I have this very sweet friend named Mary Hazen. She's a longtime Warren gal.
When we worked together some years ago, we discovered we had many shared ideas, beliefs, and life views. We became quite close and continue to be, albeit mainly through e-mail and Facebook messages these days.
Mary told me that she recently received an e-mail forward about drying clothes on an outdoor clothesline (remember those?), which left her nostalgic for simpler times.
The piece offered directions on precisely how to dry wet clothes by hanging them across a tightly strung rope (usually situated between two or more poles in the backyard). Tips that included such nuggets as:
l "Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so as to be able to hide your 'unmentionables' in the middle. Don't want busybodies passing by to see anything they shouldn't!"
Hmm. Well, that does seem to contain at least a modicum of logic.
l "It doesn't matter if the temperature is below zero ... clothes will 'freeze-dry.'"
Yikes! Don't want to be the unfortunate soul putting on frozen unmentionables.
l "Be sure to get clothes off of the line before dinner time, and have them neatly folded in the clothes basket and ready for ironing."
Who the heck has time to make dinner after all that meticulous hanging? Oh, and what is this "ironing" of which they speak?
As evidenced by my editorial comments below each tip, the whole process of hanging clothes on an outside rope makes my head spin as if it was in the dryer on the highest cycle.
But for Mary, it cued her mind's eye to a very happy time in her childhood. "It brought back memories of my sweet little Italian grandma," she said.
Mary continued, "I used to help her pull her wash through the ringer, and of course, the best part of the day was when I stood on a chair she was holding so that I could hand her clothespins while she hung the laundry on the clothesline."
I had to chuckle when I envisioned my son Kyle's response if I'd ever ask him to perform such a task.
And then I thought about the sights and sounds that make me wistful for a bygone day - a time when my biggest worry was whether to wear a white or blue blouse under my Catholic school uniform; a day when there were only three TV channels from which to choose; an era when 11-year-olds didn't ask their parents if they could go out on "dates" with their "girlfriends."
Oops, sorry, that last one's fodder for another Sunday's column but, believe me, people, we'll be discussing it.
In any event, I realized that, for me, it's train whistles.
In much the same way a random sighting of clothes drying on an outside line reminds Mary of her wonderful Nonna, so does the far off "woooooo" of a railway shrill transport me back to a happy game of Yahtzee! around my Grammy's kitchen table on a summer night at her home in Ashtabula.
But, the real joy was spending time playing games with my family: laughing, bonding, and sharing. Indeed, the train whistles -now heard much more infrequently than when I was a kid - they get me every time.
Yep, I'm thinking I'm going to sit my boys down at the kitchen table tonight and pull out the Yahtzee! - and maybe even a Dorito or two.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.