Friday, June 20, 2008

on the line

This photo of my grandfather's white shirts
flapping in the breeze
reminded my mother
of the little poem that follows...

-Author unknown

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 out on the line;
You'd see the company tablecloths
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside,
As brand new infants clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

And the lines were full of diapers,
So white and bright and clean.
Because in those days of yore,
In stores Pampers were not yet seen.

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.

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work less,
Now what goes on inside a house
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign,
When others knew each other best,
By what hung on the line.
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Anonymous said...

Does she use Tide? What a picture! This one is practically a collector's item not to mention a real statement as to precious values and homemaking skills. xoxo

Judi said...

Here's a story that shows people might be misled by what they see on the clothesline: Once, after I had just hung a load of laundry on the clothesline outside our rural home, a man I used to work with in the city stopped by. My friend got a funny look on his face upon seeing the clothesline. I thought he simply was amused to see that I, the former city girl, was using such an old-fashioned way of doing the laundry.

Instead, he turned his reddened face and mumbled an apology about seeing my undies hanging on the line.

My undies? What was he talking about, I thought. That load of laundry had been only children's clothes, and mostly diapers, at that. Then I realized what he was looking at -- my little daughter's bright red, pink, and purple nylon diaper pants!

I had to laugh, thinking of all the passersby who might have thought they were seeing my unmentionables, when it was really my little tot's colorful garments they were looking at.

Ever since, I have made it a point to hang the family undergarments on the middle line, and then hang towels, shirts, and sheets on the outer lines, to keep the clothesline from appearing too immodest!