Friday, March 5, 2010

Washing Day, Brooklyn, Many Years Ago





Eva Bella hanging wash in the courtyard of her apartment building on Ocean Parkway. It's one of my favorites, and I never tire of its details--the sunshine on her face, the raggedy apron (a hand-me-down from her mama, too worn out for any but the roughest chore), the bag of clothespins.

Although by the time I knew her as Grandma Eva she had at her disposal a very efficient electric washer and dryer, I do think she always preferred to hang her wash, and continued to do so during all our summers at the lake. Though she's not as clear as she used to be, I can still imagine her working at her clothesline in the sunny windy field, reaching up to hang her sheets, a clothespin in her mouth.




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38 comments:

The Silver Fox said...

Grandma Eva was a cutie, indeed. I wish I could look as cheerful as she does when doing my own household chores, even with the use of modern appliances!

Martin H. said...

Grandma Eva looks a happy character. She was right too. You can't beat the smell of fresh laundry that has been dried outdoors.

The Silver Fox said...

@Martin: Beats the smell of "Febreze" any day, dunnit? But I suppose you're "showing your age" to say "You can't beat the smell of fresh laundry that has been dried outdoors," although I am, too, for agreeing with you!

Pat said...

I'm with Eve and hang my laundry in the fresh air. Nothing like sunshine and frost to make whites dazzling - any mild stains disappear and they smell divine.

kylie said...

my washing has to be dried outside. i dont have a drier :)

Brian Miller said...

cute pic...grew up with a clothes line in the back yard...

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful joyous picture! (I'm looking forward to warmer weather and hanging out the clothes instead of using the dryer.)

nick said...

I'm with the outside driers. Somehow everything smells better and fresher when it's dried in the open air. Or am I just imagining it?

Funny how a chance image like that, quite randomly picked, lingers in one's mind as the person's typical appearance, even if it's nothing of the sort!

tony said...

The Happy Washer!Her Warm Smile No Doubt Made The Drying Quicker!

Ponita in Real Life said...

I too grew up with a clothesline in the back yard. Winter or summer, everything got hung up, and that meant a lot of days with the line full, because there were eight people in my house!

One winter, I remember Mum had washed sheets. Huge solid squares of white cotton lined the yard. When the wind picked up, because they were frozen stiff, one got loose and tumbled end over end like a giant piece of paper, only to crash into a neighbour's house to be rescued and rewashed.

More work for my mum but we all got a huge laugh out of watching it bounce along and seeing my dad chasing it across the yards (there were no fences on Air Force bases...).

subby said...

You established some great imagery with this, Leah :)

Hunter said...

Love the imagery at the end of this one, Leah.

corticoWhat said...

I love the slightly extended pinky finger on her left hand. There was fun there.

Liza said...

Nothing beats hanging wash.
Beautiful photo.
Thanks for sharing.

Meri said...

When I was a little girl, the laundry was always hung on clothes lines. In church, there was an old-fashioned hymn that I now know was called "Bringing in the Sheaves," about harvesting crops and by extension, souls. But at the time, I thought it was "Bringing in the Sheets." That made much more sense in the context of my life.

Ronda Laveen said...

It is a lovely picture and shows a way of life mostly missing now days. I can almost smell her air dried laundry.

Barbara said...

When I was a young bride (18) I loved hanging the clothes on the line. I competed with the lady next door to hang mine neater. Now I wouldn't think of doing it. I don't care how good it smells. I have other priorities- like spending all day reading, writing and commenting on blogs.
What a great picture. It must be a little rare as in those days people wouldn't usually have been photographed doing household chores. At least, I thought so.

willow said...

This is a marvelous candid shot. And so rare in those days of posed studio pics. Love your laundry thoughts, too!

C.M. Jackson said...

what a beautiful face---I love the joy that shines from her smile--have a wonderful weekend! Hope everyone is feeling better!

Poetikat said...

That is one magnificent photo, Leah! I can see why you never tire of it. The face is what draws you in—so gentle and content.

Kat

Ralph said...

What a dear smile she has. I can't imagine it's from the chore she is doing. The photographer caught her pose at the right moment. Thanks for sharing!

mapstew said...

As a Monday to Friday house husband, I do most of the laundry, and still enjoy getting as much as I can 'on the line' of a dry windy day, and not having to use the drier!

Your Granny looks such fun missus! :¬)

xxx

muralimanohar said...

I always dry on the line. Mostly from preference. But necessity does rear it's head, in that I don't own a dryer at all. There are times I wish I DIDN'T have to hang it out to dry..usually when we've reached the second or third week straight rain.

Side note, really envy you your solid connection to your family...between my black sheep mom, who sees no value in extended family, and my abusive, alcoholic dad I haven't seen since I was 8, and still trying really hard not to be seen by, I have no real familial roots. It does give me a real sense of immediacy, though, I guess, lol.

Valerie said...

Hi Leah, thanks for visiting my blog. I always wanted to meet someone from Brooklyn. I too liked the picture. Grandma Eva had the right idea. Unfortunately the weather dictates whether I should dry out or dry by machine but I do like to see a line full of laundry blowing wild on a windy, summers day.

Jimmy Bastard said...

The real magnificence in this piece is how easily the words trip from your tongue by way of such vivid description.

Not only did I inhale the wonderful aroma of the freshly hung wash, I also reached out and touched the rough hewn linen of her apron as well as the bag containing the pins.

It would seem that many faces in your family are touched by more than just the brilliance of the sun.

Barry said...

Like your photo of Eva playfully hanging her washing on the line, we have a photo of my mother dancing with a pair of long-johns that had frozen in the winter.

lettuce said...

I can see why this is a favourite, i love it!

seems so weird to me that washing lines are seen as something from the past for some people, its still normal for lots of (most?) Brits.
and who doesn't love a peg bag???

Madame DeFarge said...

You're so lucky to have all these family photos. I have so very few and it makes my family's past a complete and unknowable mystery to me.

PattyF said...

What a great smile! I wish my children took half as much joy in doing their chores as Eva seems to in performing hers. And I can't blame her for wanting to hang out her washing. Nothing beats the smell of freshly washed sheets hung out in the breeze to dry.

Annie Ha said...

My grandma hung a lot of her laundry as well. She had a fancy clothesline in the back yard. I liked playing with it when it wasn't in use.

Megan said...

Shoot. My sister beat me to it. Grandma's clothesline was indeed fancy!

California Girl said...

lovely visual and details. she does indeed look happy.

The Clever Pup said...

Lovely shot. Could be used today in a laundry ad.

I'm about a decade older than you and I can remember that my mother had a washing machine with a mangle. Can you believe it!?

Karen ^..^ said...

When I look at this picture, I can smell crisp, freshly laundered and air dried sheets. Wonderful.

mago said...

All right with you and yours?

Leah said...

Hi Mago--we're not doing that great--Hedgie seems to be on her third round of antibiotic-resistant strep...just trying to be of good cheer. Thanks so much for checking in, though.

mago said...

Third round?! Change that penicillin immedeately!

novemberbaby said...

good one. the girl is pretty.