Children on Hamilton Street

By Yifei Ji

It’s Saturday. When Marisol walks into the kitchen, her gaze rests upon the calendar where she keeps track of everything for her family — today is laundry day.

The place where Marisol, who did not give her last name, is going is a laundromat on Hamilton Street — about 10 blocks from her family’s apartment. Since her husband is still working on a shift, she has to bring the kids with her instead of leaving them at home.

The New Brunswick area has a huge Latino community, and most people don’t have access to washing machines in their own residences. Hamilton Street Laundromat is one of the facilities that targets the Latino population in New Brunswick and provides them with self-help cleaning and folding services. Like Marisol, many parents are used to taking their children with them, mainly because there is no spare hand to help them babysit. So, about once a week, those kids can get a “day trip” with their parents around detergent, loading carts, and rows of washing machines.

Whether it’s playing Angry Birds or hide-and seek, reading comic books or helping parents sort clothes, those kids can always find a way to kill boredom, even in a laundromat where only the blaring Spanish TV drama can harmonize the noise made by those whirling dryers. Family members breeze in and out, meeting other family members and catching up; kids are always concentrating on their own “business.”