"We are supposed to have progressed so much over the past sixty years and yet, even in the 1950s, every semi and detached house, whether council or private property, had a good sized garden compared to the flower boxes that pass for one today.
As the eldest of seven children in a time when large families were the norm, especially in Catholic households, my mother spent a great part of her week washing, hanging out and ironing.
I now realise that the very lage gardens that the council houses had were provided for hanging out lines and lines of family washing.
Even the terraced houses in towns and cities which had a small back yard instead of a garden, hung out their washing across the cobbled street for all to see. My mother used to tell me that the poor were never afforded the modesty of the rich and that all and sundrey could hazard a guess as to what colour of undergarment the women occupants of the house wore and how threadbare they might have become.
Indeed, I am led to understand that most working class households had two sets of undergarments; one set which they daily wore and a second set that they hung out for show. Thus big bloomers of ladies would often be exchanged for knickers of the more dainty and appealing variety. As for the working class male, not all men wore underpants in the 1950s, so they were often spared of the indignity of showing their 'cloths' to neighbours.
The next time you reveal your personal underclothing to a stranger, rejoice that it's through choice and not necessity!" William Forde : July 17th, 2014.