Did your mom have a clothesline? Mine did and actually I even did.


(If you don't know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)*

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes--walk the entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines. 

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites", and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday! . .. . Never hang clothes on the weekend and definitely never on a Sunday!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y'know!).

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather....clothes would "freeze-dry."

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky!"

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED? Well, that's a whole other subject!


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, "Gone 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.


Mari said...

Oh the memories! My mom always hung clothes out on the line. I actually still have a clothesline, but I rarely use it. Sheets hung outside are the best!

Lady Dorothy said...

I still have a clothesline! I really like them. My mother taught me well rules #2,3,6,7, and especially #8!

ellen b. said...

Oh I do remember the clotheslines at our homes growing up. I used to have to hang diapers for my younger siblings. I remember standing on a footstool to reach the line. Fun memories Karin. Love the poem!

Ginny said...

I have a clothesline post to do, and I was going to use this poem!! Great minds think alike! But I love these rules!! I knew a few of them, but not most, very cool. I have taken down a line of clothes that were frozen stiff!

Warren Baldwin said...

We have a clothes line in our backyard, but it is never used for clothes. I hung my tomato plants on it this year!

Ann said...

That's a super woman's manual for laundry.

Sometimes we get so much rain, that I leave the laundry out a few days. LOl

The one about running a cloth on the line is a good idea, when you have birds, but I never remember to do it.

pam said...

I miss my clothesline. We can't have one at this house...out in the yard but I'm thinking of putting in a pull out line on our big back porch...there are just some things that smell so good when dried on a line. We used it to make forts growing up. My mom has always been a Monday laundry, Tues. ironing lady...I just go with the flow of when I have time. Fun post.

Sandy said...

Thanks for the memories!! I use a dryer now but do occasionally miss hanging out clothes on a summer day - sheets especially. They smelled so good!

George said...

You had the same clothes line rules my mother did. I remember we had to be careful to let two articles share a clothes pin whenever possible. It's too bad clothes lines are increasingly rare nowadays.
I love the poem.

Betty said...

Yup, still using one here. Monday is my washday too. It´s just good to have your clothes all clean and in the closet at the beginning of the week and not think about them again, till next week.

Ruth said...

I used to enjoy hanging clothes out on the line,taking pride in hanging them neatly.I also loves the smell of those 'fresh' dried clothes.

Karabeth Baptist Homeschool said...

We had a clothesline when we first married and couldn't afford a dryer. I can't say that this is one of those nostalgic items that I miss. It might be a coincidence, but it sure seems as though my asthmatic episodes stopped once everything started going through the dryer instead of gathering pollen outside on the line.

Jan said...

I still have a clothes line like the top pic, and use it for sheets and large items, but mostly I use lines on the deck, which is very handy. I have never had a dryer, and never will. A big yes to #7, and have to agree with your poem, thoughts from a bygone era.
Love and blessings,

Marg said...

THat is such a cute post and so true.
I remember my mother teaching me how to hang up clothes and it was your points that you made.
If I had a washline, I'd still do it the same way...Yes, there's something to those old methods, but it is lovely to also be able to connect with others all over the world with our technology. Now we don't have time to iron anymore.

Anneliese said...

I love this post! Monday is still wash day for me.. and if the weather is great I'll hang it outside... but no towels.. they get too stiff, and no underwear .. and shirts by their tails... not the shoulders .. is correct... oh, nothing smells as nice as laundry driedd outside, ironed and put away in neat piles. I never thought about the wash line telling a story.