I hope this note finds you well.
For the last few years Annette and I have lived on the south side of Lake Hamilton near Garvin Gardens. It’s a beautiful wooded place with deep, clean water and is most relaxing. One of my routine runs takes me out along Highway 290 toward Lake Catherine.
About a mile from our house, at the end of Rockport Lane, sits a little white, wood-frame house and behind the house an old fashion clothesline. In the time that we have lived here I have never seen a car or truck near the little house but on a regular basis I have seen an older woman in a long gingham dress, just like my grandmother used to wear, hanging clothes out on the line.
Just last Saturday, Annette and I were heading into Benton of an appointment. We halted at the stop sign by the lady’s house and I was struck by the fact that the little house had been bull-dozed; the scrub trees
in her side-yard had been pushed into a pile and were being burned. Any sign of the little lady and her clothesline was gone. It looks like someone is getting ready to subdivide the property and put a number of new homes. It is probably fair to assume that the lady has either passed away or gone to a nursing home.
As a child in the country of East Arkansas in the last 1940’s (that would be sixty-eight years ago for those who are counting) electricity was a new thing, clothes dryers were exceedingly rare and there were clotheslines in everyone’s backyard. My Grandmother Taggart lived about fifty yards away from us across a pig lot and a good part of everyday was spent at her house. She still cooked on a wood stove because as she said: “I can trust it to cook my biscuits just right.”
She had a ringer-washer on her back porch and out in the backyard was an old black wrought-iron wash pot that was no longer used. Her clothesline was just beyond the giant rain barrel that collected the soft-water rain. She swore by the rain water for getting the cleanest of clothes with no stain. She spent one day a week washing clothes for herself and her two youngest children who still lived at home.
Her clothesline was out in the side yard where there was plenty of sunshine and a nice warm breeze could be counted on. I always like to think of myself as helping her put out the wash but I strongly suspect that I was more in the way than anything. Despite that she never once complained. When it was time to collect the dried laundry my favorites were the dish towels, washcloths and bath towels. The soft feel and fresh smell of the towels is one of those sense memories that I will carry with me to my deathbed. I hope the grandchildren of the lady on Rockport Lane have those same memories.
Remember as we get older, our lives are becoming other people’s history.
Have a good journey.