Part 5: The Founding of a Home Laundry
Home washing machines as we know them today were not in very many homes during those years. Home dryers had not even been invented. Everyone’s home laundry was done by hand and dried on outdoor clothes lines…if the sun was out and it wasn’t winter. The early 1900s were not that convenient.
Just imagine what John was thinking. The future was promising. An opportunity to start and build a business that could service as many customers as he could acquire. It was at this point in time John made a life changing decision. He was able to borrow $15,000.00, equal today to $187,000.00*. For comparison, a loaf of bread cost 10 cents, a quart of milk cost 15 cents, one dozen eggs cost 57 cents, a pound of coffee cost 47 cents. Armed with the loan, John purchased a parcel of land in the North End of the City of New Bedford in 1919.
John proceeded to construct a building for his new laundry. He not only built his plant, he even manufactured (by hand) hundreds of his own 8”x10”x12” cement blocks. This is not too much of a surprise when you find that as a youth in Poland, all young people were trained for a specific trade. Take a guess! John’s training, thankfully, as a concrete mason.
Brooklawn Laundry Comes to Life…
John named his new business “Brooklawn Laundry”, since it was located near the entrance to Brooklawn Park. He installed one coal fired boiler, one steam engine, four wooden four pocket unloading washers with a capacity of 200 pounds each, and two small (about 30 pounds each) extractors.
Opening day for Brooklawn Laundry was January 1, 1919 (New Year’s Day at that time was not a holiday). John’s staff consisted of one steam engineer and one washman. John was also the first driver-salesman, as well as the extractor man.
* Source: 1918-19 Consumer Price Index