Friday, April 26

For The Love of a Clothesline

I have been around clotheslines all of my life by women who used them. Today, after 37 years of marriage and six children later, I am still without a dryer because of choice. There is something so special within the act of laundry hanging. It allows you to slow down, taking each piece in hand and snapping it with a wooden clothespin to the line. It gives you time to pray, sort your thoughts, enjoy nature and be touched by a bit of sunshine.

 Then the bringing in of that clean, breeze-blown basket of goodness is your reward and if you are doing sheets and bedding, well, that freshly made bed is just pure joy!

I had this poem in my notebook and thought I would share it since a number of us are on the precipice of Spring and all the loveliness it brings, hanging laundry being one. 


The Clothes Line
by Marilyn K. Walker

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 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 night-clothes, 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 washing was dingy grey,
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 anybodies guess.

I really miss that way of life;
it was a friendly sign,
When neighbors knew each other best,
by what was on the line.


  1. I was raised with a clothes line. My mom didn't get a dryer until I was in my 30's. In winter, she took wet laundry down to the laundromat to use their dryers. I used one in my early years of marriage as well, until we bought our first second hand dryer. To this day, I still hang my dedicates. I use one of those folding drying rack, only it in now inside. It's become a piece of furniture in my laundry room since I rarely fold it and out it away.

    1. Hello Elizabeth! Yes, I have 3 of those folding drying racks too. My husband made 2 of them, then I have a wooden beast of a rack. They always come in handy when it rains.

  2. I've never owned a clothes drier in my life and don't feel the need to - line drying in good weather, and clothes maids in not so good weather has always sufficed. There is nothing more satisfying to me than a line of washing, but I've never thought about the social aspect of it before and your poem is so on point! May I please share it to a reading group that I am a part of? I think they will also appreciate it.

  3. In Australia almost everyone still hangs their washing on the line. It always seemed odd to me that Americans use dryers. I'm so happy to hear you hang your washing! There's nothing brighter to the senses than crisp, sunshine-fragranced washing coming off the line. And the folding...another time to pray, to ponder, to give thanks.
    Love that poem.

  4. I love this post and poem. I kept the clothesline wound on a wooden holder when Mom moved from her house. I have no use for it, but it had special memories. This makes me want to have a clothesline. There is nothing like the fresh smell of clothes and sheets that have dried in the fresh air! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. You are welcome, Cheryl. It is all in the simplicity of things :-)

  5. Oh I remember my mama hanging laundry out and we children would hand her clothes pins. Then we got old enough to hang the laundry ourselves.
    I miss those days. Should consider a inexpensive way of doing a clothesline. Can you believe in some states they are illegal? And in some cases HOA rules ban them.

  6. Aw, I remember my kids did the same thing. I could not live where I could not hang the laundry. lol

  7. I agree with you but when I moved into the country. The black flies landed on me bit me and the clothes they landed on them and loved the fresh smell. Those critters. Disappointment for me. Clothes lines and the smell of sheets, towels so fresh.