Clean Sheets: It’s a Breeze

My sheets are pinned to the backyard clothes line now, flipping in the breeze. Today I’m celebrating the end of our torrid Florida summer by hanging our sheets outside in the fresh fall air. Very old-fashioned and very retro. I guess I’m an Urban Mama!

Sheets blowing in sync with frond on banana tree in background
Sheets blowing in sync with frond on banana tree in background

We live in the city, and I have a clothes drier, but today I am savoring the slow, sweet, luxury of sheets line dried fastened with wooden clothes pins, the kind with metal springs. No extra electricity, no pain for the sheets twirling endlessly in a hot, round drum.

When I was born, there were no automatic washers and driers. Most housewives back then used electric washers with wringers, not washboards. But clothes were dried by solar and wind power. A “new baby” card sent to Daddy from my Great Uncle Fritz attests to the line drying of diapers, the gauzy cloth variety fastened with medium-sized safety pins. But, trust me, my dad never hung a diaper or any other article of clothing on the line.

BabyCardFint
 
Card to my Dad Ray from his Uncle Fritz
Card to my Dad Ray from his Uncle Fritz
What are your childhood memories of doing the laundry? 
What unusual ways of drying clothes do you know about or practice now?
Your comments are welcome. I always respond! 
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20 thoughts on “Clean Sheets: It’s a Breeze

  1. From Sticking Points: On wash days, Mama would lay down three of [Daddy’s] dress handkerchiefs off the clothesline, blotch them with her sprinkling bottle, lay down three more, sprinkle sprinkle, another three, sprinkle sprinkle, till she had a big stack; then she’d roll it into a sausage and allow it to dampen evenly in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day or two, perspiring and maybe hatching [white fuzz, Rhizopus, a type of fungus]. But no doubt Mama’s iron, when she pushed it over each hanky and ferreted into the corners, zapped any vile guck.

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    1. I can see my mom do the same thing: sprinkle, sprinkle, with her little bottle with holes. I love your image of rolling the damp clothes all into a sausage. Thanks for bringing back the good old days with such vivid detail, Shirley.

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  2. When I was in foster care we hung all of our clothes on a line, but when I was at my grandmother’s house, she actually only did laundry like once every couple of months. it was a huge day event involving hired help and the old wringer washer would be dragged out and filled. Then the closed and sheets and towels would be spread all over bushes and fences to dry.

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  3. Remember wash day (Monday) vividly with my mother. A wringer washing machine, took us most of a day, with sunshine for our dryer. Shirley is correct, there was a method to this hanging of clothes on the clothes line. Sheets, pillowcases, tagged together with wooden clothes pin. Each one was also ironed, including underwear. Thank goodness those days are over! Hard to believe you still have that card Marian.

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    1. It was stuck inside my baby book, Carolyn. You’re going to have to help me pry all this memorabilia from my fingers when we move someday! Yes, Monday washday, Tuesday, ironing, and so on down through the days of the week. Yet the simplicity of all this gives life a certain rhythm that I think we yearn for in this seemingly chaotic world.

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  4. I must be an urban mama too – I prefer to hang out my clothes on a single line as much as possible throughout the year. My grandma had a washer with a ringer and I was fascinated by it. And my Mom had a machine with a separate spinner. You could move the hose to dump the water into the sink or back into the machine to wash another load. She usually rinsed our clothes in the bathtub and then hung them out to drip. I killed it one day washing Big Guy’s cloth diapers. It served us well.

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  5. I have vivid memories of my time in Asia with a semi-automatic washing machine and a clothesline that stretched between coconut trees with monkey guardians. After a few months of drying my shirts in the tropical sun, the color was about five shades lighter. Of course, it only took about 30 minutes to dry them completely 🙂

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  6. We could go back and forth forever discussing laundry. 🙂 It’s funny that we both mentioned our fathers not doing it. Although–once my parents were divorced, he must have learned how to wash his own clothes.

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    1. We live in an older neighborhood and the house already had a 3-string clothesline when we moved in 37 years ago. Like you, we are downsizing too, and will move soon. I doubt there will be a clothesline available, but I’ve enjoyed giving sheets and towels fresh air where we live now.

      Thanks for commenting here.

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  7. I’m so glad you posted this link to my post, Marian. The different comments reminded me of the wringer washing machine my friend Peggy had when I visited her in Germany back in 1971. She had an 18-month old and my “job” was to wring out the diapers before we hung them to dry. How much time it took. But my cuticles never looked better. I do think hanging laundry offers us a certain rhythm to life that now in our “autumn years” we can appreciate.

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    1. I never associated hand laundry with good looking cuticles, but so it must be. I am also struck by how simple my blog posts were as a newbie. Thanks for going back to this. It evokes different memories for each of us.

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