A few years ago my housemate at the time returned from a trip to India with a present for me—a bag of colored plastic clothespins in the shape of hands praying. Not your typical gift, I must have mentioned to him once or twice how much I like to hang my laundry out to dry.
The clothespins from India were not so sturdy, suited more to a sari, or tourists, than a pair of dungarees. The yellow one here on top of my classic wooden clothespins might just be the last of the batch.
When my partner Stephanie moved in, she was initially reluctant to do the clothesline thing. She claimed the drier made towels fluffier. It also took a few tries to remember that you can only hang stuff on the bottom line.
For a long time one end of the clothesline was attached to the house and the other to a portable basketball hoop bequeathed to me by the previous homeowner. Despite the base being filled with cement, it had to be weighted with stones and tied to a fence to keep from being yanked over by the wet clothes. My plan was to eventually replace it with an old iron building column I had dragged into the backyard for that purpose.
In the meantime, Steph planted a garden, and did not want a portable basketball hoop in it. I had a standing offer from my next-door neighbor Sue to attach my line to the telephone pole in her yard. The pole held not only her clothesline but those of two other neighbors, whose lines came in over the back fence, a real neighborly setup that was once common. I was reluctant because my line would be over her backyard air space for almost 50 percent of the run.
Finally, realizing the iron column plan would take extensive engineering, I did take advantage of her generous offer, if only temporarily. As soon as the baby comes I plan to build a professional quality rig to handle the extra volume.
Depressing fact: In California, about seven million people can’t hang their clothes in public because of the policies of about 40,000 community associations.
Here are some paintings of clotheslines.