Be The Light: Of Washing Machines & The Retirement Scene

I’ve joined in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of February, I have a positive story to share with you, my gentle readers. 

* * *

THE NEWS STORY:  

Lee Maxwell, a retired electrical engineering professor who lives in Colorado, collects washing machines.  His washing machine collection, stored in two warehouses, consists of nearly 1,500 machines.

Maxwell, age 87, finds the machines all over the United States.  They’re usually in disrepair.  He gets the machines to his warehouses where he repairs them, and stores them.

He has what is believed to be one of the largest personal collections of anything in the U.S.A.  His hope is that someone, a benefactor, will build a museum dedicated to washing machines so that everyone can see for themselves how washing machines have changed over the years.

[Complete story with video: Washing machine collector takes a whirl back in time]

* * *

* * *

MY COMMENTARY:

This story is a quirky happy news story that makes me appreciate people who follow their own muses.

What’s not to love?

A retiree finds a hobby, that turns into a passion, that ends up preserving pieces of history that are easy to overlook.  And suddenly there’s a collection worthy of note because someone, Maxwell, took the time to notice.

I give props to this man.  He didn’t start collecting washing machines to be a news story.  No, he just did it for something fun to do, and in the process saved an interesting part of American history.

I consider him an inspiration.  Think about it, when it’s time to retire we all should be so fortunate as to stumble upon a hobby that takes us down uncharted roads, while filling our hours with a quiet sense of accomplishment.

* * *

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

56 thoughts on “Be The Light: Of Washing Machines & The Retirement Scene”

  1. Love this story! I often bemoan the fact we have so mindlessly tossed such relics away only because something new and better has come along. Just the other day I was wishing I’d kept my record player and all my records so I could show it to my kids. Things like that — they’re hard to appreciate or understand unless you see them in action.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kate, I agree with you. Unless you see an older mechanical machine do its thing, it’s difficult to appreciate what it meant to the people who used it. Maxwell clearly understands that idea and has done all he can to keep those old washers going. Good on him, I say.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter, I never thought of the environmental aspect, but you’re so right. I was charmed by this story because Maxwell and his wife seem like the kind of retirees who I want Z-D and I to be. Doing our own thing, with an eye to the future, but appreciating the past.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed the washing machine story but laughed out loud at the Pink Panther clip. It’s been SO long since I had watched one of those! Maybe I need to look for more. Thanks for sharing both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joyce, I don’t know that Maxwell’s story and the Pink Panther are connected directly, but in my mind they go together perfectly. Glad that you enjoyed video. It’s a good one.

      Like

  3. I always look forward to these posts. This story reminds me of my father in law who, in his retirement, finds and repairs antique tractors. He “claims” the goal is to resell them to other collectors, however, I believe he is secretly building up a museum of his own.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Allie P, your father-in-law repairs antique tractors for a hobby! He and Maxwell are two peas in a pod. I admire both of them, for their ingenuity and mechanical ability, but have to grin at them. There’s something delightfully wacky about both of their passions.

      Like

        1. I think having enough space to keep one would be the first problem with his hobby. Finding parts would pale in comparison. I can imagine how much fun it’d be to ride on one. Cool hobby all around.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story! And this guy is in such good shape for being 87! I guess working on washing machines keeps him young. I sure hope someone can build a museum for all of his machines before he passes away. That would be such a great feeling. Also loved the Pink Panther cartoon. Such craziness! Thanks for the fun today, Ally!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth, I thought the same thing about this man– he’s youthful and articulate. It seems to me that there must be a benefactor somewhere who’d like to underwrite a Washing Machine Museum. I’d go visit it.

      Like

  5. I can’t decide how I feel about this. If I were his wife, I know I would have a few things to say! 😉 There are museums for most everything, so it could happen. When I was in Korea, I missed out on seeing Mr. Toilet House which was a toilet museum. I really wanted to go there, but it would have been difficult to manage with my lack of Korean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, in the video his wife mentions how she didn’t like this collection to begin with, but has come round now. It’s really a ready-made museum for the taking. If one were in the market for underwriting a museum. About washing machines.

      Like

    1. JT Twissel, I wondered the same thing about who exactly is going to be dealing with these machines eventually. I’ve cleared out enough elderly relatives homes to know that without a specific plan, chaos ensues.

      Like

  6. At first I thought the end result would be that he lets homeless/low income people come and wash their clothes for free. I think I’d rather have my husband collect something that didn’t take up so much room. LOL that he doesn’t know how to use them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Janet, my mind didn’t even go in that direction, but you’re right that helping the homeless would be an interesting twist on this story. I’m with you– collect small objects, please. Of course if he spends 8-10 hours a day working on this machines out in the warehouses, his wife might be enjoying her quiet/alone time around the house without Mr. Engineer under her feet. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know that I will start a collection of any sort when I retire, but I would like to find his passion for something near and dear to my heart. I also wouldn’t mind going through the warehouses to look at the washing machines, especially anything over 50 years old. He must have some very cool machines and I hope someone does take an interest in them for historical value. Thanks for sharing this, Ally, and participating in #WATWB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary, I’m with you. I’m actively attempting to get rid of collections of things, hoping to have fewer objects around here. However, it’s Maxwell’s interest and can-do spirit that makes his retirement hobby appealing, in theory, to me. Plus the variety of machines he’s found could make for a fascinating museum + glimpse into America’s past. And that’s be kind of cool.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I know what you mean. Zen-Den collects hourglasses which are pretty and easily displayed on a shelf or table. However Maxwell’s collection that’s shown in the video is massive. I guess if you have the acreage it’d be ok, but it’s still a big commitment. Nonetheless he’s happy and there’s a positive story there, so who am I to question! 🤔

      Like

    1. Dan, I hope that these machines find a museum home, too. I never thought about them before seeing this news story, but now that I have I realize that washing machines are worth learning more about. It’d be cool to seem them all together in a timeline.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. nancy, that’s a good idea. I also think that P&G has sold enough Tide over the years that they certainly must have the funds to underwrite a washing machine museum.

      Like

  8. What a delightful story. And how fun Maxwell found his passion/obsession on a retirement road trip. How perfect was that timing? Seeing some of those labor-intensive early models makes me want to stand in front of my machine and sing praises to it. If only it would talk to its partner dryer and convince him to quit eating single socks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deborah, I was taken with the serendipity of Maxwell’s road trip and his newfound passion. I also chuckled at the thought of an electrical engineering prof finding a way to do that which he trained to do back when some of the washers were brand new.

      I’m sorry that your dryer is such a disreputable machine. Some of them are scoundrels, to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie, I’m not saying that I want to do anything involving two warehouses like Maxwell, but the idea that you can find your retirement passion when you least expect it appeals to me, the free spirit. I’d love to see all the machines, too. Fingers crossed that some benefactor comes along and builds a museum.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay, that’s a cool way to pass the time. Washing machines are one of those things that blend into the background noise, but washing clothes without one is brutal.

    Like

    1. Jill, I’d like to meet this man, too. In the video clip he seemed like a nice guy with a sense of humor. I agree that in comparison to Maxwell, yours, mine, everyone’s collections seem puny. Just imagine yourself with 1,500 Boyd’s Bear music boxes! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, I know what you mean. I couldn’t help but be impressed with his hobby, not that I want to do anything that large– but his passion for the machines is noteworthy.

      Like

  10. Maxwell – he’s taking things well to the max. This is so great that he’s found a passion for his retirement years – and being re-fired in the process. I like the idea posted earlier of the homeless coming by and having their clothes washed. Thanks Ally Bean – I’ll watch the videos later, maybe after I’ve got stuff out of the washing machine …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan, good observation about his name and his inclination to collect. 😉 I found this story charming, both in how he came to be a washing machine collector and in how doing that which you know how to do can fill your hours if you let it. Somehow there’s a positive message in his retirement life.

      Like

  11. That is one hobby I never knew existed. It sounds like he is in a category of his own. There might be some person reading this thinking “THAT is exactly what I want to do someday!”

    If he has a lot of duplicate machines, I wonder if he could team up with someone like Habitat for Humanity in his area to provide machines for new homes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emily, I was amazed by this man’s single-minded focus on washing machines. I cannot imagine me wanting to repair them, or to have 1,500 of anything– but I admired his spunk. And his knowledge of the history behind the machines.

      I like your idea about working with Habitat for Humanity. Of course, most of his machines are ancient– but the newer ones… who knows?

      Like

  12. Wow!! It’s so wonderful to follow your passion. Kudos to Maxwell for doing just that! Hope his wish of a museum for his collection of washing machines comes true. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shilpa, I thought the same thing about Maxwell. He didn’t set out to fill his retirement hours with washing machines, but once he did– he went for it. I think a museum would be way cool. Hope he finds a benefactor.

      Like

  13. Wow. I guess I’m a Parade Rainer. All I can think of is “Who would go to a Washing Machine Museum?” And “Why not donate the machines that work to someone who needs them?” And “Thank goodness I am not his wife!” Maybe because I’m in streamlining mode and trying to “Death Clean”, as my sister calls it: making sure I am getting rid of stuff I know no one would want, ever, because even *I* don’t want it/don’t use it!

    Like

    1. nance, you make valid points and the good thing is that you’ll never have to go to a washing machine museum IF one is ever built. It won’t be mandatory, I’m sure. 😊 I agree about donating the useful machines to charity. If you watch the video of Maxwell, it shows that most of his machines are antiques… so maybe he has already donated some. I don’t know.

      Like

Comments are closed.