It seems that laundry was a particularly joy-inducing task in 1939, as depicted in this cute ad for Rinso soap. The neighborhood ladies are frolicking around the clothesline, while an onlooking older woman comments, “Looks like the whole town’s going wild about the NEW 1940 RINSO and the richer suds it give in our hard water”. The ecstatic clothesline-dancing women laud the fact that Rinso has longer-lasting suds, gets clothes bright and snowy white, and is easy as ever on their hands.
As corny as it seems, it probably wasn’t too far from the truth. Everyone used to hang their laundry out to dry back then, and it naturally lead to various comparisons and comments. You would literally “air your dirty laundry”. It was a source of homemaking pride to hang laundry that was as clean as possible.
I am a neighborhood (and American) anomaly as I air-dry all my laundry. But my clothesline is in the backyard – apart from prying eyes. So while I may do the occasional dance while hanging the clothes, there will be no comparisons from competitive neighbors!