I received the following in a forwarded e-mail today and it brought back great memories of watching my mother hang our clothes on a clothesline to dry. I especially remember the wonderful feel and outdoorsy scent of the newly washed sheets when they had just been put on the beds. They were heavenly!
THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES:
1. You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes – you walked the entire length of each line wiping it with a damp cloth.
2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hung whites with whites, and hung them first.
3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?
4.. Wash day was on Monday . . . You never hung clothes on the weekend especially not on Sunday for heaven’s sake!
5. You hung the sheets and towels on the outside lines so that you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y’know!)
6. It didn’t matter if it was sub zero weather … clothes would “freeze-dry.”
7. You should always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the lines were “tacky!”
8. If you were experienced, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.
9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.
10. IRONED?! Well, that’s a whole other subject!
A clothesline was a news broadcast
To neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you’d see the “fancy sheets”
And towels upon the line;
You’d see the “company table cloths”
With intricate designs.
The line announced a baby’s birth
From folks who lived inside –
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!
The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You’d know how much they’d grown!
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It also said, “Gone on vacation!”
When lines hung limp and bare.
And told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were frowned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way .. . .
But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make the work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody’s guess!
I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line.