And so, yesterday's picture of a washboard is hereby WITHDRAWN because it turns out it is not a washboard we want at all, it's a frottoir.
Big difference. "Frottoir" is Cajun French for "vest to be rubbed," and is a "ribbed stainless steel length of armor that hangs from the neck." Not a washboard at all. The first one was built by a welder who worked with Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco, in the oil fields of Port Arthur, Texas.
The welder's son, Tee Don, started a company called "Key of Z Rubboards" which claims it has sold frottoirs to ZZ Top, the Neville Brothers, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Rhianna. That's what it says...Rhianna. Think about that.
ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons has done extensive research (extensive!) and it is his scholarly opinion that the frottoir rubboard is one of only four musical instruments that are uniquely American. He doesn't say what the other three are, but another one has got to be his guitar made out of wood from Muddy Waters' log cabin.
For travel in a canoe the frottoir can be worn like a life jacket - you won't even notice the difference unless you tump. Also, it's played with two metal bottle openers which could be handy. When you buy a frottoir from Tee Don he throws the bottle openers in for free.
The frottoir player gets any big-boned gal he wants after the show. Every time.