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Towing the Line

by Eva Pasco

Towing the Line by Eva Pasco

During my previous episode, "The Wringer," I left you in the lurch with a basket of wet laundry in the basement.  Time to grab a canvas bag filled with clothespins, throw it on top of the load, and let's tow the line...the outdoor clotheslines in our backyards which enabled our neighbors to network throughout the Sixties.  On the wane due to the advent and popularity of the automatic clothes dryer, we were all better off roping.  Clothes dryers are not only tough on fabric, but consume vast amounts of energy which inflates our utility bill.  Go green the way my mother did. 


As deftly as fingers dance with chopsticks, my mom wielded those wooden clothespins with dexterity.  I remember two varieties.  There was the vintage one-piece split peg. These made way for interlocking prongs resembling an open-mouthed alligator, wedged between a small spring one pinched at the top to open sesame for clamping onto the line. Quite adroit, she grabbed a handful of those babies, stored a few in her mouth the way a carpenter inserts a mouthful of nails... and the most graceful swanlike towing of the line ensued. 


As we lived in the country where mighty oaks abounded in our backyard, no namby pamby T-Post clotheslines or  Umbrella types resembling the skeletal remains of satellite dishes for us.  No siree!  My dad put up a pulley line he mounted on the rear of our garage extending to a stout and sturdy granddad in the woods.  For back up on heavy duty laundry days, my mother would traipse through the dewy grass to hang the clothes on a line stretching from one tree to another.  On a clear day she could make small talk with the other neighbors doing their own swan dance. 


My mother "read" clotheslines the way some women have the clairvoyance to read tea leaves. She could predict which neighbor was a sloppy housekeeper by the way she hung her clothes. She definitely raised the bar by elevating clothes hanging to an art.  For one thing, she left no frivolous spaces between garments as she overlapped edges to conserve clothespins.  She exercised care in hanging each piece incrementally by size from small to large.  Our laundry was homogeneously grouped such that panties wouldn't be seen in the company of towels.  


While these clothes are flapping in the breeze to dry, I will leave you hanging until my next episode.  As we tow the line and reel in the laundry next week, I'll come clean about the madness and mayhem those clotheslines spawned.    



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