The Clothes Line

The clothes line; a dead give away. Do the kids today even know what a clothes line is? For all of us who are older, this will bring back the memories.


  1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.
  2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang whites with whites and hang them first.
  3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail. What would the neighbors think?
  4. Wash day on a Monday. Never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday for heaven's sake!
  5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide our 'unmentionables' in the middle.
  6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather; clothes would 'freeze dry.'
  7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the line was 'tacky'.
  8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.
  9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket and ready to be ironed.
  10. IRONED? Well, that's a whole other subject.


A clothes line was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by 
There were no secrets you could keep 
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link 
For neighbors always knew 
If company had stopped on by 
To spend a night or two. 

For then you'd see the 'fancy sheets' 
And towels upon the line; 
You'd see the 'company table cloths' 
With intricate design. 

The line announced a baby's birth 
To folks who lived inside 
As brand new infant clothes were hung 
So carefully with pride. 

The ages of the 2 children could 
So readily be known 
By watching how the sizes changed 
You'd know how much they'd grown. 

It also told when illness struck, 
As extra sheets were hung; 
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too, 
Haphazardly were strung. 

It said, 'Gone on vacation now' 
When lines hung limp and bare. 
It told, 'We're back!' when full lines sagged with clothes. 
With not an inch to spare. 

New folks in town were scorned upon 
If wash was dingy gray, 
As neighbors carefully raised their brows, 
And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past 
For dryers make work less. 
Now what goes on inside a home 
Is anybody's guess. 

I really miss that way of life. 
It was a friendly sign 
When neighbors knew each other best 
By what hung on the line!

- Contributed by Olga (Yarish) Jordan, '51

Brings back a memory for me as well!

It was a very cold, very blustery January evening in the late 60's, and we were living in Levittown, just off Wantagh Ave. There was about 10 inches of snow on the ground, with heavy snow coming down, and the wind was howling. The temperature was about 18 or 19, and we had some sheets and towels hanging on our umbrella clothes line, but they would hang for several more days!

With the wind blowing, the sheets flapping in the wind and the squeaks from the clothes line as it moved around, all adding to the sounds of natures Wintry symphony outside our cozy house!

I was suddenly made aware of an off key note in this natural masterpiece! It was the squeaking of the clothesline, which was now a constant chirping as though it was spinning around rather than a back and forth rocking sound which is what it had been doing most of the evening. I peered out through the snowy window, and couldn't believe the sight!

A stray dog, a medium sized nondescript mutt had come into the yard and had somehow gotten his foot caught in one of the sheets, twisting it around his foot, and locking him into a two footed dance around and around the clothes line!
I put my coat on, and as soon as he saw me, he panicked and fought harder to free himself from his frozen bonds, actually bobbing into the air in futile leaps to escape!

I, having previously worked in a kennel as teen, and fearing few dogs, commanded him to be still! He stopped his thrashing, and allowed me to untangle his foot from the grasp of the sheet! When he got free, he was so happy that he couldn't stop jumping and licking my face that it actually brought tears to my eyes! He knew how dire his circumstance was, and he held back nothing in appreciation of his release!

- Bob Gillette

I remember a cold day in November. I was living in Commack in a brand new house. The landscaping was not done but I had one of those umbrella clothes dryers in the back yard. I was close to term with my first child and I went outside to hang clothes wearing my ankle high, red boots. Well, the boots got stuck in the mud and I couldn't get my feet out of them. Some construction workers in the lot next door saw my plight and rescued me. Talk about embarrassing!

- Pat (Koziuk) Driscoll

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