Friday, March 22, 2013

The Clothesline

Recently I received an email containing a poem entitled “Remembering Mom’s Clothesline” that was very well written. It reminded me of the early years in my life when there were no clothes dryers and my early married days when we couldn’t afford to buy one.
I have no idea who the author of this poem is, but I hope they don’t mind my posting it on my blog for others to enjoy. The photo was an image I found on the internet. . . . .

Important Note: I received information (March 2016) that this great poem was written by Marilyn K. Walker and the real name is The Clothesline. This poem also won awards from the International Society of Poetry. 

A clothesline 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
f 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
From 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 also said, "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 and gray
As neighbors carefully raised their brows
And looked the other way

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much 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 out on that line

                                                 Marilyn K Walker


The technique for hanging clothes was passed on from mother to daughter and a strict set of rules evolved that any clothes-hanger worth her salt would abide by. (If you don't know what clotheslines are, you might want to skip these rules.)


1. You had to hang the socks by the toes... NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs... NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order. Also, always, hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, you know!)

8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather... clothes would "freeze-dry."

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky"!

10. 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.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that's a whole OTHER subject!

Herm’s note: No mention was made of the long wooden pole that was used to prop up a line hung with a heavy load of wet clothes or longer sheets

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post on clotheslines. They have that sentimental value. We seriously need a dryer machine, but continue to use our one-line clothesline. No so practical on rainy days like today (which means the clothes are drying inside on a French etendoir - a clickety-clack device with outstretched arms for holding the wet socks, shirts, and the rest).