BAINBRIDGE, Pa. — Lest you think that vanity and being first in the neighborhood to have the newest whatsit is a recent artifact of life in the U.S., you may want to have a conversation with Bob Green of Blandon, Pa., about Maytag’s early dishwashers. Green was at the Susquehanna Old-Fashioned Days in Conoy Park in Bainbridge, Pa., on Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16, with a tiny fraction of his collection of early 20th-century household appliances.
The dishwashers were interesting. Back then you loaded a rack big enough to hold enough dishes for a family of three or four. Then you put in detergent and hot water. After you spun the rack with a hand crank, you drained the wash water. Then you heated the rinse water and poured that into the machine, which you again cranked by hand. And then, you drained the rinse water, dried the dishes and put them away.
Who could be bothered with all that, is the question you might ask.
“Rich people,” said Green in response. “Rich people with household help who wanted to be the first in town with a dishwasher. People who didn’t actually have to deal with the machine themselves.”
Green also brought a few examples of washing machines built for the rest of us — if we had been keeping house in the 1920s and 1930s. He was just one of dozens of exhibitors who displayed their passions for old-timey things for a few thousand visitors to the 15th annual Old-Fashioned Field Days.
Ron Bernard is one of the founders and key players in the annual event, and he remembered Green from previous years. The festival, supported by donations, auction proceeds and modest stand rentals, outgrew its original venue, the park’s baseball field, some years ago. The 2012 edition went smoothly, with perfect late summer weather and plenty to see and do for every family member.
“We’re focused on the family,” Bernhard said. “We want to keep the kids involved and having fun, so it’s a low-cost day out for families.”
It’s definitely a community event, according to Bernhard. Local Boy Scouts help with parking, trash and crowd management. Other key players include Darl and Mike Williams, Kevin and Sandy Baker, Cameron and Billy Riegle, Dave Stapler and Bernhard’s wife, Tonya.
The tents came down Sunday night, the grounds were put back in order and plans were already being laid for the 2013 Susquehanna Old-Fashioned Field Days, Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21.