Friday, March 16, 2012

Hanging Out The Laundry

My grandparents lived with us from the time I was 4 years old until they passed away. My mom always had a job, so everything I know about being a housewife and mother I learned from Grandma. She came through the Depression, so she was a very frugal woman. Her constant motto was, “Waste not, want not.”
Unless it was raining or it was winter, we ALWAYS hung laundry out on the line. Didn’t matter if it was a bed sheet or a dress shirt. It went on the line. And I have to admit that I really loved the smell of linens after being outside. Having to iron all the clothes was not my favorite…
And even when we did use the clothes dryer, Grandma would set it on a minimum number of minutes and then take the clothes out. If the regular clothes were a bit damp, all the better for ironing them right away. Everything else was draped over stuff or laid out on a bed to finish drying. And that’s what I learned. You put the dryer on a set number of minutes, and then drape the damp stuff out to finish. That’s just how it was done. It never occurred to me to put more time on the dryer…
When we were first married, the house we lived in had a clothesline in the back yard. It needed new line, and I made sure Marv took care of that so I could do the laundry properly. And I did enjoy the peace of being outside and hanging laundry. Over time, though, I started to revise my ways. Linens, towels, underwear and socks still went on the line. Regular clothes went in the dryer. I might still have to drape some of them, but for the most part they were dried in the dryer.
When we moved to our present house, there was no line in the back yard. I was nonplussed at that and asked Marv to put in a line. There was one in the garage near where we would be putting the washer and dryer, but it wasn’t nearly long enough to hang a load. With all that’s involved in setting up in a new house, the line didn’t get put in as soon as I wanted. So I was forced to do most of the drying in the dryer. Socks and underwear would fit on the inside line, but not linens or towels. As time went on, I became quite used to putting ALL the clothes in the dryer. And if they were a bit damp when I checked on them, I put more time on the dryer. Finally Marv got around to asking me where I wanted the line put in the backyard. I found I no longer wanted one. The one in the garage was suitable for the little amount of line drying needed.
In the 36 years we’ve live here, there have been maybe 2-3 times that the drying conked out on me in the middle of doing laundry. I know it happened once in the summer, and I had to drape clothes all over lawn chairs in the back yard. When it happened in winter, I had to drape clothes all over furniture in the house. Stuff that I could put on a hanger was easy to deal with. Sheets and towels were harder. But all in all, I don’t really miss having an outside line. Just once in a while though, on a summer day, it would be nice to bring in bed sheets smelling like sunshine. And yes, you can get that “springtime fresh smell” from fabric softener, but it’s just not the same.

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