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January 14, 2014

Points East: Clothes hung outside were ‘freeze dried’

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I just wobbled out to the mailbox and back a few minutes ago through what was arguably the coldest rain I’ve ever felt.  It says here, the outside temperature is 33 degrees and this  is supposed to turn to snow any minute now.  As the old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Kentucky, wait 10 minutes and it’ll change for you.

My dad would have said that every drop of this rain could have been a snowball and you oughta be thankful for rain in January because at least you didn’t have to shovel it out of the way to get to the toilet. And shoveling out a path to the outhouse was pretty normal for this time of year when I was growing up there in the head of Blair Branch.

We usually did our laundry in the kitchen this time of year and often dried it in the house, as well, because it was easier to string makeshift clothes lines indoors than it was to shovel out a path under the backyard clothes lines.

We would wheel the old Maytag wringer washing machine from the back porch into the kitchen and heat wash water on the coal fired cooking range and on top of the big Warm Morning wood and coal fired heater in the back room.  

Every chair and bed stead in the house would have clothing draped over it by the time we were done and the house would smell like Oxydol and Clorox for several days thereafter. Mom liked Oxydol wash powder, this time of year, because she said it didn’t stink up the house as bad as Tide and the smell went away faster.  But if you went outside and your head got stuffy, as soon as you walked back inside those Clorox fumes would open your smeller right back up.

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