January 14, 2014

Points East: Clothes hung outside were ‘freeze dried’



If there was no snow on the ground, we risked frostbite to hang the washing outside on the clothes lines.

Of course everything would freeze hard as a rock and stiff as white oak board and I suppose that’s where the term “freeze dried” originated.

My friend Roberta Webb recently told me that she got a kick out of waltzing with her brother’s frozen long johns when she was growing up there in Burdine during the 1940s.  Knowing Roberta, she probably pretended they were Fred Astaire.

I remember those things only too well. They were also called union suits, not because the Yankees had them and the Rebels went without winter underwear, but because the tops and bottoms were united into one piece, sort of like those little baby suits we call onesies these days.

Long johns buttoned from the straddle up to your Adams apple in the front and they had a one button flap in back to open when it was necessary to do so but it was really difficult to reach and you had to use both hands to fasten it.

You’ve led a very sheltered life if you’ve never had to get up in the middle of the night, fire up a carbide light, and make a trip to the outhouse in your long johns. 

Uncle Willie’s old hound, Pudge, used to stay at our house about as much as he did his own. 

One night I had to make the trip about this time of year and it was probably 2 in the morning.

About the time I got to the back porch steps, Ole Pudge sneaked up behind me and cold nosed my rear end because I’d neglected to close the back flap.  I reckon I screamed and jumped way up on the porch without touching the steps.  Whatever I did set all the dogs to barking and pretty soon everybody in the house was up to find out what had happened. 

I told them everything was OK but, if I hadn’t just come from the toilet, Ole Pudge would have been in bad need of a bath. 

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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