Thursday, September 3, 2009


I remember telling a Michigan cousin of mine that in California, when you hang your clothing on the line, by the time you get to the end of the line, the first items you hung are dry. She didn't believe me. It was eighty-eight degrees at 7:30 in the morning, yesterday. It was that kind of day.
Unloading the motorhome meant it was time to wash everything, blankets, towels, sheets, all the heavy stuff along with the regular laundry. It seemed a sacrilege to add more heat to the atmosphere when I still have my "solar dryer".
In Portugal, women, whether they have automatic dryers or not, love to hang their wash on the line. You might say that folks today are missing something without the old clothesline in the back yard. Heck, a lot of people don't even have back yards.
As a kid in Michigan, my mom hung out the clothes while talking to the neighbor over the fence, catching up on the neighborhood gossip.
I would hand her items to hang and soon learned that towels go with towels. If hard pressed for space, they could double with the sheets, where the fabric dipped in the middle. She taught me that unmentionables are hung on the middle line where no one from the alley could see them.
In winter, clothing froze into boards and had to be removed and laid over indoor dowel dryers to finish the process.
The laundry kind of typified who you were in the world. Fancy slips or plain? A flowery blouse or go-to-church white? Overalls and work shirts? Or white shirts and slacks?
Then, it was sprinkling and ironing all those shirts and blouses.
My mother's old wringer washer did duty until 1954 when she got a Spindryer. What a marvelous invention. It washed much like any electrified agitating washer, but then the clothing was transferred to a second, smaller tub that spun the water out with centrifugal force. Then, it was a quick-dry on the line and fold and iron time.
We had migrated to California by then and the old formality of days gone by made the job easier. No white shirts for my brothers. T-shirts instead. Then polyester came into vogue and ironing was nearly eliminated. And, an automatic dryer almost eliminated the clothes line.
My job was folding mountains of clothes while listening to the radio.
I don't miss it one bit.
Even so, the satisfying smell of freshly laundered sheets, taken down from the line, folded neatly into a square brings back a lot of crazy memories of backyard washday.

1 comment:

squawmama said...

Good Morning Mary, I agree 100% about the laundry. I love it when we are at a park where we can throw a line up and dry our clothes on it... especially the sheets and towels... This was a fun post to read and it did indeed bring back a flood of memories... Thanks!

Have Fun & Travel Safe