Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thrifty Acres: Old-Time Laundry

Hello! A number of years ago, I had a volunteer job doing the weekly laundry for an ailing elderly woman. She used to jokingly refer to me as her "old wash lady" to her friends when they called her up on the phone. In reality, I was over 40 years younger than her, so of course she was just teasing. We got along great and I still miss her some 10 years after her death. 

Well, I felt a bit like an "old wash lady" earlier today when I hung up the vintage linens and quilt blocks I recently got for free (discussed here). They were rather musty, but an Internet search mentioned several ways to freshen vintage fabrics. I opted for a wash cycle with borax. This worked well - musty odor gone! 

Air drying was recommended, so I did just that:

Waving gently in the breeze:

Not only do I have vintage fabrics hanging on the clothesline, but the clothesline itself is vintage. I obtained a Cordomatic retractable clothesline at an estate sale for 50 cents a few years back. At the time I was quite excited by the retro look and the chance to save money by air-drying our laundry. 

But when I got home and put the laundry up, I discovered that although the clothesline retracted just fine, there was a LOT of slack in the line. So I'd have to fiddle around with figuring out how to hang wet clothes up on the clothesline without them sagging to the ground. Didn't bother to do so, so the Cordomatic clothesline just sat around in the garage.

Decided to give the clothesline one more try today, hanging the base from a large hook that was already on the garage and winding the other end around the top of our neighbor's fence to create enough tension. 

Here's what the base of the Cordomatic clothesline looks like:

Since it's merely hanging from the hook rather than being mounted like it's supposed to be, the base has turned sidewise. It's a little dirty from being stashed in our garage, but I like the retro lettering. 

These go for considerably more than 50 cents on eBay, even with at least one seller admitting that he'd not tested the clothesline for tension. A quick search of the listings didn't reveal an age, but most sellers were labeling this model as mid-century.

I have a vintage clothespin holder as well:

I think this might have been in my late grandmother's things, but I don't recall for sure since I've had it a long time. 

I do have vintage clothespins as well - the wooden kind with no springs - but I prefer the ease of using the kind with springs. (I buy the vintage ones to use in crafting). 

It's a pleasant day outside today - warm and sunny - so I felt happy hanging my vintage fabrics out on the line. It's several hours later now and they're dry, but I'll let them stay out a bit longer. I like seeing them hanging up. 

The elderly lady whose laundry I used to do probably hung many a load of laundry up outside when she was young. I have a feeling she'd like seeing what her "old wash lady" did today!


  1. You know how much I love hanging clothes out on the line to dry! I push the limits of our five line retractable modern number. After a few years, I've had more than one break a line or just fall off the house. Who knew wet clothes were so heavy?! I actually find it meditative, the process of hanging the clothes on the line. Our first house (and my folks too) had a wooden pole with a notch in one end that was used to hold up the clothesline when it sagged. Perhaps I should make one?

  2. You're right; it did feel meditative while I was hanging those old fabrics and linens on my clothesline. I felt connected to the original owners of the house too - back when it was new, and for many years after, clothes dryers weren't around! So I'm sure the backyard had a clothesline in it for decades.