Appalachia Through My Eyes – Clothes On The Line

My life in appalachia - Clothes on the Line

I never liked hanging clothes out when I was young. Every time Granny sent me to the line with a load I drug my feet and sighed the whole way. But I like it now.

Taking a load to hang out or going to bring a load in makes me to stop and breathe. The trip out to the backyard forces me to feel the sunshine on my arms and the grass brushing my feet over the edge of my flip-flops; forces me to hear the jar flies buzz; and forces my eyes to take in the beauty around me.

The other day I ran down the hill to borrow something from Granny and Pap. No need to call they always have what I need and never mind giving it to me. Granny said she wasn't feeling well and after she hung out her clothes she was going to lay down. I tried my best to get her to let me hang them out for her, but she told me I didn't know how to do it right. I thought "I'm over 40 years old I can hang out clothes!"

As I walked back up the hill home I decided it wasn't that Granny didn't think I could hang them out right. It was that she remembered I didn't like it when I was a girl and now with a family of my own to wash up after she figured I didn't need to put myself out for her.

Tipper

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    Theresa
    August 19, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Oh what a delightful bunch of memories that brings back! I grew up in Wyoming and we always hung our clothes to dry on the line…didn’t even have a dryer until I was in junior high. I love the smell of clothes dried on the line, fresh and clean and you can’t beat the smell of hung to dry sheets, so clean and fresh! When we first moved here I got in trouble for hanging out the clothes as it was “not socially acceptable” is the way the owner of the manufactured home park put it at the time. Thankfully when the push for saving energy got more forceful around here, last year the current owner decided that we could put up clotheslines and hope to have the money to get one set up soon. Currently I hang clothes on the porch on hangers from hooks and nails and on a clothes rack inside too. If you don’t have enough breeze to “fluff” towels and other clothes…what my Gram taught me was to snap the clothes hard in the air before you put them on the line…they come out much softer, don’t ask me why, but it works.

  • Reply
    P.J.
    August 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I am a little late to the conversation but I so enjoyed all the trips down memory lane reading all the clothes hanging comments. I live in a “fancy” FL city neighborhood and long to escape back to my home state NC. I wanted to hang my clothes out but had to get creative! No lines allowed and in fact my landlord lives next door. I solved my dilemma by rolling a heavy duty garment rack to the backyard. Yep, it’s not as good as the old way but I can still get sun kissed towels and sheets and love saving energy and a few coins. I also scoot my undies to fool myself they look a little smaller .lol.

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 28, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    About the only thing I hang out on the clothes line is the bedding. Everything seems to be so stiff and scratchy when hung on the line. Maybe it’s time I try again.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    July 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Martina-Granny is feeling better : ) Thank you for asking!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Brenda S~ okie in colorado
    July 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I have enjoyed this post and all the great comments. I remember hanging out clothes with my Granny. She used the jean stretchers on some of my uncles jeans. When the weather was freezing and she had jeans or my Grandpa’s overalls hanging on the line, she would bring them in and stand everything close to the fire to thaw out. I would always laugh because those jeans and overalls looked like someone was in them, but no bodies. Great memories.
    I’m 61 years old and singing I’ll Fly Away in church with my friend and was my favorite song.

  • Reply
    John
    July 14, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Not much chance of hanging out any washing here today as the rain falls relentlessly. I’ve always tried hanging it out all wrong but I still get the job.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    July 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Oh, the difference between having to hang out the clothes and wanting to!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    No dryer sheet on Earth, no liquid softener or perfumed rinse, nothing can make indoor laundry smell with the same freshness as laundry dried outdoors in the sun and the breeze. Add to that the bleaching halides and UVs in sunshine and you realize God thought of everything; even washday.

  • Reply
    Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits
    July 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    While I don’t have a clotheslines myself, I consider the sight of clothes flapping in the breeze neatly hanging on a clothesline, one of life’s simple pleasures.

  • Reply
    Glynda
    July 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I remember how picky my mama was about hanging out the clothes. All the sheets together, all shirts together, same with all pieces of clothing. And there was a certain way to hang them and that was the only way she would do it or let us do it. She had several lines and they were all full. My favorite was sheets dried on the line, they smelled so fresh and felt so good on the bed.

  • Reply
    martina
    July 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I put a line up in the summer after washing the sheets. Ahh the smell of summer when you put the air dry sheets on the bed that night! Forgot about my Aunty always wiping down the line first. I love the story about the lady who folded the underwear in half so it looked smaller than actual size. How is Granny today? Hope she feels better.

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    July 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Live in an apartment,no clothes lines allowed, Loved each comments on the posts and the thought came in that we wonder if these folks knew they could well be writers,their descriptions put you right there among the smells,the breezes,the singing of the birds, the sunshine,I was hanging right along with them and enjoying it all. God bless to all of you.
    Grandmother Joy.

  • Reply
    quinn
    July 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    One of my earliest memories is of a clothesline and the wooden pegs…I still enjoy drying clothes on the line, and the smell can’t be beat.

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    July 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I still use a clothesline; I don’t like flimsy feeling blue jeans. And Ruth’s comment about the jean stretchers ~ well I used those too after I was married. I don’t think I had many jeans before that. I don’t hang out the undies and socks; my lines aren’t long enough. My daughter is the only other person in our community who hangs out clothes that I know of. I’m proud of my dryer but it isn’t the first thing I unplug in a lightning storm; that would be the washer. I don’t think I could ever get clothes clean on a rub board!

  • Reply
    N. Anne
    July 13, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Thank you Tipper for blessing all of your readers with your daily “messages from the heart”…
    Like many of your faithful readers, I visit here daily, enjoy your sharing of your heart thoughts, your mountain life, your devotion to family, your delightful word offerings and those of the posters, hoping that I will stash poignant or informative points in my now fuzzy memory; I then sigh wistfully, wishing that my hubby and I were up there in your mountains, sharing the clean air and the magnificent mountain vistas, and, simply enough, wishing I could load my laundry basket with clothes, towels, and sheets that would come back in house later in the day smelling like sunshine…
    Ed Ammons, bless you for your comment. Right on…Only Tipper would touch our lives with the “Lessons and Blessings of Life” earned in a trip to the clothesline, where the solitude and peacefulness is soul restoring, the wonder of nature is inspiring, the orderlyness? of the ritual of sorting laundry by items should cause us to be at peace the rest of the day, and as B Ruth said, the ‘mysteries of life happen’…Such a simple chore, fondly missed by so many of us, brought to mind by our Appalachian Heart Stirrer,Tipper..
    Thanks for the memories.

  • Reply
    Sandy
    July 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

    There are few things I find more delight in than hanging clothes on the line to dry. Besides getting those nice stiff rough feeling bath towels I kind of feel like I am flipping off the power company. I was amazed when I saw how much money I save on the power bill when I started hanging my laundry out to dry. My favorite time is in the spring when the wind blows the wrinkles out of them.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 13, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Tipper,
    A Mother’s Love reaches to the
    Heavens! I remember my mama showing us how to hang out clothes
    and that’s something you don’t
    forget. I laughed out loud when I
    read Janet Smart’s comment about
    scootin’ the panties in just a bit. You’ve got a Treasure here
    where folks can share their past
    experiences and listen to some
    good old timey bluegrass too…Ken

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    July 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I’m almost 57 and my mom still tells me how to do things! Sometimes it irritates me, but most of the time I’m glad she’s around to tell me. Oh, and I boss her around a bit too – not too much though! ; )
    Clothes on the line, lovely smell, fresh and clean. Brings back memories!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    July 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

    We lived in a two story house when I was a child. My dad built a small porch out the back and attached a pole from the house to a very tall pole across the driveway. My mom at 4’11” reached over that railing to hang out sheets, etc. It was a challenge as the railing was four foot high. She would stand on her tippy toes. When I was a teenager I would help her sometimes hanging out clothes, sheets, etc. or help her bring it in at the end of the day. The smell of the laundry was heavenly. I can smell it as I write.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    July 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Back in Denver in the 1940s, “the Mile-High City,” summer temperatures reached 90 to 100 degrees, but the humidity was near zero. Grandma would step in the shower with her clothes on, then stand outside in the back yard in the bright Rocky Mountain sun and be dry in ten minutes.

  • Reply
    Lise
    July 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I’ve only begun hanging clothes on the line (strung between two trees) since we’ve been living our log cabin life. I didn’t realize there were so many do’s and don’ts, but I sure appreciate learning about them! Only problem now is the rain we’ve had for 3 days, can’t put the clothes on the line! I’m glad for the rain, but not the dirty clothes:)

  • Reply
    warren
    July 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I hated doing it when I was a kid but now that we don’t do it,I so miss the crisp sheets and the smell of hung-out-to-dry laundry. It smells sweeter or better somehow.

  • Reply
    Shirla
    July 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Hanging out clothes was the easy part of wash day for my family. Hauling the water from the creek and building an outside fire under the tub was the worst part. Everything had to be ironed as the old Maytag wringer washer left some mighty deep wrinkles in the 100% cotton. We used an iron that was heated on the stove. Not because I’m older than electric irons, but because we couldn’t afford one.
    Most homes had a clothesline on their front porch so clothes could be hung to dry even on rainy and snowy days.
    I still hang my clothes out to dry. I just like the way they feel and smell, especially sheets. I’m blessed to have a dryer to use when I am busy or just being lazy.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 13, 2012 at 8:56 am

    One of my favorite things to do! Filling my basket with wet clothes and taking them out to wave in the sunshine where I can hear the birds and see all the random critters of nature. I love to hear the Mourning Dove in the distance. Whenever I can, I do things the old-fashioned way. I am the only one on my entire street to hang clothes on the line..it is a dying art. Everybody is either too old to be able or to young and COOL to want to fill the line with all those clothes blowing in the wind. I noticed myself getting a pudge around the middle about the time I started using a clothes dryer many years ago. My solution became line drying, gardening, and doing all my own painting. No fitness center, as I did not want to waste that energy on anything that did not benefit. It was not always easy as I worked most of my life. Now retired, I can run blissfully out to the line to hang it full. I sure do miss the flip-flops with all my foot problems, but I still wear them on my lazy days. Tipper,God has blessed you in many ways including those flip-flops.

  • Reply
    Belva
    July 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Your post brings back some good memories this morning. When I was a little girl we washed clothes in a wringer type washing machine and hung them on the line to dry. As I read your post, I could hear the flies buzzing and the birds singing and smell that wonderful smell of freshly cut grass. I could feel the warmth from the sun and the sweetness of an occasional breeze. I loved to watch the sheets and towels dancing when the wind would blow. The sheets would look like they had been ironed. But the best part was when you went to bed on those freshly washed sheets. They smelled so clean and fresh and like sunshine to me. I think that I am going to have to get my husband to put me up a line!

  • Reply
    kathryn Magendie
    July 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I remember hanging clothes on the line *smiling* — Mother did it for years – even when we finally had a dryer she did it sometimes just because.
    I had to do it for a while back when I was first married to my first husband – we had no money but one day I had enough to buy a used Maytag washer – but not a dryer – so I would hang the clothes on the line. I didn’t feel nostalgic, then, though – just irritated *laughing*

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    July 13, 2012 at 8:38 am

    One thing I’ve never forgotten about a washing dried on the line is the wonderful clean smell they got, especially the bed sheets.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    July 13, 2012 at 8:34 am

    My Gran taught me the “right” way to hang out clothes with shirts and pants hanging so the “wrinkles would fall out” as Gran would say. She was right, they do fall out. I love hanging out clothes, nothing like that smell.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I remember feeling the same way about hanging clothes when I was a kid. I now love the chance to get outside.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    July 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I used to clean house for my next door neighbor, who is passed away now. When I did the wash she told me how to hang them out. She had me take a wet rag out with me and wipe down the line first. Among other things, she told me when I hung the panties to push the ends together a little so people wouldn’t notice the size of them, she told me how to hang the shirts by the tail and where to put the clothespins. I guess she told me all these things thinking I didn’t know how to hang clothes and she wanted to make sure I did it right. She was a sweet lady and I miss her.

  • Reply
    justjackie
    July 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I love hanging out clothes. When I was small, my mom had to do laundry for all the extended family. (4 generations of us)We had a wringer washer, too. I know it must have been so hard on her to do all that work but I never felt closer to her than when we would hang the clothes. We didn’t talk much but I felt very grown up helping. (I love to iron, too. But that’s another story. LOL)

  • Reply
    kat
    July 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Even tho I never liked to hang clothes on the line when I was young, I love the smell of of them now, especially the sheets.

  • Reply
    LINDA L. KERLIN
    July 13, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I too agree with the hanging of clothing on the line—but I do it my method –my neighbors can not see the line and if your driving by then deal with it!!!! But there sure is nothing like the smell of clean clothes at the end of the day when they have dried–but I do cheat once the snow and winters show up then the dryer becomes my friend.

  • Reply
    Louise
    July 13, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I have followed your blog for quite some time now but have never commented on how much I enjoy reading it but I had to when I read about hanging clothes out on the line.
    When I was a teenager my mother told me to take the clothes out to hang on our side yards clothes line strung between two trees. I dragged my feet and complained the whole time but hung everything up. When I got back to the porch Mom was waiting for me. “Just look at that line, how do you think that looks to the neighbors”. I had hung everything up willy nilly with no thought to whether there was a proper order to how everything should be hung up! She made me take it all down and then showed me how to hang the clothes properly with everything sorted out by towels, jeans/ overalls or shirts together. It all needed to be neat and orderly so when the neighbors saw our wash it looked good!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 13, 2012 at 7:20 am

    That’s the way mothers are, thank goodness!! My mom passed away in 1997, but I still remember the many acts of self-sacrifice that she did for her family.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Yep, Tipper, that is the way of it. Mothers love their children beyond all understanding. Another fact is…it grows with time. I know how much you love Chitter and Chatter now but it will grow more. When they are almost 42, and have husbands and children of their own, your love will grow to encompass all of them, and you will wonder how there could be so much love in your heart. Like Granny loves you, the Deer Hunter and the girls and I love the Deer hunter, you, and the girls as if you were all my children. It’s one of those beautiful mysteries of life that happens quietly while you are hanging out clothes.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    July 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

    We live at the edge of the woods, so the birds won’t allow us to hang clothes out. instead of the sunny clean scent of my youth, my clothes now either smell baked or flowery.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Tipper,
    Great post…Ah-ha..I see you hang by the clothes pin saver method!…My mother taught me that trick…No need to use four pins when you can use three. Still a waste not want not idea. Small children were kept busy making suns, clipping them together and lost a few!…Hang the towels on the viewer side and the undies and bras on the inside line…out of view! LOL Always hang shirts by the tail, neatly fold over a round end…at least until the wind blew it back over..
    Socks by the toe end. Always hang the pretty sheets facing the road…can you believe it…LOL
    Oh, and don’t forget to put the bluejean stretchers in straight before hanging out…Oops, forgot teens today don’t stretch their jeans so that nice crease dries in the middle of the leg…LOL
    In the summer we were infested with clover mites on the sheets…blowing in the wind…ewww…so waiting til almost dark to bring them end would not bring them in on the sheets..
    I hated hanging clothes on cold winter days…they froze to the line…Only good thing…you didn’t have to dampen them much before ironing…LOL
    Thanks Tipper, All I got to say is God bless the dryer for an old lady that has trouble walking to the line….LOL

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 13, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Why don’t I look at the punctuation before I push Post? But you get my point, I hope!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 13, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Did I ever tell you how lucky you are to still have both Granny and Pap? And to have them just a run down the hill is even more fortunate. Do you realize how many millions of 41 year old girls would give a fortune to be in your flip-flops. You are living a million dreams?
    Did I ever tell you how lucky Pap and Granny are to have such a devoted daughter? And all their children live nearby. And all their grandkids are smart and talented and good looking. They are living my dream and millions more.
    You better enjoy it and you better keep sharing it with all of rest of us!

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