Money Laundering in Humboldt


Laundromats, as a whole, exude a numbing bleakness. Generally dirty, overused, and overpriced, they squeeze money one quarter at a time from people poor enough to cry when they spill milk. However, in the towns of Southern Humboldt, washing ones’ dirty linen in public can be an edifying and amusing experience.

When young hill men come into large amounts of cash, they tend to tuck that spendy money into tight denim pockets so that it will be readily accessible. And being young and not overly careful, apparently sometimes they actually forget they have a thousand or two wadded up in their pants when they go to bed at night. They get up in the morning, throw their dirty clothes into large green garbage bags, and carry the whole thing to town in the back of their big brand new 4 wheel drive pickup trucks.

They saunter into the Laundromat and dump the bag (occasional marijuana leaves and all) into the wash machine. Apparently money when wet curls up as tight as a hibernating hedgehog but, once the clothes are transferred to the dryer and the money gets a wee bit dehydrated, it shakes free of petty restraints. Then the other Laundromat patrons are treated to the sight of a hundred twenty dollar bills fluttering against a big round dryer window. Like a flock of captive songbirds beating helplessly against a glass cage, the money will not quietly settle down. The hapless owner must make his way through a group of grinning guys (most of whom probably make their own wad of cashy dollars the same way he does) open the door, and thrust the quivering green creatures deep into his current pockets.

Fumbling awkwardly as he quickly bags up his now clean clothes, the young man blushes and drops money. The other fellows have no mercy though. At least one of the other guys is sure to snicker, “Dude, I don’t think you quite understand the concept of money laundering.”


After reading Indie’s blog today and laughing, I couldn’t resist reposting this piece.



  • That’s a lovely story…..strange…..but lovely. And the picture truly captures the story line. Have you ever thought of publishing a book?

  • That’s hilarious! Love the photo to go with it. Perfect!

  • I’ve thought of publishing a book but not one that tells too many secrets about here or my neighbors, whom I love, would hate me. I actually have a couple of books started and I’m working on one fairly seriously but none that would worry the locals.

    When I decided to repost the story, luckily I had a load of jeans in my glass doored washer (my dryer doesn’t have a window) so I raided my wallet (no twenties unfortunately) and took the picture.

  • I was at the laundromat in Redway several years ago when some people who’s money stash got wet in the rain came in. They dried it in one of the dryers. A considerable amount of bills were spun, witnessed it with my own eyes. Another time I saw someone pull out of the laundromat in Redway and something like $5000 in twenties went flying out of the back of their pickup into the wind. The street people were running all over the place chasing bills. What amazed me was that nearly the whole stash was retrieved and returned to the people who’d lost it. I’ve also heard stories, this is a little hard to believe, of people who actually brought bud in and dried it at the laundromat in Redway. Must’ve had an anxious buyer.

  • Excellent story, brings back memories.


  • Headwrapper, those are great pieces of history from around here! I worry that because so much is secret we are going to lose this whole amazing culture. I try to collect little pieces here and there but it is hard to convince people to talk.

    I have to admit, though, that the last sounds farfetched but I’ve seen more than one marijuana leaf in the laundromat so maybe…

  • Back around 1980, I was the custodian at the old Redwoods Rural Health Center when it was next to the Redway Laundromat. One of my jobs was to launder the Clinic smocks each morning. I would go in just as the laundromat opened and a guy named jim was sweeping up. Jim was a quiet Jehovah’s Witness and we just nodded every day. In the fall, I would find him sweeping up a huge pile of marijuana leaves each morning. He never said a word about it. When CBS was in town filming pot raids, I kept thinking that a visit to the laundromat would be pretty funny.

  • I have my own washer and dryer now so I’m a little out of touch on the laundry end. Maybe, in the interest of history I should make excuses to hang out there once in awhile!

  • when we first moved here the laundromat was our first, and maybe best way to connect to the community. Ahhh, the good old days… mark

  • lol, that story is great. so so so true 🙂

  • Pingback: Marijuana Musings from a Laundramat Attendent in Humboldt « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *