More than 60 years have passed since I have even seen a washboard like my mother used to keep our garments clean while scrubbing in the wash kettle.
While I have a complete recollection to what the washboard looked like, I did not have knowledge of how it was made, nor the properties in which it was made until recently when the Golden Seniors group of our church, visited the Columbus washboard factory that was started in Columbus Ohio in 1895.
With the passing of the years, this factory was moved to Logan, Ohio, where it still manufacturers for many hardware chains throughout the country as well as ships all over the world that is not as mechanized as we are in the United States.
I was amazed to learn that one of the places where many of the scrub boards is shipped is to our military boys in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which they are able to use to keep their garments clean.
The Columbus Washboard Company is the only manufacturer of this type still operating in the United States. They still make the boards in the traditional construction methods for the normal washboard uses and even produce for an annual Washboard Music Festival.
While the washboard of my grandmother and mother was galvanized, the company offers washboards with a variety of rubbing surfaces including spiral metal, galvanized, stainless steel, brass, and glass. The company also offers chalk, cork, and mirror surfaces. All of these boards are hand assembled one at a time with equipment dating back to the 1900's and can be assembled in just 45 seconds.
Today’s washboards are still used for hand scrubbing just like our Grandmother did. They are also used as decorative pieces for laundry rooms and kitchens, as furniture accents, and as a musical instrument.
While the building is very old so is the equipment, with some of the original 1800s machines kept around for posterity. Although, the present equipment is not much better than the older ones, they still produce the needed amount of washboards now manufactured for the company’s purchasers.
While you are here you can buy a washboard souvenir, listen to some of the employees do a washboard musical, and then help as washboards are passed out to each of us so we can join in. It was fun but didn’t match my genre of music.
When you are leaving the building, you can check out the world's largest washboard at 24 feet positioned high on the multi-storied building.
While it may have been a necessary item in the days of our parents, this instrument is still used by more than I realize today for their necessity.
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2
Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on http://altonloveless.blogspot.com/