Sunday, January 30, 2011


THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES (if you don't know what clotheslines are, better skip this)

I always wondered where my Mom got the rules for hanging clothes. That is the way she made me hang them. Funny, you have to be a certain age to appreciate this, but I can hear my mamma now!

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes- walk the entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first. Longer, heavier things in the back. Shorter things in the front so the wind could blow through it all.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbors think? Pin lightly on the seams.

4. Wash day on a Monday! . . Never hang clothes on the weekend, or 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 clothes pins 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 clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes 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!


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!
                                          - Unknown Author


Clint said...

Yes, I certainly remember clotheslines. I miss 'em, too! I have fond memories of the clothes being hung out. Clothes smelled fresher after a drying on the line.

I also recall a piece of family lore---we had a mischievous daschund named "Fritz" back in the day. He loved to bark, bark, bark until my mom would go to the door to see what was the matter---then, having got her attention, he would run to the clothesline and jump up and latch onto the sheet hanging there and swing, suspended back and forth, tightly holding onto the sheet with his clenched teeth. True story.

Lynda said...

I agree with the smell of clothes dried outside - - heavenly! When taking the clothes down, it was always good if the person put the clothespins in the clothespin bag that could hang on the line. Some siblings would throw the clothespins in the basket with the clothes - - - creating more work for the person who folded. That should have only been permissible if you were in a BIG hurry because a sudden rain shower appeared.


I remember when the clothes pins broke because the item was too thick or the clothes pin was just worn out. And holding the clothes pins in my mouth so I wouldn't have to dig in the bag.

Donnie said...

I remember those days so well. What a cute post.

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation said...

LOL - as a member of the baby boomer generation, I certainly remember them as well! And do NOT miss them in the least. Much more fun to pop them into the dryer with Downy and go work on the computer or have some fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren. :) But DID enjoy your post about them. :)

Geoff maritz said...

I loved this post. I still hang my clothes on the clothesline but living on a farm neighbours are nowhere to be seen. I have a story to tell about a clothes line and the power of God, I'm not sure whether I've written about it yet. I'll have to reread my posts to see. God bless you my friend.

Mary said...

there is something soothing to me seeing all the colors and clothes lined up. And the rhythm of life created by doing things on a specific day. I try to keep my Mondays free, nothing in particular planned, just catching up from the previous week and weekend.

Mya said...

Clothes on the line always attracted us, and before you knew it we were running down the lines of clothes, then under them, then high tailing it out of the yard when we heard Mom open the screen door. When I got older I enjoyed helping with hanging the clothes, and I felt so grown when I could quickly put up a line of clothes by myself using the "share the pin" method.
To this day I love coming across a scene with clothes blowing in the breeze from a clotheline.

greeneyes616 said...

Thank you for the memory My Mom still hangs her clothes ....and she also has her system which I am not allowed to help with other than to take them off the line. The poem was so dear as poetry is my first love I truly enjoyed the smile and sentiment it brought. God Bless Patricia


Good Morning Sister Bobbi :-)

I remember the clothesline days as if it were only yesterday. It seemed we always had a dog that would pull down my mother's clean laundry. Needless to say, my mother never cared to much for our destructive mutts :-)

Take care and have a great weekend.


Dee said...

Oh My, a blast from the past. I never liked hanging clothes...I was thrilled the day a beat up old dryer showed up at my parents house. We still had to use a wringer washer...but that was my mothers job. She was afraid I would smash my hand. :)

Mary Q Contrarie said...

I do not have a dryer so I air dry everything on a couple laundry drying racks. It is a great way to keep clothes nice. Most nice clothes say to air dry so why wouldn't you air dry your everyday clothes that you need to last.

I think the modern secret to hanging clothes are the new clothes spinners that are just coming on the market. We bought one. I get an 4 to five cups of water out of every load of laundry that I now do not have to wait for it to evaporate.

Toyin O. said...

Very intersting post, love that poem, thanks for sharing.

Jan said...

I still have a clothesline, albeit a rotary one, and have never had a dryer, and hope I never do.
Great post.