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When I was a little eeper I was sent to visit my Grandma who lived across a big field from our house on the edge of Small Town. After a time I wandered downstairs to watch her work with what was even then an old-fashioned wringer washer. It’s the kind with actual rollers twisting and smashing the clothes out of and back into the wash or rinse water.

I was just over 4 years old, probably old enough to know better than to put my fingers on the clothes near the rollers. But of course I did so and, you guessed it, I didn’t let go in time. In a manner of seconds my arm was drawn into the rollers along with the clothes.

I guess I started yelling or crying or both because Grandma ran (make that flew) down the stairs to the rescue yelling or screaming or both louder than me. By then my arm was into the wringer almost up to my elbow. I remember her flipping a lever on the right side of the washer, which released the rollers and freed my arm.

This is one of my earliest vivid memories. I can see the washer, my bare arm, the wet clothes, and Grandma wearing white. I can see the basement steps, clothes hanging on a nearby line, and the old furnace. I can hear the washer and remember Grandma’s excitement. But I can’t remember being all that shaken myself, or in pain, just something between befuddled, scared, and Oh Yeah Man, That Was Cool.

I don’t remember either, but Mom does, that this happened when she was in the hospital with a newborn sister scheduled to come home the next day. She did and I’m told Grandma was still so worried my arm would be permanently damaged she didn’t have it in her to help care for a newborn. So another relative came to help and gave my sister her first bath. Meanwhile, I returned to boy-land, roaming wild and free and oblivious to the fact that a New Sheriff had arrived in my home.

You’d think this would be the end of the story, but it’s not. Years later in college I met this girl who’d grown up in the next state, West Virginia, two and one-half hours from me. We sort of got along well. Actually, we got along really well and still are after thirty-six plus years of marriage.

The amazing thing: when she was about 7 years old she also got her arm caught in a neighbor’s wringer washer. Unlike me, who bears no physical remembrance, she wears a small scar on her right hand pointer finger. This, we speculate, is because she rescued herself, pulling her arm back out of the rollers. Whoa, I doubt if I would’ve had the smarts or the moxie to do that. Good thing Grandma was upstairs.

So what are the odds that two kids who ran their arms through wringer washers would get together?

But who cares? We got together.

Years hence, like most people, we’ve been “run through the wringer” more than once by the vagaries and vicissitudes of life.

But who cares? We’re still together.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

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