I know I've said it before, but the sight of so many beautiful gardens is a thrill to behold. While driving I-35 recently I noticed a clothesline as beautiful as a work of art with colorful clothes hanging to dry. It seems to be another revival of an old task that’s come back more abundant — probably because it eases the cost of clothes being dried in a drier, but I'd like to think it is because the homemaker likes the feel and smell of outdoor dried clothes even more.
My neighbor always has a line of bright colored clothing drying on the line; in fact, just about every day. As a busy mother I am sure it would be tempting to throw them in the drier, but she takes the time to lovingly hang them out to dry.
There is an art to hanging clothes on those clotheslines.
There are clotheslines, and then there are clotheslines. Metal lines, they require a good wash so there aren't dark lines left on the wet clothes. There were rope lines, but they liked to sag and needed a prop, a long pole with a couple of contacts at the top. The prop was used in the middle of the line to help hold it up as the weight of the clothing would stretch the line and the longer clothes would scrape the ground and get dirty.
It is strange how pictures form in your mind. My mother can still remember when a young bride from Ellendale, Elaine Miller, used to hang her laundry on the clothesline to dry. So precise and so carefully she hung the socks by the toe, one by one; shirts by the tail, so there wouldn't be marks at the shoulder. Everything got a good shake or a hand that brushed away wrinkles. White clothes were hung by whites. Why? So they didn't catch color?
It’s fascinating how much care was taken in hanging jeans or work pants. The pockets that could were brought to the outside so they would dry faster and the pant tops were smoothed as much as possible. People differed in how they hung pants. Some used metal forms that they slipped inside the legs to help them dry smooth and with a crease, but that was tedious and the forms didn't always fit the pants. Most pants were hung leg up, which was simple, but the pants took longer to dry because the heavy part of the pants was at the bottom where moisture seemed to accumulate, and the sun and wind seemed to ignore them. My mother hung jeans seam to seam. It took longer to dry, but she could crease them with her hand. Back in the good old days, if you wore jeans for anything but work, you wanted creases to simulate dress pants, and the darker the color the better.
How well I remember my second cousin, Beulah. She and her husband both worked at Wilson’s in Albert Lea. She ironed their jeans with a crease sharp as a knife. They went to work looking nicer than most people do now going to a wedding. Jeans that teens buy now are full of holes, bleached and torn and would have been thrown in the garbage can back in Beulah’s day.
Back to the clothesline. A clean soapy rag was wrapped around the hand and the housewife walked the entire set of lines using strength and energy to make sure that the line was clean and stain free. This was almost always done on Monday, the day was set aside for wash day.
There was a ditty, “Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, etc.” Most clothes were hung out for the better part of the day depending on the weather. But the homemakers had to be careful the colored clothes wouldn't get too much sun, which would cause them to fade. Clothes especially required all the sun they could get. Clothes were sorted and folded to baskets, and the clothes that would require ironing were kept separate. They could have been brought in damp, but usually were "re-damped" probably by a shake of a hand-wet with water or from a bottle with a tip on the end that sprinkled the clothes. More than likely they would be ironed the next day. With the sophistication of freezers, some were froze so they wouldn't mildew before the housewife would be able to iron them.
Back to the clothes line again. Most generally, "good” clothes or whites were washed and hung first for "”curb appeal.” Sheets and towels were also hung on outside lines to hide the unmentionables on inside lines. If one clothespin could hold the edge of neighboring items, it saved on the number of clothespins needed. Incidentally, clothespins were never left on the lines but put in a little cloth basket so could be slid along the line. Pins left on the line were quick to pick up that black stuff that marred clean clothing.
My aunt Toody, Helyn Langlie, was a clothesline hanger as long as her age would let her, summer or winter. For one thing, she liked the smell of line dried clothes. Who could dispute or duplicate the freshness of freeze-dried clothes in the winter?
Back when driers first came on the market, Mrs. Wittmer, who used to live west of Geneva, thought it was a luxury to use a drier. Her husband assured her it saved time and labor for her, just like when his farm machinery was updated for the same reason. That thought did ease some of the guilt she had for "wasting" electricity on the frivolous.
I have heard that clotheslines are outlawed in some places because it is felt that they can be a hazard, which I guess could be true. My dad, while playing midnight tag as a kid, ran into one that tried to strangle him.
I remember all the tents we used to make using the clotheslines for ridge posts as we stretched old blankets while we played house. Now tents come from Wal-Mart!
Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. Also if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me.
This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:
• Thursday, August 7th: August 7th: Shelly Mangskau, Zachery Vangen, Lori Titus, Dylan Waltz, Jack Jensen, Dakota Wayne Heideman, Kaityn Quimby, David Arbogast, Darren Casper, Allen Wacek, Tom & Katie Marlin
• Friday, August 8th: Ian Matthew Wayne, Luke Wangsness, John Vander Stoep, Jamie Walworth, Kathy Born, Scott Crabtree, Jessica Marcus, Sharon Miller Jensen, Barb O'Conner, Gary Peterson, Emily Jensen, Marc Collins, Matthew Swift, Don Gould, Mya Glienke
• Saturday, August 9th: Aaron & Mickki Heimer, Linda Wayne, Mavis Knudtson, Steven LeRoy Christensen, Cherie Halla, Karen Holmes, Amber Nordland, Angie Reichl, Dustin Jepson, Sierra Ellen Misgen, Josiah Jeffrey Schei, Christopher Quentin Haberman
• Sunday, August 10th: Jovey Kathleen Knudson, Lynn Arends, Linda Weckwerth, Teresa Wright, Jeff Olson, Vernon Cornelius, Michelle Brandt, Richelle Butler Chapman, Melisssa Cornelius Large, Dustin Dobberstein, Thayne Nordland, Ross & Kathie Lein, Steve & Kathy Nelson, Darrin & Linda Stadheim
• Monday, August 11th: Nicole & Daniel Burns, 2012; Nicole & Dallas Loken, Brian Broulik, Vicki Humburg, Jeremy Kaiser, Mike Plunkett, Kris Simon Freitas, Sharon Sorenson, Kim Anderson Schneider, Brian Thostenson, Irvin Jensen Jr., Kevin Avery, Luke Clark Wangsness, Pagie Sophia Kromminga
• Tuesday, August 12th: Linda & LaVerne Stieglbauer, their 50th wedding anniversary this year; Shawna Robertson, Tessa Christensen, Kristine Schroeder, Cindy Oswald, Cindy Nelson, Cynthia Crabtree, Thomas Smith, Ross Swearingen, Genie Hanson, Amy Tasker
• Wednesday, August 13th: Dennis Deml, Tim Enzenauer, David Haddy, Bob Brandt, Lisa Dummer, Megan Dummer, Janet Hope, Kellie Petranek, Sylvia Jepson, Saxton Chad Ritz
• Thursday, August 14th: David & Carrie Paulson, Mark Sorenson, Lucille Nechanicky, Gretchen Oswald Thompson, Peter Kasper, Leah Berg, Wes Neidermeier, Alison & Chad Muilenburg
• Friday, August 15th: Roger Wayne, Obert Osmundson, Kaye Dee Hanson, Nancy Nelson, Stephanie Peterson, Rhonda Shelton, Cade Shelton, Brian Warnke, Dorrie Horan, Michael Suelter, Larry & Kathleen Jensen, Kellie Benning, Brian Warnke, Maverick Harold Knutson
Wishing you much happiness on your special day!