Thursday, November 10, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #409

Nancy White Kelly

There is a Ginny Winder in our front yard. Buddy built it recently for our grandkids. Unless you were born in the yon, pre-computer days, you probably haven’t a clue as to what a Ginny is.

Buddy and I have been amazed at the number of people who have pull into our driveway and inquired about our Ginny, modified slightly with a plastic chairs on each end. The original had sticks for grip handles.

This outdoor toy was a common yard adornment in our day, just like a hanging tire or rope swing. My dad frequently made us toys that took knee, arm, or leg power to propel. No batteries were needed. That was a good thing since we could not have afforded them anyway.

All it takes to make a Ginny is a sturdy tree stump and a long piece of lumber. Similar to a see-saw, children sit on opposite ends of the board. A third person controls its horizontal swirl with a repeating shoves. When he tires of pushing, one of the riders dismounts and trades places. We burned a lot of energy and calories while having fun.

I remember other childhood activities like marbles, hop-scotch, and Red Rover. However, not all my time was spent playing. I had chores.

As the only girl, I got clothesline duty which, according to my mother and grandmother, had to be done a certain way. The rules for our three clothes lines were unwritten, but indisputable.

Clothes were to be hung in a certain order. All the white were hung first. Shirts were hung by the tails. In order to hide our undies from the busybodies and peeping Toms, the towels and sheets were put on the outside lines.

Sub-zero winter didn’t matter. Clothes still had to be hung outside where they would quickly freeze dry. Many a wintery day I brought in clothes that were as stiff as the proverbial board.

For efficiency, the clothes were strung along so that items did not need two pins. The second pin shared the edge of the next item on the line.

An email friend sent a poem last week that stirred my nostalgia for clothes lines. Enjoy.

A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew,
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate designs.
The line announced a baby's birth
From folks who lived inside -
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!
The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown!
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged,
with not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way.
But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess!

Not only are the clothes lines gone from our lives. Many of our neighbors have passed too. They went to their graves without ever knowing about Facebook, blogs and fancy phones.

Some would argue that these are the best of days with all our electronic gizmos. Not me. I would like to go back to the days of clotheslines and Ginny Winders.

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