Dirty Laundry

Sgt. Grit,

Remember in boot camp the scrub brush and the soapy water and the tables we scrubbed our clothes on. Some guys did this in Camp Geiger too! I went home after Camp Geiger on a bus from North Carolina with my sea bag and dirty laundry.

My mom went apesh-t when I emptied my sea bag on the Persian Living room carpet! She made me take it to the Chinese Laundry around the corner. Major cities had these Chinese hand laundry’s – that did predominately linens – table clothes – and shirts. The old Chinese gentleman spoke little English and gave you a receipt with Chinese characters on it for a stub. He weighed the sea bag – and bowed to me. Two days later I went to pick it up – and my mom paid back then like $20.00 (which was very expensive for those days – when a regular laundry would cost less than $5.00.) The Chinese guy went berserk yelling and screaming and pointing at me – the guy’s wife came out of the back to quiet him down – and calmly explained to me that my skivvies and utilities were so dirty I clogged the pipes when they cleaned the dirty clothes. My utilities were now sparkling – and my skivvies were bright white – rough socks were smooth to my skin. A rare treat for a Marine after boot camp.

Went to a few nice restaurants and met a nice girl at a military dance in the great city of New York – then alas – my leave was up – went to the Port Authority Bus Station in New York City – and the Marine went into survival mode carefully watching his wallet and his gear aboard the bus – as we trusted only other Marines to watch our backs.

Bruce Bender
1963-1967
Cpl USMC

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

16 comments


  • Paul Ruddell

    Great story. I remember coming home from boot and Grandma taking all of my skivies down to the basement and taking two days boiling them to get them clean.


  • James A. Howerton

    It’s funny but the way I learned to scrub articles of clothing in Boot Camp I still use for things like covers, tennis shoes, my wife’s delicates, etc. I now do it in the shower using a fingernail brush or old toothbrush but it works great


  • bob lale

    I too remember the cement wash tables and cold water faucets behind our barracks in the 2nd batalion on Parris Island ,fall of 1957.Also if the clothes had to remain on the lines overnight the stuff had to be guarded.In about the 3rd or 4th week of boot camp we sent our utilities to the laundry for the first and only time.


  • Andrew G. Polach

    That’s the best skivvie story I’ve heard in (35) years…!!


  • Stephen Ostroski

    Those good old washing tables. Beads of Bleach and scrub brush. I was in Third Bat. In the Nesa Huts. Platoon 325. Remember scrubbing those cement floors with scrub brush and Beads of Bleach. At night the truck would drive by spraying bug spray on us and the huts. Good old times. D.I. Would walk around with his swagger stick and bang on your helmet liner to get your attention.


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