Mr Lance Hill invented the Hills Hoist for hanging washing on.
It is an iconic part of the great Australian backyard.
As I was hanging out my washing on my original “heritage listed” (I miss you Max Fatchen) falling-apart galvanised monstrosity this morning, I thought about some other uses for the dinky-di Hills Hoist from when I was a kid.
1. Well I will have to start with the obvious. I don’t think there would be anyone alive of my generation who did not get their bum smacked for swinging on the clothesline. Whenever Mum wasn’t looking we would be spinning each other around until we were so dizzy we couldn’t walk straight. We would then be called out to explain why the clothesline was all wonky and tilted at a funny angle or how the wires came to be all saggy and stretched. Sometimes mum would wonder how the towels got all muddy-we always blamed the dog.…
2. Being the centrepiece of the backyard the clothesline was always excellent for chucking a tarp or a sheet over so we could set up our little paddling pool underneath. For us it was the only patch of shade available on a hot summer’s day and we would splash about in the few inches of lukewarm water which would become an increasingly thick soup of bits of grass and dirt and piddle as the day progressed.
3. Before gym equipment we had the clothesline. In the days when kids actually had muscles in their arms we used to hold neighbourhood competitions to see who could do the most chin-ups or who could hang the longest. If you were the winner you are allowed to give the loser a Chinese burn. (Do kids still give Chinese burns….and am I even allowed to say that these days??)
4. Hills Hoists are a great place to hang your rabbits when you skin them. When I was a kid we ate a lot of rabbit. My brother and I used to hunt them and sell them to the butcher. Then we used to dry and sell the skins. When I think about it we used to actually hang quite a few dead things on our clothesline-but I will spare you the details-gross hey?
5. Clothes lines are a great place to hang art works while they dry. I still quite often spray paint things on my clothesline (though I wouldn’t recommend hanging your car on there 🙂 ) Our clothesline saw everything from tie-dyeing to macrame wall hangings to plaited belts (and yes, I am a child of the 70s- peace baby!)
My Hills Hoist is broken, held together with a couple of pieces of rope and strategically placed wire. I went into the hardware store and checked out the new models-all lightweight and compact and functional-but, in the end, I just couldn’t do it. My dodgy old clothesline is as much part of my backyard as the rainwater tank and the geraniums so I guess it’s not going anywhere soon.
Thanks Mr Hill.
(Image: Washing Day In Venice- Telene Clarke)