Below is an article I wrote a few years ago (originally published April 12, 2017). Why am I re-posting it? Because this memory is so precious in my mother’s mind. Once again, doing the laundry with her, she brought the story up. Each time she seems to add more and more to the story. I am not sure if it is all true or not, but if it makes her laugh and smile, that is all that matters isn’t it? I dread the time when she stops sharing all her stories of growing up in Beltsville on that little piece of ground that became Behnke Nurseries.
My mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling loves to talk about the old days growing up with her brothers on the land that is Behnke Nurseries (their home was located about where our Garden Shop is today; that field you see in the background is now our main parking lot). Oh, the stories she has to share. Some of the funniest memories are about ‘wash day.’
The other day while we were getting her laundry together to wash, she started laughing about the ‘unmentionables!‘ Now, I’ve heard about this before, but this day she was into really sharing. The story goes that when she was putting the wash out as a child, she just hung clothes as they came.
My grandmother, Rose Behnke, came outside to see how she was doing and was aghast to see all of the undies flapping in the wind. “No, no, Sonja!” she yelled (actually my grandmother NEVER yelled so I had a hard time picturing that). Mom said she started running around gathering all the undies and explained that they ALWAYS go on the inside line. Sheets and towels on the outside along with the men’s clothing. Women’s unmentionables were NEVER, EVER to be seen.
I enjoy the days spent with my mom hearing of her childhood which is ever so present in her mind. Mom and her brothers were always into something or other and I am sure my poor grandmother spent a lot of time running after them and teaching them the proper way to do things with her normal kindness and grace.
Looking at this photo of mom hanging the wash out back of their home makes me smile. I am sure you too have wonderful family photos. Bring them out and enjoy a trip down memory lane with the ones you love. Then go outside and hang your wash… but don’t forget to put those unmentionables behind the sheets!
by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President