Iron Woman and Duck Man

Another Pioneer Friday and Bricker should keep up with the Changes. That’s why he’s now squinting.

It had to be a man who invented the iron. No woman would’ve said, let’s whack a cannon ball in half, throw it in the fireplace, then roll it over the shirts to flatten  the wrinkles. Supposedly, they’re called sad irons from an old world word meaning: “heavy as hell and half of Texas.”  But I’d guess the real reason for the name is how cruel it is to expect any woman to sling one of these across the cottons of eight family members.

I’ll admit to you, and only you, there are some things I miss about walking 2000 miles across the Oregon Trail. Nobody gave a diddle about wrinkled clothes.  You could wad up a skirt and use it as a pillow under your head, then slip it on the next day, and look like a queen to all the other dust-covered, grease-faced travelers.

It was that Patricia Woolsey who ruined it all. The first get together we had after arriving in the valley, she showed up pretty and pressed like a shiny penny. That put me back on schedule:

The Way It Works Around Here

  • Monday: Wash Day
  • Tuesday: Ironing Day
  • Wednesday: Sewing Day
  • Thursday: Work til you Drop Day
  • Friday: Cleaning Dirt out of Dirt Farm Day
  • Saturday: Bake til you drop Day
  • Sunday: Pray Bricker Strikes Gold Day

Having no portable ironing board, I covered the table with blankets and a sheet, and heated up the iron, glad I’d purchased a Mrs. Potts with wooden handle. Leave it to a woman to figure out how to keep your hand from blistering like a sausage.  Someday I’ll get one of those new box irons. The charcoal goes right inside to fire it up.

I’m embarrassed to say, even though I spit on the iron, I scorched the back of Bricker’s good shirt and a handkerchief. I guess I’m out of practice.
Usually, I save the water tinged with lavender for our eldest boy’s pillows. It keeps him from snoring. Knocks him plum out. I sprinkled a bit of scent on Bricker’s burnt shirt to cover the scorchiness, but he still goaded me about it.

If you see Bricker, just ignore his squint and black eye.  He forgot to duck. but then….he didn’t know my new iron could fly so far.

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About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
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32 Responses to Iron Woman and Duck Man

  1. The Hook says:

    That’s one angry pioneer! Great work!

    Like

  2. Dor says:

    What a great blog about change! My tribute to the old “sad” irons is to make them into wonderful antique doorstops. I glue some felt on the bottom and voila! They make great conversation pieces, are heavy enough to stop the doors from slamming, and constantly remind me of how far we’ve come baby! Now if only I could do the same with my corded Black & Decker!

    Like

  3. Partly one reason I don’t iron my shirt anymore. Wash, dry….wrinkled or not…I’m good to go! A post that’s very enjoyable , informative , fun and with loads of humor. Thank you. My iron has been hibernating for months as to when it will resurface only time and necessity can tell.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

    Like

  4. rose l says:

    Thank the Lord for permanent press clothing! I used to know someone who would iron her sheets and towels! That is a glutton for torture!!

    Like

  5. Beth says:

    I have an iron and an ironing board. I wonder why. I certainly don’t use them.

    Like

  6. winsomebella says:

    I have two old irons that belonged to my great-grandmother and use them as door stops in my mountain home. In good weather, the windows are always open and when the wind blows through the irons keep the doors from slamming shut. Now if I can discover something to repurpose to keep the dust away….

    Like

  7. souldipper says:

    Your photo reminded me of another use for those weighty little hotties. When our citified grandfather came to our country home, mother would be on edge. She put me in charge of heating the four irons on the wood stove and placing them in his bed to warm it up for him. (I couldn’t believe my ears! But I did it.) Just before he was to go to bed (in my bed that I had to give up), mother reminded me to remove the irons. I forgot one! There was a helluva yell from my bedroom. Poor ol’ grouchy granddad stubbed his toe! Well, at least he didn’t burn it!

    Like

  8. Roxie Matthews says:

    You had to iron those damp clothes in the fridge within just a day or two, or they would mildew. You could get by with ironing the pillowcases and just the top fold of the top sheet if you were pressed for time. And if you had to, you could do the front, cuffs and collar of the shirts for the man of the family, and leave the back and sleeves because they’d be wrinkled under his coat anyway. You stood the girl child on a stool and had her iron the flat things while you rested up from ironing dresses for you and the girl child till your legs gave out. Everything else was hung to dry and never mind the wrinkles. Thank GOD for polyester!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      And then…you had to wash them again…with bleach to kill the mildew or they stank like…oh wait. Drat!!
      Okay. Okay. I admit. I remember all this. And it ticks me off. Why did we iron things that no one would see? Does someone refuse to get into bed because the sheets weren’t ironed??? Fine. sleep on the floor.
      And why on earth iron something a person is going to blow their nose into, then wad in a pocket?

      Like

  9. I prefer to hang clothes outside than use the drier. And the sun bakes wrinkles into more than my face. So I iron. And in the words of one of my cats ,,,, mung, mung, mung. (say it out loud, you will know what she and I mean).

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Well, now, you live in the beautiful land down under where the sun always shines and the only thing you worry about is the gorgeous birds dropping a dollop of doo on your freshly laundered linens. Here in Oregon where we squint like bats because we see the sun so infrequently we are doomed to dryers or decorating our homes with drippy clothes. So, I’m impressed that you chose to iron.
      If you didn’t iron…would your cat say something different?

      Like

      • We do get clouds and rain I promise. Just not often enough. And bird crap after they have been stealing mulberries is set forever. The cat who said ‘mung, mung, mung’ used it to express her displeasure – dinner not ready on time, other cats allowed in house, butter removed from her grasp – that sort of thing. It was just so expressive I stole it.

        Like

  10. Val says:

    I can’t remember the last time I ironed anything. I’ve got an iron, but haven’t used it since we’ve lived here (four years and counting). Does it seem to you that I hate ironing? You’re right, I do! 😉

    Like

  11. Spectra says:

    All of this discussion of hard labor, from every commenters ‘Ironing’ stories, to your pioneer womans strict work week, makes me think I was actualy born to be a ‘kept’ woman. Someone in a nice hotel apartment somewhere, with maids and room service. Why did it take me this long to figure that out? Makes ya think morals were an invention to keep lazier women from getting out of housework.

    I rarely iron, preferring, like others, to pull those clothes out of the dryer as soon as that buzzer eats my eardrum out. But it seems all of this starching and scenting and sprinkling began only because there was no permanent press or dryers yet. One more reason to be thankful for engineers! And Capitolism. (never thought I’d hear myself say THAT!)

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Oh, Specta woman…that’s brilliant. I think I’ll name one of the Salt Lick Saloon girls after you so she can say the line about morals.
      So while we’re throwing bras, and irons through the glass ceiling, we’ll toss morals right behind them??? And let’s throw those rules about eating too much chocolate out, too.

      Like

  12. Alice Lynn says:

    Reading the comments is like meeting friends I’ve never met. 🙂 I remember my mom sprinkling clothes using a bottle with a little perforated cap that fitted in the top, like a cork in a wine bottle. Then rolling them up for ironing the next day. I’m like “latebloomer”; I set the timer so I can empty the dryer before those wrinkles and creases set in. But I’ve found that ironing can sometimes be a quiet place where I listen to my favorite CD’s or a book on tape. Thanks for the memories, you all.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Very clever Alice. My dryer sings a little song when it’s done and I think to myself…”That’s so cute. I should make up words to that.” And then I think about dryer verses and forget rescue the clothes. So my signature style is wrinkled. I think I may add heels like Elyse suggests.

      Like

  13. Margie says:

    My mom used to iron the sheets and our underwear!

    Like

  14. moma escriva says:

    You gotta have a mighty strong arm to fling that hunk o’ iron, missy! Wonder how much those sad irons cost. I can imagine the day the husband lugs one of them things home to the little woman. He better not be smiling else he’d be out a couple of teeth!

    Like

  15. I’m with latebloomer Margie; I remember the feel and smell of dipping clothes into hand-mixed starch, rolling the clothes and putting them in the basement fridge, and then sprinkling them when it was time to iron. How sleeves would be so stiff, (and stuck together) it was a challenge pushing your arm into them. Ah yes, the good old days. NOT! I still iron, but it’s a breeze compared to the days when we ironed just about every blooming piece of laundry.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Susan, I’d forgotten about that creepy feeling…like trying to slide your arm down a snake’s gullet. Er…I mean…no…I think this ironing event also occurred before I was conceived.

      But when you think about it, when we we tried to crack the “glass ceiling” , why didn’t we toss irons instead of burning bras?

      Like

  16. Elyse says:

    Ooh I do hate to iron, and you are absolutely right — an iron is the instrument of the devil made by man. I add that to the list of other tortures invented by men to keep women subjugated — high heels are tops on that list.

    Enjoyed your post — but I am confused. You mean I can’t ball up a skirt, use it as a pillow and wear it the next day to work? Damn!

    Like

  17. Throughout our travels as dad worked with the space industry, our family carried around an ironing board…el burro…from home to home. It started its journeys in Mexico crafted by a carpenter named Don Francisco. He could build anything and so my mother … Washingtonian … that she was insisted on an ironing board, not the table padded with towels and sheets other Mexican households had. He built it and gave it, its name “el burro” for the ‘back breaking’ work it took to set it up, do its job and put it back up again.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Did you inherit the burro? Better yet…did you inherit your mother’s love of ironing? Hokey smokes. She had the perfect excuse not to iron, and she had an ironing board custom made? Truly, she’s an ironing queen.

      Like

  18. Jeez, you wild west woman you. Love the photo! I would subscribe again, but that that would be redundant. I will tell you this though… I get stuff out of the dryer quicker than a chipmunk stealing a nut so I don’t have to iron. I remember my Mom keeping washed clothes in a big bag, sprinkled with water so they stay damp, inside an extra fridge in the basement, until she had time to iron. Remember the little topper that could be put into the top of of coke bottle to do that? Margie

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Uh….no Margie. I’m not falling into that trap. If I tell you I remember that little sprinkler top I couldn’t play like it was before my time. So…I’m going with the line ” Coke came in glass bottles?” Wow!!!

      Like

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