I miss my clothesline


Washing is one thing but how do you dry the clothes.

In cities we see pulley lines across from one building to the next. The pioneer woman probably laid them across a bush. Apartments and hotels sometimes have a retractable line that stretches across the bathtub. And there is the fold out wooden rack like the one Mary and I use at the condo. It is in many homes. Somewhere along the line, someone built a couple of T-shaped uprights and strung two or four lines between them. It took care of the larger things like sheets. Of course, it was called a clothesline.

We had one when I was a kid and even had one during the 43 years out on Ewing Street. Four liners both places. Moms needed a lot of lines for diapers. (I know, some of you are wondering why you would hang a diaper out on a clothesline instead of just throwing it away.) Ours out on Ewing Street was near the pool. It was great for towels and bathing suits. Alas, now condos don’t allow them.

I remember Mom wiping the wires off before hanging the clothes. It was always on Monday. Monday seemed to be everybody’s wash day. Nowadays clothes washers and driers don’t care what day you use them.

Now, there is the question as to when you hang the clothes out. When I spent some time down south, I discovered the southern ladies always hung the clothes out at night. The reason you ask. Well, some say the moon makes the clothes whiter. Why not! Doesn’t the moon brighten up the night? Why not the clothes? I never argued with a southern lady.

Others say it is because the dew in the morning made the clothes softer. That makes sense doesn’t it? Reminds me about a dining room back home named “The Dewdrop Inn.” Get it? I know it doesn’t have anything to do with clotheslines, it just popped in my head.

Actually, I think it was because of modesty. Southern ladies wouldn’t want to have their undies hanging out during the day for everybody to see. Southern ladies were that way about their undies.

Well, no matter what the reason, Mom always had an order for things. The clothes were hung in a certain order. You wouldn’t want the neighbors to see your clothes just any old way. Sheets on one line; work clothes on another; undies on the middle line. Northern ladies have modesty too.

So anyway, I miss our clothesline. I could hang my apron on it after doing the dishes.

Don Hill is a resident of Seymour and has served as a volunteer at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts for more than a quarter of a century. Send comments to [email protected].

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