Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Thoughts on a Thursday

Image result for clotheslines

Remember these??

Image result for clotheslines

I had a clothesline for a while in the 70's. I liked hanging things out to dry and liked the smell, but sometimes the sheets were a little stiff.

From Wikipedia

clothes line or washing line is any type of rope, cord, or twine that has been stretched between two points (e.g. two sticks), outside or indoors, above the level of the ground. Clothing that has recently been washed is hung along the line to dry, using clothes pegs or clothespins. Washing lines are attached either from a post or a wall, and are frequently located in back gardens, or on balconies. Longer washing lines often have props holding up sections in the middle due to the weight of the usually wet clothing.


I have a book called 
the clothesline

Front Cover

It has a history of clotheslines and lots of pictures.

It has a simple soap recipe dating from the 1940's. This is for making  lemon verbena and lavender soap. 

12 oz. of unscented soap (approx. 3 cakes)
1 1/2 t sweet almond oil
1 t dried lemon verbena, finely crumbled or chopped
6 drops lemon verbena essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil

Finely grate the unscented soap with a cheese grater. Put into a double boiler over low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally. Gradually the soap will melt into a thick paste. Add the sweet almond oil and the dried herbs. Transfer the mixture to a clean, nonreactive bowl. Add the essential oils and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. 

For soap bars: pour immediately into a wax lines container like a cut-down paper milk carton. After it hardens (about a week) slice it into squares with a sharp knife

For soap balls: When mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into round balls with your hands. Put the balls on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper to harden. Make sure you won't need the cookie sheet for 4-5 days, which is how long it will take the soap balls to harden. This recipe makes approximately 3 four-ounce balls.

Recipe is from the clothesline book.

You could tell a lot about the family by what was hanging on their clothesline. Maybe baby clothes or diapers, white shirts, work shirts or overalls, all told something about who lived there. It seems that a woman who hung her laundry by color or size was a good woman. If the laundry was hung out haphazardly she might be an indifferent housekeeper. If she hung out her underwear fir everyone to see.....a hussy!!


Stories of the Clothesline

“We had a clothesline in the backyard when I was growing up. Mama would hang those heavy winter 
quilts on the line. They were so heavy that Daddy had to put a stick in the middle to keep the line from 
dragging on the ground.” 
- Debra in Durham, NC

“My Grandmother used to make her own lye soap. It was light brown and I’m not sure you can get soap 
like that anymore. She used a great big pot in the back and she would keep all the scraps of fat until she 
had enough to make the soap. It took all day. I still remember that lye soap!” 
- Mrs. Jones in Bonita, LA

(My grandmother also made her own lye soap. Not much lather....and she used my grandpa's worn out sock for a wash cloth!! She was very frugal...she had to be.)

“We used a rubbing board to wash our clothes. It was hard work. We washed the clothes on Mondays. 
Mama had me and my sisters help with the wash. It took all day. Folks cooked red beans and rice for 
supper on Mondays because you didn't have time to watch the stove and do the laundry.” 
- Helen in Gainesville, GA 


Wooden tubs with rope handles on bench

A tub of hot water, a washboard in a wooden frame with somewhere to rest the bar of laundry soap in pauses from scrubbing - this is a familiar image of how our great-grandmothers washed the laundry. It's not wrong, but it's only part of the picture. Factory-made washboards with metal or glass scrubbing surfaces certainly spread round the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and bars of soap were cheap and plentiful by the late 1800s, but there were other ways of tackling the laundry too.

In the idealised images of early advertising or today's nostalgia products, the washtub is on a stand near a bright, breezy clothesline, though in reality it may have been in a cramped kitchen or dark tenement courtyard, or by a tumbledown shack. Alternatives to the classic washboard and tub included dolly tubs (photo left) used with a dolly stick (aka peggy or maiden) in the UK and parts of northern Europe. These were tall tubs, also called possing- or maidening-tubs, in which large items were stirred and beaten with dollies or a plunger on a long handle.

Packages and ads on shelves

This site is full of fun and interesting things.


I love the magazine called Somerset Life, it has so many beautiful pictures and lovely things to try. On Tuesday while at Barnes and Noble, I looked at the current issue and there was an article called "The Simple Charm of a Clothesline" by Jennifer Clawson Farnes . If you have a chance, get the magazine and enjoy.

The writer talks about her love of clotheslines and how it began when she helped her mother each wash day. There were three children under the age of 3 so the clothesline was used every single week, day in and day out all through the seasons. As they grew older they transformed it into castles using blankets. Often they had tea parties with their dolls or picnic lunches.

She goes on to talk about other homes that they lived in and about her grandmother and how her linen closet too on the scent of all her sun-dried linens.

What are your memories of clotheslines? My grandmother...the soap maker...lived in a rooming house in The Dalles. My grandparents rented rooms to men who worked in town. She had a laundry area in the basement that I always thought was a little scary. She had a rub board and that lye soap. I remember she had a clothesline in the basement as well as one outside in the back yard. She worked very hard. When the sheets started to wear in the center, she would tear them in half and then sew the outside edges together so they would last even longer. I remember my toes going through the sheets once in a while. I'm sure they turned into rags or other uses when they couldn't be sheets any more. She was a sweet and kind grandma.



Fun Ode to a Clothesline



You have to be a "certain age" to appreciate this one.... 

(If you don't even know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)  
(But you YOUNGER ones can read about "The GOOD ol' days"!!)
I can hear my mother now.....

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes... 
NOT the top. 

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs... 
NOT the waistbands. 

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines. 

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first. 

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbors think? 

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven's sake! 

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y'know!) 

8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather... clothes would "freeze-dry." 

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky"! 

10. 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. 

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed. 

12. IRONED???!! Well, that's a whole OTHER subject!

How do the Amish dry their clothes during the winter? Ask the Amish on
Q. I’m curious about hanging laundry on the clothing line outside in the colder months of the year. Would you please explain a bit how Amish women deal with getting the clothes dry after they are frozen stiff, or is there a technique they use to keep them from freezing?
       ~ Angela Oehlert
We put them outside first, even if it’s freezing. Then, we have drying racks situated around heat sources in the house where we hang them after they’re frozen. Having been stiffly frozen on the clothes line gets rid of excess moisture so that the clothes won’t drip as much water in the house as they finish drying.

next week we will continue with laundry and talk about clothes pins!!

Thanks for stopping by. Betty

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