When I was a little girl and in the care of my grandmother, I spent my days observing her do the daily chores in a house in Pennsylvania and then later in Maryland. I remember some of the cooking, mainly the baking when she would let me pay with the bits of dough or even better scraps of pie crust. I could sprinkle sugar on those scraps and have my own little baked goods as a snack.
But surprisingly what I remember enjoying the most was the laundry. In the earliest years, I know she had a wringer washing machine that I was seriously warned against. Arms could be lost if they went through that wringer. Of course it was a fascinating thing to see the sopping wet cloths be fed through those cylinders. But the warnings were strong enough that I don't recall every getting too near the machine much less 'testing' it with my fingers.
But in later years, we had a regular washer but maybe not a dryer. I know we had one by the time I was in high school but it's the grade school years I remember. Nana would carry the laundry basket, already pre sorted, out to the back yard. I would often sit on the grass under the clothes line and hand her the clothes pins. The sheets would be shaken hard and make a snapping noise. I don't think the sheets were ever ironed because they came off that line smooth from a good snap and the wind that blew through them. Like went with like. Sheets were hung with sheets, towels with towels, underpants with underpants etc. Just like with cooking, a little prep at the beginning made the rest of the process smooth and the later putting away was almost easy with that initial sorting.
Toda was the first day I hung towels and other whites out on the line. Towels and other heavies usually get 10 minutes in the dryer first to fluff them a bit before they go outside. I often think of my Nana when I do this although I have been less than a proper housewife because I have not only left my clothespins on the line but have even left clothes out overnight. I often wonder if that overnight business became a taboo because of homes heated with coal and the resultant ash falling on those newly clean clothes. In any case, if the sun doesn't dry everything today, I can always pop them into the dryer for 10 minutes and still have the scent of line hung clothes all dried in a day. Old memories and modern solutions.
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