“The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.”

Today has sun and a blue sky, but it is cold at 29˚. The high will only be 33˚. I’m thinking of going to the dump, but the dump is cold and unbelievably windy even when the rest of the world has no wind. I brought out a couple of bags of trash and put them in the trunk this morning, but that means nothing. My laundry basket can sit for days by the cellar door. I am so very wonderful at procrastinating when I have chores I’m not so fond of doing.

When I was a kid, my mother had a washing machine with a wringer. It was in the cellar next to the sink connected to a faucet. I used to watch her feed clothes into the wringer and catch them on the backside. I knew a kid who had gotten his arm caught in a wringer. His arm was sort of flat in one spot and wrinkled. I wondered how his arm got caught, but I never asked.

We didn’t have a clothes dryer until we moved to the cape. My mother hung her clothes on the clotheslines in the backyard. We lived in a duplex among a sea of duplexes. Each house had a tarred section in the back with six clothes lines, three for each side of the house. My mother had to haul her laundry basket out of the cellar and up the outside cellar stairs to the yard then hang the clothes on the lines. I remember she hung shirts from their bottom hem lines. Their sleeves hung down and sometimes the wind would take them. They did a dance worthy of a Disney cartoon set to music and looked eerie at Halloween. When it started to rain, my mother would make a mad dash to the yard to take down the dry clothes. My favorite laundry time was in the winter. If it got cold enough, the clothes froze. They were stiff. When my mother took them down, she couldn’t fold those clothes. She had to layer them in the basket.

I don’t know anyone who hangs out their clothes though I did when I first moved into my house. I couldn’t afford a dryer. Most of the clothes were wrinkled when I took them down so I had to iron the shirts and dresses. I still have that iron. It is nearly 45 years old, but it still works. That might give you an idea of how much I ironed.

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6 Comments on ““The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.””

  1. hedley Says:

    Hanging the washing out to dry was very much part of growing up. Two metal poles had been installed to string the line. the rope was kept taut and elevated by a wooden fork and the clothes were attached by pegs. As soon as the rain arrived, it was action stations to bring it all back in and wait for the next break

    All that was revolutionized in the 60s by the single pole, 4 sided Hills Hoist. A single mount held it and it would rotate in the wind to accelerate drying. My Mother liked it so much that she brought it to America,

    I think we had a single tub washing machine and a mangle to remove the water before it headed outside.

    I iron on the weekend . I am slow and methodical. Mrs MDH questions why I want to iron T shirts, and I have tired ot explaining since I really have no good answer.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      My mother’s lines were strung between two metal poles. There was no wooden fork, but I have seen them in pictures. The line was easy to pull tighter from the pole. When we got home from school, the clothes were usually on the line. We did help when rain came.

      I remember seeing lots of lines in a circle around a single post which turned but I never saw too many. I don’t think they were very popular. We lived in a straight clothes line neighborhood.

      I remember The Mangler, a Stephen King short story. That machine was a killer. It was also the only time I ever heard of a mangle.

      My mother used to iron my father’s handkerchiefs. He brought his shirts to the Chinese laundry.

  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful 71° outside.

    I have never done laundry because I tried it once and it turned out to be a disaster. No one ever told me you had to separate the colored things from the white ones. Or which things get washed in hot water and which in cold water. I just threw them all in at the same time. After ruining several pairs of underwear and formerly white shirts, they became pink from a red shirt mixed in with the load. I decided then and there to take my cloths to the laundromat which had a bundle service and pay a few dollars to have someone do it correctly. And, I took my shirts, jackets and trousers to the cleaners. One item on my list for a spouse was laundry skills. 🙂

    My mother had the upgraded version of your mother’s washer, it had a spin dry cycle and two hoses, one for the water to go in from the kitchen faucet and the other to the drain the water into the kitchen sink. It didn’t have a wringer. When we lived in Brooklyn she hung the cloths out on a line from the kitchen window with a pulley so she could hang them out to dry on the line over the alleyway between the apartment buildings. When we moved to Dallas the apartments had a backyard with cloths lines strung between metal ‘T’ shaped poles. When my parents bought a house we had a laundry room off the kitchen that had both a front loader washer and an electric dryer.

    Both my mother and my aunt ironed everything including sheets and pillowcases. I don’t think we own an iron any longer. Everything nowadays is wash and wear. I always thought that technology would save me from ignorance. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Well, it stayed cold today and will be cold until Tuesday when warmth creeps in. It could reach 60˚ on Thursday and Friday then a little rain.

      I don’t separate, haven’t for years. I used to do whites in hot and the rest in cold. Now I just throw them together. Nothing runs. I stopped using bleach so a few of my whites are dingy but nobody sees them. I used to do laundry every Sunday and iron in the afternoon. That was a long time ago. The only stuff I brought to be dry-cleaned are the clothes which said dry clean only.

      I remember seeing those pulleys between buildings. Lots of pulleys with laundry hanging made for great pictures. May mother got a new washer and dryer when we moved to the cape. The washer was, in the new house, in a corner of the kitchen. The dryer was in the half cellar. There were lines in the backyard.

      My mother ironed everything also. I remember her stack of laundry in the basket waiting to be ironing.

  3. Rowen Says:

    I enjoyed your laundromat set greatly. A little of everything.

    I’ve always sort of liked laundromats.

    • katry Says:

      Thanks!! That was a fun search.

      When I first moved into my house, I had a washing machine but no dryer. I didn’t hang out the clothes because of the pine trees and my allergies. I went to the laundromat. That was the only time I ever did. I brought a book and sat in the warmth near the dryers. The sounds were almost soothing.


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