Just in the interest of full disclosure, our ancestors did not consider sex and romance to be the only concepts associated with clotheslines.  There were practical considerations as well.

     Our ancestors were a little more accustomed to the great outdoors than we are, and their towns and cities contained a good many more varieties of animals than can be found in OUR back yards.  A few town dwellers still found space to keep a few hogs, as a measure against rising meat prices, and every few decades there is another push to tell people who live in the city how easy it is to raise chickens for fun and profit.  (With a very few exceptions, people who have tried this report very little of either.)  Until people got sniffy bout zoning laws, cows were often to be found in urban yards, providing milk for the kiddies.  Cows, in fact, have their own massive postcard literature, and we will save them for another blog.

     And there were goats.  Goats also provided milk, and were smaller than cows.  Goats have a large representation on postcards as well, and we could do a blog just on the “Don’t Butt In” postcards.  But of course their main place in folklore was as eaters of tin cans, old shoes, or anything else left within their reach.

     Not to mention laundry.  I cannot look at these cards without being cast back to my piano lesson days, and the classic “Bill Grogan’s Goat”, with its pounding left hand accompaniment.  (Bill Grogan’s Goat BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP Was feeling fine BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP  Ate three red shirts BOMP BOMP BOMP BOMP Right off the line.)

     No, they weren’t the ONLY animals free to wander through the yard and chew your laundry.  Cows could go for an occasional change of diet.  (Still worried about the caption on this one.  Does she have THAT many critters wanting to chew on her lingerie?  What’s the address of this place?)

     Even supposedly domesticated livestock might take a whirl at your clothes when you hung them outside.

     Moore than a mere opportunity for the local animals to browse among your lacy garments, laundry on the clothesline was a chore that everybody had to do, that everybody had been doing since the beginning of clothing.

     Oh, yes, everybody had to put the clothes out to dry.

     Of course, your modern, up to date household had a washer and drier indoors.  But you could hardly take them with you on vacation, and laundromats tended to be urban phenomena.  So washing by hand was a feature of the adventurous holiday in the wild, and often a sign to other people that you were on vacation.

     (Ready for a Spot The Differences Game?  In one of these duplicate ideas, the dog gets no lines, in one there is an outhouse handy, in another the lady has a much bigger tub…okay, you take it from there.)

     Everybody did laundry, and did it throughout their lifetimes.  One postcard artist, in fact, spread a whole life across the line for us.  What memories and lessons can be pinned to the notion are up to us.

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