The Family Wash: Winter Freeze

Figure 1.--.

We had cord shorts for play - but they weren't allowed for school or mum wouldn't see them as "best". I rather liked the cord shorts, but my older broyher did't like them. I recall one day when our laundry got frozen solid one day when the weather got cold. For some reason it was our cord shorts that were really frozen. We had quite a time with them when we brought them in. We even held our little brother up so that he could had a go at the frozen cords.

Corduroy Garments

Corduroy was used for uniforms at some schools. Our mum, however, didn't think that corduroy was suitavle for school wear. I was reminded of this when I read the HBC page on corduroy school garments. This has reminded me of something that I meant to mention when I was telling you about doing the family washing and has always puzzled me.

Putting Out the Wash

I told you how we used to have a flat roof outside of our bathroom where we could hang out clothes to dry. Because she was working a lot of the jobs that needed doing around the house were done at weekends and we were expected to help out in various ways.We didn't really mind although we used to argue with each other sometimes ! - but my mum always got us organised and pointed out that once everything was done we could get out and play so it was best just to get on with it which was true!.

Our Cord Shorts

I also told you how we had cord shorts for play - but they weren't allowed for school or mum wouldn't see them as "best". I really liked them - my older brother didn't so I got to wear them most of the time - although mum would make my older brother wear them in the Winter too rather than the cotton ones he preferred as she said they were warmer but he got his way in the Summer when I had to wear the cotton ones like him - unless I could get round her. My favourite ones were green - they came from the old woman's shop I told you about - but we had grey too. I do remember the green ones were faded - but that is because they had been hanging in the shop for ages I think. I don't recall any particular smell - except for "stergene" which was a fabric conditioner - meant for woollens but my mum used it for all clothes. Nor do I remember the colours ever running - might be due to the quality of the clothes - the ones the old ladies sold were the best - but still cheap.

Winter Freeze

Anyway my point was that I recall one Winter when I'd helped my mum to peg out the clothes on the Saturday as usual and then went off to play. We normally got the clothes back in on the Sunday - unless it rained and then it was all hands to the pump! When we got up on Sunday morning there had been a severe frost and I distinctly recall that the cord shorts were frozen solid - yet the other clothes - like our school shorts(which were terylene) and shirts etc., while a bit stiff, were not like that. I remember because all of us three boys found it funny and we were knocking on the shorts with our fists and it was like knocking on wood. We had to lift my little brother up so he could reach the line and have a go!

Corduroy Fabric

It still puzzles me - whether cords took up more water as they were thicker than school shorts or whether it was the material - I'm sure they're just cotton aren't they? - or whether it is something to do with the fact that they have the "ridges" ? - I don't know something scientific perhaps. Maybe those ridges were what made them warm to wear as well.I don't know - maybe someone can come up with an answer - I'd be interested. One reader replies, "In answer to Bill's question as to why cord shorts felt warmer, I think it may have something to do with corduroy being a heavier material than the likes of Terelyne or wrorsted. Although the same can be said for flannel, which is marginally heavier. I don't think it has anything to do with the wales. Another reason could be that cords were lined with a thicker cotton?"

Further Thoughts

Yes - that's probably it about the warmth - that they were thicker. I was thinking more of the fact that our cords froze solid whereas the other clothes (including my grey school shirts which were of a pretty thick flannel material) didn't. Although they were pretty stiff but you could still just about fold them if need be. I rememeber that we left all of the other clothes on the line to thaw out but my mum brought the cords in and put them in the bath to dry out - where they stood up on their own! I remember thinking about them while I was at Sunday school - and when I got back home I went to check them and they were still frozen - that's about two hours later. Mind you our bathroom wasn't heated or anything. When we had a bath in the Winter we'd be in and out as quick as mum would let us and then head down to the front room where the fire was to get dry. That's why we all went in together when we were little - that and the fact that you could only heat up a certain amount of water at one time as then the heater would pack in. We did have a portable paraffin heater but my brother burnt his hand on it once so mum stopped using it. If she washed our hair in the Winter she did it seperately at the kitchen sink - and she sometimes washed us standing up in a bowl in the kitchen if the gas boiler packed in completely which it sometimes did (that was another job for the man who used to repair the washing machine too!). That was good because the kitchen was always warm as mum would leave the oven on with the door open even if she wasn't cooking. So I was just wondering whether it was to do with the ridges in the cords (I didn't realise that they were called wales) rather than the fabric. [HBC note: HBC does have a page on cord wales.] I was thinking along the lines that some radiators have ridges on them to disperese the heat but I'm probably getting too technical. I'm now wondering why cords had ridges/wales at all - was it for strength? - I know sheets of corrugated iron are supposed to be stronger than flat sheets and corrugated cardboard the same. Anyway - that's getting a long way away from my frozen cords! - but I am still fascinated.I'm glad someone had a thought on it.



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Created: 3:16 AM 7/16/2004
Last updated: 7:42 PM 7/16/2004