Laundry spies

Is anyone out there watching the “America, the Story of Us,” series on the History channel? The first installment of the series was on last Sunday and I found it pretty interesting.

One small part of the show was about spies during the Revolutionary War. Messages were smuggled out of New York by Robert Townsend, who passed them on to another member of the Culper Ring. Eventually the smuggled information was buried in the forest, then another spy would come dig it up.

The cool part to me was how the person knew to come dig it up. He would get a message from another spy, a woman who used the drying laundry on her clothes line to signal the spy.

I’m sure it was a rather rudimentary code, but imagine the possibilities. It could be as simple as a particular blue dress on the line meant the spy had some digging to do, or maybe it was more complicated. Maybe a red blanket next to a baby bib and three socks meant the message was urgent, things could be messy and the danger was three-fold.

If Eric hadn’t taken down my clothes line, I could send messages to my neighbors this same way. A white pillowcase, a sock and two t-shirts could mean, “Linda, can I borrow a cup of milk?” Three tan towels and several pairs of jeans could mean, “Michelle, your dog pooped on my sidewalk again.”

I could even use the laundry to display invitations. A red t-shirt, white t-shirt and blue t-shirt could mean, “Hey, Eric bought some Pabst – come on by.” If I hung up all the black towels in a row (I think I have four of them) it could mean “Justine is in a really bad mood. Stay away for your own personal safety.”

The problem, of course, would be when I just wanted to hang out laundry. I could be out there clipping jeans, sheets and shirts to the line willy-nilly, only to have neighbor Sherri come rushing across the street waving a rolling pin and yelling, “I’m here to help fight the rabid rats!”

Yep, laundry can be complicated.

Oh, quick footnote. It’s almost Arbor Day. Plant a tree or feel free to hug one.