While tubs simmered and bubbled with bundled paper and textiles in the studio, the laundry dried on the line. Yes, the laundry line was one of the first of many innovations installed on the colonial farm. And one that perhaps always resided here, for I imagine that the women of this home hung many loads of wash out on their lines.
My grandmother—Nannie—much preferred to dry her clothes on the line instead of putting them in the modern dryer, even though for mother’s day she was given a washer and dryer—mod cons. She hung the wash with a rhythm and beauty—clothes arranged by type and then by color. She resorted to the dryer only during inclement weather; however, she did embrace the washing machine.
When my father was a youngster, Nannie lugged the dirty diapers, clothes, sheets and towels out into the yard and boiled them in the extra large cast iron tub constructed over a brick fireplace, having first built a fire underneath. Next, she wrung out the clothes and finally totted the laundry baskets filled with weighty wet clothes to the line, in the summer on long rows under the trees and in the winter on the lines in the basement.
As a child, I enjoyed sharing the chore hanging out the wash with Nannie. Perhaps it was a way of spending time with her, for I was not thinking of the economy of it. In my teenage years, I wondered why she continued to lug the wash outdoors, since the dryer in closer proximity sat unused in the basement. Now, I look forward to hanging out our wash, not only for the expense it saves in dollars and oil, but also for the fragrant smelling clothes.
Do some wash. Be prepared for National Hanging Out Day on April 19th.