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Ed Robinson Laundry & Dry Cleaning, Trenholm Plaza: 1970s   12 comments

Posted at 2:21 am in business,historic

This corner space at Trenholm Plaza was most recently occupied by The UPS Store, but when I was growing up, it was Ed Robinson's, though I probably never knew it by name.

My mother did not believe in clothes dryers, opting for a clothes-line in the back yard. This was fine most of the time, but since rain is not unknown in the Columbia area, every now and then we would be faced with a need for clothes that were not yet dry. In addition to that, in the 1960s I had the impression that our washer was something of a lemon. There were fairly frequent calls to the service man, and more than once I recall the floor covered in sudsy water.

When we needed clothes washed or dryed, there were two choices: either the laundomat by what is now city hall on Trenholm Road, or the one in Trenholm Plaza. I think that when my mother had to deal with us children, we tended to end up at Ed Robinson since she could let us "free-range" around the plaza while the clothes were cycling.

As I recall, the staffed laundry was in the east end of the building with the laundromat area being in the west end. The laundromat area was filled with tables and wheeled hampers, and smelled of soap and hot lint. As I recall, the tables were some sort of plastic, or covered with plastic and hued aqua-marine. I would sit on them, and swing my legs back and forth (this must have been before I could read, or I would have had a book). As a boy I was fascinated by mechanical devices of all sorts, and I was particularly fixated on the gas dryers which lined the west wall. Not only did they have sort of retro-spaceship-control sliders for varying the temp from "warm" to "way too hot", but they were large enough (floor to ceiling) that I could imagine actually riding in one (this was during Gemini & Apollo) with more room to spare than the astronauts had. The start (or "blast off") process was particularly satisfying as you put your quarter in a slot way at the top of the machine (I had to use a chair), turned a knob which had a very satisfying action, heard your coin drop with a cheery plink, and then got to push the starter button which wound the whole thing up.

The washers were not quite as interesting, but did have a variety of little plastic tops you could put on the agitator for reasons which escape me now, and of course you could always play "open the lid -- washer stops" / "close the lid -- washer starts" until my mother would make me stop so she would get a full wash from her quarter.

I'm not sure when the cleaner closed. I know it was still there in 1970, but think it was gone by the time I left town in 1985. As for myself, while I agree with my mother that line dried clothes are nicer than tumble-dried ones, I don't have her patience. The line is still in the back yard, but the clothes go in the Kenmore. (And for all that I tend to be a "they don't make them like that anymore" guy, I don't think I've ever had to call service on a modern washer or drier..)

The original plan for Trenholm Plaza was to tear down the whole wing, and The UPS Store moved across the way in anticipation of that, but in the event the economy collapsed and management scaled their plans back to doing a remodel instead. Most of the spaces have been re-filled, but the old Ed Robinson space is currently still empty.

UPDATE 29 November 2011 -- It's to be a Cafe Caturra:

UPDATE 7 February 2012 -- The Cafe Caturra looks about ready to open:

Written by ted on January 28th, 2011

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12 Responses to 'Ed Robinson Laundry & Dry Cleaning, Trenholm Plaza: 1970s'

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  1. I think you're about right on the 1985ish closing time. Not sure about this, but that's about the time a Sylvan's might have moved into that slot, and they closed @2000.

    badger

    28 Jan 11 at 11:24 am

  2. Is the UPS Store in the top photo the former Trenholm Plaza location (it looks that way but I am not 100% sure)

    Andrew

    29 Jan 11 at 4:19 pm

  3. Yes it is.

    Mike

    29 Jan 11 at 6:19 pm

  4. Yep, their new location is not in a corner.

    ted

    29 Jan 11 at 6:24 pm

  5. I too thought clothes dryers were basically a sin, something for which we all may burn. I usually hang my clothes on a string that i string up in my yard, but back in my go getter days, when I was a spring chicken haha.....well as I said, me and Gerald were about and out, and I needed clean clothes because I had soiled myself in line at the DMV, which, incidentally, may be closed now! Wow. Anyways, I was forced to use a dryer after scrubbing my skirt down with my soapy washboard, and well, Gerald told me that he didn't feel to good either, but he didn't lose control of his bowels. The point being, that dryer couldn't have been made by Jesus, or at least it wasnt intended for use by God-fearing people like us. We just wanted a little fun, a party or two and some sex perhaps, but that didn't happen that night, nor any night the rest of poor Gerald's days. He bitterly complained about how I had gone to satan for using that clothesdryer, and I'll never forgive myself. I guess you go to heaven for the view, but hell for the company right? I'd like to play checkers with john wayne, hitler too; maybe frank sinatra and king henry the eighth will be there, and I know they'll laugh, just slappin their knees, at how this store closed. Mercy me.

    M. Jessica Peabody

    10 Feb 11 at 4:50 am

  6. M. Jessica Peabody, I want to party with you.

    Jonathan

    10 Feb 11 at 9:57 am

  7. I seem to remember a Norge Village, which was a super laundramat, built in the mid 60s on Forest Drive not far from Trenholm Plaza.

    Cool old photos http://www.agilitynut.com/signs/norge.html

    Terry

    11 Feb 12 at 11:14 am

  8. @Terry,

    See this comment.

    ted

    11 Feb 12 at 10:08 pm

  9. My Mom always used to hang our clothes on the clothes line back in the early to late 60's before we got "modern-ized" and bought a dryer. Clothes ALWAYS had that fresh spring/summer smell that was really good and fresh, unlike the modern day dryers. The Laudry Mat was interesting to me as a kid but BORRRRR-ING. I miss the days of clothes-lines, but that was before all the air pollution.

    Del

    12 Feb 12 at 12:55 am

  10. In the 1960s I was the youngest and wound up helping Mom tote the laundry to the laundromat. Fortunately this was only two blocks away and downhill. (in a building on the corner of Beltline and Tommy Circle. It was run down even then) But -- the trip home was back up that steep hill dragging the WET clothes that now weighed five times as much so we could hang 'em all on the line in the back yard.

    Dennis

    12 Feb 12 at 4:59 am

  11. I'm guessing the Norge Village Laundromat used Norge appliances?

    tonkatoy

    13 Feb 12 at 7:47 am

  12. Here's an interesting rememberance of Forest Lake Shopping Center, the Norge Villlage and other stuff.

    ted

    13 Feb 12 at 2:19 pm

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