Clotheslined

As a child just as now, I lived in the country. Now I can see the neighbor’s homes from out house although the nearest is just under half a mile away. On the farm we lived on a wooded road where we could not see any other houses albeit the William’s house on a hill on the other side of the block. It was a secluded peaceful place to have a farm.Our lawn, just like all the other neighbor’s was large and spacious.

When I was a little girl my mother had several places to hang laundry. We had small clotheslines on our porch, later there was a 3 stringer in the back of the house running from the house to the shed. The one I remember most was the really long one in the front of the house that ran from farm strength eye screws stretching from the house out to the cottonwood tree and back again. Dad kept it taut and it was able to hold up the lines full of sheets, overalls, aprons, pillowcases, blankets and anything else my mother would dlip to it.

The neighbor would drive past on his tractor when bailing hay and stop and tell her, “Ruthie, you are either the cleanest family I know or the dirtiest. I never saw so much laundry!” If you know my mom then you would know that we were both.

On afternoons when there were breaks in chores, the neighborhood boys would come over and play football on our lawn in front of the barn. My brothers are older than I am. Jack is 11 years older and Chuck is 6 years older. When the boys came over I was to stay out of the way. The boys came on bikes and to my delight they also came on ponies. That is because sometimes two of the boys, Gary and Kenny, would bring their little sister, Terry. There weren’t very many children in the neighborhood that lived close to us that were girls my age. Although Terry is a few years younger she made the perfect friend to distract me and get me out of the hair of the big boys. I am pretty sure that her mother sent her over for the same.

Gary and Kenny came over on Shetland ponies with Terry doubled up with one of them. Sometimes they came over with one pony or one kid and no sister. This time I had hit the jackpot! This also meant that Terry and I could ride around the yard on the ponies while the boys played.

Terry was brought up with horses like my brother Jack. I was not encouraged to go by any horse Jack had or ride his horse. I was told that any horse he had was temperamental and to just stay away. So, when Terry came over with these little beauties I felt and my mom felt it was a safer version for me to ride alone.

I was so happy to have a mate to play with and you can imagine how fun it was to have something fun to do. Our main idea that day was to trot and gallop around the perimeter of the house in an ever increasing speed. The clothesline was just part of the obstacle that made me think we were daredevils. First we went between the lilac bush and the house, then could we go between the pine and the lilac bush and get the curve around the back of the house and race past the lp tank in the yard?

The clothesline was always part of the obstacle and we didn’t think about it much as it was just something we had to duck to clear before we got the the lilac bush. Terry was in front of me and easily ducked under the clothesline. Suddenly I must have been distracted by a hoot from the older boys on a touchdown and I forgot to duck. The clothesline caught me under the chin and swept me back while the pony raced on. I landed with a thump and remember not being about to breathe. I remember that when I got it together I called out for Chuck although Terry might have beat me to it. The boys came running, my mom came out of the house and as you might expect, had to get back on the horse. That is what you do when you are knocked down.

I got to see Terry last night and that experience now makes us both laugh, smile and know that we come from part of the same world. Nice. Really nice.

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