By Mary Tucker
One of my jobs growing up on a farm in rural Albany County was helping with the laundry. Automatic washers and dryers were not heard of then, let alone laundromats. We always washed on Mondays using a ringer washer and several rinse tubs and usually hung clothes on an outside line. On damp, rainy, or snowy winter days we used a line on a covered porch. I started my married life with a ringer washer and no dryer, so I always tried to do laundry on good days and used the line. Hanging on the line was so ingrained in me that I continued the practice on good days when I got my first automatic washer and dryer after the birth of the 4th child. Doing laundry was not always boring and is much more convenient when there are 8 children. To prove that it can be interesting, I will relate things that happened in various places I’ve lived.
Normanskill Road, Voorheesville, Albany County, NY: On a sunny, cold early winter day I put sheets out and left them to freeze-dry. An unexpected major snowstorm during the night had the snowplows out early in the morning. When I went to get the sheets in …what a surprise!! No sheets on the line. A strong wind had blown them off and there were huge drifts along the road. I picked a few out of the snow banks but had to wait for the spring thaw to get the rest; I never found a couple of the sheets. They were probably blown to the next county.
Fall Clove Road, Delaware County, NY: The children were ages from 5 to 17 so there was lots of laundry. I hung a line of 15 or 16 T-shirts of all sizes and colors out early on a lovely, sunny, summer day. After lunch there was a knock on the door. A woman photographer asked permission to take some pictures of the T-shirts. She thought it would make an interesting picture. Of course, I said yes and always wondered if the pictures would end up in a coffee table book of life in Delaware County.
One summer we were raising a young bull calf who had a habit of getting out of his pen. I usually put laundry out early and went out to take it in some time after lunch. Outside, what do I see but this 6-month-old bull chewing on the sleeve of a white shirt and most of the other clothes spread on the lawn! This is the same animal that ate tomatoes off the plants, ate apples off the trees in the pasture and followed walkers passing by. Who says cows are dumb?
Missouri: No adventures as the line was in the back lawn and it was too hot to stay out visiting with neighbors. I did brave the heat and hang laundry on the line.
Plum Lick Road, No. Middletown, Kentucky: Neighbors draped their wash on front yard fences. I met many neighbors and got to know them while taking walks on wash day. There was always time to stop for a glass of lemonade or just stand outside and visit.
Back in Fall Clove with family all grown and away, I still use the line. I find it’s a good reason to be outside on a beautiful day, a time to meditate, to daydream, or just look at the birds, trees, and flowers. And now there is also the added advantage of feeling virtuous about saving energy. ~