How many of you knew that today is International Laundry Day? I certainly didn’t.
In the mid-1800s a man called Emmett Lee Dickinson established April 15th as National Laundry Day. Dickinson had invented the laundry basket on wheels and wherever he went he urged others to join his crusade for national cleanliness.
I remember laundry day when I was a boy. Monday was traditionally washing day but in the days before automatic washing machines this meant hand washing and firing up a gas boiler and two or three loads of washing to manage. No spin drier either so wet clothes had to be put through the mangle to get rid of the excess water and then without tumble driers, hung out on the line to dry. Getting clothes dry was fairly straightforward on fine days but was a real problem if it was raining or in the winter when linen and clothes were hung around the house and in front of the open fire in a race against time to get them aired.
I have been looking for a good story about laundry and I have chosen this one…
During the troubles in Northern Ireland the British Army needed to determine who was making the bombs and where they were being manufactured. One military advisor recommended that they operate a laundry.
The plan was simple. The laundry would send out “colour-coded” special discount tickets: “get two loads for the price of one.” The color-coding was matched to specific streets and when someone brought in their laundry it was easy to determine the general location.
While the laundry was being washed an additional cycle was added. Every item was sent through a process that was disguised as just another piece of laundry equipment that checked for bomb-making residue.
Within a few weeks multiple positives of bomb residue had shown up. To narrow their target list, the laundry simply sent out more specific numbered coupons to all houses in the suspected area and before long they had a list of addresses. The army swooped down on the homes and arrested the suspects and confiscated numerous assembled bombs, weapons and bomb making ingredients