Through a Glass Darkly for Sept. 26, 2012

Pressing the button on the clothes dryer Saturday afternoon only brought a screeching sound. Aggravated, I stretched phone wire between a tree and a couple of plant hooks on the house. It wasn’t until I began to hang the clothes that I started to smile.

I had plenty of clothes-hanging experience from my little-boy days.

To my mother, the biggest reason for weather reports was to select wash day.

I’d help her carry “the dirties” to the wash shed, which wasn’t part of the house. It was a little room that smelled of detergent and bleach on the back of the detached garage.

It contained one appliance. That was a round washing machine with a contraption on top called a wringer.

After the clothes had sloshed around in a backward then forward motion for a while, my mother would take them out one at a time and slide them between the wringer’s double rollers.

Even standing on a stool I wasn’t allowed to help because of her fear I’d get a flattened finger.

Once the excess water was wrung out, we hauled “the wets” to the clotheslines.

The lines ran between T-shaped metal poles situated in the part of the yard that got maximum sun.

There I’d hand the wets to my mom, who would pluck a pair of clothespins from a bag she slid along the line ahead of us.

At this point, I must digress to talk about clothespins, since they were the only thing in this part of the process that interested a boy.

Clothespins made great toys.

You could pinch them together to make horses, airplanes or odd shapes that had no names.

When you got old enough to have a BB gun you could use clothespins to attach targets to a stretched string.

My favorite use for them was to make fences behind which I would put my toy soldiers before shooting at them with a dart gun.

Believe it or not, clothespins sometimes ended up in my toy box instead of my mother’s clothespin bag.

Halfway down the second line my mother would look at me between the hanging sheets and say: “Robbie, you didn’t put back some of my clothespins.”

She’d send me scrambling to my room to search through my toys.

A few hours after the clothes had blown in the wind, we would return to get them. My mom would feel some of the thicker things to make sure they were dry.

Then, one-by-one I’d help her fold things.

Some days the weather report was wrong and rain on the tin roof was the start signal for a dash to the clothesline.

We didn’t fold the clothes then. We just threw them into the baskets as quickly as we could and toted them back to the house in a trot.

The thing I remember was that even though we were wet, we were usually laughing.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@the
advocate.com.