hanging out the wash

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One of the most wonderful things about Facebook is reconnecting with childhood friends. In the eighth grade, or grade 8 as they called it in Canada, I met a smart, cute, and funny new friend. Her actual name is Shana, but she liked to be called Trixie (just like Trixie Belden "girl detective'). To me, she will always be Trixie. 

See how cute she was and how cute she is today?

That is Trixie on the left (no that woman with the curly blonde hair isn't me, but she has great hair, doesn't she? I wish mine was that thick SIGH!)

Well, I have totally digressed. Trixie sent me a cute email this week about hanging out the wash. As I am into all things vintage and natural, and many people are once again taking their laundry out to be hung on a clothesline, I thought I would share it with you.

 Remembering Mum's Clothesline

here is one thing that was left out.
We had a long wooden pole (clothes pole) that was used to push 
The clotheslines up so that longer items (sheets/pants/etc.)
didn't brush the ground and get dirty. 
You have to be a "certain age" to appreciate this one.... 
(But you YOUNGER ones can read about "The GOOD ol' days"!!) 
I can hear my mother now....
(If you don't even know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)
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, and 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 neighbours 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, y'know!) 
8.     It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather.... Clothes would "freeze-dry." 
9.     ALWAYS gather the clothes pegs when taking down dry clothes! Pegs
        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 pegs, but    shared one of the clothes pegs 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!

And now a POEM .......
A clothesline was a news forecast, To neighbours passing by, 
There were no secrets you could keep, When clothes were hung to dry. 
It also was a friendly link, For neighbours 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 designs. 
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 grey, 
As neighbours 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 neighbours knew each other best.
By what hung out on that line

  Thanks Trix!!


  1. What a beautiful post and poem! Yes, I remember those days. I still hang my clothes up on a hanger when it comes out of the washer. Less wear that way. Cause I rarely buy clothes!

  2. I just discovered you blog and use my clothesline faithfully. And follow most of the rules ;)

  3. I have always hung clothes out to dry. Especially once I moved to my grandparents farm. I rarely use the dryer. I love the smell of clothes brought in from the line.


  4. Cute post! I don't hang clothes out but I do remember when we did! I helped my Mama!!

  5. Thank you so much Laura for a lovely blog about how we saw life then and now. I don't think you or I have changed that much at all in the values we still share. The body ages and we get wiser, that's what changes. We are still country girls at heart with lots of other experiences. (The other lady next to me is my cousin Kim who grew up around Cobourg, ON. We also share the same family experiences from our life with our aunts and uncles.)

    Trixie (((~_^)))

  6. I ahem remember my Mom having a wringer washer, so yes clotheslines are right up there in my memories. Since we just inherited on in this house I have been using it a lot. And.....trying to remember all the rules. LOL.

    Thanks for posting them.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. What a fun post. My Mom wasn't quite so particular about how the clothes were hung. I guess she was just glad to get help doing so, but I did help her to hang clothes on the line and then in my early married years, I used the clothes line to save money on the electric bill. Love the poem.......and how very true some of that was.

    Thanks for the memories.

  8. Oh, I love this! We had certain ways to hang them too, gathered the clothes pins in a clothes pin sack that we hung around our neck. I've seen clothes freeze on the line too. This brought back some sweet memories. Of course, at the time, I didn't think the work was so sweet. Nothing like sheets hung on the line.

    Thanks for this sweet post.
    Happy 4th.

  9. SO true! I love this poem! I wish I lived in the days of clotheslines :)

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. What a wonderful memory. I certainly remember my mother and the neighbor girl's mother running their hands on the line with a cloth to clean it. My mom often wore a big white hat that came down over her face and little plastic sunglasses were cut out in the hat so she could see. It worked great.

  11. I never hang the socks by the toes or pants by the hem -- guess I always did it wrong! lol But I do wipe down the clothesline before I hang my clothes.

  12. LOL! My mom enforced similar rules for hanging clothes on the line. It seemed that there was always a basket of clothes to iron -- sprinkled first, then ironed.

  13. What a great post, Laura. Do you know I still do most of those things everytime I hang clothes out. I don't, however, hang my towels out- they get too scratchy-...oh...and I might leave a peg or two on the line- although my Mother never did!!! xo Diana

  14. Jeepers, Laura! I've never met anyone who knew anything about Trixie Belden. I loved her, I wanted to be her. I read them without stopping and then begged for the next one. I drove my mother up the wall with needing a new Trixie book. I'm so excited to know a fellow Trixie fan!
    When my niece got to third grade, I found and bought books 1-4 hoping she'd love them as much as I did.
    She had no time for books, but I'm ready to try with the next one this summer.
    (Yes, this is me geeking out.) I'm practically dancing in my chair. ;) Woo hoo!
    I didn't have a friend named Trixie, so I had to name one of our dogs in her honor.
    Cute post on the clothesline, too. :)

  15. Fun post! I remember when my mom hung the wash out to dry. I never do except for beach towels or bed linens.

  16. I remember all of those clothes line etiquette points. The fun thing, I have a clothes line. I use it sometimes, I think I'll use it more.

  17. Brings back memories!!! Funny how there was such a strict etiquette for hanging the wash! I've heard many a times, someone say, "I knew there was nothing to her (whoever her might be), she left her wash out on Sunday ...or overnight!" LOL! Cute post!

  18. Well, I have learned something new today. I grew up with a dryer in the house, so never experienced clothes drying on a line. I never knew there were so many rules! Ha! Glad for new technology. Today, if something has to be hung to dry, I do it in the shower or out on my back deck on a clothes rack.

  19. I always worried I would run out of clothes pins, not I learn I was just being efficient. This was great.

  20. Great post! I remember those days of hanging out the wash. All of those rules were ones my mother went by. I really remember how stiff the jeans and towels were after drying in the sun. And the ironing! Seems like it never got done before the next wash day. My mother would sprinkle down her clothes and roll them up and let them sit a while before ironing them. I have a clothesline but rarely use it.

  21. Oh wow, this is one of those rare moments I get to feel how close we have been despite the immense distances. I am amazed I had forgotten so many of the points in the list... You made me smile today (again)! And your friend hasn't changed at all! I can see the girl in her eyes!

  22. hi laura!i was born in 1975 vermont raised on a dairy farm.my dad has lived there since he was 3.my parents still live there.they have always dried there clothes on the line & still do.from a tree to the house.also on the back porch.i remember the winter times my clothes being frozen stiff like cardboard.the pants looking so funny.i miss that.i moved so far away but maybe 1 day we will set it up.thank you for the memories and reminding me of my childhood.we also had well water.they still do.my dad is will turning 80 my mom is 71.i am the youngest.thank you again


All verbal donations to my comment box are gratefully accepted. It is free for you and priceless to me.