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The Disappearing Clothesline

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Posted 05-08-2016 at 06:13 PM by Roy Sanborn

The Disappearing Clothesline

I was skimming through this month’s issue of the Northern New England Journey magazine put out by AAA and on the last page there was a short article about clotheslines called “For the Love of Laundry.” Basically, the writer was expounding on how she was happy to get back to hanging her laundry out on the line after a long winter and how doing so was a relaxing and enjoyable chore for her. It reminds her of her childhood days and trips to a cottage by the sea where bathing suits and towels were strung out on the line to dry. I say it does for me too…not the hanging the clothes part, but being reminded of simpler times.



It got me thinking that you really don’t see many clotheslines anymore. It is one of those things akin to the once prevalent and ugly TV antenna that adorned just about every home in the country at one time. At least clotheslines are colorful. And, you don’t see many five foot round wire mesh satellite dishes any more. Improved technology has reduced dishes to a fraction of the size but these miniature versions aren’t very aesthetically pleasing either…


Modern innovation has replaced the clotheslines full of sheets, dresses jeans, t-shirts, and underwear with a wide array of dryers that not only dry your clothes, they can “talk” to the repair man on the phone, connect to your NEST thermostat so it can set a longer dry time at a lower temperature to save you money when you’re gone and they also play music to boot (although their jingles can be a bit annoying.)




But, back to clotheslines. Many subdivisions or associations have banned clotheslines for aesthetic reasons. I heard that it all started in California because Mama Cass’s neighbor didn’t like looking at her moo-moo and under things being strung up on the line and started a petition. Maybe it was because she was three sheets to the wind (pun intended) and it was the moo-moo she was wearing at the time that she hung on the line. Michelle probably could have pulled it off without a complaint? But the clothesline prohibition caught on in many of the “high class places.” I guess some folks think looking at colorful clothes drying on the line to be very undesirable. I’ve never seen a clothes line in Long Bay or Governor's Island have you?


If you want one, you will have to decide on which kind of clothesline you would like. There are the kind that go between poles, the rotary style, and the kind on pulleys. I like the pulleys the best as you can also send secret messages across the yard. You also need to decide on the kind of clothespins and then you need a clothespin bag. There’s a lot that goes into this!






There’s lots of information and tips on the internet about how to use a clothesline…believe it or not, it could get complicated… for some people. There are tips on how to hang laundry like “if you wear it in the top hang it from the bottom and if you wear it on the bottom hang it from the top.” You should hang the sheets and blankets on the outside and hang the unmentionables and undies on the inside so the neighbors don’t see them. And, don’t hang clothes on an extremely windy day or the undies could be in the neighbor’s yard. Don’t hang clothes when it’s freezing out. In the old days they used to boil the clothesline bag in water and heat the clothespins by the stove so their fingers wouldn’t freeze. You also shouldn’t hang clothes when it’s raining out…they will get wetter.


Using a clothesline is supposed to reduce your carbon footprint and save a polar bear or two. But, one tip to prevent towels from feeling scratchy is to warm them up in a dryer first for five minutes. That makes sense…they might be dry in ten? You can also do an extra spin cycle in the washer so stuff isn’t so wet. Maybe we could hook up a bicycle to the washing machine so we save some juice there? But dryers do use the most electricity per hour of anything in the household. The refrigerator uses far less but we run it way more compared to the dryer. They estimate it will save you $120 per year if you use a clothesline instead of the dryer. You could use that money to buy beer to put in the refrigerator. You might as well make this venture worthwhile. Of course using that dryer that “talks” to your Nest thermostat might save you about half of that but is would cut down the amount of beer you can buy. Maybe that would be a good thing?


While the iconic clothesline might be disappearing, people are still getting hung out to dry, getting twisted in the wind, and kids are still hanging around a lot. So, I guess the clothesline will always live on in that respect.


There were 921 residential homes on the market as of May 1, 2016 in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered in this report. The average asking price was $518,237 but don’t despair, the median price was $269,500. That means there were 460 homes below $269,500 so there are plenty of affordable homes to go around.





Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS System
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