Killed by washing machine while reading comics

A number of things puzzle me about this 1955 news story. First of all, why was the washing machine outside beneath a tree?

Second, was the kid really so lazy that he felt the need for an elaborate method of supporting his head while reading? Or was he trying to kill himself?

Finally, what kind of washing machine has a lid that rotates? I found a picture (below) of a washing machine from the late 1940s that may have a lid that could rotate, but it doesn't look like it would have been comfortable to sit on, which would support the suicide theory.

But whatever happened to John Mattson, his death clearly demonstrates the danger of reading comic books.

Gettysburg Times - July 20, 1955

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 06, 2015
     Category: Death | 1950s

The washing machine was outside because that was where the clothes it was washing were going to be hung. The lid was optional as it came and went as needed or not.

As a youngster I got my arm caught in the rollers of one of these machines. No damage done and, really, not a lot of pain, but is scared the @#$@$@ out of me!

If the kid was under a tree with a belt looped around the back of his head and fell off the machine and the belt slipped under his chin, then, yup, deader'n ah doornail.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 11/06/15 at 10:16 AM
Before we had electricity at the farm, we had a gasoline engine powered washing machine. It was kept out of the house in a shed so the exhaust didn't kill us. We got electricity in1955.
Posted by BMN on 11/06/15 at 10:21 AM
Is it too late to nominate the kid for a Darwin Award?
Posted by KDP on 11/06/15 at 11:22 AM
The washing machine is a red herring here. Anybody who dangles a belt from a tree and loops it around their neck has intentions other than just reading comic books. This kid was either into auto-erotic asphyxiation or suicidal asphyxiation.
Posted by Miles on 11/06/15 at 02:52 PM
As a kid I was reaching into on of these and got
My hair caught in the rollers. Yanked out about a square inch of my hair. Everything grew back.

Liability lawyers would have a field day with these things now.
Posted by crc on 11/06/15 at 06:02 PM
I wonder if he was short. He might have rigged up the chin strap thinking it'd stretch his spine, making him taller. You can still buy ones which fit over a door.

I never saw a model where the lid rotated, but most of them would probably bend down and catch on the agitator if there was enough weight on them.
Posted by Phideaux on 11/06/15 at 08:49 PM
Outs was outside also. No hookups in the house. I don't remember a lid. I do remember my older brothers convincing me to put my arm in the rollers. Mom came out just in time to save me. The brothers got a whoopin.
Posted by GFnKS on 11/09/15 at 01:44 PM
Back in the day people tried to save face when these things happened. Either the kid killed himself or for a darker theory stepdad choked him and covered it up. Look at how often today children are abused and murdered by good old stepdad.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 11/09/15 at 06:47 PM
Hey! I was a stepdad (for about two weeks). It's evil stepmothers you have to watch out for!
Posted by Phideaux on 11/09/15 at 11:16 PM
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