Ironing: What’s that?

I’m sure that if I were to look hard, I could find my ironing board somewhere. I haven’t used it in a very long time The reason is that nowadays, when I purchase clothes, I take great care to buy only those which require little or no ironing. The most I am willing to do is ‘touch up’ a garment on top my kitchen table right before I wear it.

Years ago, my mother’s ironing board was out every Tuesday without fail. When I became old enough, she tried to teach me how to iron my father’s boxer shorts and undershirts as well as pillowcases. My attempts, however, never pleased her (on purpose, perhaps?) and so my assignment was limited to handkerchiefs, a task which was made bearable only if I listened to ‘Stella Dallas’ on the radio at the same time.

Even though I hated that job, I could stand for a long time watching my bubbie work magic with her mangle, an electric contraption designed to make ironing such things as sheets easy. She, I recall, was thrilled when a cousin who couldn’t master the technique sold it to her for a good price. She would sit in front of the machine which was equipped with two large rollers through which she would carefully maneuver slightly dampened material. Two hot metal plates would close over the material when she pressed the pedal on the floor. This removed all wrinkles or, for someone like me, added new ones. Her crisply folded sheets came out looking brand new. Her real talent, however, was ironing shirts on it - shirts which invariably looked better than what they did at the laundry.

Today, I don’t know anyone who uses a mangle or irons sheets. There aren’t too many who would even admit that they ‘touch up’ atop a table. This has convinced me that the person (probably a stay-at-home mom) who invented permanent press should, without question, be nominated for sainthood.

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