Friday, May 15, 2009


There is nothing that smells any better to me than fresh sheets straight from the clothesline.
When my children were small and we lived way out in the country on a farm, I used to hang nearly all my wash outside to dry.
I loved seeing the clothes blowing in the wind and we all did it back then.
I think the poem below says it all.
The Clothesline
by Marilyn K. Walker.
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 on the line;
You'd see the comp'ny tablecloths
With intricate design.
The line announced a baby's birth
To 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 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 gray,
As neighbors raised their brows, and looked
Disgustedly away.
But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work 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!
I have a drying rack that I use to hang some stuff on and in the summer I put it on the back patio in the sun just to get that wonderful smell. I think we will see more and more clotheslines in the future with the recession. I am seriously thinking of getting one for my backyard.
Some of my fondest memories of home and being a child is of clothes drying on the line.
Do you have a clothesline or memories of a clothesline?


Linda said...

Wonderful post. My father made everything to last into eternity so our clothes lines were something else. Neighbors used to borrow them. I also love the smell of sheets right off the line on a sunny day.

Grammy said...

Dear Judy,
Really great post. I remember clotheslines and have used them. I love the smell of outdoor dried clothes, but I'll take the convenience of the dryer any time!
Love the poem, too. Poetry says it all so much better than prose quite often, doesn't it? Another smell I love is that of the neck of children after they have been out playing in the fresh air. Hmmm such sweetness!

Margie's Musings said...

I certainly remember them. I never had a dryer until 1960, when my youngest was born. My worst memory of them was hanging diapers out and having them freeze.

ugich konitari said...

Judy, here in India, clothes everywhere are almost always dried on a clothes line. In smaller towns there may be facilities to have clothes drying out on a line in a garden, but even in a space-deficient place like Mumbai, and in apartments, there are drying balconies with clothes lines,provided, where clothes are daily hung out to dry.

Of course, we do have a version of the sophisticated folks who think putting out clothes to dry reduces their style, and the resale value of their apartment. And so they buy driers, and waste a lot of electrical energy using electric dryers, in a country where the sun can help you 12 months a year.....

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Absolutely, Judy... I agree that sleeping on fresh sheets from the clothesline outside is absolutely wonderful. My parents did not have a dryer---so everything was hung outside.

These days, I don't use my dryer much--but we can't hang clothes outside in our community. I have a line in the garage and have a rack I use in the laundry room. I also use the shower racks.

Great memories. Thanks!!!

Grannyann said...

Oh yeh. My ex was in the military and in the winter I'd hang his fatigues on the clothes line and they would freeze so I would have to bring them in and literally stand them on the floor furnace to thaw out so I could iron them. Talk about work. Todays wife just does not know!!!!

The Muse said...

oh goodness...i recall taking the clothes down, and putting them up...praying for sun and no rain...
lol but getting rain, nonetheless...
and the scramble to get those undies off the line! LOL

Anonymous said...

I still hang out my washing when the weather is fine, I love the smell too

June Saville said...

Hi Judy
Most Australians in a house still have a clothesline, although many use dryers in the cooler parts of the country during winter. I have a drying rack too ... and no electric dryer. Easy in our climate.
But there is nothing like sheets straight from the line, as you say. Nuzzle your nose into them ... bliss! And I still get to talk to my neighbour over the fence.
June in Oz

Lilly said...

We all have clotheslines here as June says. I love clothes hanging in the sun to dry. Although I lived in Scoltand too and it was impossible to dry anything outside at all and had to use a dryer. It all depends on the weather but I for one hope many people get back to basics again. The simple things!


Excellent post Judy, no I don't have a clothes line, I live in an apartment with no line so have to make do with a tumble drier.
Sad really as I used to like to see the clothes on the line getting the fresh air..
Have a good week-end.


bobbie said...

I haven't had a drier in more than 50 years. I think - and hope - more and more people will do away with them. Clothes liens are so much more eco-friendly.

Aleksandra said...

What a wonderful post Judy,Im in deeper conection with clotes lines,washing and specialy drying my clotes I made in to a beautiful ceremony.And nothing is so jummy than freshdried clotes.Have a nice day,Sandra

The Muse said...

Well you miss the farm? Ms Judy, we have a tractor to the words of Bob Barker...
"Come on down!" LOL

grammyof13 said...

Oh my, the smell of fresh air dried sheets and bath towels that actually dried!

What a memory. Thanks! great post.

June Saville said...

Hey Judy you seemed a bit underconfident about having a go at drawing with Windows Paint programme. Here's a challenge for you:
Put one of TW's toy bears in front of you and see if you can reproduce him. He doesn't have to be picture perfect - just a few circles for body, limbs and eyes and a splash of red for a mouth. Then send it over to me after saving it in Paint as a jpg file. I'll 'hang' it on 70 Plus and Still Kicking alongside your link. You'll be surprised. Deal? TN said...

I hang my clothes out a lot in the summertime. I have known people around in the neighborhood to tell must wash clothes every day. Well, why not???? I didn't have a dryer when my children were babies. I would go to the laundry mat once a week. I remember one time someone there ask me how many babies I had. My Mother never had a dryer until all of us had left home. People today are "spoiled" aren't they?

June Saville said...

G'day again Judy
Thanks for your Paint masterpiece - I'll hang it alongside your link on the next post in 70 Plus and Still Kicking. I hope others will join in the fun and all our bloggy mates will have an art gallery of our very own!

Beth said...

Hi, Judy. I love this post and the poem. My family always had a clothesline when I was young. In fact, I remember hanging out clothes when I was so small, I struggled to reach the clothesline! I am lucky to have a clothesline here which faces the south so that on sunny days, the laundry dries very quickly. Plus, since we are on a hill, we get a fair amount of wind. I will admit, though, to using the dryer in the winter quite a lot. I just don't care for frozen, icy underwear!

Thanks for a great post, Judy.

Balisha said...

I loved this post. I still hang out a few things.I can remember when I was really little and used to run, with my arms and hands outstretched, through the clothes on the line and feel that wet slap of sheets on my face.My Mom didn't like me to do that,because I could get them dirty.

Amber Star said...

Oh yes...we had a clothesline when I was growing up and I had one when my kids were little. Before you hung the wash you took a clean damp cloth and wiped each line to keep from getting dirt on the clothes. Also, underwear was hung on the inside with sheets on the outside so nobody could see your undergarments.

Please stop by my blog and pick up a little something I have for you when you have time.

clairz said...

I love my clothesline here in eastern New Mexico and try to always hang the sheets out to dry for the wonderful smell.

When we lived near the center of a small town in New Hampshire I had a clothesline. On Monday morning my students would come in giggling because they had seen all of our family laundry (and I mean all of it) hanging out on our line.

I think it's such a shame that many communities have rules against this frugal and environmentally responsible custom!

As always, you post on the best topics! Thank you.

Rachel said...

We always hung out the clothes when I was growing up. I remember them freezing in the winter. My Dad's overhalls would be stiff as a board and we'd put them behind the heating stove to thaw out and dry! I do have a small line but seldom use it. It's under a huge tree and I hate getting bird droppings on my clean clothes. My husband (before his strokes)did most of our laundry and he hung out clothes all the time. I rarely see clothes hanging out but it sure brings back memories when I do. I think we'll be seeing more of it during these times too.

The Muse said...

Hello!~(wave) ...
Passing through and wanted to stop and say hello this Monday!

radha said...

In India, we still hang out clothes to dry. We have abundant sunshine and what better way to dry clothes than on a clothesline? And true, the clothesline has a lot to tell about the household. We knew also when there was a small baby when nappies were hung out to dry... that is till the disposable diapers replaced them!

Dr.John said...

I remember clotheslines. I remember one breaking. I remember they weren't all fun and games. But the poem is lovely.

luv2gosup said...

I have two memories of my clothesline. When my son was approximately two and still needed his security blanket, it was hard to find the time to take it away from him long enough to wash it. Once while he was down for his nap, I sneaked the blanket out of his bed and washed it and hung it out to dry. The second he awakened he started looking for it and spotted it on the clothesline. He ran outside and yanked and pulled on it until the blanket ripped in two. He is now 48 years old and I still have the piece of the blanket that he ripped off. Oh, the things of our children that we save!!

My other memory is hanging the clothes on the line and going out later to bring the fresh smelling clothes in and finding that our dog had pulled each and every item of clothing off the line and everything had to be washed again. We had to put a small fence around the clothesline to keep this from happening again.

Leigh said...

Hey Mom,

I remember you always hanging our clothes out on the clothes line. Anne and I need a clothes line!! I am going to have to put one up out at the farm. You are right, nothing better than your clothes blowing in the wind.

Love you!


Jeannie said...

Hi Judy- hope all has been well with you.

We've been having wonderful weather here. When it warms up, I hang up my wet clothes on a rack or two. The smell of the fresh clothes reminds me of playing in the clothes that would be hung up in my dad's back yard near the chicken coop. The clothes smelled so good that you couldn't smell the chickens. :D

One Woman's Journey said...

Oh, this is me. I love a clothesline. When I first starting my journal I wrote an entry about them. Put one up smack in the middle of the city.
You made me smile and brought back memories.

Jamie Dawn said...

I don't have a clothesline or memories of us having one when I was growing up. I do hand some things to dry, but not on a clothesline.
The poem paints a simple, sweet picture of days gone by.

I hope you enjoy a nice holiday weekend.


Nancy said...

One of the things I miss most about my farm is the clothesline in the backyard. I never dry my own clothes in the dryer because they shrink up and fade, and I love sheets dried on the line. Unfortunately, in the patio home development, clotheslines in the yard are not permitted. Like you, I have some hanging racks and a drying rack that I put out in the driveway on laundry day. It's not big enough for the sheets, though..:(

Joanna Jenkins said...

As a young girl, I learned to fold clothes straight off the clothes line. It was the the one chore I never complained about doing. Terrific post!

Margaret Cloud said...

This poem brings back memories and if I close my eyes and inhale I can still smell the clothes. I hung clothes out for about 30 years after I married, but not in winter.