Image Source: Ray K. Metzker
She had the most marvelous whistle, an’ it exploded through the courtyard every Monday. Mondays were wash days in our building, see? So every Monday she’d be at the window, dragging her whites out to hang dry an’ whistling to beat the band.
Mostly she whistled tunes from them great old orchestras: Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra, all like that. “Little Brown Jug” an’ “Pennsylvania 6-500” an’ them. Her whistle would bounce against the walls of the courtyard, almost, but not quite, drowning out the squeak of the pulley on her laundry line. Got to be so I could count on it every Monday.
Well, I’ll tell you somethin’, I don’t know nothin’ about music. You put me in a room with Toscanini conducting the orchestra, an’ I wouldn’t know nothin’ about what songs they was playing or how they was all staying together or nothin’ like that. But that crazy whistle? It was like the most beau-tee-ful music you ever did hear. It sounded like the birds chirping an’ the sun shining an’…well, like everything good in life. I don’t know how she done it, but she made every Monday like the greatest day of your life just by whistling.
She was in the building behind ours, an’ I don’t know that I ever saw her on the street. I seen her in her window once, an’ it surprised the hell out of me, ‘cause she looked like an’ old maid! She had her hair pulled back in a tight bun, an’ she had on them iron-frame glasses like old ladies wore. But there she was, whistling like crazy an’ making the day beau-tee-ful. Guess you can’t judge a book by its cover!
So that was what wash days were like in that building. That old maid lookin’ woman an’ her whistle became a part of it all, like the smell of coffee on the percolator an’ the sight of the super hauling the ash cans up to the sidewalk. We moved to another building, an’ I never heard that whistle again. But I still hear it in my head every Monday, an’ because of that, Mondays are still my favorite day of the week.