by Jerry Kasperek
I’m doing laundry today. Our laundry room, complete with automatic washer and dryer, is just a few steps away from my computer desk. And lucky me, I can do both – wash clothes and write a column, both at the same time.
Having said that, I confess that in this busy time of year, I decided to search my computer’s files to find something quick and easy to write about and found the following piece about doing laundry back in “The Good Old Days.”
For all of us who are a bit older, this will bring back the memories and I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
The clothes line…a dead give away. Do kids today even know what a clothes line is?
The basic rules
1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.
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.
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 line was ‘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 clothes line 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 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 carefully raised their brows, And looked the other way..
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!
Okay, I know there are people who still prefer a clothesline. And who could blame them? They like the smell of fresh air on their clothes and some items just don’t belong in a dryer because they shrink.
To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397