I grew up way out in the country. It wasn't the end of the world but you could see it from there. I loved the halcyon lifestyle and cherish it to this day. If everyone had the kind of life I had with the influences of my parents and the community, life would be better for all. Crime would be almost non-existent. Families would be havens of love and life.
Our closest neighbor was a quarter mile away and hidden by trees. Our house sat down a lane at least three football fields in length from the main road. We had a solar powered clothes dryer and it was 100 percent effective. It dried everything at no cost and it was always available. I recall our line was number nine wire that stretched between two poles about 30 feet apart. I remember that there were actually two lines. If we ran out of line space overalls would be hung on the fence. The last items washed would be overalls, rags and odds and ends. The rags would be placed on bushes giving meaning to the idiom, "Now that puts the rag on the bush." That means we are done, it is over, the end.
BW is a long time and quite influential member of the IEHA (Indiana Extension Homemakers Association in Hendricks County. She has held every office and many of them more than once. She is the haute monde of IEHA. They are plugged into Purdue U. and they are responsible for a large portion of the exhibits at the county 4-H Fair. She showed me a newsletter that included two items that interested me: One was the basic rules for clotheslines and the second was a poem on clotheslines.
The Basic Rules For Clotheslines
By Kindred Grace
1. You had to hang the socks by the toes, not the top.
2. You hung pants by the bottom/cuffs, not the waistband.
3. You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes. (It is amazing how much rust and dirt came off on the rag I used.)
4. You had to hang the clothes in order, whites with whites and hang them first.
5. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail. What would the neighbors think?
6. Wash day was on 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", "delicates" in the middle (perverts and busybodies, you know.
8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather, clothes would freeze dry. And they did. Almost.
9. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the lines were "tacky" and they got dirty and broke more easily.
10. If you were efficient, you would sequence the clothes so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one with the next item.
11. Clothes off 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.
Then a poem was included that gives the power and magic of communication that the clothesline had.
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 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 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.
Go to my website Larryvandeventer.com. Larry Vandeventer grew up North of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State U. -- four times. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656.