Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old-Fashioned Homemaking: The Clothesline

"Drying Clothes" by Helen Allingham

My sweet aunt shared this with me today, and I knew my readers would appreciate it! Enjoy!

(Author Unknown)

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes--walk the entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

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 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 lines were "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!

"Hanging the Washing" by Helen Allingham

(Author Unknown)

A clothesline 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 designs.

The line announced a baby's birth
From 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 also 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 and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much 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.


  1. i love this post and the pictures. I just now sat down from hanging clothes on my line. I love this time of year.

  2. This is great! I actually remember my mom teaching me these "rules". (yes, I am THAT old!) But I am SOOOOO grateful for my dryer. I can't imagine how much dust my clothes would be covered with in my yard now!

  3. Very cute poem. I try and air dry as much as possible, but living in an apartment means I have a rack and not a clothesline. :)

  4. My neighbor has a clothesline and many many homes around do because of the large Amish and Mennonite population. It's so fun to see all of their Amish clothes hanging (normally they hang from a second story window where the laundry room is!) And they do always sort the clothes on the line!

  5. This is AWESOME! My husband is in the process of hanging a clothes line for me and this is information I definitely needed!

  6. The house we live in is almost 100 years old and in our yard are the old clothes line posts. I haven't strung up a line yet-- I really should-- but I love having them there because I like to think about all the clothes that the woman who lived her must have hung up. She had 8 kids in our house! We are feeling squished with only the two we have... it is fun to think of how they must have lived.

  7. I've tried hanging my clothes here but it is just too humid! They never dry or they get rained on before they can dry. I can sometimes tell people who hand dry here because their clothes smell so musty.

    I love the rules...I'll have to keep a copy of those for future use.

  8. An awesome post that brought to me a flood of memories. I remembe many times hanging the laundry out. The poem was awesome.
    Blessings to you for sharing and keep on enjoying the moments and be thanksful for dryers.

  9. Nothing smells as good as sheets that have dried in the breeze. Well, maye bread baking!
    I had a neighbor tell me that she thought that my laundry, hanging in the side yard mad my house look"just like a tenement" She was also appalled that I was helping my husband stack fireplace wood- that's "a man's job." No this wasn't in 1930- it was in 1990. I still laugh about it.

  10. Love the poem--I do have a clothes line for special things!! If you hang clothes carefully and fold them,too, you won't have to iron them either!!


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