Friday, November 26, 2010

Pulleys, Oil Painting by Linda McCoy

You had to walk down the basement stairs and past that spooky coal bin to get to the wringer washer. If you didn’t look in, chances are no one would jump out and get you. Washing was an ordeal. Fill the washer with water, add the Cheer, add clothes and stir with a wood stick. When they were finished, pass them through the wringer at time or two; don’t get your fingers caught in the black cylindrical press. Up the basement stairs with the laundry now weighing three times what it did on the way down.

Outside days were perfect; warm sunshine, blue skies. The clotheslines were attached to the garage and the building with pulleys, so they could be pulled this way and that. The clothespins resided in a white enamel bucket. Rules were followed. Undies were hung on the inside lines, so the neighbors didn’t see them. Socks were pinned to the line by the toe, pants hung by the cuffs, sheets on the outside lines.

We couldn’t wait for the white cotton clotheslines to become worn, for they made the best jump ropes for double dutch. Twenty-forty-sixty-eighty- one, twenty-forty-sixty-eighty two, twenty-forty-sixty-eighty-three…..

Smelling of that indescribably fresh summer air, the dried clothes came off the line, were folded and brought into the house for ironing the next day.

When the Chicago winters came roaring in, the clothes were hung in the basement to dry. Dry they did, stiff as boards.

I have to grab a load of clothes out of the dryer now; the dryer sheets say they are scented with “fresh linen.” Not even close.

6"X6" Oil on canvas.   copyright 2010


Anonymous said...

I remember clothes can wrap around the wringer and be torn .If it does, an article of the wash may
wrap several times around a roller before it is noticed; unwinding such a
piece is often difficult, sometimes impossible without removing a roller and fighting with the wringer washer.

Linda McCoy said...

I remember my mom struggling with the wringer, you're right the clothes wrapped around and around. Laundry is now easy compared to the all day tasks of a few years ago.
Thanks for stopping by!