I notice back yards as I cruise through communities, to see who has a clothes line and who doesn't, then who uses them. Sometimes I see a house with laundry spread over bushes to dry in the sun.
As I write this the clothes dryer is not doing well. After the timed cycle has finished the items that should be hot are warm, and extra drying time is required. Jeans and towels take longer so I need to move the dryer as far forward as possible, UNPLUG IT, take the back off and look around.
We've had this dryer for over twenty-five years and I've managed to keep it going from one failure after another. There are only so many things to go wrong with a clothes dryer.
They have two thermostats or heat sensitive fuses, maybe more. One is in the front, a couple in the back. I've changed those over the years and the humidity sensor too. You can test them with a volt/ohm meter or take it to an appliance repair place to be tested.
The drum is turned by the electric motor via a belt and I've changed that twice. If the motor gives out it will be time for a fresh start on the whole shebang.
I changed out the heating element, a part I thought would be costly and was surprised at how inexpensive it was. Then, a wire burned out and I rewired the whole thing back there.
These repairs have saved tons of money because most of the parts were under five bucks. The painful part was crawling over the washer and into the space behind the monster where all the good stuff is located.
I think we need a clothes line backup. A clothes dryer is convenient but there are intangible benefits to line drying.
I enjoyed helping my mother bring in the laundry on warm summer days. I like the feel of sun-warmed sheets and the rough texture of towels. The legs in my teenaged jeans held a crease formed by metal pants-stretchers, fitted into the leg of the jeans so they sun dried with the crease in them.
There is nothing you can put into a dryer to match the smell of sun and fresh air dried clothes. In Kansas the pervasive and strong south wind dries a line of clothes in a span of time that would amaze Southerners. Sheets and shirts flap, towels stand horizontal to the ground and soon the job is done.
Both grandmothers had a single long wire line with two boards to raise the line of wet and heavy clothes away from the ground and playful dogs. One grandmother used clothes “pegs,” a split piece of wood without springs that you rarely see today.
A clothes line is a simple device. I think I have a long length of steel wire in the garage and a couple of posts. A faltering and stuttering clothes dryer is motivation enough to create a fall-back system if I can sell the Kansas Woman on it.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.