Hanging it out to dry…

You know what I never see anymore? Clotheslines. Except for the Amish, nobody hangs their clothes out to dry anymore. At least not around here. I thought of this last night, when I was getting ready to go to bed. I had a load of clothes in the dryer, doing my duty to contribute to the greenhouse effect, and another load still in the wash. I didn’t want to leave the other load in the wash, because by morning it would be all icky and I’d just have to wash it again. But the other clothes were far from being dry and I really just wanted to go to sleep. Then I remembered, I had the Mr. hang up a small clothesline in the laundry room for those clothes which may not be dried lest they end up only fitting a toddler. Even though he thinks you can dry everything on the cotton setting and put it all together – in both the wash and the dryer – and why are my socks pink now and my jeans too tight? I remember how he looked at me like I was on crack when I told him I wanted a clothesline, because hello, we have a dryer and electricity and why would you want to hang wet clothes on a line when you don’t have to? Duh. Kind of like when I asked him to put shelves in the hall closet. I mean, what’s wrong with just stacking everything from floor to ceiling and having it all fall on your head when you need that travel bag that’s at the bottom of the stack and was it really worth the thirty dollars we spent on those stupid shelves? To me, yes. But that’s neither here not there.

Upon the remembrance of the mini basement laundry room clothesline, I happily grabbed some spare hangers from upstairs and returned to the basement to hang the clothes. Now I realize they will not have the same Downy fresh scent as the ones in the dryer, which is actually a Bounce fresh scent because I buy Bounce dryer sheets and not Downy, shut up, because I used the last dryer sheet* on the load already in the dryer. They also will not be as soft as the dryer, or as soft as they would be if I hung them outside. But they’ll dry.

*I can never ever go to the grocery store and get everything I need. I always come home and say “Dammit. I needed this too.” Every single time.

I remember when I was younger and lived at home, one of my summertime duties was to hang out the wash every weekday when my mom and dad were at work. Every day. I guess we wore a lot of clothes. So every morning, I would get up bright and early (10 AM) because my mom always put the load in the wash before she left and I’d put the clothes into the laundry basket. (Hey! A laundry basket! To put clothes in! Instead of carrying them up the stairs and dropping all the socks and chasing the dog to get the socks back! Mr. has issues with doing laundry the proper way…) I would carry them up in the basket and out into the garage, stopping to pick up the jug of clothes pins (made of wood! (the clothespins, not the jug)) and placing it in the corner of the basket.

All of the neighbors had real clothespin holders. Little cloth bags with a hand-sized hole in it and a hanger at the top to conveniently hang on the line and slide along as you go. Ours was a milk jug. With the top quarter of it cut out to reach the clothespins and the handle sliced at the bottom which was how you hung it on the line. Same concept. But free. And if it wore out, it was easy to make another one because between the four of us we went through like five or six gallons of milk a week. My mom has always been thrifty like that, making stuff out of other stuff. And reusing things. Like tin foil, and bread bags (leaky boots? no problem! bread bags and rubberbands to save the day! and your socks! which were darned!). She saved the string out of the dog food bags. I mean everything. People made fun of her. Even my brother and I joke about it now. But seriously, when we had to bring home our paper lunch bags and the sandwich bags – not ziploc – too expensive – the kids kind of made fun of us. But, she and my dad now have no mortgage payment, no car payments, no motorcycle payments, no boat payment… I think she was on to something…

So I’d get our little gallon-o-pins and walk out to the clothesline and the dogs would always come with me. And I remember feeling the warm sun on my back when I hung up the clothes, squinting to see in the brightness, and the dogs running around the backyard, and the grass would still have some dew on the ground, and I’d be wondering if the bees were out yet because I didn’t have shoes on and I am kind of allergic to bees and I’d have to look down and carefully take a step each time I’d move down because I think our backyard was a clover field or something. I’d get all the clothes hung up, and then I’d take the laundry basket back to the garage and set the clothespin jug in it and set it behind the little door (I didn’t know those were called man doors until I was like 22 or something) that was held open by the sledgehammer because we didn’t buy doorstops either.

And I’d go back inside with the dogs, and get my cereal or poptart, and sit down in front of the TV, in the vinyl recliner with the stratches on it from the dogs’ claws, and sweat a little bit because, air conditioning? Oh hell no. Not until it was at least over 85 degrees. It bothered my dad’s allergies.

A few hours later, after blowing in the summer breeze, the laundry would be dry. I’d go back out to the garage, get the basket and jug, and head back out to the clothesline, dogs in tow, shoes on, because, yes, the bees are definitely out now, and I’d take down all of the clothes. Folding them as I went. I even took them down grouped together. Towels went first if there were any. Then dad’s – his were bigger. Then mom’s because she was the next adult. Then mine. Then my little brother’s.

I’d take them all back in and distribute to the proper rooms – everyone put their own in their drawers or closet – and then I’d put mine all away. Well, sometimes I was lazy and they’d stay on top of my dresser for a while, if I could find the top of my dresser.

But nobody does that anymore. Nobody has clotheslines. Nobody’s children have to hang out the clothes while they are on summer vacation. I think that everybody should have a clothesline outside. I wish I had one.

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2 responses to “Hanging it out to dry…

  1. That’s a really wonderful post. Great memory. Thanks.

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