Laundry Day in London

Remembering gentler times when we weren’t so wary of door-to-door salesmen and had more trust in the kindness of strangers, I think about laundry day in London.

In the early 1970s my husband had the chance to work there for a year and we grabbed it!

I took a leave of absence from my teaching job,  we sublet our apartment,  and packed up our raincoats and brollies.   We couldn’t take our cat unless we quarantined him first for six months,  so we boarded him instead with my mother-in-law.

We rented a lovely little flat with a garden off the Kings Road in Chelsea,  and so began our London sojourn!

To keep me busy while Danny was at work,  I decided to take some courses and discovered a wonderful school called City Lit on fabled Drury Lane that offered adult ed,  non-matric classes.    I signed up for Survey of British Lit,  History Tours of London,  and in an attempt to improve my culinary skills,  Intro to Cookery.   My classes meet three mornings a week and I happily found much else to do in Londontown to fill the rest of my time.

Our little flat had no washer & dryer,   so once a week I took our laundry to Sketchley’s Cleaners on the Kings Road.   There was a stop in front of Sketchley’s for the bus that took me to Drury Lane,  so it made good sense to drop my laundry on mornings I had class,  and then hop on the bus.

But the first time I carried my laundry bag to the cleaners I discovered they weren’t open yet.   I didn’t have time to run back home and still get to class on time,  and the other option was taking my dirty laundry with me on the bus to school.

I stood on the sidewalk pondering what to do when another chap approached,  also carrying a bulging laundry bag.

“I’m afraid they’re still closed.”   I told him.

“I know Luv, ”  he said  “just leave it here,  they’ll collect if when they come to open up.”

And so I left my laundry bag on Sketchley’s doorstep next to his.

No one back in New York would believe this,  I thought.

Dana Susan Lehrman



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