I watched in awe as my grandmother scrubbed my t-shirt in a five gallon bucket with a small washboard on the back porch using rain water we had collected. I had never seen clothes washed by hand, but in rural Alaska, that's what you do when there is no other option.
Fast forward a few summers and the Alaskan Queen, a fish buyer and scow, began anchoring in the bay during the fishing season. This was HUGE when it came to washing clothes. My cousins and I would load up the skiff with our laundry, make the four minute ride, tie up, and help each other onto the scow with our sacks of clothes, shower bags, and often rain gear. On board were three washers and dryers, two showers, and a phone. Talk about services. I remember killing time by showering (we just had a sun shower at the cabin), and digging out a damp calling card so I could call my best friend, and neighbor, back in Juneau. Does anyone remember 1-800-COLLECT? *69, *67? Those were the days, eh?
Leaving the laundry/shower room, you could cross to the other side to the small grocery store. Passing an open section where fishing boats would tie up and sell their fish. A worker or two would be there gutting and stuffing fish with ice. That was another thing, you could buy ice! When you don't have a refrigerator, ice is life. Aside from that, fish processors were always in need. My cousin lasted one day on that job, the smell lingers and makes it even harder to meet boys.
A little oasis of city life aboard one boat. Probably one of the few times I have fond memories of doing my laundry haha. The Scow no longer comes to Port Alexander and I miss the days when the entire town was anticipation of its arrival.
When I met up with Sydney for an afterwork photoshoot it brought all those memories back. Straight up chillin' on top of the dryer with wet hair, ice cream, and waiting for my turn for the phone.
Alaskans, what are your laundry mat memories?!
Thank you, Alaska Laundry for still making my laundry mat dreams!
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