It’s funny how some of the most insignificant things can spark a memory of childhood that takes you back decades in an instant. As I was looking through some old pictures, from when I was about 4 months old, I noticed something at the edge of the picture. My sister, Cheryl and I were the main focus of the picture my mom was taking, but she also go a picture of the clothes hanging on the clothesline. Many home still have that clothesline in the back yard. For most of those homes, it is a forgotten relic of many years now in the past. Most people don’t bother hanging their clothes on the line to dry. We have a dryer sitting right next to the washer for that job. Of course, if we want to get that sunshine fresh scent to them, we have to as a chemically infused dryer sheet to the dryer, because otherwise they simply get dry…nothing more.
I remember, as a kid doing chores, that one of those chores was to hang the clothes on the line, and later to bring them in, fold them, and put them away. Of course, the clothes didn’t have that dryer induced softness, and so they might feel a bit scratchy at first, but that sunshine fresh scent was wonderful. It wasn’t the heavily perfumed scent that the dryer sheet produces, but rather the light scent of fresh air. I suppose that if you didn’t pay close attention, you could miss that scent, and therefore would think it was probably just my imagination, but I can say that I hung enough clothes on the clothesline to know what that scent smelled like, and I liked it, even if I didn’t really like the chore of hanging and folding those clothes.
These days, I dry my clothes in the dryer, because quite frankly, like most people I know, I don’t have time to spend hanging those clothes, waiting for them to dry, hoping the wind doesn’t blow them away, and taking them back down, before folding them and putting them away. The modern conveniences of the day win out in this day and age. And in reality, I suppose, seeing the clothes on the line in these pictures didn’t make me want to go hang clothes on the line, but rather it reminded me of the days gone by. The simple days of childhood, when the hardest chore was something like cleaning my room or handing clothes on the clothesline. We were so free then. No real obligations…we didn’t even have a part time job. We were kids, we did kid things, and we were living a carefree kid kind of life.
I was talking to my Aunt Sandy a short time ago, and we were discussing past history and how things used to be done. She mentioned something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I have seen these, as I’m sure many of you have, and I even saw one on Facebook yesterday. These machines, which really have no business being called machines, since it is completely run be your own arm power, or elbow grease, as my mom would call it. I’m talking, of course, of the wringer washing machine. At one time, I’m sure this was the crème de la crème of washing machines. Prior to that marvelous invention, women scrubbed their clothes on a wash board, and wring it out by hand. Even after the wringer machine was invented, the clothes that were really stained had to be scrubbed on that old washboard.
Aunt Sandy told me about her own memories of washing clothes on that old wringer washing machine, and just how hard it was to use. Of course, as a kid, she might have liked working that old machine too. It can be fun for a while. I’ve had occasion to try one of those wringer washers before, and I can tell you first hand that when the clothes went between the two rollers of the wringer, and you had to be the one to crank those wringers, you found out real fast what elbow grease was all about. It wasn’t long before your arms felt like wet dish rags…very sore wet wash rags. And the next day…well you could hardly move. Maybe that’s why they only did the laundry one day a week. I mean, who could stand to do it more often than that. I know that it would give most of us more than sore arms. We would probably have a headache too.
So much has changed since those days. Washing machines really are machines now, and they wash the clothes with no effort on our part. There are sprays to get the stains out and the machine does everything from the scrubbing to spin drying. The hardest thing we have to do is fold the clothes when they are done drying in the dryer, which is a machine now too…as opposed to the clothes line and the wind.
When I think about how little time has really passed since the women of yesteryear worked a lot harder to do the same work that we do in a matter of minutes these days, I am amazed. From the mind of one inventor creating the wringer washer, to the mind of another creating a machine to do all that work for you, our world has progressed from the harsh and almost primitive way of doing laundry, when women scrubbed their clothes on a washboard or even a rock, to the ease of our modern machinery that takes all the work out of a big job, and makes it easy.
When he was little, Christopher liked to copy those adults around him. That might mean that you would find him helping his mom with the laundry, which always included removing all the clothes from the laundry basket and climbing in himself. Or you might find him helping to babysit the younger boys. Christopher was always a helpful little boy. He was also very curious. Not only did he want to help with everything, he wanted to know about everything. It is a curious world, you know.
So no matter what Corrie or Kevin were doing, there was Christopher right in the middle of it all, lending a helping hand…even if that meant he had to crawl into the dryer completely to get the clothes out. He liked the work his parents did. It seemed like play to him, and he knew it must be something important, or his parents wouldn’t be doing it. It makes sense…right!!
Christopher, like most little kids, really just liked to mimic his parents. That is how they learn things. Kids develop their sense of self from their parents and grandparents. They are their first role models…or the lack thereof in some cases. Which is why we all need to do our best to teach them the right things to do.
And on that note, we come to what Christopher learned from his grandparents. Before Bob and I got our loungers, we had a couch with a coffee table. The only way to relax and put your feet up was to put them on the coffee table. Yes, our parents taught us not tuo put our feet up on the table, but we are grown up and this is our house right…right. We never really gave the whole thing much though for another. As time went on, we soon found out how much the things we did influenced those little people who were always watching and listening to what we said and did. One day when Christopher was over, he was relaxing with his orange juice…and, wanting to be just like Grandma and Grandpa, he decided to put his feet up on the coffee table while he relaxed. Well, as you can see, it was a bit of a stretch, but he managed to pull it off.