Oriental Laundry Mystery

Hi, Everybody!

I am a long-time reader of The Straight Dope, but this is my first time to
use the Messageboard.

I have a question. I have an old photograph of a street scene dated
1935 (Sorry, but I don’t know which city). Outside one of the
buildings is a sign that says “Oriental Laundry,” underneath which
is the phrase “NOT in the TRUST.” Internet searches have turned
up no results that would explain what this means. I was wondering
if somebody might have better luck and be able to shed some light on what
this sign was all about and why they thought this was important information
for potential customers.

Thanks in advance for any info you can come up with.

According to this site: http://www.shorpy.com/node/8306#comment-93355

It means that the laundry is not part of the price fixing cartel.

Hi, Wilbo523!

Wow! That was fast!

Thanks for that info; it answered my question very well.

December 1935. “New Orleans, downtown street.” North Front at Canal. Nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration. This one?

Apparently Davethinks it means they’re not a part of a price-fixing cartel. I’m looking for info if that was endemic of the chinese laundries of the time, I’ll get back to you if I find anything.

Damn… scooped. :frowning:

Hi, GHO57!

Yes, that is the same photo I have. Glad to know the name
of the city.

Thanks for the input. I will appreciate any additional info
you can come up with.

Ah, apparently the reference is about the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. It seemed odd at first that they would need to advertise the fact 40 years after the act passed, but as the article states “During the late 1930s, an intensive enforcement of antitrust laws was undertaken”. The great depression and the new deal happened before resources could be directed to the trust issue; so it seems like Dave from the other site was right after all. They’re just stating they’re not a part of a cartel.

Thanks for that additional info, GHO57.

Two thoughts on this thread…
[li]I have a strong suspicion that this is some sort of Soviet ‘numbers thread’, based on the usernames of everyone (besides me) who has posted in it. Just sayin’…[/li]
[li]The abovementioned potential Federal Crime notwithstanding, this is an example of why this place is so great…it took a whopping 22 minutes to go from “I have an old photograph” to having someone not only explain the issue in detail but also post a copy of the very same picture for all to see.[/li][/ol]

Bravo, Comrades!

Dude, “Oriental” is not the preferred nomenclature. “Asian American” please.

I was wondering if they were endangering themselves by posting that sign, but then I looked at the picture and see that they went to some expense to have the sign made, so they must have been reasonably confident that it wouldn’t have gotten them firebombed in a Tong war. I was thinking it would be like in 1933 Chicago putting a sign in your window saying “We don’t buy bootleg gin from the O’Malley Mob.”

Thanks for your reply, Surburban Plankton.

While I can’t speak for anyone else, the numbers in my screen name
are from the zip code where I used to live. After moving to another
zip code I decided it was way more trouble than it was worth to
change it so I kept it like it was.

Yes, this is a great site. The answers I were looking for arrived much
faster than I thought they would. The staff at *The Straight Dope *were
right: this is a good place to ask questions!

I prefer Calgon-using-American. Ancient Oriental Mystery, indeed.

Wasn’t that “Ancient Chinese Secret”, the mystery ingredient that inspired the Brits to invent Fraudulin?

That’s only when referring to people, not to a laundry.

Ancient Chinese Secret.

No doubt! Welcome!

Now here’s my question - what’s up with that font? :smiley:

What if the clothes were stained by occident?

:mad: I was going to post that. :smiley:

So is “Oriental Laundry” the name of the place, or is an Oriental Laundry some specific sub-type of laundry business?

There was a large company founded in Texas called the Oriental Laundry Company. The one in New Orleans appears to be independent of the large company and was family owned by the Tung family. Oriental Laundry was the name of the business.