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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Clothesline Thoughts

Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011, at 11:54 PM

My granddaughter KaeLynn, who is my old-fashioned girl!
Back in the day of wringer washing machines and clotheslines; the neighborhood social barometer was based on how white your sheets were and if you observed laundry day like everyone else.

I could even go back further before the advent of washing machines to the dreaded washboard. Women stuck to their routines and would hardly ever deviate from it.

Why? Because they worked pretty hard to keep a home and their families clean and fed. You didn't get your fried chicken from the grocery store or even the fast food place. You got up in the morning and killed one and dressed it out for the family's main meal.

In fact, in really hard times, many things were not purchased in the store, they simply "made do" Clothes were not thrown away, but carefully mended and cut down for the next child. Flour sacks were a bonus for mothers because they could make underclothing and other items to stretch the household dollar.

Back to the social barometer; women in the neighborhood paid particular attention on wash days to what was being hung up on the clotheslines. Were your sheets as white as they could be? Did someone get a new shirt or acquire a fancy unmentionable?

They knew if you were doing well financially by what was on the clothesline. Sheets that were often mended versus brand new white ones. New clothing versus mended and clothing that looked slightly familiar, but was cut down to a different size.

They also knew if you were feeling poorly or in the "family" way if you missed a wash day. The sacred days of laundry, baking and cleaning was a measure of a woman's character and those who chose not to observe this tradition was considered lazy.

We don't know much about our neighbors anymore. It is rare that you find white sheets in the store let alone on a clothesline. The amount of clothing in our closets might make these hardy women nearly faint to think about a wash day now!

How convenient it is to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine and go off to do something else that you enjoy. And then there is that wonderful dryer that keeps your permanent press wrinkle free.

I had a wringer washing machine when my kids were young and if I didn't work full-time, I would still have one. I loved it! Your clothes were clean, you saved water and there was something therapeutic about putting your laundry through the wringer.

One of the old-fashioned things that I discovered to keep things white besides good-old sunshine was Mrs. Wright's Bluing. It had a multitude of uses. You could use it in your laundry, keep your poodle white, or if you were of a certain age, it kept your hair white too.

Hanging your clothes on a clothesline meant that you had time to visit with your neighbors. Toddlers could be attached to the line to avoid any straying and you could keep them busy by having them hand you the clothespins as you needed them.

I always think back on the best clothesline that I ever had and sigh! I wish I could have it here in Missouri. The air is heavier here and you only have some good days to hang out your clothes. We have wind, but where my house is located, it blows in the wrong direction.

I love the smell of sun-dried sheets and towels! There is only one other aroma that can beat it and that would be the delicious smell of homemade bread just out of the oven.

Working full-time outside the home, I really miss the days of sun- dried laundry; visiting with neighbors and keeping my house in order.

The clothesline kept all of your neighbors informed. If they knew that you were ill, they would show up with soups, fresh bread and and willing hands to assist you until you were caught up with your own work.

Women were told about 40 years ago, that they could have it all. They could work outside the home, their children would be able to fend for themselves and families could afford the little luxuries previously denied to them.

Instead, we have exhausted women; broken homes and debt. Those cozy coffee breaks while the kids are in school are a thing of the past for most of us. The wonderful appliances that were supposed to make our lives easier have enslaved us financially.

Women are just plain tired! They have added to their work load by trading one form of slavery for another. Will they ever again experience the satisfaction of seeing their sheets drying in the breeze and smelling the sunshine on them as they go to bed at night?

Of course, this is just my own personal wish and opinion. I am no more able to go back to the simple life than any other woman in this day and age.

So just for today, I am thinking of the wonderful clothesline that I had nearly 30 years ago and smelling the sunshine on my sheets as they flap in the wind.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Now, that was a good memory. I LOVE the smell, as you two do, of sheets dried in the sun. They are crisper, and it's hard to describe that smell, but it is warm and sunny. A couple times a year, I do still hang my sheets out, and I buy WHITE sheets.... makes me feel like I'm on a cloud I guess.... it's all in my head.

I still dry my jeans oustide, ... hang them over the top of that kennel you've all seen my kids locked in! I feel that it helps the jeans last longer, and saves me a couple more "runs" at the end of my dryer's life. Might be true, might not, but it's my way.

I can remember my kids hiding in my sheets hanging on the line on those sunny days....

Thanks for the memory!


-- Posted by jessiemiller on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 8:25 AM

I love hanging out clothes. I still hang out sheets and some other things. I have learned not to hang out towels in Idaho they turn into boards. lol!

I can remember when my 2 oldest boys were baby's at that time I lived in Kittery Maine and I hung out all year round. I can remember having to shovel a path and shovel under the clothes lines in the winter time. I hung diapers out and then when they were almost dry I would finish drying them in the house on a clothes rack..

It was quite a procedure to hang out. I washed the clothes in the bath tub and then I would have to put my boots and Jacket and hat on and carry the basket out to the back yard.

I didn't get my first washer and it was a whirlpool until I had 3 boys and living in Wisconsin. The oldest boy wasn't in school yet.

Thanks for the memories and a reminder to do the laundry today. lol!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 10:16 AM

I can remember a a winter or two when I had stiff clothes. I still loved that washing machine. It was a thing of beauty.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 10:44 AM

Forgot to tell you, your little Granddaughter is adorable and I want to steal that hat. lol !

I love old hats............... wish I would of hung on to mine. Now days its hard to come across old hats in the 2nd hand stores..

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 11:16 AM

I have quite a collection of them and my grandchildren are allowed to play with them.

I gave away 20 or 30 hats a couple years ago.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 11:30 AM

I can remember when I was a teenager hat's were very much in style and every year before Easter I would buy me a new one to wear to church.

I still like collecting but I sometimes wonder whats the point..........at my age I need to stop collecting and get rid of stuff.... I don't have any daughters or Granddaughters to pass it on to.

I've been thinking of starting up a collection of Holy Water Fonts they are so beautiful. I'm not Catholic but my boys were baptized Catholic when they were baby's and I used to go to Mass ...........Then I think NO more collections Mary!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 11:48 AM

I don't think we should make general statements about women of today being exhausted, in dept, and living in broken homes. We had women hanging their clothes on the line long ago in the same situation. Old is not always good, and new is not always bad.

-- Posted by History_Nerd on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 9:10 PM

But still it was a great story.

-- Posted by History_Nerd on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 9:15 PM

We had clothes on the line yesterday when the winds came. When small we were required to help with either putting clothes on the line or taking them off. Sometimes we'd use the old .22 gun to shoot the pins and pick the clothes off the ground when done. Mother didn't approve of that. Brings back lots of memories. Our washboard was in the back room by the milk separator. We got a ringer washing machine in the 50's and it was great.

-- Posted by skeeter on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 5:50 AM


Women are exhausted, I am one of them. None of us can have it all. Just enjoy the story, I enjoyed writing it.

Skeeter: Great Memories. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 7:34 AM

"Women are exhausted" is a generalization implying that all women are exhausted and that just isn't true. Those kind of statements make what could have been a really great story because you are a good writer into something, well, a little preachy.

I'm a woman and I'm not exhausted. I have fond memories of the past as many people do but I also enjoy our modern times and conveniences and look forward to the future. I enjoy thinking of the past but that's not where I'm living.

-- Posted by History_Nerd on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 8:54 AM

I think that you missed the point. just enjoy the story.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 9:25 AM

I don't write these blogs so that it is a one-size fits all. it is just my observance of life in general and a few good memories thrown it.

I don't think that say Women are exhausted is too broad of a generalization. Note that I didn't say that ALL women are exhausted.

And also note, the last lines. Just for today. Relax a little bit! I see preachy all the time in the media and I don't even come close to that.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 9:53 AM

sorry, saying, not say.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 9:57 AM

Relax Bonnie

You can't please everyone. After being on the blogs for the past couple years, I have found that out. No matter what you say someone will disagree! Happens to me all the time. That's what makes us different, we are not alike...... Even you disagree with what I have to say from time to time.....

And I have been insulted not by you but by a certain person and it doesn't bother me...... I have thick skin......lol! It's all part of blogging!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 10:25 AM

Thank you MSM.

I try not to get too touchy, but it is strange what someone will read into a simple obervation that astounds me the most.

I am not running for office or getting paid by the word and neither is anyone else.

We all wish for simpler days from time to time.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 10:32 AM

Believe it or not, I remember hanging clothes out because I was old enough to do it and my mom worked 2 jobs in order to raise the 3 of us.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 10:32 AM

Growing up in Wisconsin in the winter time, my Grandma hung clothes on a line down in the basement. My Mom hung clothes on a line up in the attic.... Whats nice these days is you can choose if you want to hang clothes. I choose not to hang them out in the winter, I would rather use the dryer. lol!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 10:50 AM

Women are good financial planners too.

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the

> family business.


> When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly

> father died, he decided he needed to find a wife with whom to share his

> fortune.


> One evening, at an investment meeting, he spotted the most beautiful

> woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.


> "I may look like just an ordinary guy," he said to her, "but in just a

> few years, my father will die and I will inherit $200 million."


> Impressed, the woman asked for his business card and three days later,

> she became his stepmother.

-- Posted by arsenal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 11:09 AM

Love that one.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 11:10 AM

KH Gal it looks like you got the last word on the discussion with stabor. You win, but you didn't learn anything!

-- Posted by sugdaddee on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 11:23 AM

I did learn something. There are people out there reading my blogs!

-- Posted by KH Gal on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 12:46 PM

Speaking only for myself, yesterday was the first and last time that I'm reading your blog. The few minutes it took to wade through the multitude of one and two sentence paragraphs is time that I'll never get back.

-- Posted by sugdaddee on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:22 AM

I agree Mike, that's why I always try to keep things separated. Bonnie, you did a great job! Keep it up. BTW are you in Montana? I think one of us is.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 8:32 AM

I didn't mean to start a big discussion. I just noticed that the old days on some of these stories seem to be romanticized, and assumptions made about how the writer thinks people feel about the old days and modern time. She seems like she might be about 80 years old, and if she is still writing at 80, well good for her, I say!

-- Posted by History_Nerd on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 12:22 PM

I'm going to be in Gardiner for about 3 weeks. I'll try and get some decent pictures in the park.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 4:00 PM

Some of those good old days weren't so good and I'm older then Bonnie, Zook or Roy. I have no problem moving into today....... I can except change !!

Using weapons (Belts, fists, wooden spoons, wire coat hangers, fly swatters) etc, on children should never have happened and I am happy its against the law today. Violence breeds more violence !!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 5:50 PM

A spanking is a spanking with your hand which you can still do today. Using belts or any other thing is not acceptable period! Back then it was accepted to use belts and etc and you didn't get arrested for it. Also beating your wife was acceptable there was NO law against it and there was NO shelters for women to go to.

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 6:35 PM

I took the weekend off and I am just catching up. Who would have thought that a clothesline would be so controversial?

I am only in my 50's. I made 3 observations, one on my own experience with the joys of hanging your clothes up and the other as to what happened in the past. And the last very important line, Just for today, I am feeling this way.

I guess I woke everyone up. Walking the Fenceline is about things that come to mind and stories. Relax and enjoy, if you would rather read about crime and politics, go ahead.

I was dirt poor when I had a wringer washer and a clothesline. It was about the only thing going good in my life at the time. I had a truck with no brakes, bad transmission and bald tires to travel in. Two small children and no job. My then husband left to take a month's vacation so that he wouldn't get himself into trouble.

I don't write about those things, because they are not very uplifting and happened a very long time ago.

We have all survived some tough times, but looking back and finding the blessings is a bonus. I am truly blessed.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Mon, Sep 19, 2011, at 7:57 AM

Well KH Gal, I hope things are working out better for you. It seems pretty egotistical for you to say relax and enjoy something after I made a comment about some tiresome generalities that you made. I think that you missed the point of my comment. I like good writing and maybe you yourself can consider relaxing and taking a criticism as an idea on where to improve.

-- Posted by History_Nerd on Mon, Sep 19, 2011, at 11:23 PM

Thank you for your insight. I will certainly try to do better next time.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 8:14 AM

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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.
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