Memories on the Line

wpid-img_20140723_090418.jpg Ma here. Nothing in the world quite like the smell of clothes dried in the great out of doors in my humble opinion.  I bought the above clothesline about 3 years ago at a big box store. Wow! clotheslines are an expensive business nowadays. My goal was to save on energy bills and to relive those childhood memories and the smell of  laundry fresh off the line. Here are my thoughts on this type of dryer. Well, ummm… it serves it’s purpose. With a few clothes pins, laundry will hang on it just fine… BUT I found that I lost a lot of usable line space in the little short runners right in the center there. Yeah, they’re great for unmentionables, socks and other small things, but who washes those things every day? Not me, that’s for sure. I found that on most laundry days I was not using the first 5-6 rows of line unless I wanted to wrap the item around and around. Doing this created weird wrinkles and, well, with my OCD wanting nice clean lines it drove me nuts. I hung a load of jeans out, and found I had to hang them on the outer most lines where they were taller, or else they drug the ground – not kewl. What good is a clothesline you can’t use all of?  Within the first few months, the entire thing buckled and bent over at the bottom of the pole just above where Pa concreted it into the ground. Pa fixed it by running an iron bar down in there, but still –  it was only a few months old for gosh sakes. Then I couldn’t use every line, because the wind just woudn’t penetrate through to the center very well to give that nice wrinkle-free dried on the line affect. I had to skip at least 2 lines when hanging. More than once, the umbrella collapsed, resulting in me letting out a curse word or two, and relaundering everything on it. Not very energy effiecient in my book. Having done a lot of complaining on it, it did serve it’s purpose, even if I had to get all scientific with placement and balancing of laundry. All the while, the small bits and plastic pieces continued to break and some stopped working altogether. Then along came Enloe – that big lummox of a pup thinks that laundry flying on the line is nothing but a huge play toy. It flaps and waves at him in a come hither fashion and in all reality is just too much for him to resist. I had to admit defeat and face reality that with the changes and new additions to the OKA the thing was unusable where it stood concreted into the ground. It looks to be sound in the above picture, but that dryer is not going to withstand a move. wpid-img_20140622_172818.jpg Well, looky here! Pa scored us a vintage clothesline from his great aunt and uncle’s estate. This was the style I wanted to begin with, with the parallell line placement but couldn’t readily find at a reasonable price locally. Not to mention this baby was made back when things were made to last. It needed to be restrung, but who cares? It was like early Christmas for me! Pa is so good like that, continually on the look out for things he knows I need or want. So began the set up of the new to us no energy laundry drying machine.

Now, Enloe taught us a good lesson on placement and the playfulness of a pup. And we realized the reality of once you concrete something in the ground, it’s pretty much there unless you want to spend a lot of good hard labor getting it out. What with the OKA still evolving and changing, we decided that a moveable line was a smart option. Pa grabbed one of the random tires we were gifted, and leveled it all up. Next, he found an old piece of wood which he drilled a hole through to support the iron rod we planned to concrete into the tire. Then the quandry of how we were going to insure that pole stayed straight while the concrete set. Pa grabbed a 5 gallon bucket that was full of holes and drilled a hole in the bottom of it big enough for the iron rod we had laying on the porch for 2 years to fit snugly over.

Now that we had a plan, we were ready to get busy. Pa lined the bottom of the tire with an old feed sack to keep the concrete in the tire. We mixed sacrete in our wheel barrow and began filling the tire, working it into the sides and trying to get all the air pockets out. We used 3 bags, which was all we had on hand and the tire still wasn’t full. Pa started grabbing random chunks of broken cinder blocks that were a pain to mow around and stuffed them in the concrete. He pushed them back inside the tire to help take up more space. This helped fill the tire more and also we were able to use something that most people would have just thrown out. Win win!

Remember the board and bucket Pa drilled? We placed them on the tire, then ran the saved iron rod down into the concrete. Pa made sure that rod was nice and level. He then filled the bucket with sand to hold it all in place while the concrete cured. We decided this was the wisest choice, since we have goats that love to rub against just about everything.  Now to wait, and wait, and wait. We gave it a good 3 days to cure. wpid-img_20140622_172801.jpg This is the bottom of the pole on the clothesline. Pa grabbed the sawsall and cut it off nice and straight. We had already test fit it to the iron bar and it slid down over the bar perfectly. By doing it this way, rather than just concreting this into the tire we solved 2 concerns. 1 – The iron bar was more than strong enough to prevent buckling at the base. We do get good winds here on Off-Kilter Acres. Pretty sure they wrote a song about them sweeping down the plains. 2 – The entire thing would spin, giving me a clothesline I could rotate with ease. Less physical energy exerted for me is always a good thing.

Next came restringing the thing. We went to Orscheln Farm & Home in town and purchased shiny new  vinyl coated cable and wire rope clips. While the dryer itself was not shiny and new, I wanted the best line I could find. This should last us the rest of our days. I have to admit that our first attempt at restringing was absolutely horrid! We started from the outer edge and worked our way in, trying to tighten as we went. Well, the durn thing buckled, one side was wider than the other, it wouldn’t hold tension, and I got generally peeved. I finally just walked away. I was so frustrated. thinking to myself, “FINE! I’ll just Google how to do it the right way!” Well, guess what? I could only find one post on how to restring these parallel umbrella lines. It seems that everyone is pushing the other kind. What I did find, was for a specific brand of dryer, so I took what info I thought relevant and discussed it with Pa. He then discovered that with the shape the dryer was in upon our receipt, the only way to get it square again was to completely unstring the whole thing, and fold the umbrella part down, then reopen it back up. Armed with the little knowledge I had obained we attacked the restringing with a vengeance. The secret was to start from the middle and work our way to the outer edges, holding the tension as tight as possible as we went. WOWSA! What a difference doing it the right way made! With the wire rope clips Pa got to secure the ends it will be fairly easy to undo and tighten the tension after a few loads are hung and stretch them a bit.

The only thing left to do was decide where to place it and put it to work. Pa used the handy dandy 2-wheeler and moved it to a great location that was far away fron Enloe. He was concerned it would be a bit tall for me to reach, but I assured him it would be fine. I was too anxious to put it to use and have the smell of line dried clothes greeting me when I opened a drawer or that closet door. wpid-img_20140702_150322.jpg   Here it is, holding four loads of laundry. All my laundry can now be completed in just a day or two, as opposed to all week. What’s the skid there for, you ask? Well, Pa was right, it was a tad too tall for me to reach to hang clothes on comfortably. A stratgically placed skid solved that problem, and keeps my laundry basket up out of the grass at the same time. The fact that the line rotates makes it perfect. I rarely have to step off the skid. I like the height of it, I never worry about jeans, towels or sheets hanging low enough that they touch the ground or that animals can easily rub on them.  In the end I am thrilled with my vintage parallel umbrella clothesline. With temps this week in the 90’s and heat indexes approaching 105 a load of laundry is dry in less time than my dryer could do it, AND we aren’t wasting all the energy and heating the house up to boot.

The absolute best part of it all is to know that we saved this treasure from the landfill, which was where it was headed otherwise. We saved a simple item, that no one else thought valuable. I think to myself what memories this clothes dryer holds in it’s past. Laundry lovingly hung on it’s lines. A big part of Pa’s geneaology was held on the lines, from baby clothes, and sheets, through the toddler and teenage years, all the way up to the ripe old age of some approaching 100 years old. From soldiers sent off to war and returned home to new marriages, and yet more babies. Life and death resides in some form on these lines. Some of the memories it holds are happier than others, but all are memories not to be forgotten, none the less. I now hang our memories on the lines. It saddens me that one day someone will look at this old dryer and not see it’s worth.

With that, I’m off!



5 thoughts on “Memories on the Line

  1. I enjoy clothes hung out to dry also. I try and make use of this as many days of the year as possible. I find it amazing certain housing associations fine people for hanging their clothes out; lets all just waste energy for drying when we have such sunny days.

  2. A couple of good long posts with cross-arms attached and some #9 wire and we’ve got what I remember from growing up on our farm. Boy, oh boy, does that fresh laundry smell good.

    • I debated that style Mike, but in the end I actually achieved more actual line space in a smaller footprint. Not to mention it is moveable, which is a big bonus with the farm changing so much. I agree, one of the best smells ever!

  3. Thanks so much – I have been using my parallel line dryer for over 10 years and decided to put new line on. Had the same issue with the tension and lack of information as to how to do it.
    I am now ready to tackle the thing again ( as soon as I can get a partner on the opposite side!)
    I am looking forward to the freshness of line-dried laundry soon!

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