Christ. She is often referred to as being the first European Christian convert.

Some Christian denominations recognise Lydia of Thyatira as a saint particularly in the Catholic Church. Her Feast Day is the 3rd August, whereas in the Episcopal Church it is the 27th January

Purple is also significant in the Temple, adorning the dwelling place of God. It was used in the carpets and curtains, (veils) and in the garments of the High Priests.

When Jesus was being taken to the cross the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on Jesus’s head, then placed a purple robe over his shoulders, mocking the claim that Jesus was the King of the Jews. Little did they know that Jesus is not only the King of the Jews but is also the King of all creation.

Song writer Graham Kendrick (Make Way Music) invites us to, ‘Come and see’; – See the purple robe and crown of thorns he wears. Soldiers mock, rulers sneer, as he lifts the cruel cross. Lone and friendless now he climbs towards the hill.

I looked up ‘Dolly Blue’ to see what it was made of. Evidently it was made of blue dye and baking soda and manufactured by Reckitts, – not magical at all, in fact quite boring, and do you know what? You can still buy it on the internet.

Derek T.