Thursday, August 1, 2019

On the Line

Young woman hanging clothes on a clothesline Stretched Canvas -  (24 x 36)
Buy at Walmart
Wet clothing pinned and clipped on lines

Towels and pants on one high end,
Sheets and shirts other end of twines,
Hanging down low as centers bend.


But, in the middle, too shy to publicly fly,

Hangs the underwear, bleached and white.
Playing hide and seek from those near-by,
Wanting oh-so-badly to take flight.

Oh, for a strong wind to play,

Coming across and sweeping away
The blues, the whites, and the gray,
Onto tractor windows, passing this day.


Bras, panties with hearts, boxers brave

Landing square on a farmer's face,
No dignity there is left to save,
Underwear at last has found a place.


Art of the Clothesline


I have had much experience with laundry on the line, years and years of it.  

I wrote this poem with a head full of memories and my mother's commands to hang the underwear in the middle of the second line, out of sight.  "We don't want neighbors to see what we wear." 

 Neighbors?  The nearest lived a half  a mile away.  The lines were behind the house.  But I was obedient. 

If anyone wants to sing the praises of laundry drying on clothesline, go ahead. I will not be agreeing with you. Too many images carrying laundry basket after each other has left me with a desire to never hang clothes out blowing in the wind. Sorry.

This is a repost from 2015 in A-Z Blogfest, U is for Underwear. Dang it, it was entertaining to my brain to toss around.


55 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! At 80 I have precious memories of wash day and clothes on the lines - and I still hang my wash on the lines whenever I can. I've written it all down to leave behind as it's one of the things that new generations have no knowledge of - even though I doubt they'll ever want to know!

    I love your poem! And your blog.

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    1. thanks for stopping by! Writing down all those memories for our descendants is more important than one can realize. At my other blog, I am writing those stories and events.

      I'll pop over to visit!

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  2. I love it. Very good poem. I never knew until I was older there was order on the line. But my strongest memory was in Missouri, THE FIGHT was on the radio (no TV) Cassius Clay and my man Sonny Liston. I told Sherry, I will go hang the diapers out and will be back for the second round. There was no second round and Radio did not have a replay. I missed the big fight when Cassius Clay became the Heavy weight Champion of the world while hanging out diapers. He laid out my man Liston in the first round and the MOUTH of the SOUTH, became a household word. Later he was Muhammad Ali.

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  3. Awesome poem. I have not thought about clothes lines in a long time. I remember helping my mother hang clothes. I think that maybe she had an order and logic to it.

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    1. So far everyone has a clothesline memory! Excellent!

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  4. Makes you wonder how much coal wouldn't be sending carbon into the air if we didn't invent the dryer.

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    1. There is also the dishwasher. With our large family, dinner and supper dishes were a marathon of washing and drying, and then putting away.

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  5. Been there, done that, I'll use the dryer thanks very much.

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    1. First time we had to go to the laundromat, I was probably 6. The dryer made the towels fluffy, the sheet smooth, and jeans easy to fold. It was a miracle.

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  6. Great poem, Susan! I was in high school before my parents got a clothes dryer. Only as an 'old lady' have I come to appreciate the times she spent out in the ice and snow hanging our garments. The only thing I miss is getting to operate the old 'mangle' iron.

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    1. When the old wringer washer gave up, we got a washer but no dryer. Still, the washer cut time easily in half. I was in HS at that time.

      Mom never used a mangle.

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  7. My grandma had a wringer washer, so I know the clothes line. I used to like when she'd lower the line so I could help. :)

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    1. God bless her! She shared that as a memory for you.

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    2. I remember our wringer washer and always hating taking a turn at feeding the clothes into and through the wringer. I was scared of getting my hands caught in it.

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    3. I remember being scared of that too. I wasn't allowed to put clothes through unless she was right there helping/observing (but even then it was rare). She claimed that as her job. :)

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  8. I used to do the laundry in an old wringer washer and hang it on the line. We were seven children (including one in diapers) and two parents. I did the laundry to get out of doing dishes that day. Then I would sprinkle the clothes with water and roll the m up to prepare them for ironing. Which I would do on another day so I wouldn't have to do dishes. You might have figured out that I hated doing dishes.

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    1. Yes, I got that impression!

      I did the same with the ironing. Wash one day, iron another. We put the rolled up wet clothes in the freezer to keep them from moulding.

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    2. Here in Australia, especially the northern part of my state, things dried quickly, so the washing was hung after breakfast brought in and sprinkled after lunch, then mum ironed after dinner. Since the washing was only once a week, she had the rest of the week for other things, one night per week the after dinner task was darning socks and elbows of jumpers (sweaters).

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  9. I remember the old wringer washing machines. My mother had one and it was on wheels so you move it where it needed to be. The clothes always were flattened and then she hung them on the clothes line that was on the back porch. Lots of work and greatly appreciated by us.

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    1. What she did was an all day job! I am glad you all appreciated her!

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  10. Creative poetry. My parents did have a dryer, but in warmer weather liked to hang at least some of the stuff out on the line.

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    1. Did you ever help them, or do the same as an adult? I am guessing not.

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  11. I really like the feel and smell of sun-dried clothes. And DO use the line still.
    One of my most blissful memories is of staying in a Bed and Breakfast where they dried their bed linen (and it was linen) on lavender bushes in the sun.

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    1. OH, now I would do that. Lavender & linen are a good blend.

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  12. My mother used to say that hanging laundry on the line in winter is an art. She was right, and I learnt to be good at it. I never owned a dryer.

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    1. Winter wet laundry can be difficult.

      My brother was born in Jan. and I was born in Dec. My father always liked to tell how he helped to hang 100 diapers out on the lines. They freeze dried. Mom said it was the only time he ever helped.

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  13. That is a delightful poem, Susan.

    Some years ago, there was a man who was accused of stealing “only” large panties off of peoples’ clothes lines. I don’t remember how it ended, but I will bet you that a lot of people decided to buy a drier when that story broke.

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    1. That happened in my hometown. Same thing. The husband had had enough, so he flooded the ground beneath where underwear hung, leave an inch of water. Then he hooked up a car battery where the leads were in the water. That night, there were screams. It was apparently rewarding. the guy took off, never to return.

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  14. Enjoyed your poem and it brought back memories. Not of me hanging clothes for I was vertically challenged and too short to reach the line but it reminded me of how we kids would sometimes critique our neighbor's "unmentionables".

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  15. The photos and poem made me smile. My mother taught me the rules of hanging out the washing and I still follow them to this day. No dryer for me. Thank you so much for your comments on my blog, they are greatly appreciated.

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    1. Great to see your name!

      Happy hanging out the clothes. I am still traumatized.

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  16. Yep, I'm sticking with the dryer. Way less work.

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  17. Lovely poem. The second photo shows a washing board. Years ago they were used as musical instruments. You'd put thimbles in your fingers and play.

    Did you know in the UK there are some areas where it is aginst local laws/regulations to hang your washing on a line if it is visible from the street - e.g. in balconies or if your garden is visible from the street because of low fences.

    God bless.

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    1. Prudishness still reins!

      I remember those washing boards. Never played with them, but my gr-grandma's was made of wood. It was from early 1900s.

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  18. I discovered that we had a clothesline outside of my childhood home when I was an adult. We never used it. I have no idea why it was installed. But until I was older, I never noticed it nor knew what it was used for. I was spoiled with washer and dryer my whole life.

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  19. We hang clothes out as much as possible, but the underwear hangs on an indoor clothing rack. No need to scare the neighbors, as my Sweetie says.

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  20. Oh yeah, I rememeber that clothes line all too well. My mom had one in the backyard nd we were out there all the time helping her hang up the laundry.

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  21. I LOVE the fresh smell of washing hung to dry on a windy sunny day and I don't care how many basket trips I'd have to make. where I am now there is a community line that serves four units, rarely sees any sun and always dirty, so I hang my washing on airing racks inside the back porch. I really miss having my own washing line.

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    1. It is awesome that you love the air drying laundry.

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  22. I hung my laundry when I was living in Japan. I didn't exactly have a line or even anywhere to put one so I would hang stuff off door frames in the apartment. Not ideal but one does as one must. Rough in winter!

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    1. We have done the same. even used the kitchen chairs.

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  23. I like this poem and everytime someone tells me they prefer to hang out their laundry, I am laughing inside. I don't argue I just know I will never do it again unless the power goes out or the dryer breaks. we had a pole in the middle so that we had high ends and two other high places. we did not worry about the underwear, the high places were for sheets and long things that would touch the ground and the shorter things in the middle. my 2 sons were both in diapers in 1967 and I had no washer dryer. I had no money but would wash the diapers at the laundromat and go home and hang them on the lines.. sometimes the diapers froze... arrahh… never more on the clothes line

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  24. I feel your pain, oh yes I do.

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  25. You can't beat the fresh smell of washing hung to dry on the line on a nice breezy sunny day …

    All the best Jan

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    1. The smell of fresh linen is nice. Glade and Febreze have developed air fresheners called Linen, Fresh Air, and Rain. Trying to capture that delightful scent, they have done fairly well.

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  26. I can remember hanging wash out. I don't remember ever giving a crap what got hung. Of course, by then we had a dryer and line drying was mainly sheets and towels...

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    1. Apparently, you had not bonded to the experience? Glad you go to experience it, tho.

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  27. remarkable post dear Susan and exquisite poem :)

    loved it all saying about process of hanging laundry :)

    i learnt from mom to cover underwear and bras so no stranger specially men (guests such as) could not see .father and brother also should not have look what their daughters or sisters wears under clothes
    i still do it as i have sons :)

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    1. One's culture is the main determiner in that. My gr-parents probably had that train of thought, while my mom moved on.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!