Some Thoughts on Laundry

” The pulley line extends from a hook on our building, across a courtyard, to another hook on the opposite palazzo. In order to peg out the clothes I have to lean out from our fourth floor window. The ledge is at the level of my hips; this places the central point of gravity rather lower in my body than feels secure and means that hanging out the washing, that most mindless of operations, is accompanied by a nasty fluttering in the stomach, a vicious tingling in the fingertips and a distinct sense that the distribution of weight could shift at any moment so that I will topple headlong down into the bleak little walled garden of my neighbour….”
– Polly Coles in “The Politics of Washing Real Life In Venice”


When I was growing up in the southern California of the 1950’s my mother did our washing with a wringer washer and hung the laundry out in the back yard on a series of lines that looked like they were strung between two small telephone poles. My sister and I loved playing in between the sheets and towels and nothing smelled like laundry dried in the sun.


Maybe that is why I have a fascination for the laundry lines of Venice. Here in the States where I now live we have rules and we hide our laundry. No one has a line outside and it is written into the rental agreement that you will not hang your laundry from the balcony.

My camera on every visit to Venice seeks out the colorful washing of my Venetian neighbors.




If all goes well one day I may have my own washing line in Venezia, the City of My Dreams. Or I may have one of those incredibly complicated by too many choices in Italian combination washing and drying machines.
In the meantime I grudgingly make the trek across the hall to the coin op washer and dryer that eats a roll of quarters much faster than should be humanly (or machinely) possible.


About mvaden1948

I love to travel to Venice (and probably other parts of Italy and beyond) and my camera leads me where she wants without any consideration as to whatever plans I may have. I enjoy photographing nature, my cat and anything that strikes my fancy. I have a "thing" for interesting doors and architectural details.
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9 Responses to Some Thoughts on Laundry

  1. I hope you realize your dream one day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I recall fluttering thru the drying laundry of the 50’s, and the wonderful smell of things dried in the clear fresh air. I went so far as to string a line in my back yard a few years back, but the air pollution quickly dried up that idea. P U !
    I love your photos!

  2. mvaden1948 says:

    My mother got an automatic washing machine in the late 60’s and finally got a dryer in the 70’s but hated it….the sheets just didn’t smell the same but they didn’t have those black spots from the air pollution (living near Los Angeles).
    There are still some areas where you can hang your laundry outside.

  3. Sue Merritt says:

    Each time I was in Venice, I took loads of pictures of doors, bridges and, like you, the wash.

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Ciao Sue,
      It’s not just Venice….I take pictures of laundry in other parts of the world too! It’s just I haven’t traveled to any other parts since getting the digital camera.
      One of my prized possessions is a painting….well, he wouldn’t call it an actual painting…pastels on black paper of the women in Grenada doing their laundry in the river and putting it on the rocks to dry. The artist was my downstairs neighbor and he gave it to me as a going away gift when I was leaving. If I had had a 42 x’s zoom lense back then I would have taken a picture of them but didn’t want to invade their privacy with my little pokey camera I had at the time.
      Stay warm!

  4. Pecora Nera says:

    Great photos, ๐Ÿ™‚
    We have had to raise our washing line to stop the manky cats from swinging off the bedding.

    • mvaden1948 says:

      I’ve had problems with an over zealous black lab trying to “help” me take down the laundry but cats have never been a problem….although years ago a couple of kittens loved to climb the drapes in the living room.

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