Laundry Day

Earliest memories of our home on the hillside contain the weekly banners of fresh laundry billowing from the clothesline on the small rise above the house.

My piano teacher, who lived down in the vale , once mentioned how the sheets reflected so clean and white in the sunshine.

Mama utilized that old ringer-washer every Thursday for years. It was complimented by two rinse tubs.

The first load was the kitchen towels and linens, followed by other whites and lights. By the time dads work clothes agitated, the water was gray and suds less.

The tub was finally drained, dried out, and pushed back into the corner. (And so was mama.)

She used soap ( Fels Naptha) so she could drain all her efforts into the back yard and keep it green during the summer months.

She collected plates, cups, and saucers from one of her boxed soap purchases. The surface of the dishware was a bright gold color that wore off easily to reveal a milky white glass interior. (There was just the right amount of slant on the dinner plates to keep certain foods high and dry. I never wanted the red beet juice to contaminate my mashed potatoes! Did you? )

I remember the day Dad finally surrendered his opposition and gave her the go ahead to buy a modern wash machine.

But, I was more impressed by her first electric clothes dryer. It had a slanted front with a glass door that was just the right height for me to watch the tumbling load inside.

Even with this wonderful gadget at her fingertips, mama still preferred the outdoor clothes lines. On sunny days it was an announcement in full regalia to the community below that it was wash day on the hill.


Amanda said…
First comment?
Wow, I'm special, MOM.

Believe it or not -- I don't like the way my laundry smells after it's been dried outside. Can't tell ya why.
Peter said…
Nothing like the laundry drying on a line in the sun and breeze Pamela, but I'm pleased I don't use a wringer washer.
Here at Wudinna there is a huge covered outdoor area, (They call it The Tahj Mahal Sp??)where the washing is dried regardless of weather conditions.
Claudia said…
I love the way the laundry smells when it dries outside-it just seems fresh and crisp...mmmm
Junebug said…
What an eloquent post! I enjoyed it so much. My mother had an old wringer type washer when we were little too. And clothes hung on the clothes line always. In winter, they got a little crispy! We did upgrade to a Maytag by my grade school years. But she still hung those clothes out to dry as much as possible. She still has a clothes line at her house now that she uses a little. Always have to wipe it clean and keep the ants off though because it is attached to a tree. :D
willowtree said…
I have some similar memories, wringer and twin tubs. Actually I can even remember my mum using a copper.

After 5 years I've finally relented and bought a dryer. But I only use it if it's raining. I love the smell of sun-dried clothes.
Anonymous said…
MMmmm there is nothing finer then the smell of clothes off the clothesline!
Dear pamela. Lordy, I'm glad I never had to use the wringer or anyting like that. I'm lazy enough about putting the washing in the washing machine - which is in the kitchen :(
Anonymous said…
We don't even have a clothes line! LOL!
Anonymous said…
I love the smell of clothes that have been outside blowing in the fresh air.
ChrisB said…
I'm with little wanderer you can't beat the smell of clothes dried outside. Your post brought back childhood memories. When I first got married I had a washing line that stretched the length of the garden. Now it's the rotating washing lines, which are neater.
Anonymous said…
When my older kids were little, I kept them in cloth diapers. It was far cheaper and I was a stay at home mom. I would wash diapers every couple of days and would always put that little bit of Downy in the rinse cycle and always hung them up outside. I loved the smell of clean diapers coming right off the line. Now that's a good memory.
Rurality said…
"And so was mama." LOL!!!

About your comment on my blog: No, that gal made that much money from selling soaping supplies, not soap! :)
Heather Plett said…
You've painted some lovely word pictures. It brings me back to my mom's wash line out on the farm. I liked to hang the towels for her - they were the easiest.
Anonymous said…
I love your stories. I get taken back into a time I never knew reading them.

That said, I'd never trade my cherry red LG washer and dryer. EVER!
Anonymous said…
My grandmother never owned a dryer. Laundry hung outside in the summer and in the basement in the winter. When we stayed with her, I remember my jeans being rough.
Nikki--I so want the cherry red!
Jenni said…
You write these memories of yours so beautifully! I wish I could hang my clothes outside to dry at least some of the time, but I'm afraid that with living on a dirt road with daily semi and large farm equipment traffic there is just too much dust and I'd have to wash the clothes all over again.
Now THAT'S the sort of laundry day I can get into — it's the laundromat days of my present that I so despise.
JoeinVegas said…
We've got one of those stand alone square contraptions with lines outside. In the summer if you stand in one place and hang things and spin it around hanging by the time you get to the start they are already dry. Of course, it is 110f and 3% humidity and in the sun, but well, that's Vegas.
karisma said…
My mother in law still preferred an old twin tub up until around 10 years ago, she always swore the clothes came out cleaner!

Your post took me back to the days of cloth nappies (diapers) hanging on the line. You know I did think that as the offspring aged the washing line would dwindle. No luck luck. Teenage girls make far more washing than babies! And as nice as the washing swaying in the breeze may smell, it drives me utterly insane!
My gosh, Pam, that twin tub sounds like the old Dexter twin tub. In our home we had the twin tub, the dual sinks for hand rinsing, and the copper tub for bluing, whatever that was. Too much pollution anymore to want to hang out clothes although they still smell better. What is wrong with red beet juice in mashed potatoes? Gives them color.:))
Kim said…
My mother talks about the dishes that her grandmother used to get from all kinds of products. There is a set stored somewhere in her home that we still used when I was a kid.

We always had electric washers and dryers, but I remember the old ringer machine on my great grandmother's back porch. It always scared me a bit.

And beet juice belongs well away from my mashed potatoes, too!
The Laundress said…
And I DARE ever complain.
I love hanging laundry out on the line. Brings back wonderful memories. I also make my own laundry soap using Fels Naptha. Love the clean, fresh smell. Beautiful post, Pamela. :D
Anonymous said…
Great post. I remember my mom's ringer washer and when I went to boarding school the one year in Michigan, the boys could get laundry service and I did laundry once in a while (we had chores) and I used the ringer washer there too. My mom ended up getting another ringer washer after I moved from home as she had water troubles. A couple of months ago, she got a new front load washer. She started hanging clothes to dry again after years with a dryer, when the price of power went way up. My sister, my mom and I all hang our clothes to dry. I too, just love the smell. When I moved here 5 years ago, and started hanging clothes for the first time, that is when I first found the joy in doing laundry. Prior to that, I hated it, and now, it is one of my favourite chores to do.
Anonymous said…
Lovely laundry post. My youngest was born in 1982, the oldest in 1987, and I used an old wringer washing machine throughout.

I put all four of my kids through cloth diapers and rubber pants, and I popped dozens upon dozens of pairs of rubber pants by running them through the washing machine rollers. Oh the bang they would make!


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