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Inside the 1947 Florida State Fair — new kitchen appliances for everyone!

kelvinator vintage stoveIt’s 1947 and time to redeem the war bonds for — kitchen appliances of course! Lots of big makers — Kelvinator, Westinghouse, Philco, Roper, Magic Chef — were on hand to show their products and compete for families’ stockpiled savings. Above: Will it be a new Kelvinator range? Photo: (State Archives of Florida)

philco kitchen appliances 1947Manufacturers whose products used natural gas industry were pitted against those who used electric. Philco was pushing electric (State Archives of Florida) This photo and the next look like the manufacturers were part of one long booth sponsored and managed by the electric home appliance industry — see the “Live Electrically” along the top?

Westinghouse was electric, too. (State Archives of Florida)

gas stoves 1947The gas appliance industry also had a booth for all their member companies. (State Archives of Florida)

vintage speed queen washers and manglesThere were Speed Queen washers and mangles (ironers) too. Still quite old-fashioned looking… When did the more modern, automatic clothes washer come into being? (State Archives of Florida)

There were phonographs too. I see these at almost all the estate sales I go to. No one buys them. (State Archives of Florida)

Fitted kitchens for the masses: Launched for real right about this time. 1947. The war was over. Housing production was beginning to ramp up in earnest. Folks were finally getting “modern” homes (I just read again the other day that in 1940, only half of American homes had complete indoor bathrooms.) That’s only… 7o years… of modern kitchens, modern homes in the U.S.

Categoriespostwar culture
  1. Neil says:

    And then there were the trouser frames: Spring-adjusting, stiff wire, rectangular frames that you inserted into the wet (but mangled free of excess water) trousers, with the wires following the lines of the desired creases, and then hung up in the basement to drip and dry.
    They were meant to cut down on the ironing….

  2. Neil says:

    Not to mention (and I won’t) the many off-color jokes about grabby wringers causing otherwise decorous housewives to cuss a blue streak. But blue was already in the air, since there was the “bluing” added to your whites that had begun to yellow, and stained your hands on a Blue Monday…..
    Apparently the use of wringers on laundry day, in millions of kitchens and basements and porches, compelled all manner of responses in popular culture, from grim to giddy.
    My grandmother in the hills of Kentucky had a hand-cranked wringer on her leggy washer, and I LOVED feeding the clothes through it. For a boy like me, there was pleasure in the mechanical crank, the squoosh of the water being squeezed out to dribble back into the washer’s tub, the flat-as-a-pancake clothes spooling out the back and landing in the basket with a dull thwack, and my grandmother admonishing me to pick up the smooshed items and shake out the wrinkles immediately, before then taking them out to hang on the clothesline in the sunny back yard.
    And through all those hours at the wringer…nary a body appendage assaulted.

  3. Diane in CO says:

    I agree. My mom had a Mangle ironer way into the 1960’s, a big one, in our basement and she always called it “The Mangle.” However, the wringer washing machine (and I remember one of those when I was little) was just called a wringer washing machine and I don’t think it was commonly called a mangle.
    A classmate of mine had her arm crushed in one of those washers and had to learn how to manage with one arm, which she did, amazingly. those machines were dangerous!

  4. CarolK says:

    Nell, I can’t find your post to reply, but my mom had those pants stretchers, too. I think my sister has them now and I believe that Vermont Country Store has new ones. They did anyway the last time I checked.

  5. Sandra says:

    English is a very flexible language, so if you mingle “mangle” and “wringer,” and then wash, rinse, repeat, it can take a while to iron out and wrangle the meaning. At least, so it appears to me. At least I’m not agitated.

  6. Carol says:

    I remember:
    Sprinking clothes and putting them in the freezer for a while before ironing so everything became damp…
    Ironing handkerchiefs and boxer shorts
    The wringer at the Banff Hot Springs pools – we put our bathing suits through it before leaving
    Aaahhh, the good old days!

  7. JJR says:

    “Wringers” were on top of washers. “Mangles” were rotary “irons” … great for sheets (before fitted), pillowcases, napkins, handkerchiefs — all kinds of “flat linens.” However, my mother was so adept with her mangle, she would do shirts, pants, skirts, blouses with it. Zip, zip, zip … and it was done.

  8. Kim says:

    I have a photo of my grandmother standing in her kitchen in Michigan that is so similar to the 1947 Florida State Fair kitchen I had to look twice to make sure she was not standing in that kitchen!! Same layout, almost the same white cabinets. I treasure that photo!!

  9. Tara Wallace says:

    I just learned so much thanks to all these great stories. I bet the different names for all the washing machine extras depends on where you grew up. Southern states will called it one name while west coasters use another name.

  10. patrick coffey says:

    Actually the first device invented to replace the wringer on a washing machine was the spin dryer and it was introduced because wringing the water out of clothes using centrifugal force is gentler on clothes then mashing them between to hard rubber rollers. Spinning clothes also gets more water out of them without ripping off buttons or tearing zippers too. The washer/spin dryer was introduced by Easy in 1922 and like a wringer, the spin dryer was part of the washing machine itself. Other manufactures like GE and Westinghouse followed suite offering washer/spin dryers and you could by an updated version from Easy into the mid 1960’s and Hoover offered their version well into the 1970’s. Automatics gained favor because the housewife did not have to spend a whole day tending to the laundry as she did with a wringer washer. Even so automatics did not outsell wringer washers for the first time until 1953.

  11. patrick coffey says:

    Actually CarolK you have left a big gap in the early history of automatic washers. Westinghouse introduced the Laundromat in 1940 and Blackstone offered their first automatic top loader then as well. GE and Frigidaire both offered their first automatics in 1947 as did 1900 Corp. AKA Whirlpool (it was branded only as a Sears Kenmore for 1947, and additionally under the Whirlpool name in 1948). Maytag, Hotpoint, and Norge were next in 1949, the Norge being a front loader while the Hotpoint and Maytag’s were top loaders. Kelvinator got into the laundry business by buying Altrofer Bros (maker of ABC washers) in 1953 and slapping the Kelvinator name on the ABC-O-Matic washer. Last but not least Philco started producing automatic washers under the Philco/Bendix name after Philco bought the appliance division of Bendix from Avco in 1956.

  12. patrick coffey says:

    The first washer that had the safety lid switch that stopped all action when the lid was raised was, I believe, the 1949 Maytag, which used a mercury switch inside the lid, and when the lid was raised it tripped the switch and shutoff the motor even if the machine was only agitating. I know that by 1955 you could get Norge washers with or without a switch that kept the machine from spinning with the lid open. By 1960 most all new automatics had them.

  13. CarolK says:

    Patrick, thanks for all the information about the development of automatic washers! I was getting my information pretty much straight from Wikipedia. You should have written the article.

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