Whispers of hearing my mama and then hers, come to me with every clothespin that hands up a freshly washed linen or quilt hung on the line. Memories flood back of their instruction of how unmentionables are always hung in the middle row, with socks hung by the toe and shirts hung upside down, with towels to shield what marks our home as ours. It has been said the common denominator of clotheslines is that all had their dirty laundry washed, now clean hanging in the breeze, much like our own lives, just some hide their laundry better than others. A lot of truth to that. The scent of sunkissed sheets on a freshly made bed brings forth an instant sensation of serenity to one's soul, it is like taking part of the outdoors and capturing it for a good night's sleep. As a young mother’s once hung diapers that were bleached from the rays above, society has now pivoted to instant, more toxins, and not much care for the stockpiles of waste it leaves behind.
Clothes prior to the early inventions, were washed in primitive means, often to drape on rocks or fences. In the 1900’s pictures are filled with the pulleys that are attached to tenement buildings, hanging corsets to any array of clothing across town streets making an menagerie for all to see of the communities attire. In 1911, Gilbert Toyne of Australia is credited with making the first primitive clothesline. In 1940, Hills Hoist, with the owner as well from Australia, finding himself in innovative spirit after coming home to his wife after World War II, embarking on making something for his Mrs., fashioned something that then in turn became an international company. In 2017, after Hills Hoist found outsourcing a conflict, finding that doing business with China was not to their liking some reports said, came to a crossroads thus it made business partings and is now Austral. In 1740, interestingly enough shows an historical mark, that some type of clothesline was used, as Anna Strong, was as many in a state of stress, her husband was imprisoned, the British had taken over her home, yet she found a way to be very useful for the Patriot cause, in that she used hanging out clothes to alert messages to Washington. By hanging a black petticoat, and then using handkerchiefs to alert the Culper Ring of which alerted of where secret messages would be at.
The household task that prior to the l938 invention of Ross Moore, the dryer, hanging clothes was a part of everyday life. We have such left that lifestyle it seems, and now are facing the ramifications due to it across this nation in many aspects. This nation, has set its course to be in quest of what is more instant, faster pace and of course easier for us, but we have forgotten it comes with a cost. The use of using this luxury convenience is not just a higher electric bill. It is estimated that there are in fact 88 million plus dryers in the United States, taking with it tons of carbon and its usage alone with residential and industrial accounts for 20 percent of consumption. It is also estimated that dryer usage causes over 15,000 fires and 99 million in damages annually. Project Laundry List, an organization that originated in 1995, in New Hampshire, due to states banning the practice of hanging out one's own clothing, has done much research on the benefits of this aged ritual and assisting those in the challenge to keep it alive.
Many countries do not have the instantaneous lifestyle, where it is a weekly average of ten plus loads for the United States of laundry. Our rich nation comes in first for the most consumption with a whopping 92 percent, but noted countries as India, Italy and China being in single digits. There is still a small percentage in this nation that know the benefits of this aged practice that gives a remarkable amount of savings and wellness, such as: it is less wearing on clothing, it provides exercise, Vitamin D to those who partake, which is a known countermeasure to Covid at this time. It also is a natural disinfectant, aids in immunity, assists with depression, not to mention the hundreds of dollars it saves to the consumer. Bill McKibben is noted as saying, "If we all used clotheslines, we could save 30 million tons of coal a year, or shut down 15 nuclear plants. And you don’t have to wait to start. Yours could be up by this afternoon. To be specific,buy 50 feet of clothesline and a 3.00 bag of clothespins and become a solar energy pioneer."
Yesteryear, we had many traditions that have been left behind, but for the reasons of convenience and a new generation of instant gratification. It is said it takes 8 minutes longer to hang out a load of clothes, but the rewards are vast in counterbalance. In many retrospectives, we have done that in many aspects of our ways of life, we curb corners and shave margins, but in the end at what dividend of cost have we really gained. The old saying, "we have shot ourselves in the foot," comes to mind. If we make these mandatory household tasks instead a family affair, we could instead look at it as 8 minutes of conversation with our family talking about the day, saving money and being a little kinder to our planet.
"We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately" - Benjamin Franklin
Thoughts from the Countryside Bench