2008 Comeback Stories: Clotheslines, live and let dry!


This post is part of our series on people, places and things than have found new life in 2008.

When I'm bored, I come up with taglines for the clothesline movement. They have "right to dry," but I prefer the very British "Hang it all!" or the Bondsian "Live and let dry."

The clothesline movement? You might be asking. Umm, we need one of those? Yes, yes we do. You see, it comes down to this idea in the middle of the 20th century in America that the ownership of a machine to do -- well, anything -- was a banner of respectability. Washing dishes, blending your non-dairy whipped topping, mowing your lawn, drying your clothes: power 'em with fossil fuels or be one of the unwashed masses.

We don't want that in our neighborhoods, said the rather small-time powers-that-be, and many communities wrote a ban on outdoor clothes drying along with the removal of livestock and various more hateful bans. One such neighborhood was Awbrey Butte, Oregon, where a resident was threatened with legal action when she chose to flout the CC&Rs and hang her clothes out to dry in the plentiful warm summer sun. She might have done better with this fanciful (and spendy) clothes drying "tree."

Watch out, neighborhood boards, homeowner associations, town councils. Because the clothesline is coming back. Many of my friends now consider the last rains of spring to herald "drying weather," and extoll the fresh scent of line-hung laundry, along with the savings on their power bill and the nice feeling of appropriate use of one's precious resources. And if you want my opinion? I like the way clothes look, hung out to dry. The comeback of clotheslines is a win, win, win!