“Gran, I found some real, stick dolls.” Jenny ran into the room proudly carrying a flowered bag. “Can I play with them?” Five-year-old Jenny was spending the weekend with Gran for the first time ever, so she anxiously explored every nook and cranny of Gran’s house.
“Play with them for a while, but later you can help me use those stick dolls. Actually those are clothespins that I need when I wash clothes. Not many people use them anymore, but I still enjoy hanging my clothes outside to dry. Bring that bag with you and we can hang the clothes I just washed on the line outside.”
When they went outside, Gran first washed off the clothesline with a damp cloth. No sense in putting clean clothes on a dirty line. Then Gran showed Jenny how to put the clothes on the clothesline using the “stick dolls”. Jenny watched with fascination as she handed Gran clothespin after clothespin.
The clothes on the line told the neighbors a lot about the family. You could easily tell when a baby was born, how much the children were growing, and even if someone was sick.
Gran explained how she liked to hang the washing on the clothesline in order : whites, shirts, pants, and towels. Shirts needed to be hung by the bottoms and not the shoulders so they were easier to iron. If you had two lines, you always hung the quilts, sheets and towels on the outside line so the neighbors couldn’t see the underclothes blowing in the wind.
Once they pinned all the clothes on the line, Jenny’s questioning eyes looked at Gran,” Now, how do they get dry?”
“Well, Jenny, when we put a pole under the line to push it up higher, the wind will blow on them and make them dry. If we leave them out here for a little while, most of them should dry quickly.”
With that Jenny and Gran went back in the house and sat down at the kitchen table. There they enjoyed fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped topping. While they ate, they decorated a recipe holder for Jenny’s mom made with a plastic fork and spoon in a small flower pot filled with sand. It would soon be Mother’s Day, so Jenny felt proud to have something special for her mom.
After a while, Jenny said, “Do you think those clothes are dry yet?”
Since a gentle breeze had blown the clothes dry, Gran took the clothespins off and handed a couple shirts to Jenny so she could see how they dried. Jenny held them close and took a deep breath. “The wind must smell good because these shirts smell better than Snuggle. Drying clothes like this is hard work, Gran. Someone should give you a clothes dryer for Mother’s Day.”
Gran smiled and rolled her eyes, “Next time you’re over, I’ll show you how to use the washboard.”
Coming soon” A story about the history of the washboard and its many uses.