Sunday, August 3, 2008


I do not know if it was just a Southern thing, or not, but hanging the clothes on the line is a vivid memory of my childhood. Not necessarily a happy one at the time, but a memory nonetheless. And one I do recall fondly now.

I recall how hard it was to get both sides of the garment up on the line and pinned, before one side would fall down and twist upon itself into a mad wad. I remember seeing the clothes my mom hung out and they were all joined together with a common pin between them. Hers always looked so neat and straight. I could not get the garments to share a pin no matter how hard I tried. One was always too thick or unwieldy. Therefore, I would always run out of pins and leave the stragglers in the clothes basket doomed to hang on the line for dear life while struggling in the breeze attached with only 1 pin. Some, I am sad to say, did not make it. They would fall to the ground in a sad heap of wet clothes, dirt and grass clippings.
And, I can still see the look on Mama's face when she realized her bra was hanging across the line with 2 clothespins instead of dangling discreetly with only one. Didn't make that mistake again!

The sheets were always especially hard to hang. When hung up by my mom or my Aunt Katherine, who lived next door and with whom we shared a common line, they were a thing of beauty. When the wind would catch them, they would billow out like a sail in the wind on a sea of green. But, mine never billowed. They would flap a little. But they were so horribly twisted where the sheet met the line, that they never stood a chance.

The smell! Do you recall the smell of freshly washed clothes? A mixture of hot sunshine, Alabama air, and the scent of whatever flower was in bloom at the time. A scent only God himself could concoct! I would bury my face in those just removed clothes and inhale deeply...enough to last me till the next laundry day. And though it has been years since I have smelled that divine perfume...when I close my eyes, and think of the sheets...I think I can smell it still! It was a beautiful thing!
FYI: April 19 is designated as National Hanging Out Day. It is designed to help educate the public on the amount of energy they can save by hanging out their laundry in the sunshine instead of using a clothing dryer. Our Moms knew that all along!


Kathleen Grace said...

Hi, I found you through Jan and Toms place. I remember hanging clothes on the line as a child and I still hang them out from time to time. In the summer the sheets ALWAYS hang on the line and it is such a joy to climb between the crisp sweet smelling sheets at night! Simple pleasures are the bast:>)

windycorner said...

Thanks for bringing back such a sweet memory. We had one of those umbrella shaped lines with four sides and yes my mom was a wiz at getting everything on there perfectly, too. Those sheets did have the most wonderful smell that can never be bottled.

Sharon said...

I remember my mom hanging those clothes on the line, somedays she would have those pink curlers in her head. hahaha and yes the smell is wonderful.
But you know "I" yes "I" do some hanging on my clothes line to this day. and love still the smell.
I save on my electric bill, but I just like that crisp smell, I mostly do it in the winter time, we don't have much winter here in florida but when we get that cool fresh air, it's wonderful
Thanks for sharing
God is so Awesome

Jillian, Inc. said...

Oh yes, that wonderful smell. I was just talking to someone about this the other day. Clotheslines are big in the midwest, too. I loved hanging clothes out, but did encounter the proverbial WADS on many occasions. And how about those clothespin bags? My mom had a couple and they were made with such neat fabric. Wonderful memories.

Musicaljean said...

I have been a very accomplished laundry hanger upper in my life time. I was dreadfully anal about having things lined up by size and type, etc.

But such things flew the coop when I went back to teaching 15 years ago. However, I do have one line that I still hang my sheets on, because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE crawling into bed when my sheets have that absolutely amazing outdoor fragrance. Ahhhh!

andi said...

Ohhhh, I loved watching our neighbor, Vivian, hang out her laundry! The sheets would blow in the breeze. I was brought up in Missouri. Such wonderful memories. Great post! I love thinking about such pleasant memories before bed...

justabeachkat said...

Oh yes! I remember. Such sweet memories, except for the times I helped Mama hang clothes when it was so cold my fingers felt frozen!


Dawn said...

I can still smell the scent of laundry that has dried in the sunshine. It is heavenly!!! I haven't had a clothes line in years. Maybe it is time to look into getting another one put up.

take care,

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Oh, what memories of hanging clothes. I do not believe we ever used our dryer in the summer. I too hated hanging clothes. I especially hated the sheets b/c it was hard to do by myself without getting the sheets on the ground and trying to get them straight so they hung above the ground.

I can say that I HATED and STILL hate the feel of line dried clothes. Oh, the jeans were so stiff they could stand by themselves. The towels were rough. I do believe when I did the laundry for my mom, I refused to put my underclothes on the line but I do remember seeing her bloomers out there.

That is hilarious about you stringing her bra across the line.

I was able to get my items to share a pen except for the obvious jeans or such. I think the ones I mostly shared pins with was the towels.

Thanks for the memories. Do you know of anyone who still hangs clothes? Believe it or not my mom DOES. She has a clothes line and hangs them every chance she can.

Earthmommy said...

I really enjoyed this post! I remember when I was first married and I hung clothes out to dry, feeling so proud to be caring for my hubby and our home. And oh I love the smell of sun-dried laundry.

andi said...

I am seriously contemplating a clothesline. T-jator would the golfers mind?

He Knows My Name said...

mom and i were just talking about this! we did have a dryer and mom didn't hang our clothes although the neighbors did. she recalled her mom washing clothes in the basement, putting them thru the wringer, passing them thru the basement window and hanging them in her postage stamp yard in detroit. in the winter she would carry them up to the third floor attic where she would hang them. then she would iron everything, even underwear! janel