My grandparents owned and operated the local dry cleaning establishment in my Little Bitty Home Town (see previous post).
For some reason, my grandfather referred to the place as "The Cleaning Plant" or simply, "The Plant."
He was a very precise individual and operated by a strict schedule. Every day, he and his staff would steam press the clothing in the mornings during the coolest part of the day (there was no air conditioning).
Then, at 1:00 pm, he would release the steam from the big boiler in the back. When he did that, a loud whoooosh! could be heard all across the town square. A few of the local business owners began to joke that they could set their watches by my grandfather's releasing of the steam in the boilers.
So, he attached a train whistle to the end of the pipe where the steam would come out and this could be heard all across town. His whistle became the official One O'Clock Whistle for the entire town.
When I was a little kid, he'd let me release the steam on Saturdays and officiate One O'Clock for the town. I remember watching the second-hand on the clock and then cranking the release valve, thus heralding 1:00 pm. So exciting!
Today, my aunt and I drove over to my Little Bitty Home Town and we stopped by The Cleaning Plant. My grandmother had sold the place back in 1973 and I hadn't been there for about 30 years.
The same family she sold it to were still the owners. As a matter of fact, a fellow I graduated with was working there today and he let me take some really cool snaps.
Here's the back of The Plant. (The boiler is in the very back). It looks pretty shabby, but keep in mind that the place has been there since 1906.
And here is one of the steam presses. I began working here after school when I was eleven years old and spent many a sweaty hour at this old steam press. (My grandmother wouldn't let me do the pleated skirts, though. They took a lot of care and attention)
And here is the old cash register on which my grandmother taught me to make change and wait on customers. The present owners have replaced it with a modern cash register, but the old original one was still there.
By the way, the Cleaning Plant is STILL un-airconditioned.