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Terri Simon

On the line ...

In my travels the other day, I watched an older lady hanging clothes on the line. A couple of sheets already flapped in the breeze, as she continued hanging a few pairs of jeans and a couple of other items on the line. It's something you don't see very often anymore — clothes on the clothesline.

I don't mind telling you I immediately longed for those moments from yesteryear. Funny how something so simple as a clothesline full of clean laundry could create a current of memories on that dusty old road to Memory Lane.

The clothesline on the farm was frequently filled with elements that could identify us as a farming family. Grandpa's bib overalls clearly gave it away, and a myriad of flour sack dish towels and Grandma's aprons followed right behind them. Those clothes and other laundered items represented work — after all, doing a load of laundry wasn't as easy as just throwing them in the washing machine and waiting for the buzzer to signify they were finished. A conversation I had the other day with friends about those wringer washing machines, wash tubs, getting your fingers caught in the wringers, etc., certified my memories were correct.

But years ago, that clothesline represented far more than a week's worth of laundry on the farm. That's right ... a clothesline was the perfect host for a backyard teepee filled with all kinds of adventures.

We would find the old, green wool blanket that we only used outside. It was hot and scratchy, and nobody wanted it on their beds. The silky trim on the blanket had clearly seen better days, so none of the adults really cared if we turned that blanket into an afternoon of fun. We just needed one more old quilt or blanket to complete our new outdoor dwelling, and after begging Grandma for way too long, she'd finally give in and find us something to complete our teepee.

Using Grandma's clothespins that hung from a bag on the clothesline, we'd clip the tops of the two blankets to the clothesline, and then we'd be on a scavenger hunt to find some big rocks or bricks to hold the bottom of each blanket in place. It didn't matter how long it took because the fun waiting for us was worth every minute. Finally, we'd pull the bottom of each blanket out as far as we could, and then we'd place the rocks and bricks on the bottom of the blanket to hold them taut.

The result? A perfect teepee, tent, clubhouse — a hideaway from our adults, where adventures could be planned, carried out and remembered.

We'd spend hours in our new clubhouse. We ate Popsicles in there, and our fingers were often stained red from snacking our raspberries from Grandma's berry patch. We'd make plans for the rest of the day and set itineraries for the rest of the week. We'd take Tinker Toys inside and build things. Our Barbie dolls loved it inside that teepee, and so did the neighbor kids down the road. It was a great place for a game of checkers. Sometimes we'd read — laying on our backs in the hot, sultry and stuffy confines that baked us between two woolen blankets. The possibilities inside our tent were endless ...

But mostly, we talked. We giggled. We laughed. We dreamed — mostly of things we knew we'd never have and places we knew we'd never go — yet it didn't stop us. It was a bit of paradise to a handful of farm kids on a hot summer day.

I seldom see clotheslines anymore, and if I do, they usually hold nothing more than memories — no sheets flapping in the breeze, no bib overalls, no aprons ... and certainly no tents built by children who needed a place all to themselves to share some good old fashioned fun and develop dreams that might or might not come true.

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com.

Tonica New Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com

Putnam County Record Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@putnamcountyrecord.com.