“Three Dot” Laundry

I’m just old enough to remember trying to read columns by Herb Caen, Art Hoppe and Charles McCabe in the San Francisco Chronicle.  (This is back in the day when the “Sporting Green” was actually printed on green paper.)  I was trying to move beyond the funny pages, and I was just old enough to read their columns, but not really old enough to understand what they were talking about, so that didn’t last long.

What does that have to do with raising kids you ask?  Well, in reference to the three asterisks that would separate the paragraphs in the column, I think one of those columnists (all of them?) would talk about the “three dot lounge,” and “three dot-ism,” and a laundry tip we recently heard about reminded me of those columns years ago.

The other day we had spent the day with neighbors whose three sons are friends with our two kids.  All five of them are on the same swim team, so as we were packing up at the end of the day and trying to separate their (mostly identical) sweat jackets, we noticed that our friends had put dots on the labels of their sons’ jackets.  Curious, we asked mom what the dots meant.

Well, it turns out that when she bought a piece of clothing for the oldest son, she would put one dot on the label.  When that item got handed down to the next oldest child, she would add a dot, and so on.

That made it very easy to identify which clothes belonged to whom when the clean laundry was being folded and separated – one dot for the oldest, two dots for the next oldest, and so on.  And it was also a relatively easy and unique way of finding their stuff in the piles of forgotten clothes at school.  Maybe not as effective as a good old sewn-in name label, but certainly a lot easier to update as it got handed down.

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Herb Caen probably wouldn’t have thought it worthy of his column, but we thought it was a great idea!