Family, Latino culture

A to Z Challenge: S and T are for Sábanas y Toallas

photo by Igor Ovsyannykov for

This is the last week of the A to Z challenge, which presented me with (you know the answer)-


I’ve never blogged every day; at the most twice a week and lately twice a month. This endeavor tested my commitment and discipline which were good things.

Every once and a while test yourself, commit to something new, dare yourself to try what you haven’t tried before.

Now on to the letter S and T.

The words that begin with the letters S and T which I’m most familiar with are sábanas and toallas.

These words mean bedsheets and towels.

During my childhood we were poor. Living in the housing projects poor, state government food poor, no dryer poor. We hung clothes on the rope clothesline in our asphalt backyard.

My job was to hang the sábanas and the toallas. They were the large items and with a little struggle, I could throw them on the clothesline.

The smell of bleach and detergent hovered in the air around me as I made my way down the lines.

Mom came behind me, taking wood clothespins out of her blue gingham apron pocket, and pinned the sheets and towels.

Old fashioned wood clothespins. Photo by Nong Vang for

I’d sit on the porch watching the white sábanas and colorful toallas sway in the breeze, feeling important because I helped my mom. I wondered when I’d grow tall enough to hang and pin the clothes myself.

By the time I turned nine, I could reach the clothesline. Hanging wet blouses, heavy jeans, and the families underwear (except Mom’s, who hung them in the shower during the night) was no longer a desire but a chore.

At that point, my daydreams switched to Mom buying a clothes dryer.



7 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: S and T are for Sábanas y Toallas”

  1. We washed the sabanas yesterday, but there wasn’t room for the toallas. (Sorry–no accent marks. I’m sure there’s a way but I lack the commitment.) Dryers are relatively rare in Britain, damp country that it is. I don’t have any statistics, but I’m betting most people either hang their clothes outside, running out frantically to grab them if it rains or sending whoever’s home to do it–or letting them get wet–or else hang them inside. There are multiple gizmos for sale that help a person hang clothes indoors. When we first moved here, we lived in a small place and hung everything over a railing. If a friend stopped by, we all willfully ignored the drying underwear.


    1. Oh my goodness, you always make me laugh. Hanging underwear in the house brings back memories of my little brother parading around with Mom’s bra on his head, tied like a bonnet. 🙂


  2. Looks like you were up for the challenge!

    I don’t remember living in a house without a dryer. But I remember my aunts and great-aunts telling stories about hanging clothes on lines. There’s even a family story about washing clothes outside in a tub over a fire — something about the fire getting out of hand.


  3. as a child my job was to get the wooden pegs out of the peg box and hand them to mum. she had a hills hoist in the backyard. nowadays I throw clothes over a line on the verandah or a line down in the garden depending on sun and the time of year. in winter I have a clothes horse near the fire for drying. I have never had a drier.
    like you I have found this everyday business very challenging – and yet I have met so many amazing writers and travelled into all different realms so it has been a very rich experience – that and making me write everyday – discipline very good for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by for a visit. You’re so right, this challenge has given me the benefit of reading about different experiences, cultures, and languages. That, in itself, is the gift.
      (I’m on my way to visit your blog now).


  4. I didn’t grow up rich either and although my mom had a washing machine when I was still fairly young we hung all our clothing, including sábanas and toallas, outside. I loved the smell that rose from them but less the dryness after a long day in the sun. As a fun anecdote, we kept an old goat in the large backyard (she was left behind by the previous tenants) and she adored munching on our sábanas and toallas.


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