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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2014

Does anyone out there still iron?

Apr 03, 2013

By MARY ZACHMEYER

Does anyone iron out there in humanland anymore? When I told my daughter that I was writing an article on ironing, she suggested I had better describe what an iron looks like! It’s hard to believe that anyone out there does not know what an iron looks like.

My grandmother ironed and so do I. Thus, it’s her fault! The 1940s were before polyester, so almost everything was cotton. Grandmother took great German pride in her washing and ironing. I watched her for hours. She seemed to love it, so I wanted it, too.

The washing alone in those days would do me in today. I’d have to see a chiropractor weekly in order to survive the lifting of the huge tub of boiling water from burner to wash tub. She stirred the washing items with an old broom handle. Then lifted the items, steaming hot to the mouth of the wringer. She had to use her hands to turn the crank, lifting each dripping swag of sheet and workpants. It’s no wonder, she took pride in her ironing. I can still see her hands, red as the beets she canned!

On Tuesdays, she heated her iron on some sort of hotplate on the stove. She waxed its bottom with a cloth-wrapped bag of wax. She did both of these often. Her ironing board was so well-padded, I used to think I could sleep on it. It had no legs, so she laid it between kitchen table and flour-bin table. (Boy, I wish I had that table now. How I loved watching her grab a handful of flour from the tin-lined bin and tossing the flour on the built-in bread board as she made noodles or pie crust or S-cookies.)

Anyway, not only did she get her washing out on the line before the sun came up over the Mississippi and the neighbors were still snoring in bed, but she dampened down each piece and let it sit until the moisture was evenly distributed. She used starch every week on some things. Slowly she ironed every row of lace, every bow, every handkerchief, pillowcase, and apron. After a family dinner, she’d always have a stack of napkins to iron. For tablecloths, she spread a sheet on the kitchen floor first and then ironed.

Me? Yes, I iron weekly, but only because I can’t wear polyester. When we lived in Germany, I watched all four hours of “Gone with the Wind” to make me iron. When we moved back to the States, I rented movies in order to get through a stack of ironing. I no longer dampen everything. Spray starch has been a God-send. My husband told me once that I didn’t need to iron his shirts. But I always did because I thought he deserved the best I could give him.

So, until next time, iron something special for someone special. mlzachmeyer@hotmail.com

 

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