The People of America

HAZEL NORTON

Albany, GA – If you think doing your laundry is a chore you should meet Hazel Norton. There are few things in life she likes more than washing and folding clothing, sheets and other things for people. More important, she is cheerful when she does it.

Hazel Norton has dedicated her life to her church and to her laundromat. A bright and charming woman, she could retire, but instead has decided to continue to devote herself to helping others. Working six days a week, she takes Wednesdays off  as her “run day.” On Wednesday she buys groceries, pays her bills, visits people, then goes to Bible study on Wednesday evening. She also attends the morning and evening church services on Sunday. And she sings in the choir.

Hazel started working at the laundromat in 1984 and has owned it for the past 19 years. Her home is very near to the building where she works.

We met Hazel after a roof vent on our motorhome leaked in a rainstorm, soaking the bed. The folks at the RV repair shop in Albany, Georgia recommended  Hazel’s Laundromat. We chatted with Hazel’s 90-year-old husband, Wallace, while the washer and dryer did their work.

Except for his failing eyesight, which prevents him from driving, Wallace is as healthy as a 30-year-old according to his doctor. His handshake is as firm as that of a body builder, and his mind is as clear and keen as individuals many years younger. He was a contractor who specialized in finish carpentry.

Wallace and Hazel have known one another for many years. It was Wallace’s late wife who owned the laundromat and hired Hazel in 1984. When her health began to fail she sold the laundromat to Hazel, her loyal employee. Later, in 2003, Hazel and Wallace married.

“My wife picked out my new wife for me,” Wallace says with a smile.

Is there a downside to owning the laundromat? Now and then a regular customer becomes irritated when someone is using the machine the woman has always used.

“Why do you let other people use my washing machine the woman will ask Hazel. There are few older women who seem to feel dropping quarters into a machine provide with ownership rights.

Yet Hazel has 24 washing machines  and 14 dryers. Purchased from Sears they are repaired by Wallace or her son, a Master Sergeant in the National Guard, who has had several tours of Duty in Iran  and one in Afghanistan.

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