You know, I tossed a load of laundry in the dryer a bit ago. Push a button and away it goes,soon to have nice fluffed dry clothes.

While I did it and now, I am thinking of the days when a load of wash went into the big old basket and off you went to the clothesline.

Here on the Ridge, it was strung between trees, just outside the back fencce for years. When we lived in New Hampshire, a pulley line reached from the back stoop to a tree across the yard, raising the drying clothes like pennants to a height about 15 feet off the ground.

Sure it took longer! And things did not always get dry, and birds and bugs might think your sheets and towels made good landing pads for things you didn’t want there.

Towels were not as soft, jeans came out like boards… but the exercise was good, and the sun fresh scent just does not come from a bottle or a dryer sheet of ‘softener’.

I will spend a few nostalgic moments, thinking about wiping the lines, wooden spring clothespins snapping apart, and all the other ‘fun’ of line drying… then I will appreciate more my “push a button and get on with other things” way of life.

Sometimes ‘convenience’ is good.

THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES:      My mother thought these rules came straight from God.

(If you don’t know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)


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.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

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 of 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.