Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Wash On Monday, Iron On Tuesday, Mend On Wednesday......"

I did a load of laundry this morning and as I shook out my jeans before putting them in the dryer I thought of a few days ago when Bud was doing his laundry. He just takes his clothes from the washer and throws them in the dryer. "Didn't your Mom teach you to shake your clothes out before you put them in the dryer?" "They'll dry okay", he replied."
Of course Mom teaching me to shake the clothes out before drying came from when they were hung on a clothesline. (I still do it because old habits die hard.) There was a certain way of doing things and hanging up clothes was no exception. It was also one of our jobs once we were big enough to lug a basket of wet clothes out and reach the clothesline. It always took me longer - instead of just hanging what came next in the basket, I had to dig around so I could hang all of my things together. And the towels - they had to be hung according to colors - blue and peach, yellow and green - no mixing of colors that didn't "go together" in my mind. Another of my quirks, I always hung the underclothes on the line the farthest to the north side of the yard. That way there was a line of towels or tee shirts blocking the view so anyone driving by couldn't see our 'unmentionables'.
There were double clotheslines on both the south and north sides of the yard and they were all full on wash day. Sometimes we even had to wait for some things to dry before we could finish hanging out Monday's wash. The south lines were a bit higher and tighter, so sheets generally were hung there. I also remember after my baby brother was born in February trying to help my Mom by hanging out a load of diapers. It was so cold out my fingers would hardly work. I got a few hung up and then went into the house and told Mom it was too cold. She went out and finished hanging them all. I marveled at how she could stand the cold on her hands.
The north lines were so long and loose that when the lines were full the longer items would drag on the ground. Just like the woman in the stock picture above, we had poles to prop up the lines in the middle. One of our dogs, I think it was Trixie, used to like to grab a piece of clothing in her teeth and swing on it.

Clothes were always taken down as soon as they were dry, if not, the risk of fly specks or errant bird droppings were possible. And clothes were NEVER, EVER left on the line over night. Only derelict house wives left clothes out over night! Clothes that had to be ironed might be brought in still slightly damp, ready for ironing on Tuesday.
I can count on one hand how many times I've used my iron the last couple of years, but back then ironing was a big chore. Mom had several pairs of pants stretchers or creasers as we called them to use in Dad's wash pants. They still had to be ironed some, but those wire contraptions helped a lot.

My Dad was six foot six. Finding pants long enough was always a challenge. I remember him wearing what Mom called 'wash pants' more often than he wore jeans and I don't remember him wearing overalls at all. For some reason Washington Dee Cees stick in my mind as what he wore or maybe it was Dickies. I just remember that you could get matching pants and shirts in tan, brown, navy, dark green or gray. Dad didn't buy the matching shirts too often, opting instead for white pocket tees under blue chambray shirts in the summer and flannel shirts over tees in the winter. I remember a 'Big Mac' brand, too, which was a J.C. Penney line, I think. That would make sense as there were Penney's stores in all the surrounding towns and they were noted for carrying a big and tall line of men's clothes.

I've blogged before about how I learned to iron with Mom starting me out first on handkerchiefs and pillowcases graduating to 'every day' blouses and house dresses and anything else that didn't matter if there was a wrinkle or two left in. Sometime in the mid-fifties, we acquired a mangle iron - from an auction most likely - I'm sure it wasn't brand new. I don't remember the make, but it was similar to this picture I found online. It was supposed to be a huge time saver, but other than for flat pieces like tablecloths, hankies, tea towels, etc., additional hand ironing was needed. Like you could press the skirt part of a dress or the back of a shirt, but still needed to iron the rest of the garment by hand. Once the new wore off we seldom used the mangle. It was more work getting it out than it was worth. It became a stand to set things on over in the corner of the kitchen.

"Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday"?? Naw, I think I'll go read a book.

1 comment:

  1. I remember everything you talk about here. I notice when we happen to travel through Amish or Mennonite country on Monday, every clothesline is full. They must still go by the old verse. I hang most of my clothes on the line when weather permits, but I do it in a rather sloppy fashion, just hanging up whatever is in the basket next. I also clothespin each item and the one next to it together, except for heavy stuff like jeans. My sister-in-law hangs a lot of stuff out, but she likes her clothesline to look good. And she never makes a clothespin do double duty. Even her little light undies, she hangs up with two clothespins. She and I are total opposites that way.