Terry surveyed the trees in the backyard and pondered, ''Between which two trunks should we string a clothesline?''
Clothesline? Didn't those relics go the way of TV antennae, coal furnaces and kids playing outdoors without wires sprouting from their ears?
I thought clotheslines had been outlawed on account of how they create too much excitement, what with the whole squirrel-in-the-shorts affair. I still don't see why we boys got the blame when it was an adult who lugged the laundry basket with the hidden passenger into the house. But more on that fiasco later.
Clotheslines used to be strung at every home. Home economists touted the freshness of sun-dried clothing. Neighbors chatted over sheets, shirts and flannel nightgowns. Kids swiped an endless supply of wooden clothespins to clip onto their noses, poke in their spokes and to snap onto the ears of a sneaked-up-upon little sister.
Those white ropes strung between poles and posts taught you helpful facts about the people next door. If their clothes flapped in the wind, you knew the neighbors were in the habit of wearing clean jeans and laundered T-shirts. That was comforting, especially if they invited you over. There weren't many air conditioners nor automated air fresheners in those days.
And it was hard to tremble - in fear, anyway - when that cranky neighbor threw another tantrum about bikes too close to his front lawn when you knew that at that very moment, he likely was wearing his Bullwinkle the Moose boxers.
Eventually, electric clothes dryers and homeowners associations pretty much unknotted the lines.
It took a lot less work to jam that wet mess into a dryer and push a button than to haul everything out to the backyard in a bulging basket and pin the contents along a rope line on which birds had just perched.
In many developments, homeowners associations outlawed clotheslines for aesthetic purposes. Seeing sheets and hankees in a store, no problem; seeing sheets and hankees billowing next door, eeeww!
The clotheslines of my youth faded into the sunset, the way of abandoned front porches. People used to congregate on front porches, reading newspapers, chatting with passers-by and watching storms wash the sidewalks. That was before the Internet, video games and satellite TV.
Clotheslines, at least, seem to be making a comeback. The ''go green'' people tell us that dryers account for 6 percent of all electricity used in U.S. households. Several states passed laws prohibiting homeowners associations from prohibiting clotheslines.
So string 'em up if you got 'em, and throw your linens to the wind.
As for the cautionary tale about the squirrel in the shorts, acorn basketball, and flying cats and dogs, I'm out of room, so come back next week after you've hung out your laundry, sit a spell on my front porch, and Uncle Burtie will tell you all about it.
And remember, you're not airing your dirty laundry. It's clean - and also green if the clothespin slips and your white shirt takes a tumble across the grass.
---- In college, he just aired out his dirty T-shirts on backs of chairs for a week and called it dry cleaning. Write Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.