Clotheslines: Eyesore or Nostalgia?

J Philip Faranda October 11, 2009

My wife and I don’t have a horse in this race, but I recall in my childhood in the 70’s that everyone in my neighborhood had a clothesline. Most of my neighbors used them. Ann grew up in an apartment in which many people dried their clothes on their terrace, but that was forbidden when the building went co-op. In my corner of the world they gradually phased out with cheaper technology and busier lifestyles, but I always viewed clothes drying in a suburban back yard as, well, suburban. 

Evidently, some communities don’t view it that way, and many have banned clotheslines altogether. Some people have fought back and overturned the bans, and the debate has reached the New York Times. Ann said that an apartment building with rows of terraces with clothes is unsightly and depressing. I view a back yard with clothes drying as a calling card of happy memories when people didn’t need their appliances to look like a rocket ship. 

Ann freely admits that clothes dried in fresh air just feel better, but she associates them with squalor. I am different- I like them and have more positive associations with them. 

Debate away. I didn’t know there was one going on, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention. 

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