In the early to mid 1940's, my grandma Ruth Valdes (nee ILG) had taken a job at White Line Laundry. She was currently divorced and living with her parents and first born son, Gerald. Her first husband ran off with a neighbor. During that time, there was man working there working as a delivery person for the Laundry company. His name was Les Wheeler. I wonder how their first meeting happened. I wonder if it was love at first sight. I wonder if they were just friends first. I wonder who flirted with who first. Yeah I wonder a lot of things as this was my grandma and grandpa. The story of how they met and got together interests me I guess because it is similar to how my husband and I met and fell in love. We worked at bookstore together, fell in love and got married.
Left: Les and Ruth Wheeler / Right: Mark and Jen Rickards
I wanted to memorialize my grandparents in some way. My husband and I just recently purchased a house with so much space. Maybe not a lot to you, but coming from a two bedroom apartment with one bathroom, and moving to a three bedroom, two bathroom split level with a garage... yeah to us that's lots of space. Included with all this space was our very own laundry room. An actual room for our washer and dryer! (Can you tell I'm excited??) I've wanted to make this home ours in every way, and that included the laundry room. So, I decided to decorate our laundry room with White Line Laundry mementos and photos to celebrate my grandparents. Yeah, I'm a romantic deep down.
First thing I had to do was research White Line Laundry. Everyone I talked to didn't know anything about the business except they thought it was located off of Chippewa. After doing some searching on the internet and newspapers.com, I finally located some things. The business started in 1928 and was located at 4150 Chippewa Street, St. Louis, Missouri. The image at the top of this entry was an ad or possible business card. Here are a few more images I came across.
These photos were taken in 1930 probably around the time they had just opened.
I saved these from Newspapers.com from the St Louis Post Dispatch.
I found quite a few articles and advertisements for the business.
This one came from a post card that was available for purchase on Ebay-cir 1950s
Now this... this item is my find of the century. My husband suggested searching ebay for old signs/items of the laundry business. Look at what I found! This is a coin from the White Line Laundry Co. I could not believe it! And you know what is even more special about this coin? It is a 1945 coin... the same year my grandma and grandpa got married! Can you say meant to be? Oh I can!
Now with all my newly acquired items and information, I've gone to work on my laundry room. One thing I wanted to do was to make my own sign for the door. Now my creative abilities are limited sometimes, but I gave it my best effort.
I found an old wooden sign at goodwill for $1.00, then painted over it with white chalk paint and distressed it myself. Now the lettering would be the hard part. I typed up what I wanted the sign to say first. I included the year it was established, their price, phone number and address. Then I traced it on the sign and painted it. So now this sign hangs on my laundry room door.
Our laundry room shares space with our HVAC unit and hot water heater, but still is pretty spacious. The first picture is from before purchased the house. The brown cabinet went with the seller, which didn't bother me at all. I wanted to have that space. The picture on the right is my work in progress. still need to add some shelves above the washer and dryer, but I've enjoyed decorating with what I do have already.
Here is a close up of some of the walls. You can see the articles, photos and even my coin. I also printed out some vintage advertisements for Kenmore, Sears and Tide. Plus I purchased some items from a local antique store to give it some more character.
Now my final piece. The picture of my grandma and grandpa shared above. I placed it on the corner shelf behind the dryer. So every time I go to do laundry, I can look at my grandma and grandpa and remember them and their story. I still have some other details to work on, but the main theme of the room is complete. And so far, it's my favorite room in my new home.
Grandpa and Grandma Les Wheeler
married Jan 13, 1945