Wash Room

My paternal grandfather’s house was always a fascinating place for me to visit as a child. In Charlottesville, Virginia, it was at the top of a hill in the center of the “T” in a T-shaped intersection, so that when you approached on the street toward it, it loomed ahead as if you were driving down a long driveway.

Visitors entered the house on a small split-level landing, barely enough room to take off your shoes (never enough when there were many guests, as there often were when we went for family gatherings). From the landing you could go up to the main living area, or down to the lower level which was half-submerged in the red clay earth. You knew it was red clay because the white sides of the house would start to show it over time after being splashed up from rain storms.

The lower level was finished off with a den, a bedroom, bathroom, and a bar / office. There was also a utility room that felt more like a basement, even though it was on that same level. It was dark and cool, the ceiling beams exposed. The room had many uses - there was a refrigerator for drinks, a deep freeze for meats, a treasure trove of stuff being stored. There was also a door the lead outside to the top of the driveway that was the daily entrance for the people who lived in the house, and doubled as a secret passage for cousins playing hide and seek.

Entering the room from the inside of the house and turning around, one found a laundry area that was the only actively used part of the room. The room was usually dark, but a light over the sink and machines area gave it an almost altar-like feel. On shelves around it there were many containers of chemicals. More than two – and when this picture was taken, one – person would seemingly need to keep up with the washing.

This imaged was taken with a Leica M3 & Summicron 50mm f/2. Exposure, speed, and film unrecorded.