Patricia Foster: St. Francis Hospital Mangler

Don’t let that sweet, innocent smile fool you. Patricia Foster was a real mangler. No, she didn’t wrestle, nor was she a roller derby queen, but she was a mangler in 1967 all the same.

St. Francis Hospital laundry

Instead of taking the summer off, Patricia decided to work in the St. Francis Hospital laundry before starting her freshman year of college at SEMO.  Her duties included running the dried linen and clothing through the “mangle,” a big ironer, sorting material and folding mountains of sheets, she told The Missourian’s September 2, 1967, Youth Page.

(Actually, I think she told it to me. The story’s not bylined, but I recognize my style. I generally figured other people could tell the story better than I could, so most of my writing consisted of lots of quotes with a few transitions stuck in between.)

Work was monotonous

The work was monotonous, she said. “A lot of my friends said I was foolish to go to work in the summer instead of to school, but I figured that this was as good an education as I could get. Learning about people, I mean.”

Patricia was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Foster, 1625 Bloomfield. The story doesn’t mention which high school she attended.

Didn’t have to handle “wet wash”

“Once I got to know everybody, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated,” she said. “We didn’t have to handle the ‘wet wash’ – stuff that comes straight from the floors.” The routine nature of the work made it easy to slip into daydreaming, she observed.

Singing made the time pass

Good-natured give-and-take between the workers and singing helped make time on the job pass quickly.

“My specialty was singing,” she said. “We couldn’t have music, so we made our own music.

Photo Gallery from St. Francis Laundry

I’m going to include a gallery because some of the photos show other workers in the background. Some of the pictures show other angles of the laundry area that might mean something to someone who worked there. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

9 Replies to “Patricia Foster: St. Francis Hospital Mangler”

  1. I was surprised and a little disappointed that this post got little attention.

    Then, on March 15, 2012, I got an email that made it all worth it: “I am Patricia’s daughter and just ran across your blog’s highlight on my mother. The photography is spectacular. It is magical seeing your parents before you rolled into their lives.”

    I love it when kids find their parents.

  2. Trisha Foster graduated from Central in 1967. She had an older sister, Linda (maybe class of ’62). Great family, her grandparents lived next door us on Lorimer.
    Lila probably remembers her cousins, the McBrides (Kay, Bob, Mary, Terri) from the Cape pool. Their dad “Brownie” was park commissioner for years.

  3. Ken, I was drawn to your pictures of Patricia Foster at St. Francis Hospital wondering if it could be “Trish” who lived in my neighborhood. It sure is the same Trish Foster whose older sister Linda and I were good friends growing up in “Koch Addition.” The Foster’s lived on Koch Street and we lived on Bloomfield. Fun times; remembering my Dad taking us to get ice creme cones with he “curl on top” in the early evenings rides through town.

  4. I visit this page always near Mother’s Day. Anola, my mom and I recently stopped and looked at 318 Lorimier. My whole life I had only driven by since the family had long since moved. It was so much fun hearing about how my grandmother Bea Price Foster had grown up there along with her sisters Dorothy (McBride) and Snookie (Hunze). I found out that ny grandfather Ernie made all the awnings for the house. They are still standing although a little worse for wear. My mother told me this was the house I was brought to from the hospital. Something I didn’t realize. I also didn’t realize how close the Glenn House was in proximity. I was married there. Bea always took me as a girl and I thought of it as my secret garden. The family piano sits in the Glenn House now.

  5. My mom, Ruby Seabaugh, retired from Southeast Missouri Hospital laundry after 20 plus years as a “mangler” in the laundry.

  6. I am Trish’s youngest daughter and just stumbled upon this post. What a beautiful treat to witness moments captured in time like this. Many of these pictures have little meaning to most, but tremendous value for a few. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them. It’s always fun when kids find out what their parents looked like before they came along. I didn’t realize my mother was quite the hottie until I saw photos of her in high school and college.

  7. Indeed! I always knew my mother was beautiful but she is so stunning in these photos. A few years back my sister had one of these blown up and framed for us. I have it on my wall to this day and still have people ask how old I was in that photo! Funny, isn’t it?

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