Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Remembrances...Hanging Out The Wash

When I was a child growing up, it wasn't until I was about ten years old that our neighbors began to get dryers. And it was about the same time that we got out first clothes dryer as well.

Up until then, Mama washed the clothes before she left for work in the morning. It was my job to get them hung on the line before I left for school, and then take then back down when I came in that afternoon.

Mama had a specific way she wanted the clothing hung on the line. Because we lived in a city, and back then there was still such a thing as modesty [although it was rapidly disappearing!] Mama had me hang things just so on the line. First of all, at the casual glance, no one ever saw our under garments hanging on the clothes line! They were there, to be sure. But they hung neatly in between the rows of other garments and linens!

Underclothes went in the center most lines, surrounded by the other clothes. Pants were hung either on stretchers, or creased and hand-pressed and hung. This eliminated all but the lightest touch of the iron needed. Shirts were hung from the hems, and again hand-pressed as they were hung [a gentle smoothing out of wrinkles in the wet garment]. Dresses and skirts were hung the same. Again, eliminating all but a touch of ironing, if needed at all!

Towels were all hung together, as were washcloths, dish towels and dish cloths. They were folded while taking them down from the lines. This meant that they were handled less and were ready to be put immediately in the linen closet when brought inside.

Sheets, blankets and bedspreads were folded in half and hung lengthwise on the line. Never draped over the line. This took a bit of learning how to manipulate the linen, but when leaned, made it a breeze to fold and put away immediately, just as we did the toweling. No pressing needed. [Oh yes... linens were ironed in those days!]

Clothes pins weren't the spring-loaded kind that we still see today. Those springs wore out, and sometimes rusted and left rust marks on clothing. So all wooden pins were used.
Here's a variety of clothes pegs. We used ones like those on the far left.

Mama had made a homemade peg bag out of canvas that would hang over the clothes line and could slide along the line as needed. Something like this one:
via here

About the time I turned ten or eleven, Mama discovered that we could use electricity to dry our clothes, and bought our very first clothes dryer. What a life saver it was!

Unfortunately, about the same time..... Mama decided I was also old enough to run the washing machine as well. And all of the time I was now saving on hanging up laundry outside, it was spent in loading and unloading the washing machine!

Instead of Mama washing everything on a single day before going to work, I now broke up the laundry into a load every day. Whites one day, light colored another, dark colors another, toweling another, and linens on another.

Sometimes... I think we were better off without that dryer!!!

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