DARKE COUNTY — A washing machine that once belonged to Flo Dietrich is now at corporate headers of Proctor and Gambol (P&G) in Cincinnati to be included in the company’s Heritage Center.
Company officials think Dietrich would have been surprised, but pleased, to know that her 1950’s model Speed Queen washing machine recently found its way to P&G corporate headquarters.
Dietrich died May 7, 2015, and, during the disposition of the Dietrich estate, Tom Wetzel of The Olde Nostalgia Shoppe, 104 W. George St. in downtown Arcanum, acquired the washing machine.
“It is a beautifully maintained white automatic wringer washing machine with red accents,,” said Wetzel, who was approached by Greg McCoy, senior archivist at P&G, who purchased the washing machine for a Tide display.
Tide, it was noted, is a P&G-brand washing detergent that was first introduced in 1946.
“P&G is one of about 400 companies in the US that has a corporate archives program,” said McCoy. “We’re tasked with collecting the heritage of the company and sharing that with employees, their guests, and business partners in our Heritage Center, our small corporate museum that is only open to employees. Our purpose is to inspire our employees with the stories of our past. The Tide story is especially powerful and a critical part of it was the fact that consumers could afford to buy automatic washing machines after World War II.”
McCoy added, “The Speed Queen is a great piece and is reminiscent of those post-war 1950’s models. Thank you again Tom for doing business with the P&G Archives and helping us find a period washing machine for our Tide display.”
Wetzel said that members of the Dietrich family have told him they are happy that a bit of their past has been shared with others in this way.
Dietrich’s twin sons, Don and Ron, remember their mother’s Speed Queen.
“I don’t know when she bought it, but she used the wringer to squeeze the clothes out,” said Don “She used it quite a bit but had two of them. The other one she used for the dirty clothes.”
“We always raised hogs and she would wash our clothes from there in another washer (not the Speed Queen),” added Ron.
Both of them think their mother would be proud of where her washing machine ended up.
“Yes, it found a good place to go and didn’t end up in the junk,” Don said.
Ron added, “I think she’d be proud, but it was surprising to me. I didn’t know it would end up down there but it was in good shape. She used that washer a long time until she decided to get an automatic washer, which I think was in 1960. I think it was a Westinghouse.”
Don thought the washing machine that ended up in the museum was purchased at Schreel’s in Brookville, but Ron was thinking she bought it at Hansbarger’s.
“To find a treasure for yourself or as a gift, or share items from your family’s past through donation or selling, come see me – open Saturdays only, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or call 692-5055,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel also revealed that the Dietrich washing machine was not the first time in 2015 that items he acquired locally have become “famous.” Two other items, he said, have been added to museums, including a bicycle museum in California. Three items have become movie props, including a late 1800’s wheelchair for an independent film and another item for an HBO documentary about rock-n-roll. An antique fishing reel that was made in Denmark found its way home to a Danish professional caster, and a 1930’s light fixture now resides in an art gallery on the isle of Malta.
“So the next time you are tempted to throw away something old, consider that one person’s trash just might be a treasure to another person (or a company, museum, or art gallery, or even a movie producer),” he said.
For further information, explore P&G heritage online at www.pg.com/heritage.