We Used To Hang Our Clothes To Dry

When neighbors knew each other well, by what hung on the line . . .

There were usually 5 or 6 lines, each about 14 feet long,  5 1/2 feet high, and with long wooden poles that could push the lines UP so that the ‘wash’ wouldn’t brush against the  ground and get dirty and yet allow  the lines to be within  easy reach for the one hanging the clothes.

These were unwritten rules, but  every  woman  knew them by heart and followed them to the last word.

1. You WASHED the Lines each Monday, by  wiping their entire length with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dust that would soil the just-washed clothes.

2. Wash day was on a Monday.  Only death or dying permitted any other day, and even then NEVER on a Sunday.

3. Even if it were sub-zero weather, clothes would  ‘freeze-dry.’

4. You had to hang clothes in a certain order, always hanging whites (bed linen) with whites, shirts with shirts, sox with sox, towels with towels, pants with pants and so on.

5. And socks were hung by the toes, NEVER by the tops; Pants by the BOTTOM cuffs, NOT the waistband; and NEVER a shirt by the shoulders, but always by the tail.

6. Sheets and towels were hung on the OUTER Lines so that your ‘unmentionables’ could hang unseen on the middle Lines and some women, modestly hung their underclothes INSIDE  pillow cases, shielded  away from prying eyes.

7. There were Clothes Pin bags that you nudged along the  Lines to be handy when hanging clothes, and to put those pins  back in again, when taking down the dried clothes.  It looked ‘tacky’ to see pins on empty Lines and also they would get dirty and so soil the next Monday’s wet clothes.

8. If you were efficient, you would hang the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but  would share  pins by overlapping the corners of  two items.

9. Clothes had to be OFF the line before dinner time, sprinkled  and neatly rolled, placed in a clothes basket, and ready  to be ironed on Tuesday. Never, never Monday evening.


A Clothes Line was a news report for people passing by,

For there could be no secrets, with clothes hung out to dry.

It also was a friendly Line, for neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by, to spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the fancy towels and sheets, upon the line.

And the special ‘company’ table cloths, with intricate designs.

And also of a baby’s birth, of those  who lived inside

As brand new infant clothes were hung so lovingly with pride.

The ages of the children could readily be known

And seeing how the sizes changed, you’d know how much they’d grown.

It also told when illness struck, as extra sheets were hung

With nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too, haphazardly strung.
They also said, “Vacation time”, when Lines hung limp and bare

And , “We’re back” was told, when crowded Lines had not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned if clothes were dingy, gray

And neighbors carefully raised their brows and looked the other way,

But today the Lines are of the past for dryers make work less

And now, all that’s there within a house is left for us to guess.

But I really miss that way of life, ’twas such a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other well, by what hung on the Line.

( anonymous )

I Really Shouldn’t Tell You This, But . .

There are many over used phrases that insure the audience (whether one or a hundred), will stop listening before the speaker gets started. I know, for I’ve been on both ends. A glazed look comes. over every face and before long they pardon themselves as they suddenly re-member they have a pressing appointment elsewhere.

One of those phrases is, “W hen I was your age . . .” and no one will listen. Those younger than you will rightly suspect you are seeing it all through rose colored glasses, And those y our own age, won’t listen for they’ll be waiting for a chance to break in and tell their own story. Which, you can bet your life, they’ll make far better than yours.

Any conversation that begins, “There are two sides to every question . . .” is generally trying to make the weaker side look as good as the stronger. And you know that least one person will always take the ‘other’ side just for the sake of an argument. And probably to-morrow he/she will be telling the praises of the other side.

Any statement which begins: “Now, if I were running things, I’d . . .” is scarcely worth hearing. For when or if they ever do have charge it isn’t long before they begin to look, talk, and act exactly like those w ho have been in charge before. And if you don’t believe me, just think of how different candidates for the Presidency sound compared to when they become President.

As, President Trump of today, and Candidate Trump of six months ago. Yeah.

Any conversation which begins: ” Well, you only live once. . .” is bound to be a defense of the sensual life with its no rules of drugs, alcohol, sex, and other facets of high living”. Actually that phrase is a concealed apology for doing as we want to do and to heck with any criticism.

And the phrase which begins: “I have an unbelievable offer (plan or investment, etc.). . . ” will turn out to be unbelievable and when you once actually see it in ‘black and white’, and read the fine print” you can’t help but wonder why you took time to even listen. It’s said that if it sounds too good to be true. . . it is. And just hope you didn’t lose any money with that ‘unbelievable’ plan.

Any story that begins; “I’ll never forget the day . . .” usually introduces an anecdote about a day that would be better off forgotten, and one you have heard several times before.

And when your boss begins: “I’ve been keeping my eye on you . . .” just know that it might be a raise in title or such as a higher title, but be surprised if it means a raise in pay.

Any conversation that begins with: “I want to tell you something as a friend . . . will contain a piece of unsolicited, unnecessary and usually offensive bit of advice that will probably show more enmity that friendship. Take heed . . . that person usually isn’t your friend.

And when someone begins a sentence with: ” I don’t want to brag about my grandchildren, but . . .”   know that the person is a downright liar. I tell you, I enjoy bragging about my grandchildren, keep a mile long string of photos in my purse and I get them out , too, whenever I can trap some poor soul into listening and looking. But this is one time when you gotta be quick or they’ll interrupt and brag about their grandchildren before   you really get started.

Any statement that begins: “That’s funny. I know someone with the very same symptoms, and the doctor told her. . .” shows you have fallen into deep pit of conversation with one who is known as “The Health Bore”. He or she has read up on all kinds of odd, off beat diseases and can keep going for the next hour. And what’s doubly boring, is that they’re often right, too.

Any statement that begins: “If you ask me, the way to put an end to all this turmoil is . . .” means you’ve found someone who probably can’t even get along with his boss and co-workers. his children, neighbors, or in-laws, but . . . on the world level . . . boy, oh, boy is that one ever good. And for reinforcement, just refer to my fourth paragraph.

Any conversation which begins, in sotto voce “I shouldn’t tell this, but , , ,” means you’d better run.   Run as fast as you can. Anything that begins in that ‘confidential’ way won’t be for your own good, so don’t even listen.   You’ll only end up with a guilt trip . . . and resentment to the one who, ‘for your own good’, dropped the load upon you.

There are probably dozens more of these old cliches, and I’ve probably used the all, and so have you. but they are what I said, ‘cliches’ and should be dropped into the bucket that hold all those old out dated words. but before you do that . . . send your favorites along to me or post them here.

Kids Have Big Ears

and great memories . . .

Never underestimate the intelligence of a child. Their cognitive senses are operating at full blast long before they can communicate or comment. And the memory of what they see and hear stays with them. And sometimes they surprise you with what they not only saw, but heard and later on understood what was said. Wow, wow, wow.

My son, Bill, while yet in diapers, had a favorite cozy nook, between a corner and two hallways, where he could see pretty well what was going on in a good part of the house, and so, one day, I found that he heard and remembered for more than I thought possible.

His older brother, John, kept busy with ‘grown up’ stuff, but Gram and I talked about lots of things and people as I went about my daily chores. Later on as Bill learned to talk, we also found there had also been another pair of ears taking note of what we said. And was good at remembering, too.

Yes, one day, after he could talk Bill said, “Mom, do you remember when you and Gram were talking about . . . ?” and he then went on to tell me about that day, and, surprised, I answered, “Yes. Bill, I do.”

“Well”, he said, “that isn’t the way it happened.” And that dang kid went on to tell us exactly what had happened and Gram and I looked at each other in disbelief. And if he, the child was right, then my ideas of children’s abilities, in fact, children barely out of infanthood, took a great big turn-about.

I looked at Gram with eyes agog, and said, “Okay, thanks,” and the child casually went on with his play, but Gram and I knew then that it had been no unthinking child hearing our conversations, and I began wondering what else he had heard and understood. And stored away. Plenty, no doubt.

My sister tells of a like happening to her. Our mother, Nettie Ohlin, and her friends, did their summer quilting outside in a tree arbor of ours, with Bernice as a child, playing under the quilting frame the women used, and where she heard the women’s talk. She now tells me she knew story after story about our neighbors, long before she knew what it all meant. But, oh, what a foundation of learning.

I knew kids copied what they heard, for Bill’s older brother had proven that, also.  He too, was still in the diaper stage, and was sitting on the middle of the kitchen floor (where else?) and was swinging a small play plastic hammer his Dad had given him, and, of course, was pretending he was hammering with it. And of all things, over and over he was saying, “G. . D. . .   G. . D . . .”

Well, I hurriedly found another toy for him to play with, hid the hammer and couldn’t wait to tell his Dad that a few changes had to be made in everyday ‘shop’ language. Who told us that parent hood would be without shock? ? ?

And later on, I saw a daughter of a niece of mine do the same. Oh, not the cussing, just the awareness of what was being said. My niece was sitting near me, with her less than two-year-old daughter on her lap. She was telling me, that she was expecting another child, but decided not to tell her daughter (yeah, the one sitting ritht there on her lap) about it.

I laughed and told the expectant mother that she had already ‘spilled the beans’, and that the child on her lap understood what she had said. She looked at the child, the child looked at her, and the looks in the eyes of both, child and mother, was hilarious for both of them were surprised.

The mother to know that her child had understood, and by the look the child gave to me, it was evident that the child was surprised to know to know that there was an adult who knew that she understood. I laughed again in delight.

Stupid kids?? No, they’re all the same, and if you think not, you’re only fooling yourself. No, they don’t have the ability to talk, but my oh, my, they have the ability to hear and  remember.

Think back on your own life, you simply listened to what was being said, (that’s  how we learned to speak and say words) and it became part of us.  We knew and remembered. There are no secrets around children. They might not know all the inner meanings, or have the ability to comment, but, boy oh boy, do they ever know the facts, And have good memories, too.