In the summer, spring, and autumn, it was a no brainer. I could easily figure out how the laundry would dry with weather still so fine. But in winter, when mom had to put on a coat, scarf, and rubber boots to hang the clothes, I often quipped that it seemed a useless endeavor. How could laundry dry in freezing temps, I asked her. She always said the same thing. "It will freeze, but it will dry. It was her mantra and I have lost count of how many times she always followed that up with a stern command. "If you go onto the porch for any reason, DO NOT bend the clothes or you'll break them."
I guess she thought I was stupid. I'd bent, twisted, and rolled a lot of clothes in my short life span and nothing had ever broken. And while I knew mom wasn't given to telling stories, I did think she was mistaken about frozen fabric. I eventually conjured up a whole scenario concerning why she would think such a thing and finally put it back on my grandpa, mom's dad, who loved to tease. I finally decided that it was Pa, which is what we girls called him, who had convinced my mom that frozen fabric was breakable.
I gave my upcoming experiment considerable thought. I should have done it before braving the horrendous cold in indoor clothes, but my mind hadn't matured enough to have thought through the whole endeavor in great detail. I considered reaching out and bending a whole big chunk of a sheet back onto itself. Then I stopped. What if mom was right and it did break. I'd have to confess because the evidence of tampering would be obvious and there would be no one to blame but one of us kids.
Those were the days of all cotton. The sheets were cotton as were the towels, the underwear, the socks, and all the dresses--unless you were a grown up. Mom had some pretty dresses she wore when they went dancing. They went somewhere to get clean. I wasn't exactly sure where, but they never got drug down to the basement or hung on the clotheslines. Do I know if clothes made of today's man-made fabrics will break if frozen? No, I don't. I can't test it out either, because ever since I was sixteen, I've lived at sea level in southern California. It doesn't freeze here. I mention this just in case you don't know.
My love to all of you this wonderful season from the little old lady who's decided to come clean.