Friday, August 21, 2009

Hangin’ it out to dry

Dilapidated cars propped on blocks on grease-stained driveways? Messy yards? What is this neighborhood blight that they're talking about? According to some people, it's a clothesline. Don’t you know they’re so déclassé?

More and more you hear about homeowner associations and town ordinances stipulating “No Clotheslines!” I saw a woman on the news the other night who said she was going to file a complaint with her town because a neighbor had a clothesline in her backyard that you could view from the street if you craned your neck. Imagine!

I miss hanging my wash outdoors. Living in an apartment or a condo as I have for the past several years means having to forego the fresh-air smell of sheets that have dried in the breeze. True, that with fabric softeners today, towels are softer when they come out of the dryer, but it’s not a choice I’d make if I could.

Clotheslines are also a reminder to me of the days as a child when one of my first jobs was to help my mother by removing and folding the wash that hung in the backyard.

We actually had two parallel clotheslines. Sometimes my sister and I would drape a blanket or old sheet across the two of them and make ourselves a tent. We’d have our dolls there and pretend we were on a Conestoga wagon heading out west.

I am somewhat optimistic that clotheslines won’t disappear completely, however, when I am in the aisle of a supermarket and see them for sale along with bags of clothes pins. (Do children today know what clothes pins are for besides creating little characters with faces?)


  1. Another thing that has disappeared from daycare centers and kindergartens is the toy ironing board - teachers say most kids don't know what they are or how to use them.

  2. I love clothes lines! What could be better than solar and wind power combined?

    After returning from a trip to Venice a few years ago and being enthralled by the laundry, I began to try to hang my clothes out as if they were a work of art. Which piece of clothing looks best to the next and how do they all work as a composition?

    My current clothes line is a memorial to my late dog, Athena. I repurposed the 100 foot long line to which she spent many happy hours being tethered. Each time I use it, I think of her.

  3. What creativity...making art out of wash on a line! I love it.

  4. We just returned from visiting Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and we saw dozens of clothelines. What a wonderful sight. Also lots of small gas stations with serive bays attached. Another sight we don't see anymore in the U.S.