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Living Conditions

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Each CO brought his own clothing to the camp and did his own laundry. Most men had separate clothes for work and for the evenings and weekends.  Work clothes got dirty quickly, but men did not wash them as often. In the evening, they changed into their camp clothes. For some of the COs , this was the first time they had had to do their own laundry. Of course, some of those with deep pockets could avoid the chore. John C. Klassen describes laundry day at camp.


“We had our own personal laundry to do, which was not done on a punctual schedule such as mother's, and no Ivory Snow White. It was mostly cold water, lots of soap and elbow grease, a tub and washboard. Mending was not my favourite, but was done out of absolute necessity. One of our men did laundry or mending for a small fee to make extra money, if we felt flush (rich) and were willing to shell out. Another fellow appointed himself a barber and gave you a trim for a dime.” [ASM, 23-29]


The experience of some of the COs was evident by their less than satisfactory laundering technique. Henry Martens tells the story.


“We did our laundry with a scrub board and only when we thought our clothes really needed washing. One of our sophisticated camp members thought he had the problem solved, remembering that his mother had done the white shirts in boiling water to get them extra clean and white. Well, he thought he could do even better by dumping all his clothes: jeans, blue and red socks, white shirts and whatever, into a big copper boiler, bringing it to a boil and stirring it to get it crispy clean. It was clean alright, but turned out to be “designer” clothing, The [formerly] white shirts reminded us that we had a Joseph, with clothes of many colours, in our midst.” [ASP, 127]


Two young men doing laundry at Clear Lake. COs washing clothes.


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