Time was when seeing a clothes line in a yard was a common everyday sight.
But no more. With the advent of the automatic dryer, this piece of Americana has been replaced and has become illegal in some communities, according to a news report I heard last night. Many sub-divisions have ordinances against putting a clotheslines outside for everyone to see, calling them eyesores, unsightly. To these pompous clowns I say, horse feathers.
Although I could never give up my own clothes dryer, there are some things it fails to provide. For one, the fresh smell of sheets and towels when you take them down and fold them and then there’s the savings in electricity that we are acutely aware of, with all the talk about climate change. Letting the sun dry your clothes doesn’t cost you a penny.
There were certain procedures we followed in those days of hanging out the wash. Remember ladies?
Number one: You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line. Number Two: You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang whites with whites and hang them first. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail…what would the neighbors think?
A clothesline was a news forecast to neighbors passing by. It was also a friendly link for neighbors who always knew if you had overnight company. For then you would see the fancy sheets and towels on the line. It announced the birth of a baby when you saw a line of diapers flapping in the breeze and you could tell when there was illness in the house when extra sheets were hung.
New folks in town were scorned upon if their wash was dingy and gray. I recall how I was too embarrassed to hang my son’s wash on the line when he brought a load of laundry home for me to wash. He never separated the colors when he was at school, throwing white sheets in with his jeans, making them all look a dirty gray. Again, what would the neighbors think.
But sadly, clotheslines are now a thing of the past. They used to tell a lot about a neighbor, but 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 by what hung on the line.
And lastly, one of the most memorable victims of the passing of the clothesline…clothes pins and milk bottles. Toys “R” Us can never come up with a toy that was as entertaining to a toddler as the simple act of putting clothespins in a bottle.
I rest my case.
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