We may have been poor
but we always had clean clothes.
Our mother made sure.
I hadn’t seen a clothes pin bag like this is decades. But, recently, in Sonoma of all places, in the laundry room of a little house my family had rented, I found this item from the past. It was identical to the one my mother used all through the 1960s.
It seemed to be just another part of the retro-nostalgia vibe of the décor. It took me back in time. Back to that little house on East Mitchell Street, where a Missouri farm family found their slice of the American Dream.
My mother used to wash our clothes in an electric wringer washing machine that was more wash tub than machine. I’m pretty sure my dad must have proudly ordered it back in the 1950s from the Montgomery Ward catalog to make life easier for his wife, our mother.
The modern feature was the wringer that squeezed the excess water out of the clothes to speed up the line drying.
I suppose it was a big step up from the washboard down by the stream, but it still required considerable manual labor.
One day, my mother absentmindedly fed some clothes through the wringer and got her left hand caught. I remember blood and crying and a bent wedding ring.
But, all in all, that was a minor event in the grand scheme of things. We knew more than one farmer who had lost a whole arm in a disagreement with a stubborn corn picker.
When it became apparent that the first location of the clothesline in the back yard was interfering with the natural layout of the whiffle ball diamond, my dad relocated the clothesline, even though uprooting and transplanting the poles amounted to considerable work.
Is it my imagination, but is there nothing like the smell of clothes dried on the line in the July Missouri sun? It’s a fragrance Proctor & Gamble can only wish they could duplicate.
Bounce just doesn’t cut it.