A Pouch Full of Clothespins

My grandmother lived her entire life in the same small house in the same small town – Monson, Massachusetts.  Being grounded by the familiar was important to her.

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From Bing images

For example, Monday was always laundry day.  First thing in the morning she’d stuff the washing machine in the kitchen with piles of linens, clothes, and towels then hang them on the free standing clothes line just outside the back door.  She did get a dryer at some point but because we only visited in the summer, I don’t recall ever seeing her use it.  I do recall her hanging up the laundry, clothespins in a pouch suspended from the clothesline as we children played in the creek running along one side of their property, or begged Grandpa to let us ride on the lawnmower as he mowed the grass. In good weather, children were not allowed inside the house during the day unless, of course, they were ill.

After Gram finished her morning chores she always took a few minutes to write in her “journal” which was actually a calendar.  Her journal entries always included a weather forecast and summary of the day’s planned activities.

T-storms due this afternoon.  Attending M. Finch’s B-day at 3:30 pm.

Gram

Gram’s smiling here but rest assured, she was fixing to give someone a piece of her mind!

They never gave insight into what she was thinking or feeling but I wish I had them anyway.

Tuesday morning’s chore was always the ironing, Wednesday’s, cleaning the house, and Thursday’s, a visit to the tiny grocery store. Friday and Saturday I’m sure had special purposes but I can’t honestly remember what they were.  Sunday’s chore was, of course, church after which we generally played croquet.  Gram always claimed that any work done on a Sunday would have to be undone once you got to heaven.

Poor me, I’ll be spending most of my time in heaven raking leaves. Or rather unracking leaves (however that’s done).

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I spent many an afternoon at the dining room table refusing to eat my stewed turnips. Don’t know what my mother is reaching for.

Gram had other absolutes.  Teenage girls never went downtown in short shorts.  Women never went to a bar alone (especially married women), and dinner (what most Americans call lunch) was always at noon.  If you weren’t home by then, you didn’t eat.  If you were home, you came to the table with clean hands, never put your elbows on the table, and if you didn’t eat everything on your plate, you remained at the table until you did.

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From Bing images – you don’t think I’m going to show you a picture of my undies, do you?

I only adhere to Gram’s regime by accident, however, this morning, as I hung the clothes (on a Monday morning!) I thought of Gram and her pouch full of clothespins.  Of all the things I miss the most about her, that’s the thing I get the most sentimental about.  A pouch full of clothespins. Strange, huh?

What strange things do you get sentimental about?

15 thoughts on “A Pouch Full of Clothespins

  1. I remember the clothes pins, fondly also, but fortunately not the turnips, maybe they were the Kale of the 50’s! I see you and see a lot of you in Audrey!

  2. Jan, your post evoked a whole bunch of memories. Clothespins, air raid drills in our neighborhood, playing kick the can on summer nights, etc. It also reminds me to go down cellar someday soon and start reading my grandfather’s diaries. I tried a while back, but was discouraged because, like your grandmother’s journal, I couldn’t find any evidence of how he felt. He mostly just logged experiences. Still, I think it would be worth my time to try reading them again. Thanks for this post!!

  3. For a long time I did without a dryer and enjoyed the fresh smell of hanging out clean laundry. I can picture the clothes flapping on the line at least in three places we lived. My son used to pretend the clothespins were soldiers and could amuse himself with his imagination for longer than it took me to hang up everything. 🙂

  4. I get sentimental about humming. My grandma would hum all the dang time. Sometimes I find myself doing it, and I think about her and miss her. She didn’t hum songs either, but literally would go, “Hmmmmm, hmmmmm, hmmmmm” in the same methodical rhythm. It was a bit like a cat purring in a way. She always had a stash of wooden clothespins too 😉

  5. I’ll bet when you find yourself humming like your grandma it’s her way of letting you know she’s standing beside you. What a lovely way for her to remind you of how much you are loved!

  6. Pingback: Times Past: Prompt 2 Women’s Work? | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

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