Along the Garden Path


I received a cute email from a gardening friend and it really brought back memories. We are probably the last generation who will remember what clotheslines were. Some kids now days don’t even have an idea what a clothesline is. I understand that in lots of places they are illegal.

But, can you relate…?

You had to hang the socks by the toes… not the top.

You hung pants by the bottom/cuffs…not the waistbands.

You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes – walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first.

You never hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

Wash day on a Monday! Never hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday for Heaven’s sake!

Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle (perverts and busybodies, y’know!)

It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather… clothes would “freeze-dry.”

Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”!

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 item.

Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed. Ironed??!! Well, that’s a whole other subject!

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.

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

If company had stopped 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 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 on the line.

Enjoy your summer!

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