The Good Old Days

It doesn't take much. It could be the scent of pine in the air that triggers Christmas memories for me. It could be a muffled metal to metal sound that reminds me that my Dad insisted on mashing the Sunday dinner potatoes by hand. He used this old fashioned masher that had a red and white wooden handle. I bought one at a yard sale a few years ago. I think I used it twice since then.

It was a sound once again that grabbed my attention. I knew it was familiar, but couldn't place it at first.

I was walking through my old neighborhood reminiscing about the "good old days." Yes, I find myself using that term more often now.

"I can remember when gas was 27 cents a gallon," I told my nephew just yesterday. He looked at me like I was from another planet.

But walking along the streets I grew up on was a powerful experience for me. Fences that were so difficult to climb back then seemed so small now. The school yard I played in is now a parking lot for the school district building that replaced the hallowed halls of the first six years of my education.

I was walking down one of the smaller side streets near my former home. Off in the distance I could hear the faint familiar sound.

"What is that?" I said to myself.

It almost sounded like a chirp of a tiny spring bird. But so many have gone now that Autumn has returned. They, being much smarter than I, have headed for warmer climates.

There it was again. I decided to search it out. As I turned the corner the sound got louder, more pronounced. I knew it well but hadn't heard it in decades.

There standing on her back porch was an old woman hanging her clothes. The sound that echoed through my mind was that of a clothes line on two pulleys. You might be thinking, "So what? I still use one." But throughout my neighborhood and other places where I have lived these last few decades, I cannot remember seeing anyone hanging their clothes.

Why do you think God created dryers?

The house was on the corner and I casually walked along the fence that bordered her property. I had to say something. I had to share my thoughts with someone still connected to a piece of my past.

"Hello! How are you?" I asked.

"Just fine, thank you," she replied.

"I once lived in this area. I was taking a walk down memory lane."

"I've been here most of my life," she replied.

"As I approached your house I heard this all too familiar sound, but couldn't quite place it. Then I saw you hanging your clothes on the line. It brought back some great memories for me."

"I've used one all of my life. My children bought me a dryer years ago. I only use it when the temperatures get too low for me to stand out here. They can't understand why I still use this," she said.

"I can still picture the clothes pin holder my Mom had. It looked like a small dress or apron, but had a round hole up front. It hung on a clothes hanger." I told her.

"Like this?" she asked as she held up hers.

"Yes, exactly like that," I said in amazement. I never see those any where.

"So tell me. In this day of wash and wear, never needs ironing clothes, why do you still use the clothes line?"

She walked down off the steps and approached me. Every step was an effort for her aged body. So I appreciated the time she was taking to chat with me.

"Son, it's this way. My Mother taught me that every day is new. So new in fact it is nothing like yesterday and certainly no way near what tomorrow will be. So she wanted her children to head into each new day clean and fresh like the day itself. There is nothing in the world like clothes that have hung in the sunshine."

"Not even clothes that smell "fresh as all outdoors", with a little Bounce in the dryer?" I asked.

"No that makes them fake. Not real, like the world is." Then she paused for a moment and slowly turned toward the sun.

"People can be fake. They put on clothing with some one else's name on it. They splash on perfume that makes them smell like someone else. They wear shoes that make them look taller. It's all fake. That sun up there is pure light. You can't hide in the sunshine. People who hide things tuck 'em in the darkness where they think others can't see. When I hang my clothes in the sunshine I'm welcoming the light. I'm saying "Look world here I am!"

Then turning toward her clothesline she started to laugh. "Heck, they can even see my underwear! Now that's being open."

I couldn't help but laugh right along with her. She had one of those sweet,lady-like laughs that revealed her gentle manor and well rooted up-bringing.

"I believe you are right," I said.

"I know I am, son. If we would all stop trying to be someone else the world would be better off."

"Thanks for the life lesson." I said.

"You are welcome. I must get back to my laundry before my Tommy Hilfiger jeans start to wrinkle," she said. Then she really started to laugh as she walked back up the steps to continue her work.

As I walked around the corner another sound triggered memories in my mind.

The sound of laughter. Memories of the good old days.

~ Bob Perks ~

[ by: Bob Perks Copyright © 2008 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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