It's hard to believe, but there are lots of young people out there who have no idea what a clothes line is, or what it is used for. Today it's perma-press. Take the clothes out of the washer, throw them in the electric dryer, and bingo, dry clothes, most of them ready to wear.

Mom might throw a scented sheet in with the clothes so they come out of the dryer smelling "outdoors fresh."

That wasn't always the case.

My wife is still a traditionalist in that during the spring, summer and fall seasons she still hangs wash out to dry on two lines we have strung in our back yard. Well, at least they were strung, until a visiting black bear came hunting for some food, got irritated that the clothes lines were in his way, and he decided to tear them down. So I have a job to do, restring the clothes line now that the nice weather is here and hope that the bear doesn't return to forage again.

What got me thinking about clothes lines, of all things, is an email sent to me by a reader who took me back to the old days when every Monday, wash lines all over town would be filled to capacity. Monday was wash day, no exceptions. That was one rule that had to be followed, but there were other rules also. Read on.

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes... NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs... NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts and busybodies, y'know!)

8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather... clothes would "freeze-dry."

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky"!

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that's a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM ...

A clothesline was a news forecast, To neighbors passing by,

There were no secrets you could keep, When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link, For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by, To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the "fancy sheets", And towels upon the line;

You'd see the "company table cloths", With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby's birth, From folks who lived inside,

As brand new infant clothes were hung, So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could, So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed, You'd know how much they'd grown!

It also told when illness struck, As extra sheets were hung;

Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe too, Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, "On vacation now", When lines hung limp and bare.

It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged, With not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon, If wash was dingy and gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows, And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past, For dryers make work much less.

Now what goes on inside a home, Is anybody's guess!

I really miss that way of life, It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best... By what hung out on that line.

And, finally, if you have to ask what a clothes prop is, you're probably too young. Everybody had them, and mom used them to elevate the clothes line so the clean sheets and dad's work pants didn't sag on the group when the clothesline was filled. Bet there's not a clothes line in the entire TIMES NEWS circulation area. That's a tool of the past.

By BOB URBAN

rurban@tnonline.com

It's hard to believe, but there are lots of young people out there who have no idea what a clothes line is, or what it is used for. Today it's perma-press. Take the clothes out of the washer, throw them in the electric dryer, and bingo, dry clothes, most of them ready to wear.

Mom might throw a scented sheet in with the clothes so they come out of the dryer smelling "outdoors fresh."

That wasn't always the case.

My wife is still a traditionalist in that during the spring, summer and fall seasons she still hangs wash out to dry on two lines we have strung in our back yard. Well, at least they were strung, until a visiting black bear came hunting for some food, got irritated that the clothes lines were in his way, and he decided to tear them down. So I have a job to do, restring the clothes line now that the nice weather is here and hope that the bear doesn't return to forage again.

What got me thinking about clothes lines, of all things, is an email sent to me by a reader who took me back to the old days when every Monday, wash lines all over town would be filled to capacity. Monday was wash day, no exceptions. That was one rule that had to be followed, but there were other rules also. Read on.

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes... NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs... NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes - walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle (perverts and busybodies, y'know!)

8. It didn't matter if it was sub-zero weather... clothes would "freeze-dry."

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky"!

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that's a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM ...

A clothesline was a news forecast, To neighbors passing by,

There were no secrets you could keep, When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link, For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by, To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the "fancy sheets", And towels upon the line;

You'd see the "company table cloths", With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby's birth, From folks who lived inside,

As brand new infant clothes were hung, So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could, So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed, You'd know how much they'd grown!

It also told when illness struck, As extra sheets were hung;

Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe too, Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, "On vacation now", When lines hung limp and bare.

It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged, With not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon, If wash was dingy and gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows, And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past, For dryers make work much less.

Now what goes on inside a home, Is anybody's guess!

I really miss that way of life, It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best... By what hung out on that line.

And, finally, if you have to ask what a clothes prop is, you're probably too young. Everybody had them, and mom used them to elevate the clothes line so the clean sheets and dad's work pants didn't sag on the ground when the clothesline was filled. Bet there's not a clothes line in the entire TIMES NEWS circulation area. That's a tool of the past.