Old-Time Laundry: Hung Out To Dry In The Mountains | The Appalachian Project

Old-Time Laundry: Hung Out To Dry In The Mountains

Laundry hanging out to dry.
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I was driving around yesterday when I noticed some clothes hanging out on a line to dry out. It dawned on me that this is quickly becoming another relic from the past. As little as 20 years ago such a sight would have been very common, these days not so much save for rural areas. The modern electric indoor dryer has made the clothesline an obsolete nuisance for many folks these days.

These gals are doing some old-fashioned hanging of clothes on the line.

Possibly the best use of a clothesline.

I vividly recall in my younger years seeing two T-shaped poles with two connecting lines in numerous backyards throughout my hometown. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone dig one up to have it removed yet they seem to have almost all vanished over time. Like many folks of the time, my family had a clothesline out in the backyard despite having an indoor dryer. We mainly used it for the “heavy” laundry such as blankets, sheets and blue jeans.

Hung out to dry…in the truest sense of the word.

A clothesline was a wonderful way to gauge the intensity and direction of wind as the clothes would flap around in the breeze. It wasn’t, however, all fun and games as anyone who has had a rain storm sneak up on them can tell you. If you want to see some fast and fancy footwork just watch the mad scramble that ensues at the first sign of sprinkles. I’ve made the mad dash a time or two myself to rush out and fetch some clothes from getting an unwanted rain rinsing.

She almost makes it look fun and elegant.

I pity children today who won’t know the joy of having a pull-up bar in their backyard. I also remember using the clothesline as a makeshift goal post to kick field goals over. The birds seemed to enjoy having a nice place to perch too. I’m sure of the why or how but I distinctly remember getting tangled in the line on at least one or two occasions. The clothes pins to hang the clothes up were also a great way to torment an unsuspecting sibling or friends ear by clamping it on them from behind.

Another representation of a happy clothes hanger.

Maybe it is just a false memory but I recall really liking the smell of sun-dried clothes. I also recall bringing in the occasional mooching insect looking for a free ride indoors. I am surprised the rise of modern homesteading hasn’t seemed to have led to a noticeable rise in new clotheslines. In any case, I guess I will wrap this post up now…the buzzer just went off on my dryer so I better get the clothes out before they get wrinkles… – Shane

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7 Comments on "Old-Time Laundry: Hung Out To Dry In The Mountains"

  1. Garry Fred Raines | July 29, 2017 at 1:57 AM |

    I come from a close family of six children. Im the youngest and only boy. There was a story of a our parents cousins and their family making a trip over the mountains to have dinner at our house. Not having been there before they realized where our house was by the number of girls dresses hanging on the clothesline to dry. True story.

  2. Brenda Hall | July 29, 2017 at 2:31 AM |

    I still use a clothes line for towels bedding and my uniforms. My favorite memory as a child was playing outside all day taking a bath and getting inbetween the fresh sheets my mom had hung out that day!

  3. i can’t count the number of times when my babies were little i hung diapers on the line…along with all the other things…i would take the clothes to town to the laundromat since we didn’t have running water (much less a washing machine) and come back with 6-8 loads of clothes to hang on the lines that ran across the back yard

  4. Anita Brown | July 30, 2017 at 8:57 PM |

    I so enjoy reading your stories. I still hang my clothes on the line. I have a perfectly good dryer but, there is nothing like climbing into a bed made with fresh line dried sheets. A great childhood memory. My girls always want their bedding line dried.

    • The Appalachian Project | July 31, 2017 at 2:36 AM |

      Anita, I appreciate you reading them. I am glad to see the tradition continues in your family.

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