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.