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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Hanging out the clothes.................

One thing that I remember growing up is the laundry. Not an easy task for ladies back in the day. My mother and grandmother never had a washing machine and so the laundry was done by hand in the sink. Same for me when I was first married. Never knew any other way it was just how it was. Nan had a conservatory, sort of like a greenhouse attached to the back of the house. In there she had a very big table that was scrubbed and bleached. On the end was a mangle. She used that to run the sheets and things through before putting them outside on her washing line. That was strung from poles one end of the garden to the other just off the path. At my Mum's house it was up in the back garden. There would be a wooden prop to push the line up into the air to get a better breeze. A peg bag kept the wooden pegs handy. Either that or her apron that had large pockets. At Mum's house we were unfortunate to live close to the cement works and when the wind changed direction all the ladies complained because their clean washing would get cement dust on them. Photobucket Monday was usually wash day and then the ironing was done the next day. However when the lady of the house worked as most did in my day, well then it was done on the weekend. If it rained the neighbours would bring in anyone's washing that was hanging out. A mad dash to bring in yours and next doors. No one left the almost dry washing out in the rain when they could do a good turn because they knew that in time it would happen to them. On cold and frosty nights the wash would be as stiff as boards and was great fun to bring in Dad's shirt looking like it could walk on its own. In the cold days of winter many houses would be full of steam as the washing dried on lines in the kitchen or in front of the fire. Clothes horses would be in front of the fire with all the clothes on them dripping onto newspaper. We would have a bath in front of the fire too and the clothes horse stopped the drafts. The steam didn't do the wallpaper much good and in some of the really old houses that we had in the village it would peel and there would be condensation running down the walls.I suppose it was not very healthy in a lot of respects. People suffered bronchial problems due to the damp that's for sure. Still in many ways people were stronger too. They certainly wore off what they ate by walking everywhere and by the sheer physical work. Nothing like washing blankets in the tub. I remember when we were first married and living in Bedford. Laura threw up on my bed. I had to wash the blankets in the tub upstairs. Take them downstairs and outside to hang on the line to dry. Well the line broke and so I had to do it all over again. Photobucket My Mum had a gas boiler. She would boil the whites in it. It was also used to heat water for baths. The one above is similar to what she had. We had a claw foot tub but only cold running water. Well actually we could have hot if we ran a stove in the kitchen to heat the water but that was expensive to use because it used coal. Photobucket She also had a big pail like this one above that she heated water on the gas stove. We used that for washing ourselves in the mornings. Dad was first up and got it going. We would then dip in and take what we wanted. A bath was not an every day affair in those days. Top and tail was the motto. When we first came to the States in 1971 we eventually built our first home. We went to Max's service to get our appliances. I asked if they had a "boiler" and was asked what that would be. I said "you know, you use it to boil your white clothes in" the dear man said "Lady, if you boil your clothes over here there wont be much left".............apparently that was not done here. I still boiled the babies diapers,( the terry cloth ones) on the stove at that time. They came out sparkling white. Well one day someone came in and asked what I was cooking...........it was a big corrugated iron pan of diapers happily boiling and bubbling on the stove. I think a lot of folks wondered where I came from those early days. Clothes never come that clean now, a good soap and blue bag and boil away for a good long time and they are so white it would blind you. These days I settle for much less.

4 comments:

Kay G. said...

There is an art to hanging clothes on the line. When I am in England, my mother-in-law has to show me how to do it. She has a long metal pole that hooks to her line and she elevates the clothesline to make it higher for the breeze to help dry the clothes. They smell so lovely when we take them off the line. When I unpack my clothes when I get back to the USA, I can still smell the sunshine and fresh English air!

laurajane said...

I love to see a line full of washing,and myline is full at the moment.
The sun is shining in England today perfect for washing.
My mum had one of those boilers,but ours was square.
I remember in the late 60s when she had her first twin tub washing machine,and all the neighbours came to admire it.
Whenever I read your post,you take me back in time,and I love it.xxx

Biddy Fraser said...

Gosh, lucky you to get to live in the USA. My husband, Neil, and I travel a lot to the States. We keep telling ourselves we ought to holiday somewhere else, but keep on coming back!

Really pretty blog too!

Cindy F. Adkins said...

I remember my Mom hanging clothes on the line. When my two older sisters were little, she still had a wringer-type washer. My sister, Donna, got her arm caught in the wringer and broke it (her arm, that is!) I love how sheets smell when they're dried outside, but unfortuantely I rent a townhouse and don't have a place to hang them outside. Nice to see you have 51 followers now! Your blog is growing!
Hugs, Cindy