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Airing The Clean Linen—Linda Dini Jenkins Pins Her Hopes

Airing The Clean Linen — Linda Dini Jenkins Pins Her Hopes

A few years ago, my friend Vicky and I invited some Italian friends to come to the States to do a few authentic Italian cooking demonstrations. They were wildly successful, and people still talk about them.

After the week of classes, we decided to walk them around our historic Salem, Massachusetts neighborhood. They were amused by the fact that these buildings we were­ calling old — dating as far back as 1660 — were practically new housing stock where they come from (our house in Abruzzo dates back more than 1,000 years). They noticed other things as well, but the thing that literally stopped them in their tracks was the absence of laundry hanging out the windows.

My head reeled with the thought of these once-Brahmin Yankees flinging their wet sheets out of the second story windows of their brick mansions. Unthinkable. It was likely not on to even admit that there was anything resembling dirt” in their lives. And yet … that’s exactly what we do when we’re in Italy.

The t‑shirts hang next to the underpants which hang next to the socks … the clothes-pinned dress shirts billow out by the jeans, which are next to the pillow cases. Our nod to modernity is to take the sheets and big towels across the street to the lavanderia (laundromat) to dry. 

Electricity is expensive in Italy, and most homes do not have clothes dryers. But the combination of wind and solar power does the trick every time, and the laundry smells great, besides. While it will never make a comeback on tony Chestnut Street (the servants no doubt once hung the household laundry in the backyards, out of sight of prying eyes), it is something I wish we would see more of here. Everything comes out better in the sunshine.