National Clothesline
National Clothesline
85 years, 355 classes
and still going strong
Eighty-five years ago this month the first class graduated from what is now the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute’s School of Drycleaning Technology. The parade of graduates hasn’t stopped since.
This past summer saw the graduation of the 355th class and yet another class was set to begin study this month.
Prior to 1927, courses were given at various locations around the country, but in 1924 Dixie Stoddard, president of the then National Institute of Drycleaning and famed for the drycleaning solvent that bears his name, appointed a committee to examine the possibilities of providing a center of education for drycleaners.
From that, a school was born and the first class arrived at the NID campus in Silver Spring, MD, on Oct. 17, 1927. The first instructor, C. C. Hubbard, was also the author of the first educational textbook on drycleaning. In that first textbook, which was published in 1925, Hubbard advised, “If you own your own plant, you are a financial success if at the end of your business year you have paid your interest, taxes, insurance, all outstanding current accounts, have allowed yourself a salary commensurate with what you would expect in a like capacity in directing a business for others, and are able to show earning on your entire investment in building and equipment at a reasonable percent.
“If you cannot show an earning on the invested capital in addition to your salary, then you should seek employment with a ‘going’ concern.”
Some things never change. Other things evolve over time. For example, students in the early days spent as much as three months at the school. Today the full course runs for three weeks with a one-week introductory course preceding the two-week advanced session. Shorter classes have been offered on various specific topics such as wetcleaning, stain removal and wedding gowns. Brian Johnson is the school’s current director of education.
The school itself has moved a few times. In the early 1970s, the American Institute of Laundry and the National Institute of Drycleaning merged to form the International Fabricare Institute, headquartered in Joliet, IL. When IFI later moved back to Silver Spring, MD, a new school was built as part of the new IFI facilities there. Then when IFI moved to its current home in Laurel, MD, in 2004, a newly designed school was built. Allied trade firms have donated equipment and other tools to ensure that students get to work with current tools of the trade.