Norgetown Laundry

Well, the tourists I have seen are the best. One summer as I folded my laundry I spied a couple of young, robust Austrians also folding their laundry.

Dressed in traditional leather shorts, suspenders and white crisp shirts, they added to the fun atmosphere.

I saw Valdy doing his laundry one Friday evening, although I am not sure how many other people actually recognized him as one of Canada’s best singer/songwriters.

I was a groupie another day when I scrambled for pen and paper – I just had to get Tagish Elvis’s autograph. He patiently explained how careful he had to be with his sequined costumes in the big washers and dryers.

All these encounters took place at the Norgetown laundry – a low-slung, red-and-white building on Fourth Avenue that has been a familiar Whitehorse landmark for local residents and tourists alike for almost four decades.

Sukie Sidhu agrees with me about the tourists. For her, watching visitors at the family-owned laundromat is fun. She recalls, as a 12-year-old, watching some young people actually strip in the corner of the building.

I guess when the clothes need washing you take them off.

I spoke with Bonny and Red recently. Both women have been using Norgetown facilities since the 1980s. Bonny loves the convenience the facility provides. She lives out of town and comes in for banking, grocery shopping and bill paying.

While she is out and about with chores the dirty clothes are being washed. A stop in to move the wet laundry to the dryers and she is off again.

A laundry room at home? Well, wouldn’t it always be full of clothes waiting?

Red is in the midst of building a new home so has come back to Norgetown to wash and dry clothes until the new house is ready.

Unlike some other buildings around town that have been renovated for a different purpose, this building actually started out as a laundromat. Fred Koch constructed the original building in 1972.

A few years later he expanded the building right out to the street. The new part now houses the dry cleaning equipment, ironing machines and family room.

As part of the Alaska Highway 50th anniversary celebrations in 1992, a mural by local artist Diana Mulloy, entitled “Soldiers Launderette 1942”, was added.

It depicts U.S. soldiers using a galvanized tub and a ringer washer to do their laundry outdoors during the highway’s construction.

A visit to Google and I found that Norge means Norway! I wonder if Fred Koch came from or had family in Norway. Calling his new business after the home country might have made it easier to build a new life.

Paramjit and Baljinder Sidhu, Sukie’s parents, bought the facility in 1991 or 1992 from Ti Lam. I have watched the Sidhu children grow up in the laundromat.

In particular, Sukie and Pret have become family friends. As little kids they helped mum and dad with cleaning the building in the evenings. Sukie could often be seen doing homework in the family area behind the counter.

Now Sukie and Pret share the bulk of operating hours; mum and dad are in the building for shorter periods during the day.

Sukie enjoyed telling me about the missing diamond earrings. A tearful customer came back wanting to know if her earrings had been found. She was sure they were in the wash.

And yes, Sukie told me, the earrings were returned to the happy customer. Camera cards and USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drives are also frequently found in washing machines and dryers.

I love doing my laundry! As a kid I helped my mum and still enjoy the quiet peaceful folding of clothes and linens.

And agreeing with Bonny, an hour and half once a week and voila the laundry is washed, dried and folded. One never knows who might also be visiting Norgetown.

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