October 20, 2009

The Mystery Of The Clothes Hangers.

There are many mysteries in the universe, even in my daily life, to which there seems not to be any clarification. Particularly many that have to do with doing the laundry, such as: why does one of the socks always get left behind in the washer, why socks disappear in the drier, why the pillow case gets entangled into the comforter case in the drier and - the most mysterious one - why am I ALWAYS out of clothes hangers.

No matter how often I buy new ones, they seem to be magically gone within weeks. There is no logical explanation to this. I do buy more clothes of course, but I also discard old clothes, so all in all, this should lead to some sort of status quo. But no such thing, they seem to be gone almost immediately once brought home. I start to suspect a clothes hanger eating monster is living in my house.

As I was doing my laundry this past Sunday, again frantically looking for hangers around in my house, I got to think about their history. I was wondering about where this nifty tool that I seem not to be able to live without, came from. And yes, there is plenty of articles out there written about the origins of the clothes hanger, or as it is called as well, the coat hanger.

The invention of the hanger is attributed to Albert J. Parkhouse. And it even comes with an amusing story. Quoted from this site:

"One morning in 1903, Albert J. Parkhouse arrived as usual at his workplace, the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan, which specialized in making lampshade frames and other wire items. When he went to hang his hat and coat on the hooks provided for the workers, Parkhouse found all were in use.
Annoyed-and inspired-Parkhouse picked up a piece of wire, bent it into two large oblong hoops opposite each other, and twisted both ends at the center into a hook. Then he hung up his coat and went to work. The company apparently thought it was a good idea, because they took out a patent on it. In those days, companies were allowed to take out patents on any of their employees’ inventions. Attorney Charles l. Patterson applied for the patent on january 25, 1904, and U.S. patent # 822,981 was granted and assigned to John B. Timberlake. (Patterson put his own name on the line that asked for 'name of inventor.) Timberlake owned the company that Parkhouse worked for. The company made a fortune; Parkhouse never got a penny."

How unfair life is indeed. I will never look at a hanger in the same way again, I believe.


sprinkles said...

I love getting an education when I come to your blog! I've learned so much about so many things. LOL

I too tend to run out of hangers. I don't use the wire ones, I only use plastic ones. If they're colored, than I have to put the same colored clothing on it. (Example: Blue shirt on a blue hanger.) I hate to fold so almost all of my clothes are on hangers.

MsTypo said...

I had no idea that hangers were such a recent invention. I will admit to a rather "Mommy Dearest" aversion of wire hangers. I hate them! I prefer plastic or wooden hangers.

Brian Miller said...

a sad tale, but sounds about right. coat hangers are my enemy...i cant stand them..always getting stuck, clothes not coming off smoothly. they incur my wrath pretty regularly.

Anonymous said...

wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

Betsy Brock said...

Oooh...unfair for sure!

I can completely relate to all the laundry problems here...lost socks and disappearing hangers haunt me daily! ha!

Maria said...

The mystery of the coat hangers - one of those universal mysteries along with the mystery of the socks - one day we shall know the answer!

Keith said...

Great post. Your blog is always so interesting and informative. I never knew this. Thanks for sharing this info with us.

Helen McGinn said...

Nothing changes; it's the way of companies and even universities to keep the inventions of others, even these days.

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

So cool how even hangers have a story... people have so much ingenuity. The stories of how things were invented are fascinating. As for things disappearing, I used to unwind wire hangers (in case my mom ever wondered how they disappeared :) I also do it compulsively with paper clips. I wrote a children's story about what happens to a sock when it disappears. It is one I made up for my children when they were small.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the same people that set up the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Co. set a standard also used in software development - anything you create or think of (at work or elsewhere) belongs to the company. Thank goodness, I no longer work in software, and I've also gotten into the habit of folding my clothes like they do at the dry cleaners. :)

Thanks for popping by my blog - I'm definitely going to 'Follow' yours!

Enjoy your week,

Mahmud Yussop said...

Interesting.Do we need to be very desperate to think out of the box?And so unkind to be successful?For a while this little hanger story has kept my mind hanging on..more than necessity..probably recurring desperation is the mother of invention.Just pondering.Thanks for sharing.

steviewren said...

I'm right there with Sprinkles. I match my clothes to the color of the hanger. When my daughter was young she always called them hangcoaters.

Kat Mortensen said...

Protege, I have you in my sidebar, but was sure that I followed you as well. In any case, I've signed on again. Wouldn't want to miss your updates!
Most of my hangers are plastic (bad for the environment, I know, but I bought them ages ago). Wire ones give me a migraine.

Elizabeth said...

Somehow I never thought about this invention,but you filled up this lack of education. So thank you for this lovely history lesson. And thanks for your lovely comments, wonderful to hear your thoughts.

Reading Tea Leaves said...

What an interesting post Protege,I hadn't really thought about coat hangers being an 'invention' or even having a patent - I thought they just kind of, well, evolved!!
Poor Mr Parkhouse, that's just typical of big corporations. My hangers are mostly wooden but I do tend to fold most things up and put them in drawers. Unlike Sprinkles I love folding!!

Jeanne x

Hilary said...

I know where your hangers are.. they're in the bottom of my closet along with stray gloves, old boots and overused knapsacks. You can blame my son.

Great post, Z. You never fail to amuse and educate. :)

Blogaire said...

Three cheers to the inventor of the clothes hanger! I do my best to hang my clothes up to save me from the chore I probably hate the most - IRONING.
Very interesting post as usual PROTEGE.

j. said...

Unfair indeed! Sigh. The least the company could have done was give him a portion of the earnings.

Luckily, we dont seem to have clothes hanger eating monster at home.. but we do have a key stealing elf somewhere.

Life is fair when it comes to this kind of circumstances. Everyone gets their own "home troublemakers" haha..


Phivos Nicolaides said...

Sometimes I'm hanging there with the clothes hangers!! Kind regards.

Jeannette StG said...

How unfair!Hope that nowadays something like that would be called "stealing and invention!"

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Unknown said...

oh that is sad. why?

we buy hangers once a month. Clothes are coming in so fast. But i always make sure to give away too. So, that balances the ratio of my dresses to hangers. Am just wondering about the mystery on yours. hahaha!

I Am Denise Katipunera

United Studies said...

I will admit that I never thought about the history of hangers. Now it makes me wonder what did people do before they were invented! Then again, people didn't have as many clothes as we do now. So maybe they didn't need any.

Claus said...

I often think how is it that they come up with such clever ideas that not only help the entire world, but that make them rich?!! Well, not Parkhouse in this case :-( It's simply amazing how little ideas turn into huge discoveries, and important tools in every day life.

Nessa said...

Some laws have made things better. So many people were taken advantage of.

Zuzana said...

I am exactly the same; I colour code! That is so funny.;) Some sort of OCD, don't you think.;) Thank you for your kind words.;)xoxo

I am not too keen on the wired ones either.;) I prefer plastic.;)xoxo

what about suits, trousers and jackets, don't you hang those?;) I guess we all have an issue, in one way or another, with the hangers.;)

thank you so much sweetie.;) xo

so glad you share my problems with the laundry.;) xo

let me know if you figure it out any time soon.;) xo

and your comments are always very kind; thank you so much - glad you enjoyed this.;)

so true, life is most of time unfair, it makes me upset at times. Thank you so much for stopping by.;)xo

I do the same with paperclips, but not hangers.;) I would love to read that book, I bet it was wonderful.;) xo

welcome, so glad you stopped by!;)
Yes, big companies are terrible to the little people.
I hang almost all my clothes, as I hate ironing.;)
Please do come back again.;)xo

you leave the mos contemplative comments.;) Always so happy to see you stopping by.;)

yet another kindred spirit.;) When it comes to colour coding.;) I love the name your daughter used for the hangers.;) xo

so excited about your new blog.;) I too like the plastics best.;) xo

likewise, I love my visits to your place every morning.;) Thank you so much for your kind words.;) xo

so glad you enjoyed a bit of hangers history; I fold few of my clothes, but only those that do not wrinkle.;) xoxo

aha - I am so going to look into your wardrobe then.;)) Thank you for always kind comments my dear friend.;) xo

you and me both! I have an ancient iron as I never use it.;) Thank you for your kind visits, I so appreciate them.;)

yes, but at least today we know who the inventor was and he gets the credit, that can be a consolation.;)
A key fairy, wow, there you see.;) Always so happy when you stop by.;) xoxo

that was funny.;) Thanks for the visit.;)

so right you are.;)
Thank you so much for stopping by, please come back again.;)

thank you for your visit and an interesting comment.:)

now I am starting to think there really is someone stealing my clothes hangers.;))
Always happy when you stop by.;) xo

great point, I was wondering the same and could not find any information on that, let me know if you do.;) xoxo

they say that the best ideas are very simple ones.;) I guess the story of the hanger is an absolute proof.;)Always happy when you visit.;)

I agree. But I am happy that today Parkhouse is at least credited with the invention. Thank you so much for your visit, I really appreciate it.;) xo

Haddock said...

Those old wodden hangers are the best.
I still look for them in the flea market.

Zuzana said...

I agree, although I have never bought any at flea markets. What a great idea.;) Thanks for stopping by.;)

Avo said...

Late arrival... But coat hanger monster! That just tickles me pink. A new nickname for my significant other!
: j