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Clotheslines

CLOTHESLINE ETIQUETTE — Jacksonville was hung up in clotheslines until home dryers became widespread during the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies. Families pinned their laundry on lines to air dry if they didn’t own a dryer or visit a laundromat. Nevertheless, the recent census had shown that, even among impoverished Americans, the ownership of dryers is now high.

During the 1950s & 60s, clotheslines crisscrossed most every Jacksonville neighborhood. Children would dart through each other’s yards playing tag, hide-&-seek, cops-and-robbers, and cowboys-and-Indians. Proper play etiquette at night, however, required something important: Kids with clotheslines in their yards were to prop the wires or ropes out of the way. The children set tall boards in the middle of sagging lines, pushing them above head level. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop an unsuspecting player from occasionally getting clotheslined.

Families with clotheslines always kept a close eye on the weather. At the first rumble of thunder,  mothers would dash to take down diapers pinned to a line running from the backdoor to the back fence. Many children of that era remember the makeshift clotheslines that used to stretch down hallways during rain showers.

~written by Glenn Emery

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