The word "laundromat" was registered as a trademark by Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of White Consolidated Industries on Oct. 1, 1947. Westinghouse listed the word as first being used in commerce on Oct. 26, 1940, and renewed the trademark in 1988.

Early laundromats were open specific hours, and since they did not necessarily feature coin-operated machines, there was always an attendant on duty. Some even required that you make an appointment.

The first unattended, 24-hour self-service laundromat in the United States was opened by Nelson Puett in 1949 on North Loop in Austin, Texas about where present day Room Service is located.

bits and pieces -- credited to "Mr. Smarty pants"

Long rows of slick plastic chairs
orange and yellow,
sit still in the dense humidity of a sauna
without the solitude.

The room is filled with the cries of miserable children,
a monotone soap opera on the blurry television and
the dull roar of the machinery.

This is purgatory
with a half full snack machine-
where we wait for hours
with eyes looking straight ahead
both patient and anguished.

We are all too poor to pay others to do our wash;
not creative enough to find something
better to do.

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