Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Lucy and Ethel" and More Clothesline How-To's

(Thunderstorm coming and the wash is only half dry...)


My friend, Jo, who up and retired far, far away, sent me the following after she'd read my earlier "solar drying" and Hanna Report post.

She and I were friends and colleagues for years -- I may have already said that "accomplice" would be a more accurate term where she is concerned. We found ourselves in more than one "Lucy and Ethel" situation not of our own making during our long history, and being the resourceful and bold nurses that we were, we sometimes had no choice but to take matters into our own hands. (Read: I have been known to say a time or two: "You watch the door.") Using an assessment tool I acquired somewhere in my "careers," i.e., in a life or death, sinking ship kind of situation, would you want this person in your lifeboat, the answer regarding Jo is an unconditional "Yes."

(The lifeboat thing is also how I assess women political candidates, and it's not just whether and how well the woman will row. It's whether or not she has her own agenda and is likely to toss a fellow survivor overboard if she doesn't find him or her particularly useful.)

But once again I digress.

Here's what Jo sent:

(Clothes Line)

The Basic Rules:

1. You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.

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 was on a Monday...........never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday for heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your 'unmentionables' in the middle.

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 line was '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 of 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 clothes line 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 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 carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way...

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!

(Thanks, Jo)

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