You have to be a certain age to appreciate this one.
I can hear my mother now...
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You have to be a "certain age" to appreciate this one....

I can hear my mother now.....


(If you don't even know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes... NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs... NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines, because the lines might have been dirty, and leave marks on the clean clothes you pegged there.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbours think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y'know!)

8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather... clothes would "freeze-dry."

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky"!

10. 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.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that's a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM ...
A clothesline was a news forecast to neighbours passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep when clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link for neighbours 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 designs.

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

The ages of the 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 also said, "On vacation now", When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged, With not an inch to spare!

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

But clotheslines now are of the past, For dryers make work much 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 neighbours knew each other best ~ by what hung out on that line.

Author Unknown

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Comments   Post a Comment

Deborah 16th Jan 2022 Diversional Therapist
Hi, I expanded this Activity and strung a piece of string between two walkers and then grabbed some clean items from the Laundry and asked Residents to come up and peg them on the line - tea towel, socks, hankies. (Dementia Care)

It was quite amusing to see how each Resident hung the clothes. The colour of the pegs all had to co-ordinate for some of them also - I gave them a mixed colours bag of pegs to use.
Susan 17th Jan 2022 Activity Director
Hi Deborah
Thanks for sharing this information
Phyllis 15th May 2023 Activities Director
This is another example of why I love this the last minute I can find just what I need for the day! This bit on the clothesline is wonderful! And I love the activity Deb described with having the residents hang clothes! This is an awesome and creative group of people!!
Chris arsenault 25th Jul 2020
Thank you thats a nice game
Cheryl-Lee 6th Mar 2019 Recreational Activities Officers
Love the poem I am only 50 and had a giggle as it suits my childhood and when I had my babies. We are doing Laundry Week at the moment. This will be most helpful.

Thankyou Heaps

Geraldine 4th May 2016 Care
I enjoyed your poem and look forward to reading it at the daycare centre.
Cheers Ger
July 26th Feb 2016 Recreational and lifestyle officer
Great, I work in an Aged Care & this is fantastic.
Sally 8th Dec 2015 Lifestyle Coordinator
Nice activity but it seems to be inferring that people don't use clothes lines anymore?!! Is this true?! The only difference now is that most people don't bother about "etiquette" now-a-days and if someone does judge the way you hang your clothes, you know they are the one with the problem! ;-) It will be interesting discussing some of the old stories though.
Kylie 2nd Dec 2015 leisure and lifestyle officer
I am using this on Friday and will bring in my camping close line to see if we can 'peg' the correct way! thank you
Brenda 18th Nov 2015 OTA
Wow what a wonderful poem lol...I am 45 and I would be lost without my hills hoist.
Ann 30th Dec 2014 Health @ Lifestyle therapist
Love it , can remember the old copper as well. thanks
Nicola 29th Oct 2014 activities co-ordinator
Can't wait to talk to my residents about clotheslines. Will also try the games with pegs.
Does anyone know how to do the IRONING???!!!

ALISON 27th Sep 2014 Day Care Cordinator
We spoke about the clothesline on Thursday at the Day Centre, i run. it was brill the ladies thoroughly enjoyed and reminisced and a few of the men commented about the washing line.

Cathy 23rd Sep 2014 Lifestyle Coordinator/ DT
A game that would go great with this:
Put up a line and fill with pegs.
Each player takes a turn taking off pegs with one hand, holding them the whole time and not dropping or putting any down.
The player who can hold the most pegs in their hand is the winner.
Another game is to have a dozen flannels or nappies and time how long each player takes to peg them out. The fastest time wins!!!
debbie 19th Sep 2014 day centre coordinator
This was a great activity to do with my clients. I brought in a portable clothes line and hung my washing up.
We had a great discussion about the correct techniques to hang out the clothes. Also reminiscing about the war times as I played " hang out the washing on the Siegfried line." we easy past an hour away talking and laughing.

Thank you for this activity idea.

Cheers Deb
Sue 16th Sep 2014 Lifestyle Officer
Love the Golden Carers it makes life so much easier thankyou
Bec xx
Judy 16th Sep 2014 teacher
Recently a Senior told me that if a woman was going into labor (city/urban edge Melbourne), women would hang a single nappy on their clothes line. The nappy line would wend its way to the mid wife's house and she would know to come out. Nappy semaphore!
debbie 15th Sep 2014 day centre coordinator
love this and how so true of peoples reactions to the washing hanging outside. Even to this day my smalls remain on the clothes rack inside the house. But I live on a farm so there are no neighbours to see my knickers hanging on the line. Only the cows to pass judgement on their condition and size. But I fear my undies might be blown down the highway in a storm for on coming drivers to see!!!! So my smalls remain inside for only me to see!!

I intend to use this for a discussion on Wednesday thank you. I am going to bring in a washing line and hang some washing on it. I wonder if my daughter will mind me using her undies as an exhibit...HA HA
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