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Presque Isle: The Star City

The History of Laundry, Aroostook County Style

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Text by Ben, a Presque Isle Middle School student
Images from the Presque Isle Historical Society

Presque Isle Historical Society

Rena, 74-year-old lady, provided me with information about the history of laundry. She has lived in The County all her life, so giving me the information was easy.

Rena’s mother, Sadie, usually had a tub, which she filled with water from a lake, stream, well, or river. She would bring the tub down to these sources of water and clean the laundry there. Some preferred to use buckets to bring the water to the tub. The water was cold. She usually started this in the morning because the clothes took all day to dry.
Sadie bought big blocks of soap and sliced them with a knife. She then took the soap and dropped it in the tub to let it dissolve and make suds. Then the real work began. She took the scrub board and placed it in the tub, then took the clothes and ground them against the board to make sure they got clean. Each piece of clothing had to be done individually. Once a piece of clothing was washed, she wrung it to get out all the excessive water.