Monday, November 29

I saw something over at Betty's Country Charm that brought back memories of a different time in life. I hope Betty doesn't mind that I share it with you.

Both Mom and Grandma had a clothes line when I was young. At a very young age, as soon as I could reach the clothesline, I was taught to hang the clothes out to dry and then bring them back into the house. This gave the womenfolk time for other chores. This is what I was taught.

(If you don't know whatclotheslines are, better skip this.)
1. You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes. Walk the entire length of each line wiping the line with a damp cloth.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbours think?

4. Wash day on a Monday . . . Never hang clothes on the weekend, certainly not Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so 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. Always gather the clothespins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky!"

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothespins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes had to be off 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!

And this little poem also stirred up a few pleasant memories. Thank you, Betty.

A clothesline was a news forecast
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 now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were scorned 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 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!
Author Unknown

I still use my clothesline if I can, though now I have to climb a steep set of stairs to access it from the upper deck. Still, there's nothing so pleasant as the fragrance that comes from the fresh air when clothes are hung out to dry.

I also find it relaxing and good exercise to hang clothes on the line. If there's a brisk breeze, towels couldn't be softer. How times have changed.


  1. There is nothing like sheets dried outside! I grew up where all the clothes were hung outside. I have a clothesline, but don't use it as often as I should!

  2. I have one that I rarely use - DC wants to take it down, but I don't want him to for some reason. Our ladies' tea in May was on this subject and we had such cute poems and readings, such as these.

  3. I can close my eyes and actually experience the crisp clean smell of clothes dried outside. For me the only other smell that comes close to it is the smell of rain after a long dry spell. God has blessed us in so many ways.

  4. Mary I enjoyed the post. I grew up with a clothesline-and I have one now. I don't mind hanging clothes out or getting them back in-it gives me a few minutes to get outside and enjoy the peace and quiet of the back yard : )

  5. I have found that using a clothes drying rack can be just as nice as a clothes line. I can simply hang my clothes up where ever it is convenient. Later I will have dry energy free clothes with out the mechanical or fake smile from those awful dryer sheets.

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