Essay: Clothes Pins

Sep 20, 2019

On a bright summer morning, I walk out to the back yard and hang my towel on the line.  Then, in a moment of gratitude, I stop to consider the clothes pin.  It’s just two pieces of wood in a coil of wire—but how efficient!  How simple and elegant and endlessly useful!


In fact, we use clothes pins for all manner of tasks—not just hanging towels on the line.  The bag of chips on top of the refrigerator is resealed by a clothes pin.  The cord for my phone recharger is coiled up and help by a clothes pin.  And our kitchen junk drawer is full of clothes pins awaiting their assignments.

True, you can buy plastic clips that serve the same purpose but why not save money and embrace tradition by using old-fashioned, time-tested wooden clothes pins?  Ours have perched on the clothes line through many winters and still work perfectly.

Nothing has improved upon their simple design and I reflect upon other durable inventions:  paper clips, scissors, umbrellas, the nozzle on my hose.  Newfangled substitutes have occasionally been proposed but the originals endure.

Nowadays, when ordinary things can seem so complicated, so overwhelming and overpriced, I  go hang my towel on the line—with two wooden clothes pins and gratitude.