Monday, 7 May 2012

The first house my

parents lived in after their marriage was, quite literally, an unlined galvanised iron shack of four small rooms at the top of a windy hill. It had packed earth floors - covered with linoleum. The power, when they had it,  was generated by a windmill.
They considered themselves fortunate to have it. There was an extended housing shortage in Australia after the war. My parents married a couple of years later. Like many other young couples they had almost nothing. My mother was delighted when they moved down into the little township the year after I was born because, luxury of luxuries, there was a proper clothesline on which to dry the nappies.
One of our neighbours was complaining yesterday because her clothes drier was not working properly. Clothes drier? Well yes, she does have two young children...but she is also a stay at home mother. She does not actually have a clothesline.
This really puzzles my father. To him sunshine is free. It is what you use to dry the clothes. Our climate is perfect for such things. I personally love the smell of sheets and towels dried in the sun. I suggested our neighbour could borrow our clothesline but she tossed the washing in their car and took it up to the laundromat instead. Why? Because she "did not have time" to hang rhe clothes out and take them in again.
Her children do not appear to own any clothing made from natural fibres. Everything they own can be machine washed and machine dried. It also seems much of it does not require ironing. As a child my clothes were made from cotton or wool. They were usually made from remnants my mother or grandmothers bought cheaply. I even wore pullovers that had belonged to my mother and her brother - and my siblings wore them after I did. They were not "best" clothing but they were considered good enough for wearing at home and were "not to be wasted". 
Our neighbour has none of those things. She dresses in similar clothes to her children. Her husband gets his business shirts professionally laundered.
My mother, who worked as a teacher, would have hung the clothes out and then walked to the shops with a shopping trolley. 
The odd thing is that, somehow, I remember my mother having more time to do things than our neighbour. Were the days longer back then?

4 comments: said...

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Lisa Shambrook said...

We used to have a clothes-line which I used, but our climate is wet and despite the metal posts being concreted in, the metal rusted through not long after we moved in! I missed it once it collapsed, but we've never got round to putting another's pretty wet, so you often had to watch the skies and rush out to grab your washing before the clouds let loose!
Wouldn't mind the Aussie sun!

Allison said...

I don't know what to tell you about time. You're right, of course.

And besides all that, I daresay your mother fixed all meals from scratch, too -- no boxes of half prepared things, no frozen serve-and-heat entrees, etc. Probably no quick trip through the fast food drive-thru either.

Can your neighbor say the same?

Anonymous said...

We have a clothes dryer and use it, but the clothes line gets a lot more use. I don't mind clothes getting a fresh rainwater rinse either, especially towels and sheets.

Judy B