Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, July 8, 2018

Iron Lady

Today's ancestor?

My Mom.
Mom. All pressed and ready to go.
My mom was an ironer.
A Demon ironer.
She ironed everything.
Shirts. Pants. Dresses. Shorts. T-shirts. Socks. Pillowcases. Handkerchiefs. Sheets. Pajamas.
I kid you not.
Everything.
And when I say ‘she’, I mean her girls.
From the age of eight, I had my own little ironing pile.
Admittedly, it was the more easily ironed items. Pillow cases, handkerchiefs, and  . . . flat stuff.
But it was all mine. No other hands could – or would - touch it.
Ever.
In fact, it would still be there waiting for me, even if I’d been hiding in the barn all day.
Ahem . . .
Mom was very particular about her ironing. Everything had to be done just so. I was fortunate in that my items left very little scope for mistakes.
My sister wasn’t nearly so lucky.
I can still see my mom preparing things to iron. She would sprinkle everything with water, via a spritzer attachment atop a seven-up bottle.
Incidentally, we thought that said spritzer would be great fun in a water fight.
It wasn’t.
Moving on . . .
Then she would carefully roll the sprinkled items into a tight bundle and put them into a plastic bag.
Then put the plastic bag into the fridge.
I know.
I thought it was weird, too.
She said something about ‘keeping things moist’.
Who listened.
One by one, the items were pulled from the bag and ironed.
Then hung.
Then put away.
There was a definite process.
And one didn’t dare skip any of the steps.
Because Mom always knew.
Even if one folded up the handkerchiefs into tiny, tiny little squares.
Tiny.
Those gimlet eyes saw through everything.
Sigh.
Though most everything these days is permanent press, I still iron.
Sometimes.
Once in a while.
Okay, I admit it, the bottom of my ironing basket has never actually been seen.
There is a dress down there that's a women's size three!
It’s like an archeological dig.
I miss my Mom.

7 comments:

  1. What a fabulous post -- and memory of your mother. It reminds me of my ironing experiences in the convent - when I assisted Sr. Pauline in ironing the altar clothes -- with starch. Especially excruciating on Good Friday when she insisted EVERY single clothe and vestment needed to be freshly pressed before Easter. I have no ironing basket -- and perhaps now I realize why.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Memories of ironing - which I was never good at. My Mom at the ironing board. After she died, it was (believe it or not) my father, who had learned how to iron in his WWII military service and spared me some of the work (I still did most all of the other "womenly" work, though - which was fair, as he worked to support the two of us.) But even my Mom, as poor as we were, paid a local laundry to iron sheets and my Dad's shirts. I remember going there to get the finished items, wrapped in brown paper with a string around them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yet again, from your descriptions of all your mom did, I am struck with amazement at how much our ancestors accomplished. And in tandem, struck with acute embarrassment how little I do in comparison. I used to iron. Not anymore. Wash, dry, hang. That's it. And I haven't worn pearls since about 1995. And that was to a very fancy "do" . . . your mom puts me to shame!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My mother was not fond of ironing (and dare I say it, not good at it). I am not fond of it either. I do it though. I like the feel of ironed pillowcases for example. I never, ever iron sheets though. And was awed to learn that my partner's mother like yours, ironed everything. Including underwear.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mom did the sprinkle and roll thingie as well..hooray for steam irons. Now...I iron tablecloths and one of my hubs shirts that he can't seem to get just right (according to him). I think he just likes to see me suffer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I haven't ironed anything in years, most of my stuff gets folded straight off the washing line and put away. Back when I did iron, I always got to the bottom of the ironing basket and really don't understand how people can leave things in there, unironed, for years at a time. one of my best friends, years ago, finally got to the bottom of her basket and found a baby dress that she thought had been lost forever. The child was 9 when the size 1 dress came to light.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ironing has become a lost art and starch is a thing of the past. The world has become polyester or wrinkled.

    ReplyDelete

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