Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nostalgia Versus The Norm

Pia Hansen editor of the Spokesman Review's Home section wrote a wonderfully nostalgic piece on clothes lines for this morning's edition. Ah, memories.

There are two kinds you know. The first being a line or lines strung between various style posts; the other the umbrella style. We had both when I was growing up. Mom used the long lines for the sheets and the umbrella style for clothes.
Doing laundry in those days was really labor intensive. First, we had the old "wringer" washing machines. Using one of those babies in itself was a chore. Then the laundry had to be basketed and lugged to the outdoor lines and hung - all while soaking wet. And I had the audacity to complain when all I was asked to do was some ironing.

Yes. We ironed in those days too. Mom starched and ironed five white shirts a week for Dad plus just about everything else. I was supposed to do my own. There was no drip and dry or wrinkle resistant what's more wrinkle free!

When the laundry came in from the line it smelled wonderful. It was also stiff. Mom would sprinkle it, then wrap it in towels for a time so it would dampen evenly. For the large pieces she had an ironer that was called a mangle. I actually still have one. Mom couldn't sell it when she no longer had use for it but I still had large table cloths and some 100% cotton sheets for which I thought it would be useful.

Trouble is its stored in a closet in the office. The office is in our shop. The floor at its cleanest isn't something onto which you'd like your holiday linens to be cascading. Sheets skitter around too much and from the looks of my lap after reading the stack of daily papers, gray with smudged ink from newsprint, papers don't work either. The $13 the cleaner charges to launder and iron seems eminently reasonable!

Back to drying, however. I know of three neighbors who hang out clothes on a regular basis. I've never quite figured out why. Oh, I know the fresh air and sunshine scent is wonderful. But we live on the prairie where, when the sky isn't hazy from the smoke of field burning, is hazy from blowing dust. The wind is wicked nearly all the time and one day I truly expect to see a casualty .

I know these gals don't work anywhere nearly as hard as my Mom did. She never had a bad back and lived to 95. But one thing I do know - these gals more often than not have "True Grit"!


Word Tosser said...

Oh, yea, memories.... lol
I remember we had an old Maytag washer... with cement sinks.. Washing the run, thru the ringer,trying not to have fingers join the clothes.Back and forth, thru the rinse, and wringer..
Then one year, we had the sheets up on the line. Which was a pole in the middle of the yard to the house. Mom had 5 sheets out there. Frozen... do you know if you turn the corner on a frozen sheet it will break off?? Mom was not amused. I, personally, didn't have a dryer until the 1980.

Stephanie said...

Love this posting.

I also remember with some nostalgia having laundry come in smelling of sunshine.

I bought a clothes line a while ago but it is still in the trunk of my car. One day I'll hang it (my house is old and the hooks for a line are in place)and put out my laundry to dry in the sun.

saz said...

OMG A MANGLE! You are the first person I've found who knows what that is. We had one when I was little and my mom taught me how to do a man's long sleeved shirt perfectly on a mangle. I've mentioned it to a variety of people and get blank looks. A 90 year old friend still hangs her clothes out and we were arguing about how to hang certain items.
Do you hang jeans from the cuffs or waistband? Tshirts from the shoulder or hem? Great post.

Mel said...

my [paternal] grandmother still hangs her clothes out. my mom said about her own mother that, because of lugging wet clothes on her shoulder day in and day out, she now has pain there. my other grandmother has a basket, hehe.

though, my greatest fear isn't dust or the clothes being blown off or anything... it's bird poop xD i guess i was lucky the whole time i was living with my grandparents, that my clothes never got pooped on... can't speak for those of others, though, hehe.

take care, mari. see ya.


Betty said...

Mari, my mother also hung the clothes out on the line and had a mangle. My job was ironing the napkins and daddy's handkerchiefs.

Now, I can't remember the last time I ironed anything. Rescue it from the dryer soon enought and you don't have to. :-)

Phil said...

My 91-year-old grandmother told me that if she'd had a dryer "back in the day" it would've saved her so much time and effort.

Phil said...

Synchronicity tonight... Ten minutes after reading your post about hanging clothes up to dry, I was over at Brihans blog and she's just posted a picture of herself and her baby with, you guessed it, clothes hung out to dry in the background. Maybe air-drying is still popular in Australia?