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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    The Good Old Days: Clothesline memories of days gone by with mom

    "Light Wash," a painting by American artist Andrew Wyeth.

    In the midst of the wintertime blues, I would like to bring you back to a place of warmth and comfort. A simpler time. A time when small things mattered. In those days, time appeared to pass slower in order for us to receive the blessings we never knew we had.

    During the late 1950s, most housewives stayed home and took care of the house and children, while husbands went to work. As a child, I lived on Fitchville Road in Bozrah, and almost every day a different mother would drop by for a cup of Sanka coffee.

    Today, it would have been an inconvenience not to call. Back then, it was called ““Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

    During this era, mothers performed household chores, from cleaning to preparing meals, that were both considered a sacrament and an act of contrition. We were in no hurry. My mother had nowhere to go. I was at home with my mother until first grade and enjoyed helping her with daily routines.

    However, the activity I loved the most was hanging clothes on the clothesline. For my mother, every season created a story, for even in winter, the clothes were hung.

    When spring arrived, my mother would carry the heavy basket of wet clothes outside, pushing open the aluminum door with her ragged sneaker. I tagged behind with smug confidence, knowing I had the most important job of all: I held the bag filled with clothespins.

    Green was everywhere with daffodils blooming and birds singing in the trees. Side by side we worked. I would hand my mother two clothespins unless she put her hand out and wanted more. Our conversation, now etched in memory lane.

    “Someday, when you’re a big girl, and have your own clothesline — never use the dryer. You must hang your clothes outside if you want the fresh scent of every season. Tonight, we shall inhale the essence and glory of spring.”

    In summer, we began hanging the clothes before the sun rose high in the sky as the temperature was cooler. One day, while hanging white sheets, my mother pointed to Gus’s Pond behind our house.

    “Look my daughter! Look at the Kingfisher flying above the water. How elegant he flies. No dryer will ever show you this.”

    In the fall, we picked our clothes before the sky darkened, as winter approached. Once inside the house, my mother pressed her face into the bundle of fresh clothes and exclaimed with delight, “I think I smelled Jack Frost trying to sneak inside our basket!”

    My mother said hanging the clothes in winter was not impossible.

    “You must choose your days wisely and look for a sunny afternoon. Winter clothes smell like children playing in the snow and sliding down slippery slopes.”

    Eventually, there came a day when the clothesline was empty. And when that happened, I noticed all around the neighborhood, other clotheslines were empty as well. Time had passed, and what the old generation once revered became a waste of time for another, till, by and by, I still see clothes hanging outside, and when I do, I think…

    Tonight, someone is going to bring the season into their home. Maybe, they will sleep on fresh sheets and dream of children playing in the snow, or see Kingfishers flying above the water.

    Or maybe this story will inspire you to bring the season into your home.

    Concetta Falcone-Codding is a 1971 graduate of the Norwich Free Academy and is the author of The Lonely Nest. You can contact Concetta at concettafalconecodding1@gmail.com.

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