Thursday, March 20, 2014

Laundry



Today's picture shows a woman doing laundry. I have to admit that I think it is a little bit of a shame that few people use clothes lines any more. They really do a great job, and clothes dried in the sun have a special feel and smell. This picture was taken in 1903.


11 comments:

  1. Nice photo, I like its depth of field. I still use a clothesline but mostly for sheets and blankets. Yes, the line dried clothes have a special smell to them.
    -Anne K.

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  2. I use my clothes line for everything during the warmer months, and my sheets even during the winter. They do have a special smell to them, and always bear in mind that the stuff in the lint filter is your underwear.

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  3. The most surprising part of this post for me (an Australian) is that "few people use clothes lines any more". I only became aware of their rarity in the US only recently and I find it astonishing. To me, their benefits are so obvious that it defies belief that people would voluntarily opt not to have them. Mind you, I live in a warmer climate with merciful winters. They make sense on every level; economically, environmentally… Just do it.

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  4. I remember being knocked off of my bicycle by my mothers clothes line......you only need to have that happen once before you remember to look out for them.
    We used to get the clothes props at the local hardware store, the guy there would cut a "V" on one end for the ground and a notch in the other end to catch the rope.....we were always getting yelled at for using them as spears. Mom wasn't happy when the props were broken and the sheets touched the ground.

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  5. My suburban home owners association does not allow clothes lines. I guess people do not want to see their neighbors under-garments.

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  6. As a 93-year-old black American, I need to comment on the fact that this woman was just a few years out of slavery, and that is reason enough to smile. Can any of you viewers understand the background and implications of this image?

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    1. I doubt that any white can really appreciate that situation, but by 1903 the Civil War had been over about 35 years. The lady in the picture doesn't look quite that old.

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    2. I'm so thankful that slavery has been abolished for the past 150 yrs and that I and no one else I've ever known have had to witness the barbarism of the auction block. The five percent of southern whites who owned slaves are here no longer, thank God. I rejoice in the fact that I as a Caucasian do not have to fear censure or harassment for having African American friends and that my friends in interracial marriages are no longer ostracized by their families (often on both sides) as they were only a generation ago. My ancestors who were from northern Europe left a life as poor tenant farmers for the US in the 1870's and were also spared the horror of seeing slavery.
      So, you see, it is not only the slaves who were liberated by emancipation, but the whole society.

      I encourage anyone who is not faint of heart to watch the current movie "Twelve Years a Slave" for a realistic portrayal of the evil of that "peculiar institution".

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  7. You can't beat the smell of line dried clothes, bed linen etc but yes so many house associations do not allow clothes lines and so many mothers now just pop clothes in tumble/air driers. Modern times again ?

    All the best Jan

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  8. I think it's a matter of convenience, time saving, the high percentage of working (employed outside the home) women, and the societal shaming of visible clotheslines somehow affecting yours and your neighbors' property values that have caused the dissappearance of the clothesline. Electric dryers of one form or another, like dishwashers, have actually been around for the home since the 1920's, but usually only in the basement laundry rooms in the homes of the upper class. They weren't "tumble dryers" like we know now, but at first were heated cabinets you hung wet laundry in to dry. Like other household technology, it took a while for the price to come down to the level of the middle classes, and the technology to advance to the point where it became smaller and easier to fit into most modern homes.
    The Depression and WWII put the kibosh on newer household appliances, so for 15 years or so, things were pretty stagnant in that respect. First, there was little money available to purchase such items, or to develop the technology, and then suddenly everyone had a pocket full of cash during the war from working in the war industries or the homefront jobs left open by the men off to join the burgeoning military, only to find little to nothing to spend it on. If it was available at all, it was likely either heavily rationed or prioritized and available only under restricted circumstances. The pent-up nationwide "thirst" for newer, better, shinier, more convenient labor-saving devices broke free after the war ended, and factories retooled from producing guns, tanks and bombs, to producing washing machines, stoves, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, automobiles, radios and other electronics, steel kitchen cabinetry, bicycles and all the other things that were either heavily rationed/restricted, or not made at all during the war. "Every housewife's dream" was a new home full of all the latest labor-saving household devices, or so the scads of full color advertising would have you think. Even before the war ended, in about 1944, the taste for brand new homes and all the new technology waiting in the wings to fill them was being whetted by advertisements for "what we're planning to have for you after Victory is ours" and all the things they said their engineers and designers were working on even then. All those War Bonds were going to serve a second purpose ~ house all those returning veterans, their wives and families. Clothes dryers weren't quite at the top of the list, since new post-war kitchens needed refrigerators and stoves first and foremost, and since wringer washers were still the standard and a basic requirement.
    Women didn't give up their wartime employment in the droves that many would have you think. There was a significant percentage of those in the "pink collar" world who kept working after the war ended, and even after marriage. This helped many a new post-war married couple save the money needed not only to put down a larger down payment to buy a nicer post-war home than they would have been able to afford on one entry-level salary alone, even with the GI Bill, but to furnish it as well. Many a young working wife had specific goals of the perfect new living room set, dining room set, bedroom set, and even nursery furniture for a little later on. It was usually the first pregnancy that took the wife out of the workplace and put her full time in the kitchen, where all the advertisements and articles would have you think that's where they wanted to be, and where they all would find extreme fulfillment. While so many women were in the workplace during the day, when was laundry supposed to get hung on a clothesline and taken down? Especially in newer tract homes in suburbia that came without basements? The electric dryer came to the rescue there.

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