Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh Dry Up!


Do you support the Right to Dry? Or are laundry lines an affront to polite society?

When Robb and I first started seriously house-hunting, one of our rules was "no home owners' associations." I didn't want anyone telling me what kind of garden I could plant, or what sort of front door I was allowed to have. And I particularly didn't want anyone forbidding my use of a laundry line.

As an environmentalist, European traveler, and urban pioneer, I love the use of a clothes line. I'm totally flummoxed by the people who are horrified by the humble, thrifty laundry line.

Here's a pretty typical article on the subject, containing this bit of hysterical hyperbole:

"They're unsightly by most people's standards," said Jeanne Bridgforth, a Realtor with Long & Foster in Richmond. "It gives an atmosphere of decline. You don't sense you're in a well-heeled neighborhood when you see people hanging their laundry out to dry."

Bridgforth recently showed a beautifully restored historic property on Church Hill that was listed in the $700,000 price range. "I had such a hard time selling it because the people next door always had laundry hanging from their second-story back porch," she said. "It was just an eyesore." The house went to foreclosure and eventually to auction, Bridgforth thinks, because of the negative appearance around the house.

While I couldn't pretend to understand every aspect of the current financial crisis, I'm pretty certain that the mortgage meltdown was not, in fact, caused by people eschewing the use of indoor clothes dryers.

The house we're hoping to buy has one of those laundry lines that looks like a naked square umbrella. I'll be happy when I can hang my laundry out to dry without climbing out my living room window.


Kaaren said...

I wonder when this shift happened. In P.R. we always hung our laundry to dry, so when we moved to the states, we still did it. Is it because people are afraid to look like they can't afford a dryer? And I seriously doubt the neighbor's laundry stopped the sale of that house. I'm thinking it was the price tag. Or the realtor.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

A house that goes into foreclosure (like the house in the article) does so because the seller can no longer pay the mortgage.

Clearly the owner of this $700,000 house was so traumatized by the exposure to their neighbor's unmentionables that they had a total breakdown and stopped paying their bills.

See? The laundry was to blame.

Anonymous said...

I have always had a 'thing' about clothes hanging on clotheslines. My very first memory is sitting in my mother's whicker clothes basket watching her take the clothes pins from her mouth and pin up my father's shirts and sox. I also love them because they're inevitably so colorful. When I was a serious photographer, my dream was to shoot a 'coffee table' book of just clotheslines! Alas, they are few and far between these days.

We live in a community where the CC and Rs forbid clotheslines. In this era of energy saving and recycling, I pity the person who tries to enforce this rule on me!

John and Diane said...

Our 1950s house came complete with a clothes line - 2 long parallel lines. I love it! So handy. And drying clothes out here in the low humidity and intense sun is a natural.

Anonymous said...

nuthin' smells better than sheets hung on the line!!!! (fresh baked bread is a close second)

Anonymous said...

That brings back memories. My 88 yo Mom had one of those umbrella clothes lines since we moved into our "upscale" tract home in 1956. When we remodeled her house for her when she was 86, we included a laundry nook with dryer. She really missed her clothes line; but only for a few weeks. BTW, we never had a complaint from the neighbors; and neighboring homes sold just fine in the Sillycon. Valley market.


Knit Wit said...

We used to dry our clothes on a line when I was a kid. Unfortunately, our allergies didn't let us do it year round. Living in Georgia allergy season was most of the year so my mom gave up. I've still got the allergies so I've got to use the dryer. Too much pollen around here and we're allergic to most of it. :-(

Baqash said...

One of the nice things about living in a very dry climate, the clothes on the line dry faster than the ones in the dryer. A little more work, but much nicer.

Tonya said...

My co-worker had a police officer show up on her door. The Laundry police, apparently. She is from China and they always hang out their laundry. Apparently her HOA (which she didn't know about, or think would care about her laundry for crying out loud!)president lives next door and being a nosey person inclined to misplaced outrage and a hyper inflated sense of self importance, called the cops. My friends husband, also Chinese but with better English skills, confronted the neighbor and asked why, for the love of all good, didn't she ASK them to take their laundry down, or simply inform them of the 'infraction.'

Her response: I didn't know if you spoke English.

What a BeeeIItch. Stuff like that makes me WANT to go hang my panties from my front porch....

I like the smell of hung laundry-but not the crunchiness of it. I put it in the dryer to soften it up...which kind of defeats the purpose. :)

Marmalade said...

... and of course, the laundry is color coordinated. Did you know you had that many clothes all in that hue?

I had a half-second flashback to the Rashneeshees living in OR, in their 'any color as long as it's red' outfits.

Let it all 'hang' out, baby!

Anonymous said...

List this under too much information...

Once I had some next door neighbors who I absolutely LOATHED. I took old bedsheets and painted big fake menstral blood stains on those same sheets and made sure they hung out on the line right by their back yard for a long, long time. Eventually they stopped having their drunken backyard parties right there which ended their throwing numerous booze bottles onto my lawn.

Lets hear it for line drying!!!!! Yahoo!!!!!!!

I'm all about non-violent psychological confrontation that works... I knew having my period would pay off one day!


mamakin said...

Man I'm lovin' Annalisa lol. We too had the unbrella clothes lines growing up and at the 2 houses prior to this one - which is only about 5 miles away from the last but on the "north side" as opposed to the "south side". I'm still not sure how stepping across the street makes a difference, but our TOWN won't allow hanging laundry outside. They do seem to think it brings down the property value. They do, however, allow you to toss your wet towels over the pool fence to dry. DUH. I've hung clothes on hangers to dry from the pergola on the deck, but then the houses around me can't see that & you can't see the house at all from the street, so when I can I put stuff to dry outside- I love the smell of clothes dried outside.

Music Woman said...

Too bad.... I sold my house back in 2007 with a square umbrella type of clothes line. I think the new people took it down. Could have given it to you ;-)

I don't think that putting laundry out to dry on the line is a sign of lower income or unsightliness. My mom, who is in the definite upper middle class, still hangs her clothes out to dry on the line. She's been doing this since she was a little girl, and enjoys the smell of the clothes when they are dried outside.

I, unfortunately, have gotten out of the habit of putting my clothes to dry on a line, just because our condo association doesn't allow clothes lines of any form. However, I definitely am thinking about putting in a long clothes line from the house to the treeline in the new house!

Kellyann Brown said...

I grew up in South San Francisco, where we really couldn't use a line... those clothes might end up wetter than when we put them out there, but we would visit my grandparents every year in Colorado and that's where I learned my clothesline skills.

There is something cellular in the happiness I feel when I see clothes drying in a wind. I have two lines in the backyard that easily hold a washerfull. There is nothing nicer than whites that have just come off the line. I can somewhat empathize with the naysayers, though. At our studio apartment, we have a neighbor who puts her laundry on the bushes outside the doors. I have to admit, I think that looks a little tacky.

Irish said...

We've always hung laundry to dry, but rarely outside. Hanging it outside means bird poop, the ash from the local incinerator, and theft of our favorite clothing items by the neighbors.

I grew up in a home with laundry lines in the basement and when I finally had my own home, the FIRST thing that went up was the clothesline in the laundry room! :)


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