Sunday, May 15, 2016

Laundry Trouble

A House in Louisiana, 1930, with clothesline on porch. (Library of Congress)

My old clothesline has not been set up for the season.  Normally, at the end of winter, one of the gentlemen of this house would tighten up the pulley system and get it ready for the spring and summer months. The clothesline is attached to the outside wall, next to my second story laundry room window. I have always loved going over to the window, enjoying the beautiful fresh air, and hanging towels, sheets, and most of our laundry out in the Vermont sunshine. It would dry very quickly, within a few hours, and have a wonderful outdoor scent.  However, since my husband is not well, he is unable to fix my clothesline this year.

One day last week our electric dryer broke.  (One has to laugh when faced with such happenings!)  At first I had a moment of panic. (shudder)  Then I realized this was nothing new.   I had to remember the way things used to be, and start being creative.

In my childhood home, we had an enclosed side porch on the second story of our Massachusetts home.  All during the non-winter months, we would air dry our laundry on the clothesline.  This was a traditional pulley system attached next to our second story window on one end, and then attached to a large tree on the other end.

Most days in the morning my mother would say, "Get the clothes out of the washer and hang them on the line."  I did this for her, not even really thinking about it.  I would just pile the wet clothes into a basket and carry them to our porch.  We had a small basket of clothespins set up by the window. I would carefully hang each item on the line while listening to the chirping of birds, glancing at the ships going by in the ocean (off in the distance), and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. It took a little muscle to guide the line along after each item was pinned to the rope. There was also a small sound of a squeak as it moved along.

Many times, before the supper hour, Mother would call me to bring the dry clothes back indoors.  I would carefully remove the pins, place them in the small basket, shake out each item of laundry, and then fold it into the clothes basket.   I could often hear Mother working in the kitchen starting the evening meal.  The sun would soon be down and the work of the day was nearing its end.

These were wonderful memories I have been thinking of the last few days.  Now I am without a dryer and without a clothesline and I must be inventive.

The other afternoon I did a load of laundry in the washer.  Then I carefully placed each sock, each facecloth, each nightgown, each towel, and all the other items onto the backs of parlour chairs, on chair ledges, and draped over rocking chairs.   I managed to set out all the socks onto the many boards on the lower sections of my grandchildren's wooden highchairs.  As I worked, I loved the clean scent of the laundry.  I opened the windows to let it the cool spring air.  It took two days for all the clothes to finally dry. It would have been much quicker in the winter when the wood stove would be roaring and heating the clothes and the room. But the spring air dried the clothes just fine.  I will learn to be patient again. I will have to remember that dry clothes will not be here in less than an hour (as the dryer would have done), but nature will do its work in its own time.

This slower pace of having to hang every piece of clothing, for every single wash, and waiting for it all to dry is nothing new.  But it has awakened a sweet calmness in me that I have very much enjoyed.

At some point, one of the grown children will come by and help me set up a make-shift clothesline somewhere on the grounds of our Estate.  And sometime soon, Lord willing, we will have a new dryer.  In the meantime, I am making the most of old fashioned laundry methods that force one to slow down and make one contemplate the simple joy of domestic duties.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Our Neglected Estate these days - The Shabby Garden.

Financial Difficulties - Living in Reduced Circumstances.

Training Children - Nobody wants to Clean a Messy House.

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In this book, you will find essays, articles, and diary entries about life in a Christian home.

Entries are arranged by season, and include:  "Keeping a Frugal Kitchen;" "Missing the Lilacs;" "An Evening Walk in the Garden;" "At Grandmother's House;" and "Chores for Grandchildren."

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Mrs. Laura Lane said...

One winter I had only a small drying rack in front of our free standing gas heating stove. I would hang the clothes on it and every hour or so I would move the items around to get closer to the warmth to dry. It was hard since we had a little one in training pants, but we made it.

Be strong and courageous woman of the Lord. God is good. He will take care of you.

Be blessed,
Mrs. Laura Lane

Elizabethd said...

I have a little drying rack which lives in the garage near the boiler. Clothes go on there and the residual heat from the boiler dries them...gradually!
But I much prefer to have my laundry blowing in the fresh air!

Hannah Velier said...

I love hanging clothes outside ! I just wish our family had a line (I'm 15)
Who needs a dryer when you've got the sun ! God is good!

Deanna said...

Hello Mrs. White. I would hang our clothing on plastic hangers and then place them on the shower curtain rod above the bath tub to dry when we were living at the farmhouse we rented. My dryer was not hook up. When my husband's work shirts were dried, it was so nice to have them already on the hangers to go straight to the closet. Most of the time the shirts did not need pressed. They dried really nice as if I had pulled them straight from the clothes dryer. I also had an old fashioned wood rack that I would open up in the closed in porch. I placed the bluejeans on this and the towels. Everything worked out well and I was thankful to have a washing machine on the farm. I pray your dear husband heals and gains his strength back. God bless you,

RebeccaL. said...

Seems like you could've just got a bunch of clothes hangers and the clothespins and clipped the socks and such to the hangers. Hang outside on the porch to dry...hasn't everyone got various and sundry nails sticking out on the porch? I hang a lot of my laundry indoors in the winter on clothes hangers, attached to door frames or door knobs. I'm sure your huge home is bigger than my small abode so you probably have lots of places to hang clothes hangers. My mom has a small home and she hangs them on hangers then on the shower rod. They will dry much much faster hanging than draped practically on the floor, since the air is warmer and circulates better higher. We must be creative!

Linda said...

Oh, how I miss living on the farm and hanging the wash the out. Now, we live in town with a small yard and my husband said no.(smiles)

Stay strong, keeping you in prayer.

Dawn said...

I guess if a major appliance has to die, the dryer is the best as one can live without it unlike the refrigerator or stove.

I love line-dried clothes. I have one of those umbrella-like clotheslines on my deck. The pole is inserted through the hole in the center of the picnic table and anchored by a patio umbrella stand. So instead of the usual umbrella, the table on my deck has a clothesline.

My grandmother never had a clothes dryer so in the winter she would drape the wet laundry on all the radiators to dry. I love the faint scent of fabric softener and warm moisture in the air as the clothes were drying.

I hope someone comes to your rescue soon and sets up your clothesline for you.

Hanging out the wash is such a pleasant chore.

Therese Bizabishaka said...

Here in Australia it is common practise to dry your clothes on a line. Not only does it add a lovely fresh scent that no fabric softener can compete with but the sun also has a mild bleaching effect on stains and the like. In the winter when it rains I often drape clothes over my furniture. It is also good to invest in clothes airer/rack that can be used indoors or put outside on a verander. For small items like underwear and socks you can also purchase a contraption that is a hoop with lots of pegs attached hung from a clothes hanger (sorry I don't know what they're called) it saves a lot of space and can be hung in the bathroom from the shower railing or anywhere you find a suitable area. Good luck on your laundry situation. Blessings.

Rhonda said...

We homemakers just do what we gotta do :)
I like to hang our freshly laundered clothes on hangers in doorways around our home to let them dry. When done, they can just go straight to the closet.

JES said...

You are explaining my family room right now! :)

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

We home makers do what we have to do to get things done. My clothesline broke during the winter so I am waiting for a new one to be put up. Meanwhile I am using my dryer and many things I am hanging on the wooden clothes rack by our pellet stove. I can't wait to smell the scent of the outdoors in the laundry again. There's nothing quite like it, is there?
I see you have John Wesley's quote on your sidebar. Would that our children too could say the same. I also see you listed Christmas Carol Kauffman as a favourite author. I have several of her books and have read them many times over. Thank you for sharing with us and and have a beautiful day.


Jennifer said...

How very wonderful it is to serve our family in this way! To take this simple time of doing laundry (whether a modern way or hanging the laundry to dry) to know a quiet peace. A wonderful time to pray and to simply ponder the things of the day and the great love of the Lord Jesus in our lives.
Thanks for sharing your childhood memories! I have sweet memories of hanging laundry to dry from my mom to! :)

Michele Morin said...

We are blessed to have a lovely dry furnace room, so I am able to hang laundry year round. I especially enjoy admiring the line of laundry when the wind is lifting the sleeves and tossing the towels. Luci Shaw, in a poem written long ago, wrote about the drying laundry "praying its vapors to the sun" and I usually have those words near me when I'm hanging laundry on a sunny day.

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Good Morning Mrs. White,

As a young child I lived with my grandmother who didn't have a clothes washer or dryer. She used a wash board, a dedicated wash plunger, the bathtub (for heavier fabrics, towels & bedding) or the deep kitchen sink (for lightweight items), a clothes wringer and an outdoor clothes line to wash and dry all our laundry.

When we lived down home I had a nice large clothes line, 40' long with 4 strands. The scent of line dried clothes brings back so many fond memories of living with my loving and kind grandmother. Since moving to the Montana prairie 5 years ago, each spring I've asked Mr.B to build me another clothes line. As I patiently wait, I long for the fresh scent of line dried clothes.

I hope one of your grown boys will come out soon and help get your clothes line in working order again.


Draffin Bears said...

Lovely to discover your blog and many thanks for visiting mine.
We are so lucky to have modern washing machines, in this day and age. I don't have a dryer and prefer to dry mine on the outdoor line or have washing on the clothes horse if it is wet.
Enjoy the week

Sharon said...

Had to laugh.I have Had laundry hanging all over the house before.Washed clothes bý hand.When stove went out,cooked on a grill.Baked in a crock pot.The list goes on.Like you said,it is all about being creative.