HANGERS AND LAUNDRY THROUGH THE YEARS
By Janis Reed
The Lane County Museum’s newest exhibit highlights over 150 different hangers collected by Raylene West, a longtime supporter of the museum. Raylene said she began her collection over 50 years ago with 3 hangers from Marie Hyames. Since then, she has explored antique stores wherever she traveled looking for that unique hanger to add to her collection. Many hangers have been the gifts of family and friends, but eBay also became a source to purchase vintage hangers to add to her collection.
In 1903, Albert J. Parkhouse, an employee of Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan, created a makeshift coat hanger in response to co-workers’ complaints of too few coat hooks. He bent a piece of wire into two ovals with the ends twisted together to form a hook. Parkhouse refined his hanger and patented his invention in 1904 and over 189 different patents were granted on different versions of ‘garment-hangers’ worldwide in the next few years. The wooden hanger was created by none other than Thomas Jefferson. His coat hanger was thick and wooden, but it did the trick.
Among the most interesting hangers in the collections are the 1960s face hangers depicting famous people. You will find many different folding hangers that people carried in their suitcase while traveling. Look through the many wooden hangers and you will see Wolf’s Dept. Store in Dighton, Eckel’s Bros. in Dodge City, Van Antwerp’s in Scott City, The Muehlebach in Kansas City, plus many other cities throughout the United States, France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore. Her collection also includes many novelties and children’s hangers. There is also one made of barbed wire.
Before you can hang up your clothes, you must first wash your clothes. So, we are also featuring a display with a lady using a washboard and tub to wash her clothes with lye soap. After the clothes were washed, she would use a “sad iron” which she had heated up on her cast iron stove or in open fires. Most housewives had at least two sad irons so that she could keep ironing after the first one cooled down. As the years went by, she might be able to wash her clothes in a wringer washer and iron her clothes with a gas iron and later an electric iron. If she were lucky, she might have an “Ironrite” to iron with. These items on display have been donated to the museum by our generous supporters through the years.
Come in to view our newest display and be sure to try and guess whose faces are on the 12 face hangers. You might even win a prize if you can guess them correctly.