Laundry at Manumit

How did the laundry get done? Binky says we threw it in the middle of the room and made lists. Each room was separate? What about the boys? Did the short cabin have one bag…..etc. Some sent theirs home, I remember those rectangular boxes that expanded depending on content.

Did things come back ironed? Any dry cleaning?




I am responding for my mother, Nancy (Peake) Fielder. I asked her and she said that they tried several ways to do laundry over the years. She remembers each person having a laundry bag and it being washed individually. She also remembers having nametags on the clothing and everyone’s being washed together. Apparently the people doing the wash would then separate and fold the laundry into individual piles and you would go down to the cellar to pick up your pile. Eventually though my mother started sending home her dirty clothes. He father was concerned over the amount of lost items. Hope this information helps.


Jennifer Fielder


I sent mine home in the expandable box. When it came back it had FOOD as well.


Ah, yes, people that got FOOD back were greatly admired, if that’s the right word.


Laundry ??? A subject that I probably blocked from memory for good reason. I don’t remember how the laundry was done until I hit my teens … I was at Manumit from the time I was ten to just short of seventeen years old. As I recall, I hardly did it when I hit my teens. It was supposed to be sent home in one of those brown rectangular boxes, but I don’t recall doing that except once or twice. Maybe I took dirty laundry home on the Super Chief during vacations. Hmm… could it be that I just stank? PLEASE DON’T ANYBODY ANSWER.


PS: I also vaguely remember something about labels now that Nancy mentioned it.


I remember picking up my laundry in front of the building with the little balcony in front, in the area of John’s, Ted’s and other staff houses. I don’t think it was in a box but wrapped in brown paper. Also, the underwear was starched. I have no recollection of gathering up any laundry to be washed or sent out. Just the return.



Dear John, Laundry? What’s that? I thought you were supposed to just stand your pants up in the corner and jump into them in the morning. The more time that passed, the stiffer they stood up, so the faster you could dress, get to your chores and breakfast, and then off to your exciting classes up in the barn. This was especially important for those of us who found the “dungarees” cold and clammy in winter and so kept our flannel p.j.’s on underneath. The stiffer the pants were, the easier it was to slide the flannels into them. And if they got too stiff and broke, they could be saved for springtime shorts, for swimming in the creek with the leeches at the bottom of the pasture, downstream from the pig farm. The swimming thus eliminated any need for washing. Hence the life cycle of the dungaree. I don’t really remember what happened with the other garb. Threw it under the bed and then took it home on weekends or vacation; washed it in the sink, or in my case, I remember during my senior year taking laundry over to Carol Hemberger’s (my cousin, another Lindlof) now living in what had been Ben and Magda’s house. They had one of the only washing machines on campus as I recall. I don’t think I ever mailed stuff home as both my mother and father worked and had little time for doing my laundry. Besides, the family laundry had been one of MY chores which I did after school before mom got home. With my luck, if I’d pushed the issue, they might have sent ME their expandable boxes to launder and send back. HLS

Remember the laundry went out on Saturday morning and came back on Saturday evening….I am pretty sure it came back on Saturday but not so sure when it went out….it was neatly folded and very stiff…the dungarees fit like a second skin, very sexy , but would soon stretch out with repeated wearings….one put name tapes in or wrote your name on the garmentss…that was for those who sent them out to a local laundry service, but others would have those big brown things that went back and forth to home and often did include food and we often washed out underwear and socks by hand and hung them in the bathrooms……we cleaned up big on Saturday and then the clean laundry would come back….I think…..John W, I read you… looking forward to Tuesday….Peace ….

Judy (Wise) Rabinowitz


=OK at this point I have to join in since the laundry box seems to be large in my memory..cardboard, with those canvas straps with interesting scientific closings that would not open..and everyone waiting to see what you would get..I think the laundry was not really the most important part….it was the “Package From Home”..and it had a little card in the top that you could turn over with the coming and going address…..but who paid the postage???? And why wasn’t there just a laundry machine somewhere…come to think of it AND…does anyone remember what we ate other than peanut butter, juice in plastic cups, and some kind of cereal…no wonder we were waiting for the laundry basket, or a trip to the hoagie store, or a pint of chocolate ice cream after basketball practice…

Dear Judy, John, Ferdie, Linda, et al,

Whoever brought up this topic of laundry certainly resurrected a host of memories among us. Why is it that I haven’t a CLUE about how and what happened to my dirty clothes? Did I send my soiled clothes home? My mom and step-dad would have deep sixed them into the Hudson River. Would a few compliant girls have taken care of cleaning my filth? NOT! How about me cleaning my duds in the stream below the pasture? I am sure Caesar, Tony, and Ivanhoe (Paul’s steed), would have watched me with amusement. The fact is, somehow the miracle of my clothes being taken care of simply happened, and I wish that I could retrieve the memory tape explaining it all. One more unsolved mystery…

Someone brought up food that we ate. I have mentioned before that I am probably one of the few, VERY few, people in my era at Manumit who actually enjoyed the food that we were served. I realize that this is a heretical statement but, perhaps, like the riddle of what happened to our dirty clothes, I simply unplugged from those memories because the pain was too great. The irony here is that as I have grown up and matured (what does THAT word mean?) I have become exceedingly discriminating about what I put into my body. It amazes me that I can look back into my past and actually perceive growth…

Hey — hope to see you one and all at the White Horse on Tuesday…



Well, even I remember the food boxes from home. At the tender age of 7 (?) I decided who my ‘boyfriend’ would be – can’t remember his name…but he got care packages from home with candy and other goodies which he would share. The food in the dining room – I have had an aversion for ‘apple butter’, that brown goop we had at every meal. About 10 years ago it started showing up as a gourmet, natural product. I tasted it and it was the same. Now I just think it is a somewhat better version of apple sauce. The food in India is fabulous!!!

Maggy Fincke


John and all others,

so glad to hear that so many sent their laundry home in the expandable, brown, rectangular box with the strap on it. i thought i was the only one in my dorm room who had to send my clothes home for care and that made me feel that my brother and i were somehow “deprived.” sue (simmons) was i the only less affluent one in our room? most of my brother’s clothes disappeared, so either he lost them or the maytag monster ate them; i think it is the former. sorry i can’t join y’all on the 5th. have a delightful mini-reunion.

liefs van,








HI ALL….. Well for the past few days i have read all the stories about LAUNDRY! so here is my tale!! A plastic type of box that was Apox 30to35in Long X16 to 18in Wide X 10 to 15in High with Breaded strap, lock buckle, and two metal inserts to put in mailing Adds and return Adds. Sent home once a week, pick up Main house,I THINK?? Any way, method of shipping was, RAILWAY EXPRESS.! (Remember) When my return laundry came back, It was packed with canned food candy smokes and some cash, FOR I WAS A GROWING TEEN!! The drop off I Think Was The Main House? The turn around time for me was about 7 to 10 days, My family was quick!! Well this fun,but how about talking something that has some meat to it! A few of you know that i have a son Ssgt David Hoffman, Who is now serving his 2nd tour off duty in IRAQ. So to Marsha and I, were thank full that the Election turned out the we hoped. For if the change in the conges will get David home 1 day 1 week 1 month earlier then this country will start to get back on track, with all the problems we have here at home.So all you MANUMITERS, Get started on one of the following IRAQ,BORDER, 2008 Election,F—ing George w Bush,or Anything thats good. Well, I got that off my chest! So With All my LOVE to all. STEVE H. P.S. Hi Hildie, Sorry cant be in NY on the 5th.Have fun wonder what John Weinstock wanted to say about laundry in his testing, testing messages?

Hey, John!

In Pawling, we sent our laundry off to be washed by Erica Klein in a gigantic rotating wash tub. Once clean she sorted them into little cubbies with our names on them. Our things had name tags on them but frequently came back unrecognisable – shrunk – or the color had run – or the dye from something else had changed our white things pink or blue etc. There was a large lost & found for things that had lost their name tags. Many orphaned articles were so changed they were never claimed and may still be in the great laundry room in the sky.

Barbara D

Indeed, sew-on name labels were a feature of my life until I was about 100 years old. But when my laundry wasn’t being sent home in the same kind of brown box Ferdie recalls (and it also came back with food, sometimes disastrously like when the grape jam broke), I remember stuffing it weekly (Mondays?) in laundry bags to send. But I can’t remember how it got returned, but it always did. For awhile I think they tried a linen service but not for long, as you might imagine.



MANUMIT PAWLING –1928 –we just beat our dirty stuff on the rocks alongside the stream. In the warmer months we sometimes varied this by jumping in the pool –clothes on – soaping them- diving under to rinse off – drying off walking back to the farm to plow and dig – get dirty all over again. Ruth Rosner


Laundry at Manumit. Yes it involved boxes with reversible labels. At least for me and many others when I attended Manumit. Shirts, sheets, underclothes, etc when in to the boxes. Today these would be declared hazardous material and travel in sealed trucks. But in that happier day they were handled by unsuspecting mail men. I do recall hoping that goodies would be in the box when it returned. Sometimes these were hidden and not shared. I don’t recall any other way of getting clothes cleaned, but there must have been.

OK… I did write an email.. what happened to it, I don’t know. I lose things on my computer every now and then as the front door bell rings or cell phone (which I can’t use in the office because it only works in the dining room) plays it’s ‘happy frog’ noise. It was quick and off the top of my memory as I read the first Laundry epistle.


wrote, I believe… That my parents were too busy saving the world to worry about mylaundry and there were no funds. I was told to do my own.. which i did in the bathtub.. including sheets. I said that washing jeans in Manumit’s hard water made the jeans so stiff when dry that you could stand them up. I almost never wore anything but tops, mens shirts, and jeans. Pretty much a Manumit uniform. I was not the only one washing clothes in the bathtub and everyone I know washed all their undies and socks. Where are the other self washers. Let’s would love to pine over ironed clothes that were too starched. My family at that time was voting Socialist or Communtist… (remember, Bill went to see my Dad in the Associated Press Building where he worked for 40 years in the ‘economic dept. of Tass……. to bully him into paying for Manumit) He and Mom (divorced of course) never thought to supply me with such luxuries…… nor food goodies. I drooled over the boxes Binky, and I believe Thelma… and many others…. received from home, including, sometimes, cigarettes! Once in a while I would get a share. Cheese was highly regarded and passed around, like joints, with groaning sounds. I remember small cans of vienna sausages, even sardines and of course, cookies and candies. It was all another reason for me to feel like a forgotten child.. which I was. But Manumit saved me from lonersville and life started looking up from there on. It’s fascinating to read the laundry ‘list’. I do remember plastic boxes with sort of canvas belts around them in pale green. Why didn’t Manumit have a washing machine? We could have had a schedule so every one got to use it once a month or so. Thanks for answering Ferdie. See you all in a day or two. Judy Vanhear from them!


Hi, All: These periodic spurts of memory we seem to get into are great. The metal or cardboard laundry boxes should be in a Manumit museum. I remember sending my dirty stuff home to my father, and the woman who later became my stepmother (who I wasn’t supposed to know about at the time) would later tell me what a martyr she had been for slaving over my underwear.

The food – most of it was stuff I wolfed down quickly, usually aware that there would be kitchen duty with Aunt Lilly’s hot and steamy dishwasher to get through later. I seem to remember lots of meatloafy type things, and of course Shit on a Shingle, which Grethe tells me they still served years later at the private school where she taught in the 90’s. It may have been the same stuff for all I know!



On a lighter note -My folks always sent food responding to my descriptions of Manumit meals. (I think that Wally is right that he was the one of the few who liked the food. Anyway, I was not a member of that tiny minority!) The downside was that everyone knew that there was food in my box so they all came running when it arrived. For some inexplicable reason they felt that they were entitled to a share – even I got a share! See you all Tue.


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