Remembering Mom’s Clothesline

I recently found this on a knitting website that i check out every day and thought I’d like to share with my friends who share my love of hanging clothes!

1. You had to hang the ”’socks”’ by the toes…not the top.

2. You hung pants by the bottom/cuffs…not the waistbands.

3. You had to ”’wash”’ the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes – walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! ”’Never hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the ”’outside lines so you could hide your ‘”unmentionables'” in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y’know!)

8. It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather… clothes would ‘”freeze-dry.”‘

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”! Clothespin bags were made and used – hanging on the line – to be taken in with the laundry.

10. 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.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that’s a whole OTHER subject!

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, “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 out on that line


About JJ

“"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.'” William Butler Yeats
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5 Responses to Remembering Mom’s Clothesline

  1. Bex says:

    We had a clothesline, one with a pole and like an umbrella, not too many years ago and used it quite often, but the pole rusted out and we removed it and never put a new one back, but I do want another one some day. I don’t remember following ALL the rules and regulations you outllined, but a LOT of them, for sure. Aren’t human beings funny?

  2. twisterjester says:

    If and when we get our own house I am *so* having a clothesline again. Aside from the neighborly-nosy aspects, clothes just smell much cleaner!

  3. Joan says:

    Wow that took me back. The poem was dead on…poeple were judged by their laundry in the day.

    I remember how good the sheets smelled after they were taken in during the winter. My poor mom must have frozen her fingers. Also remember getting my ass kicked for hanging on the clothes line and trying to go for a ride with the pulley.

  4. JJ says:

    I had to take my clothesline down for the construction, but that sucker is going right back up…if they ever finish!

  5. maggiecrooks says:

    I liked my clothesline because sometimes there were things that didn’t actually fit in the dryer, like great big quilts. Also, I have an area rug that needs to be cleaned, and Mom always did ours on the clothesline. I found an old rug beater at a yard sale the other day. That took me back a long ways.

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