Bon Laundry: Wash Days
By: Alene Kirklin Horner

Mondays and Thursdays were wash days at Bon Jellico. In the winter the water was heated on the coal stove or in the stove reservoir. It was then poured into two round washtubs. The scrub tub was equipped with a scrub board and a cake of soap, usually homemade lye-soap. After the scrubbing, white clothes were boiled in a small pan on the stove. After 10-15 minutes of boiling these clothes were rinsed in the second tub, wrung out and hung on lines temporarily strung in the kitchen and bedrooms.

In summer the tubs were positioned on the back porch or under a tree. A cast iron pot was placed over a fire that was built in the back yard. Here the water was heated and the clothes were washed, boiled and hung on outside lines to dry.

The grown daughters and young wives who lived near the powerplant carried tubs, clothes and soap to the powerhouse yard. The water that came from the powerplant pipes was hot and ready to be used. Uncle Alex Nunley would let the women use this water for washing, boiling and rinsing their clothes. The young women used this time together not only to work but to share news, gossip and play tricks on each other. They then carried the clean clothes home to be hung on clotheslines to dry.

Clean sheets and pillowcases that have been kissed by the sun give off a fragrance that can linger in the mind for many years.


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