Saturday I saw sheets hanging in the sunshine on a privacy fence. It reminded me of all the times I pinned laundry on a clothesline and took it off to fold, placing the wooden clothes pins in the large pocket of the apron that accompanied the task. These were the years of my childhood and youth in Randolph County, Georgia. Every home had a clothesline in the backyard and most days laundry could be seen flapping in the breeze on most of them. I was the oldest of 4 children and that duty often fell to me. We had a heavy duty automatic Maytag washer. It had no buzzer to advise when the load was complete. It didn’t need one. The distinctive noise of each cycle could be heard all over the house and when the final spin was done, one could hear the silence. It was only after I left for college that my family purchased a clothes dryer. (They also added a second bathroom and added air conditioning. I would teasingly ask if I was the one holding them back! Was I such a financial liability that my absence suddenly freed up funds for such luxuries?)
A few of my friends’ mothers still used a wringer style washer that sat on the back porch. Seeing those made me grateful for the more modern automatic washer at our house.
Monday is laundry day at the Byrd house. Sometimes I roll Bill’s and my own dirty clothes carts to the laundry area in the garage on Sunday afternoon, sort the colors, and start a load or two to get a head start on the process. By Monday morning the first load is ready to fold and the additional loads are already sorted and ready to go. It makes for an easier week for us both to have our ”necessaries” and our favorite clothes clean and ready to wear.
I enjoy the lightly fragranced laundry liquids that are available now. I am not particularly loyal to a single brand and will try those that have nice sounding names- “Fresh Scent”, “Breath of Fresh Air”, “Morning Sunshine”. Maybe it is the way the fragrance names trigger the feel of gathering an armload of laundry from the line on a sunny day that attracts me.
Bill also remembers playing among the sheets blowing in the breeze in his yard as he was growing up and his Mother yelling out the door to get away from the laundry! And, in dreary winter weeks in Dearborn, Michigan, the laundry was hung in the basement where it would take so much longer to dry without the freshening sunshine and breeze.
Funny how the sight of sheets hung on a privacy fence can trigger memories of childhood activities that now seem so sweet but at the time were more or less taken for granted as the drudgery they seemed to be.
I am very grateful for my Speed Queen heavy-duty steel-drum large-load washer. When my Sears dryer wears out, I will get a matching Speed Queen dryer, too. But some days when the breeze is blowing off Deerpoint Lake and the sunshine is shining through the oaks, I think to myself, “It would be a nice day to strip the beds, wash the sheets and hang them on a line……”