Walking through East Harlem the other day, I happened upon a once-iconic New York scene that has mostly disappeared in recent years - clothes hanging out to dry on lines strung between apartment buildings. Thank goodness I had my camera with me and could document the clothes flapping in a cool autumn breeze.
You don't see clotheslines much anymore. England's about the only place I've seen "working" clotheslines in recent years. English-mum Jeannie always hung clothes outside to dry, no matter the temperature. Only a dowsing rain would cause her to use her clothes dryer. But I never see clothes a-wave on lines in the United States. Not in New York. Or Atlanta. The closest we come to fresh-air drying anything is a wet towel thrown over a hotel railing at the beach.
Growing up, we had a clothesline that spanned our backyard (which was pretty wide). There was a wooden pole used to prop it up in the middle so the wet clothes wouldn't drag the ground. A nostalgic sight - the various materials flapping back and forth.
A few months ago, Bro sent an email with basic clothesline rules. Thought I'd share:
THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES
1. Wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth.
2. Hang the clothes in a certain order; always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.
3. Never hang a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What will 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 to hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y'know!)
6. It doesn't matter if it is sub-zero weather . . . Clothes will "freeze-dry."
7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the lines are "tacky."
8. Line the clothes up so that each item shares one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.
9. Make sure the clothes are off the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.
10. IRONED?! Well, that's a whole 'nother subject!
Still, I wouldn't trade a clothes dryer for an outdoor clothesline. The dryer just asks me to dump the clothes in and set a timer, then delivers fresh, warm, fluffy clothes in a matter of minutes. A clothesline requires a lot more time and energy. The clothesline is a romantic notion for painters, photographers, and nostalgic types. But in the real, work-a-day world? No thanks.
Do you still use an outdoor clothesline?