11 November 2007

Historic Laundromat?

One never thinks as laundromats as historic businesses. They come and go, providing their service for a number of years and leaving little trace of their existence when they close up. They're not distinctive operations, one looking much like another, employing the same equipment, the same utter lack of decor, the same elemental services of drop-off, pick-up, detergent dispersal, and making change.

The Launder Center on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, which I believe was begun in 1947, is the only laundromat I've run into that seems to have a sense of its past. In the front window is an old, black and white photograph, badly faded by the sun, of three women and a man dressed very nicely sitting on chairs in the middle of the laundromat. A note next to the photo describes who the people, all members of the store's founding family, are. The note is very sun-bleached, but I believe it identifies the quartet as "Dad, Dorothy, Joan, Dad," and mentions Jean as the current owner of Lauder Center. The note also makes tender mention of the octagonal clock on the back wall of the photo as being the same one that hangs in the center today. Indeed, this is true.

One should mention, also, the place's antiquated name. No one speak of laundering anymore, only laundry. It's sweet.


Erica said...

I'm so glad, just yesterday, I added you to my reader, via the link on Gowanus Lounge, only because I believe I could shed a bit more light on that photograph:

Dorothy, as far as I am aware, was the most recent owner of the Launder Center, and is also the owner [in fact, co-owner, I believe, with her mom] of the Old Carriage Inn, directly across the street on 7th Avenue, off of 8th Street.

If you ever go in there, I'm sure she'd be thrilled to tell you the history of what was originally called the Carriage House, as the property was actually converted from an old "carriage house," and so far as I recall, horses used to munch on straw where the back pool room is.

And if I know Dorothy, she'd probably even go a step further and get her mother on the phone, who'd *also* be thrilled to bits to regale anyone with its fascinating history. They have old news clippings and all.


If you do happen to go in one day, be sure and tell Dorothy that Erica, "Bubba's friend," sent you.

Erica said...

Oh, and an addendum to my previous comment: "Dad" would be Ronny, and "Jean" is actually "Joan."

Brooks of Sheffield said...

You're right. Looking closer at the note, it is Joan. I'll change it.