Can you imagine your life without a washing machine? I can't! I would have to walk down the river and wash my clothes in the Piscataqua! I am not built for such things.

Nathaniel Briggs from New Hampshire really got it done for us in the year 1797.

According to the site, Onthisdayinhistory.com, Nate (yeah, I call him by his nickname) was granted the first patent in the U.S for "clothes washing" for a contraption they called a "Box Mangler".

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto
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It consisted of a heavy frame resting on a series of long wooden rollers, and containing a large box filled with rocks. Dirty clothes were laid flat on a sheet and wound around one of the rollers. It required TWO PEOPLE to pull on the levers and move the heavy box back and forth over the rollers. It was large and expensive and quite literally a pain in the neck, but it got your clothes clean and was better than schlepping them down to the creek.

Sadly, not much information about Nathaniel Briggs is available on Al Gore's internet. I like to think he was a fun-loving family man who hailed from Southern New Hampshire, rocked a killer mustache, and told excellent dad jokes. Speaking of dad jokes, here are some lukewarm washing machine jokes fresh out of the dryer:

  • Nathaniel had  a whirlpool of ideas while eating a Maytag salad.
  • Washing machines: attracting college kids home for the weekend since 1797
  • Before washing machines, most women washed their men's shirts by pounding them with rocks... usually, while they were wearing them.

Thank you, thank you! I'll be here all week. Tip your waitresses!

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