Two score and some years ago, if I wanted to write a column on dishwashing machines I’d ask my brother why he didn’t have one. More often than not, he’d say something interesting, unique and funny. I’d send it off to the papers and my readers would think I wrote it.

If he wasn’t home, I’d visit Lawyer Crandall, Richard and Julian and tell them I needed help with a column on dishwashers. I’d pull out my pocket notebook and scribble rapidly, often asking them to repeat what they said so I’d get the wording just right. And I’d usually be howling with laughter as I went along. I had other sources: Ed Coffin, Faustini, Jimmy Parker and True Hall, but my brother and those three friends were my primary ones.

It was no secret that they wrote dozens of very perceptive and funny newspaper columns with my byline over all of them.

If you’ve been with me for any time at all, you know that things have changed. There are still a couple of good sources out there, but gadding about to see friends isn’t as easy as it used to be. Perhaps to your dismay, you’ve seen me turn to my Facebook friends for wit and wisdom I can twist and pass off as my own.

There is no way of knowing which of my comments will generate interesting or humorous replies on Facebook. I posted this the other day: “Not owning a dishwasher is like never shopping at a big-box store … it gives one a warm feeling of superiority.”

You would think I’d said that one should not drink coffee in the morning, because 54 people had to comment. Like puppies chewing on the end of a bath towel, my Facebook friends couldn’t let it go.


When I moved into this farm in 1970, it did not have a dishwasher. There was, however, a hole in the wall where water from the sink ran out through a pipe and landed in a puddle near the well in the back lawn.

I suspect that the pipe and the hole were modern improvements. Before that, used dishwater was probably carried outside in the dishpan and thrown on the garden or in a pan for the chickens. My great-grandmother’s twin sister, who in the 1850s lived next door to where I am now, was a saving woman. At the end of the day, she’d pour the unused kitchen water in the water bucket back into the well.

Did you know that being a vegan eliminates the need for a dishwasher? I didn’t either – until I read it on my Facebook page.

Another friend wrote: “I was given a washer and a dryer as a house warming present when I moved to my fixer-upper farmhouse 23 years ago. I gave them away and still go to a laundromat. I didn’t want to give up so much of my ground floor space. Plus, I associate dishwasher ownership with my late Dad, whose values and fatherly style I mostly disagreed with and didn’t benefit from that much.”

Comments like that make you think you are listening to people reclining on Freud’s couch.

Others slip in silly things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand: “What’s the difference between a cute roomie and acute rheumy? About 60 years.”


When Marsha helped me recall why we have a dishwasher, I realized that we really didn’t have any say in the matter. Years ago, after spending a month with us here in our primitive Maine coast home, some friends gave us one. When that machine died, Marsha’s Dutch nephews, who were visiting at the time, bought us another one.

Yes, I bought minor parts and repaired the first one several times, but there came a day when some small widget essential to its operation could not be bought online for love nor money. You’re nodding your head because you’ve gone that route with several of your major appliances.

Dishwashers are much like newspaper columns. Sometimes you have to go out to get them. Sometimes they turn up when you are reclining in your favorite chair.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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