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My Laundry

Story ID:5927
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:retired
Story type:Poem
Location:Hemet CA USA
Year:1945
Person:laundry Chelsea Kansas Kid
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My Laundry

The Korean Laundry

We never washed our clothes
We always sent them out
For someone else to do
Then we could run about.

Hu Sung Yong
Was a Korean man
Who’d do our clothes
For two ten yen

Two ten Yen
Wasn’t any bother
For at the 1946 rate
Equaled little more than a dollar.

In our shirts and pants
Hu Sung Yong’s wife
Would put a crease in
As sharp as a knife.

His wife would take
Our uniforms to a little stream
Beat them with a rock
Until squeaky clean.

Your uniforms would last three washings
Fair Wear and Tear we turned them in
They had to replaced
Because they were so thin.

The Army had some GI soap
That was pure lye
Gave a bar to his wife
Thot she would cry.

This soap could be used
To remove rust and corrosion
Even remove shrapnel
From a land mine explosion.

The Korean women
Had never used soap for clothes
They really liked it
So the story goes.

Received my laundry
On one sunny day
Laid it to one side
And gave Hu Sung his pay.

I picked up my laundry
Into the Quonset I went
But before I laid it down
I could detect a funny scent.

I sniffed my shirt, then sniffed my pants
Of urine they did smell.
That night I went Hu Sung’s house
To raise a little hell.

It was very cold that night
Upon arrival at Hu Sungs Humble shack
I knocked at the paper window
Hu Sung was taken aback.

He smiled from ear to ear
He acted with much delight
Because we had come to visit him
On this cold winter night

We removed our shoes
Walked into a candle lit room,
We did squat on the warm floor
I could see real poverty, in the gloom.

This hut with walls of mud and rock,
Paper windows clay floor
And a grass roof
With a thin balsa door

Was the home of Hu Sung’s family
His wife and kids of three
Why I went there
I forgot immediately

Our clothes were dried upon the floor
Two of his kids, walked diaperless
Over our clothes drying there
This is what caused the mess

There was a pan against the wall
With a handle three feet or more
She filled it with hot wood coals
To press our uniform while drying on the floor.

I felt like a fool
For complaining, About a urine smell
For going to Hu Sungs humble home
To raise a little hell

We left and I felt bad
On a cold winter’s day
Hu Sung’s wife washing our clothes
In so primitive a way

Kinda reminded me of home
Except we had a washing machine,
With a Briggs and Straten engine
To help Mom get our overalls clean.

I pumped water to fill an iron pot
Out back that was set on bricks
I’d fill the pot with water to the top
And build a fire with kindlin sticks.

When the water boiled
I carried it to the machine
Filled the bowl to the top
And never once complained. (would have fell on deaf ears)

I drained the washer
Into a five gallon can
Carried it out to the back
And on the ground it ran

I pumped more water for the rinse
Same thing again
Dumped the water
On the ground it did drain.

Mom would heat the Irons
On the top of our wood stove
To press our bib overalls
And my dad’s work clothes.

I marveled at my mother
How she did learn
When the irons were hot enough
So they wouldn’t burn.

Hu Sung and the Manka clan
Were some what alike
So if your clothes have a funny smell
Wear them, wear them out tonight.

Monte—04-28-2006