Montrose’s Midday Whistle

From 1929 till 1960, a steam whistle, identical to a teach whistle, would pontificate at midday on a daily basis in downtown Montrose. It was once an impressive whistle and might be heard two miles away. The whistle was once a part of the material of the group and previous timers remembered relying on its loud toot to grasp when was once lunch destroy. The whistle got here from Thompson Brothers Cleaners then positioned proper on Honolulu Ave. at 2275. (That’s the place the venerable Critters retailer was once, at the side of Picket and Issues.) They did laundry, death and dry cleansing. When Thompson Brothers Cleaners opened in 1929, they fixed a whistle on their roof, powered by way of steam from their steam plant.

Steam for a cleansing provider? What was once the steam for? This led me down an academic rabbit hollow for washing and dry cleansing, which I’m hoping you are going to to find as attention-grabbing as I did.

Business laundry services and products, widespread in huge towns, have been labor-intensive operations. Steam powered equipment changed into increasingly more to be had after the mid-1800s and the “steam laundry” changed into a not unusual characteristic in American towns. The steam boilers powered the large washing machines in addition to offering the new water, and supplied steam for the steam presses. Those business vegetation have been basically operated by way of armies of deficient ladies, known as washerwomen, overseen by way of a couple of wealthy males. The washerwomen had a pugnacious tradition and driven again laborious on their bosses, generating some epic late-1800 exertions clashes.

The French have been the meant originators of dry cleansing, the usage of solvents to take away stains, and thus was once born the time period “French Laundry.” Even if the French have the recognition of being the fathers of dry cleansing, it was once in reality a Black American who first invented the method. A New York tailor, a unfastened Black guy, filed a patent for dry cleansing in 1821, lengthy prior to the French grabbed the identify. As the primary African American to be granted a patent, he was once the topic of a lot controversy and resentment. He plowed his income from the patented procedure into the abolitionist motion.

Ok, so I went manner down the rabbit hollow. Again to Montrose and Thompson Brothers Cleaners.

That they had steam energy for his or her cleansing operations they usually had connected this steam whistle at the roof of the construction in 1929. First of all the whistle was once sounded by way of hand at midday on a daily basis, however sooner or later they connected it to a time clock and it blew robotically. The one time it was once sounded outdoor of the common midday blast was once at the day WWII ended when it joined the celebratory horn honking in Montrose.

However in 1960, Thompson Brothers stopped the usage of steam of their operation and the steam whistle was once silenced. It sat quietly atop their roof till 1966 when Thompson Brothers moved to their new location at 2020 Thompson Court docket. (They’re nonetheless there as of late, in the back of Black Cow Eating place.)

So what took place to the whistle? Quickly after the transfer, the editor of the Ledger, the native paper, inquired in regards to the whistle. That led the Thompson circle of relatives on a seek. It wasn’t on best of the construction anymore. They discovered the demolition corporate that had cleared out the previous location on Honolulu. The demolition corporate remembered the strange steam whistle. That they had offered it to an vintage broker. The Thompsons tracked down the broker. He nonetheless had the whistle, and offered it again to them for $25. The Thompsons introduced it again to Montrose and sounded it a couple of extra occasions, possibly with compressed air, prior to retiring it completely.

The Thompson circle of relatives offered the industry a few years in the past. A couple of years again I used to be manning the sales space for the Historic Society of the Crescenta Valley on the Montrose Harvest Marketplace. A few guys got here up and we were given to speaking. Seems they have been Thompsons, almost definitely grandkids. Did they nonetheless have the whistle? Sure, however it didn’t paintings anymore; I feel they mentioned it was once bent. We mentioned restoring it, however not anything ever got here of it, and I assume it’s nonetheless in anyone’s storage someplace.

Standard of the pursuit of native historical past: rabbit holes, imprecise tales from the previous and overlooked alternatives.

Mike Lawler is the previous
president of the Historic
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves native historical past.
Achieve him at [email protected]

Treasures of the Valley <<< Mike Lawler

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