Sunday, March 26, 2006

Remembering a Clothesline

The clothesline stood in our backyard for over half a century. About as long as I've been around. Day after day in the bright desert sun it stood doing its basic function of drying clothes. We never had an electric or gas dryer. The clothesline must have done its job well since I don't ever recall wearing damp clothes. My father built it when I was a tot. The five heavy gauge steel lines spanned 50 feet supported on either end by steel poles seated in a heavy concrete base.

As a child, I recall running between cool wet sheets on hot summer's day and my mother yelling at me not to knock clothes of the line. As I grew a little more, I was able to jump up and grab the line and hang. My father would tell me to quit it because the line would sag. The T poles were fair game though, and I considered it an accomplishment to shinny up the pole, sit on top, and survey the world from my clothesline perch. One Sunday afternoon I was on my way to the top and fell on my back. I then understood the phrase "getting the wind knocked out of you" since I couldn't breathe. My father had been watching and ran out of the house when I fell. By the time he reached me I was regaining respiratory function so he went back into the house to finish reading the paper. I stayed close to the ground the rest of the day. Before Velcro was invented, one task every kid had learn was to tie their shoes. If your shoe came untied and you hadn't learned, you just walked around the rest of the day with your laces dragging behind. One day my mother took out a short length of white cotton rope and took me over to the clothesline pole. There she worked with me until I was able to tie a bow knot by myself. It wasn't shoe laces but I was on my way.

As I grew, the clothesline became more of a hazard than an amusement. Since it nearly spanned the entire yard, I often found my head snapped back as walked into the line which was about face high then. I guess my father was right about the line sagging from me hanging on it.

The years passed and the clothesline stood. After my parents passed away, we rented the house. Steve and Carol ended up being the last residents. They didn't use the line and preferred a dryer. The lines were removed at some point. I assume Steve did this because he was tired of walking into them. We finally sold the house six months ago.

Recently I was next door at our other rental house cleaning up. I noticed that the new owners had removed the poles. They lay in the corner of the yard awaiting disposal. I'm sure the new owners saw them as unsightly obstacles that needed to go, but then again, they didn't spend half a century with them

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