No, I didn’t say it. Definitely not my thought. One of my 20-something Facebook friends posted it recently, and got me thinking. I pictured her saying this wistfully as she gazes at her backyard, imagining gaily colored shirts waving in the soft breeze and bright sunshine.
HAH! She’s too young to remember laundry without an electric clothes dryer. I, however, have the wrinkles (pun intended) to prove my years of experience in life, and I remember it well. Not many of those memories are fond, believe me.
Honey, let me tell you about life and laundry back in the day! I reared my first child to age six without a dryer and it was hard. I carried the heavy laundry basket to the line and plunked it down. Then, I wiped the wire line down with a cloth, to prevent “mark” on the clothes. Then began the fine art of clothes hanging. Shirts and dresses were hung upside down to expose more of the cloth to the air/sun. Then, the heavy jeans, hung inside out so the pockets would dry. Did I mention all this bending over caused back aches? Then came the towels and washcloths. Drying them on the line made them stiff, not fluffy like a dryer does.
And diapers! I can’t forget the diapers! Yes, we had to wash them and hang them and fold them. And let’s don’t even talk about how we got the poop out of them before we laundered them! Okay, I’ll tell you. It was quite the technique. You held the diaper by one end, flushed the toilet, and dunked the diaper up and down till the poop fell off and was flushed away. Nope – don’t miss that either. Disposable diapers were a godsend, believe me!
Now, let’s talk about hanging underwear on the line. Let’s be real! Today with clothes dryers, if your undies have a little hole, you don’t worry about it too much, right? Well, back then, you couldn’t hang holy undies on the line because your nosy neighbors would see them. They could see them because nobody had privacy fences. Yep, all your underwear was out there for the whole world to see – just flapping in the wind. I remember being completely mortified when I started wearing a bra in the 4th grade, and having to hang them on the line for the three boys who lived next door to ogle. They teased me because I wore “training” bras. By the way, does anybody know what they were being trained for?
Hanging clothes on the line is great when the sun shines. If it rains, you’re in big trouble. You have to run out there and snatch them off the line before they get wet. As a young housewife, many times I completely forgot them overnight, leaving them to be soaked with the morning dew. Can you imagine the nightmare of drying clothes in cold weather? You’d hang the clothes up, and they’d freeze stiff! Yikes!
Which brings me to the next phase of hanging clothes on the line, which is ironing. Back then everything had to be ironed. I’m getting upset just thinking about all of this, so I won’t go into all the work involved in that hateful chore.
I love my dryer – which this month turned 32 years old. I got her when my second child was born. She has been a faithful and loyal friend, drying my clothes, making my towels nice and fluffy, and keeping me from having to iron all these years. Yes, I know she is not an energy star, but she’s a member of the family, and I’ll keep her around because I love her. You can have your clothes lines and your sun-dried, fresh-smelling clothes. While you’re slaving there in the backyard and over the ironing board, I’ll be on to more fun stuff.