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By Alice M. Batzel

When I was growing up, a clothes line was in every yard of every home. I knew of mothers tethering their young child to a clothes line pole so they wouldn't wander far when the mother was washing laundry outdoors or hanging clothes on the line to dry. I also grew up hearing a "parental threat" that if you didn't behave you would be "hung by your toes on the clothes line." I wasn't sure if that was "truth" or merely "threat," but my imagination certainly made me take the warning seriously. Now, many years later, I've discovered a photo of "evidence" regarding the clothes line of my childhood days. Whether by the hands of his parents, older siblings, or fellow playmates, this young lad knows the clothes line can be used for more than just drying laundry. Oh, my. I'm sure glad that when I received the verbal threat in my youth, I got myself into good behavior right away.

Today, I'm a grandmother, and I don't believe that many children of today even know what a clothes line is because indoor electric and gas dryers are the conventional method of drying freshly laundered clothes and linens. What a shame. They'll never know the joy of playing tag or hide-and-seek between the coolness of wet sheets hanging on the clothes line on a hot summer day. Nor will they experience the fun of an autumn day when friends or siblings hang a blanket over the clothes line to make a fort. And don't forget the first place of learning how to do chin-ups was often on the bracing supportive end of the clothes line pole. It was also one of the first places that we learned how to work with the chore of reaching high and washing down the clothes line so that mother could take the basket of laundry outside to hang the wet clothing and linens to dry. The clothes line was also the first stage for many childhood dramatic plays and talent shows as you hung blankets over the wire lines and moved them back and forth to open the stage curtains for a makeshift neighborhood production. Not to be forgotten is the showing of home movies on a white sheet draped over the clothes line in the evening. But the most joyful of all would be to lie on the grass on a summer day and watch the white sheets flap back and forth over your head as they danced in the breeze, fanning you with coolness by their every motion.

With all the memories of the clothes line of my childhood, I must still claim that the most vivid will forever be related to parental disciplinary efforts, and it sure worked wonders to transform my behavior into compliance. I'm so glad that "most of the time" I was a good little girl, especially since I've discovered this photo which shows a little boy who wasn't quite so lucky!

(copyright 2017 - Alice M. Batzel - all rights reserved)

(Photo credit: From the Facebook page of one of my favorite authors, RaeAnne Thayne.)

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