In Longwood, Huddersfield, there is a nice little café called Scotty's - obviously named after the owner - Dennis Scott. I've been in Scotty's several times to sample his wares - he does a mean Pie & Peas. It's a cosy place with these unusual 'things' decorating the walls. I seem to remember my Grandma having one. What on earth are they? I asked Dennis. ' They're possers' he said. They were used for many years to assist in washing clothes before mechanical or electric appliances were around. In Scotland they are know as Chums. Americans call them Plungers.'
Collecting possers is a favourite hobby - almost an obsession - of Scotty. I asked him how it all began. ' Well, where to begin. I got my first posser from my mother-in-law when she was moving home - some thirty years ago. She was about to throw out her old posser and I thought it was too good for that so I kept it. I cleaned it up (he uses brown sauce and Brasso for this) and put it on display. I began collecting all sorts of antique brass and copper items and in the end I had too much to display. So I sold much of the stuff and kept the 25 possers that I had.
Some interest was shown in my posser collection. A young man came to see me asking if I would sell him some. We bartered and soon had a deal. But that wasn't the end of the story. The young man returned a long time after and wanted to know if I'd like to buy them back - plus another 20 or so! My collection just grew and grew. I fitted shelving in our eatery (posh name for café) and put them all on display.
I had just started using the Internet and soon found one for sale - a Plunger from the USA. It was great fun waiting for it to arrive from across the Atlantic.
And so it went on. I now have about 170 and still collecting. Not much is known about the history of possers but I believe they started in Victorian times.'
So, if any of your chums asks you what a posser is, you can take the plunge and tell them.
When I was young, a long time ago, and I not but a posser high.
Mum used to take in the neighbours wash, for a bit o'brass to get by.
With her dolly tub, a rubbing board, carbolic and dolly blue.
And a big old-fashioned mangle, and it was made of iron too.
She'd heat the water with fireplace boiler. So she could soften carbolic soap.
What with miner's muck, and the rubbing it took, it's a wonder she could cope.
That wringer was old. And I was told, required some human power.
And me being the oldest lad, was volunteered, for at least an hour.
She'd put the washing on't our clothes hoist, and then she'd raise it high
O'er fireplace, to drip on't flagstones, until the washing were dry.
She'd iron all lot, with an iron red hot, and put them in piles so neat
Each with their names and number so, I'd know where to tek em on't street.
When all was done she would say to me, "Come here Frank, I'm proud of thee"
She'd give me a hug, and a sloppy kiss, that's the part I'll always miss.
I am sorry to say, mum did pass away, and lots of years have gone by.
But I'll make a bet, she does the washing yet, in that place, up in the sky.
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