One of my special memories from childhood is hanging clothes on the clothesline at my grandmother’s house. I liked being in the sun, hanging the clothes just so. The wind would whip through them and they would dry quickly on those hot summer days in Kinloch, Missouri – a town in St. Louis County.
Recently there have been articles in the news about home and condo associations prohibiting residents for hanging clothes outside because it brings down property values and is not aesthetically pleasing. Yet Cristo, creator of The Gates, mounted dozens of orange poles with orange fabric suspended between them, flapping in the breeze in Central Park – looking for all the world like a bunch of sheets or curtains drying in the biggest back yard of all. His hanging sheets were deemed art.
My mother told me that when she was a child, there was an unspoken competition among the women about whose laundry was the brightest and hung the prettiest. I remember the lovely symmetry of sheets hung together followed by pillowcases. Next were the towels and washcloths. T-shirts, boxer shorts, handkerchiefs and socks followed with bras hung inside, surrounded by the larger items. I don’t remember ever hanging my “bloomers,” as we called them, outside. They were hung inside in the basement, which was also where laundry was hung during winter or on rainy days.
I remember the symmetry of the wooden clothespins – I tried to make sure they matched – I wouldn’t hang an item with one spring-pin and another straight-sided pin. Colored plastic clothespin came later and now there are dozens of variations on clothes pins that most often today they are used to do everything but hang clothes.
Drying clothes on the line is certainly an environmental friendly choice, but not to the self-annointed harbingers of good taste and aesthetics. I suggest a compromise – perhaps only allowing clothes to be hung outside on certain days or within certain hours – though, to me, I don’t think people should tell me what I can do in my very own back yard.
I would remind the clothespin police that property values have gone down virtually every where in this country and they were brought down not by the lowly clothesline or the actions of people doing this simple physical chore. No, property values were brought down by the subprime mortgage industry , by “educated” economists and investors eager to make ever more money, and by legislators who allowed the industry to be deregulated. Have you ever noticed that every time something is deregulated, it ends up costing the consumer more?
Come spring, meet me in the backyard. We’ll sip lemonade while we watch the wind blow through the clothes – that is if I can find some clothespins and some line to string and I can give up the quickness of my once weekly date with my dryer.