Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Clothesline Memories

Clotheslines. Clothespins. Laundry baskets. Fresh sheets. Stiff towels. Blue jeans that could stand up by themselves after drying all day on the line. The wonderful fresh smell of clean clothesline dried sheets . . . fond memories. . .

I remember when we got our first clothes dryer, which I'm sure was a huge relief to my mom who spent years hanging freshly washed clothes (and thousands of freshly washed cloth diapers; there were four of us kids). But even with the dryer she still hung clothes on the line if the weather permitted. I loved going to bed and having sheets fresh off the line to lie down on; there is no fabric softener or dryer sheet that smell as fresh and clean.

My younger sister and I, along with the neighbor girls, would swing our Saturdays away on the swing set in the backyard, singing to the top of our lungs "Found A Peanut" song; pumping our legs to swing higher and higher to see over the clothesline filled with the weekend laundry.

When my children were small I had a clothesline put up in my backyard to hang the laundry, and enjoyed seeing their tiny clothes hanging between the sheets swaying in the breeze. When my son was about two years old I had just taken a laundry basket of freshly washed sheets out to the line to dry, he was playing nearby with his new shovel. I had just hung up the first sheet and came around to get the next one, and there he was shoveling red clay dirt right on top! If you are familiar with North Carolina clay, you know this is not something you can just brush off! Oh well, I have to smile at the memory now.

The Clothesline Said So Much

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 on the line;
You'd see the company table clothes
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To 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 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 gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work 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!

Author: Marilyn K. Walker (http://susie1114.com/Clothesline.html)


Anonymous said...

I too love fresh line dried sheets, but that is about it. I hurt my back lugging too heavy of loads to the line when the kids were little and it put me flat for two weeks...it is just not worth it to me.

Loved the poem though!

Natasha Burns said...

What a lovely topic Nora Lee!!!
Fresh clean sheets have a fabulous smell and feel. But I'm loving dryer sheets - we don't have them here in Australia but my friend sent me a box, I am constantly going and sniffing that box and I use one each time I use the dryer when it is too wet outside to line dry my things.

Mrs. Cherry Heart said...

What a fun topic Nora Lee!
I remember the days swinging on the swing singing at the top of our lungs!
My mum always hung our laundry on the line and I do still! I love my clothes line much more then my dryer!
I really enjoy hanging our clothes on the line, its not a chore its a pleasure!

Hugz, Dolly

Anonymous said...

I visit you blog often but never have commented. I just love this post.

Tara said...

You know hung sheets are a sure sign of spring!

Kathleen Grace said...

Hi Nora, there is nothing that compares to climbing into bed between fresh line dried sheets! The scent is so fresh and they feel so crisp. I cant wait til spring when I can use the line again. I remember hanging laundry out for my grandmother on the farm. I loved it them too! Thanks for stopping by my blog and your nice comments. So nice to meet you!

Dee Light said...

What a wonderful post. I know my mother and mother-in-law both used clothes lines in the past, but I really have no memory of one.

Wouldn't it be lovely if life would slow down and we could all use a clothes line again. Life is so rushed sometimes.

Hope said...

Hi Sandra,
Just trying to catch up with everyone tonight and wanted to stop by and say hi. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for us. DH was released today to go back to work so the medicine is doing its job finally!

Boy do I remember wash day. Always on Monday at our house and ironing on Tuesday! :) My mother was a stickler about that. I blogged about this one time and about crawling between those line-dried sheets at night. You're right, there is no smell like that freshness! I hated line-dried towels and washcloths though! RUFF!! LOL

Thanks again for your concern and checking on me! I appreciate it.


Kelli said...

What a lovely post, Nora Lee and I enjoyed reading about your wonderful memories.
Thank you for entering my giveaway and your sweet comment too!

cherished*vintage said...

Hi Sandra! I really enjoyed this post! I too have such fonds memories of fresh off the line sheets and clothing. A clothes line is one thing I don't have...and I think I'm gonna have to change that!

a Pocket Angel said...

Nora Lee, What a fun post!
The clothes line brings back such wonderful memories for me. I remember my Mama hanging white sheets on the line and me, my sister & brother running through them.. I still remember that great smell.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post!
Hope you are well.
Hugs & love ~Mary~

Janet said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog this evening. I love yours; I certainly remember clotheslines and clothespin aprons. When my boys were little I had a clothesline and I took great pride in hanging their clothes and diapers nicely spaced. Sometimes I hang my quilt over the deck railing on a nice day just to freshen it and get The Smell!!

nancy said...

That's a great poem. I remember when.

Abounding Treasures said...

Clotheslines bring back wonderful memories for me as well and I had a very similar post on my blog from a few weeks ago!

I still love the sight and smell of sheets and towels drying on the line even now :-)

Unknown said...

What a wonderful poem, what wonderful memories! And I'm certainly familiar with this NC clay - wow - it's truly a challenge.