Opinion: Years later, dryer still feels like a luxury

Published 1:19 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sometimes when I remove clothes from my dryer, smooth out the rough places with my fingers and place clothes on hangers, I remember a wooden drying rack with wet clothes strung here and there in my house. It has been many a year since I was without a dryer, but I remember trying to get wet clothes dry so vividly that, to this day, I consider my clothes dryer a household luxury.

These days do you ever notice a family wash draped across a fence somewhere out in the country? At one time it was not an unusual sight. Down the road a piece, you might have seen lines laden with clothes flapping in the wind.

In times past, I liked hanging clothes on lines strung between trees. I loved the scent of fresh line-dried sheets on my bed. During my working years, I enjoyed the luxury of washing and drying the family clothing at whatever time it was convenient, whether it was 7 a.m. or 10 p.m. without stepping out the door.

Before dryers became a household necessity, there was always the weather to consider. It was so frustrating to awake on wash day to rain or threatening weather. That seemed to happen when a tower of laundry bulged and ran over the sides of my clothes hamper. Every family member needed clean underwear and school and work clothes. If there was an infant in the family, an overflowing diaper pail demanded daily attention. Those were the “old days” (as my son calls them) when there were no disposable diapers.

It was easy enough to toss clothes into the washing machine, add detergent and turn the dial. The dilemma was how to dry all that wet stuff once it finished the washing cycle. I recall that when my oldest child was an infant, I sometimes strung a line across my kitchen to dry diapers during extreme cold or wet weather. Later, with the second child, I acquired a folding wooden rack to place in the bathtub to hang clothes on. Sometimes I put things on hangers and dangled them from knobs and door facings over the house. We almost needed a raincoat to walk through the house on damp days when I couldn’t use an outside line.

When we lived in a mobile home at a trailer park, I used the community clothesline across the road on sunny days. It was the way I got acquainted with my neighbors as we pinned clothes on the lines. In military housing in Germany, families were assigned basement clotheslines two days a week. Often that was not enough, so I put my trusty wooden rack to work. Other times I dried diapers on the radiators scattered throughout our apartment.

When I got my first dryer, I had one of those revolving circular lines that whipped me with my wet clothes on windy days. I was so thankful for my new household appliance, my dryer. And I still am.



Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter.