Looking up to the second floor


Purposely taking pictures of someone's laundry hanging from his upstairs window could be considered invasive. It's as if you are peeking into a place that you don't belong.


However, there is something about traveling in particular countries where this scene is a common sight.


Often tourists - I am one of them - walk up and down side streets snapping photos for different angles, colors or simply striking shots while getting a glimpse of how the locals live life.


Let's face it. Rarely do you see that in the US, and if so, it is in the countryside where people still hang out the wash in the yard in warmer weather. Yet, it's an option in most cases. With our dependency on washers and dryers, it is no longer a household chore.


Growing up, I spent many an hour hanging the laundry to dry with my mother while she made uniform arrangements of types of articles in order of size. The billowy sheets at one end. The socks at the other. She was quite precise in her organization and use of space on the clothesline. On the other hand, I often got scolded for haphazardly draping a shirt without much thought to how it would air in the breeze. Or, I wouldn't be able to fit every item on the line due to leaving too much space inbetween items. That took extra time for redoing the whole process much to my chagrin.


It was an opportunity for conversation with my mother, too. She often remarked that she thought it wrong for people to "hang their dirty laundry out for the public." That was an era of family privacy, and transparency wasn't a household word.


Later in the afternoon when mom and I went outside to take down the laundry, we looked up into the Long Island sky and watched the international planes coming in steady procession to JFK International Airport fifty miles up the coast. One or the other of us would start to unravel an imaginary story about a passenger and his exotic adventures in distant lands. I remember how I wanted to be on one of those planes, too. Chills would run up and down my spine while my cat, Scampy rubbed at my leg. That travel bug partly started early in the backyard.


Being of "old school" mentality, my mother never saw the need for a dryer. In the winter she would hang the laundry on racks in the cellar. Otherwise, you would find her in the backyard checking on her laundry. By then, she had figured out the time schedules of each airline and knew them by route. That was before computer programs giving out all that information, so I honestly don't know how she did it.


As for the cloth holder for the dozens of clothespins, I still have my mother's hanging in my utility closet, although it has not been in use for over thirty years.



In Suchitoto. El Salvador


In Socorro, Portugal

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