My husband and I were driving to visit the children. We were listening to music and my mind always roams when we do that as a song will remind you of a particular place, time or event. This prompted me to tell a story of my childhood and our laundry to my husband.
My mother had a separate little building behind the house that was appropriately called “the wash house.” She had her washer out there but, of course, there was no dryer. Her washing machine had a wringer on the top of it. After the washing cycle was over, she had to wring out the clothing and put it in a basket. We then took the clothing and shook it out and hung it on the clothes line to dry. You had to shake it before you hung it up as the wringer had it all smashed flat and twisted up.
There was a bag that hung on the line that was filled with clothespins. There were a variety of cute little bags that were available. A lot of women started to sew and make their own unique ones. My sister and I would just stick our hand right in there and pull out a hand full of clothespins. At times, we were such pros at it that we would stick some in our mouth so we could be so efficient and speedy at hanging the clothes. It did not take us long to become smart, though! Sometimes there were spiders and other bugs in that bag and sometimes perhaps some bird droppings landed in there. We learned to access that bag differently and to never put the clothespins in our mouths! We used some of our new found knowledge when removing the clothes from the line as well. After we removed an item, we would always shake it before putting it in the basket to avoid bringing any spiders or other such things in to the house with us.
I loved when they came out with the newer clothes pins that had springs and would open up like a clip. They held the clothing better than the ones that just had a slot cut in the pin. We had sticks/boards that dad had made to prop the line up higher if there were too many clothes dragging the line down too far. It was never good to have your clothes dragging the ground. We had really long clothes lines as we had 5 children at home which meant a lot of clothes! There were three lines in total. We hung the sheets and towels on the clothes line in front and the more intimate clothing behind those so they could not be seen from the road.
Neighbors were courteous and did not burn their trash when your clothes were out on the line. You could only hope, though, that the birds would know to leave the clothes alone! Haha. If they did not, mom would have to wash them again. You also hoped that it would not rain until the clothes were dry and if it did there was the mad dash by all to run out and remove the clothing. I actually thought the clothes line and the issues we had were fun. It makes me smile to think of these things.
I started laughing when talking to my husband about this as I remembered the winter season. He did not have a recollection of hanging clothes out, or so he says. He lived in a different town, but he did live in town. Perhaps things were different for “town people”. We lived in the country.
I was laughing and telling him how in the winter, if it were windy as well, the clothes would be hanging like this … and I attempted a pose to show him. Haha. The towels would be hanging at an angle and the other clothes as well. It was so funny taking them down and into the house as they were so stiff. It still makes me laugh today. For kicks, I googled and found an image that I will share. It makes me laugh as well.
It was a bit painful to hang clothes up in the winter as your hands would get so terribly cold. My mother eventually had the washer moved inside the house. It was on the enclosed back porch. It was not really a back porch, but we called it that. I remember at times, we would run a line and hang the clothes inside of that room.
There is nothing like the smell of clothing dried outside! It was always so wonderful to sleep on those crisp, nice smelling sheets. The towels, though, were sort of hard, not as soft as they are today when dried in a dryer. The clothes line meant that mom had to iron almost all of our clothing. She had a little squirt bottle with water to mist the clothing to make it easier to iron. That is probably what gave someone the idea of the steam iron. Things are a lot easier today.
For a short while, when my husband and I were first married, I would hang our towels outside to be able to enjoy the smell of those fresh towels. I did not hang everything out, just the towels and sheets. We moved in to town and I stopped doing that as well. The good old days were great, but they were a lot more work! I still miss them, though!!!