Lever Brothers
 Rinso Soap and so much more...



Growing up in Hammond, Indiana, our mothers loved dirt! They talked about it, they looked for it, they cleaned and washed, dusted table tops and washed some more.  For the most part, washing clothes in the 1940's and 50's was a laborious task. Electricity made the chore a little more enjoyable but you needed one of the new wringer washer for the job.

Every once in the while you would see a woman at the grocery store with bruises on her hands and forearm. Everyone knew what had happened: another housewife doing laundry got her hand caught in the wringer washer! I remember one day hearing the screams coming from my basement the day my mother got her arm caught in the new Maytag 500 Easy Wash Wringer.  They had put emergency releases on the unit but the emergency release was often out of reach on the wrong side of the tough rubber rollers. I ran down the basement stairs and there she was, screaming in agony. I ran around to the opposite side of the machine and hit the emergency release.  Every child was taught what to do in a situation like this.  One of the survival skills no longer needed today. It was in our own best interests to save our mother's arm. 

Machine to the left shows the emergency release on the right side of the wringer.


This is a 36 inch wooden tool used with a wringer washer to fish out clothing from the wringer washer. Remember the agitator could catch your hand (another danger of washday!) so the wooden stick would be used by the operator. This wooden tool was made in 8th grade Edison shop class. My mother kept it for more than 60 years. I found it in her basement next to her laundry tub after she passed away.


So our Moms all needed soap! Laundry soap, to be sure. It came from Lever Brothers!


Lever Brothers

What kid from Hammond wasn't proud of Rinso Soap? After all, we had a building with a box of Rinso Soap placed as a 40 foot tower, the crown jewel of Lever Brothers in north Hammond.

Whenever our parents would drive north on Calumet Avenue toward Lake Michigan, kids would start searching the Hammond skyline for the box of Rinso Soap! It was a cherished landmark to every civic minded kid from Hammond. It was right up there with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Empire State Building, and the pyramids of Egypt! And it was ours!

Hammond kids going to Boy Scout Camp or visiting with other kids in Chicago would always brag about our box of Rinso soap "ten stories tall." The height and size of the Rinso Soap box could be embellished depending on how much was necessary to impress the listener.


Saves Coal Every Wash

Yet another reason to
soak your clothes overnight
in Rinso before you wash them.






Not having clothes dryers, everyone had to hang their laundry outside to dry.
there were "rules" for hanging up your laundry  and most mothers knew the rules well. Daughters were taught by their mothers and these skills were passed to a new generation. There was an assignment of neighborhood status given to the housewife who did it right!


(If you don't know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes--walk the entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday! . .. . Never hang clothes on the Weekend, or Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y'know!).

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather....clothes would "freeze-dry."

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky!"

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED? Well, that's a whole other subject!



Stamping bars of soap at the Hammond plant.
Read about the new technologies that made soap making easier and
more cost effective! Check here!


Aerial view of Lever Brothers: Expanded and Remodeled 1954 



Delivering Rinso Soap in Europe.