Whatever happened to …

… clotheslines?

Again, inspiration from Sheila Stewart to follow up on her wonderful post last week about washing detergent.

Of course, after things are washed, they’re dried. Around here, for the most part, things get thrown into the dryer for the task. It’s right next to the washing machine so the convenience can’t be overlooked. When possible, we try to do things in non-prime time.

But, this morning with the breezy coolness after yesterday’s storms we’re hanging the sheets on the clothesline! It’s not done regularly – to be honest, these days, it’s largely a place for bathing suits and towels and a driving hazard when I’m cutting the lawn.

Growing up though, it was the only game in town. There was this big pole at the corner of four neighbour lots and we all had clotheslines from the back of our house to the pole. In our case, it was just outside what we called the “back kitchen” on the top stair. You’d put the basket of wet stuff beside you and we had a six quart basket full of clothes pins. The basket would be considered a collectible by today’s standards. Probably the pins too! Everything got hung up out there; we had no modesty!

This was always a point of conflict with my brother and me over who did what. Somehow, washing always seemed easier than hanging things out to dry later.

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Between washings, it had an additional functionality. We had this old hula hoop that was broken but would nicely fit over the line. It made a great target for throwing baseballs and footballs through.

Our car even had a makeshift clothesline on it. When we’d go to the beach at Goderich or Bayfield, our bathing suits would hang over the cars antenna through the top and one leg. It would flap in the breeze but would be dry by the time we got home.

At university, I got into dryers bigtime. Living in an apartment, there weren’t too many other options. Fortunately, the landlord had some pay machines in the basement. In today’s environment of hyper-sensitivity, I wonder about sharing dryers! (joking, but were they ever cleaned?)

I’ll let you finish the post with your own stories.

  • Dryer or clothesline? Into which camp do you fall today?
  • Have you always had a dryer or did you come to it at some point growing up?
  • Do you do laundry in the off-hours or when you need it?
  • Do you own either or both these days?
  • How and wear do you dry bathing suits?
  • In the movies, particularly with a setting of New York City, it isn’t uncommon to see clothes drying on balconies. Why don’t we do this / allow this?

Please share your drying stories in the comments below. We’re all friends so air your dirty laundry!

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Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. I’m all about the dryer, Doug, but my neighbor has a huge clothesline. She hangs things up all the time. I kind of love the pulley contraption. My family used to have a cottage, and we had a little clothesline there. Your post made me think about my time at the cottage. It’s funny how even small objects, like a clothesline, bring back bigger memories. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!



  2. I am glad the idea turned into a follow up post! I have had a few clotheslines in my past. My mother used to tell stories of hanging out the cloth diapers in the winter sun! My childhood home had a clothesline and a designated platform for it off the walkway to our back yard. It was used quite regularly in the warmer months. It seemed normal to have one. I didn’t have one again until the second house my husband and I bought, and now also one with our current house. This one is awkward to get at. Our house used to have a main floor laundry, but the previous owners moved it downstairs. So if I want to access the clothesline it means carrying the load across the basement, up the stairs, through the kitchen, across the deck, down the stairs and out to the pole (no platform). So I am mostly in the “dryer camp” now. I do enjoy using the clothesline to dry bigger items (winter coats, blankets, etc). I have an indoor drying rack that I use a lot for some garments. Towels and sheets are always dried in the dryer. I try to observe off hours, but often not.

    We are in the “older” part of a subdivision and a few homes have clotheslines poles. The houses in the newer part of our subdivision are not allowed to have them. I just hope our tall metal poles never blow down in a storm!

    I thought the photo of clothespins you used was cool. It is like the mix I have in a bucket — coloured plastic, older wooden, and newer wooden ones.

    Hope you get more good laundry stories!


  3. I use my clothesline in the summer, dryer in the winter and on rainy days. I do it to save the planet and hydro costs. I use the timer on my washing machine to do my washing in the off peak morning hours. Bathing suits and towels from the pool dry on the deck.


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