Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grandmothers and Hankies and Irons

My ironing board happens to be locted in a wall in my laundry room which makes ironing lessons rather difficult. This set-up worked just fine.

When I was a little girl my grandmother taught me how to iron. Actually, come to think of it, both of my grandmothers taught me to iron. I have many fond memories of spending time with my grandmothers standing next to an ironing board, watching, talking, learning, and trying.

My Grandma Meme ironed everything. And I mean everything. From sheets and pillowcases to my grandfather Ralph-E's boxer underwear. Meme had a ringer washer in her pristine basement. She only used the ringer washer for delicate things like slips, underwear and braziers. I remember standing over it learning how to wash things by hand and loved watching the rollers squeeze water out. Hey, it didn't take much to entertain me. Well, the ironing board was right next to the ringer washer. A glass pop bottle with a red rubber cap sat on the end of the board along with the iron. She would shake the pop bottle and stuff would come out and onto the item she was ironing. I didn't know it at the time, but it was starch. I'm sure this isn't true, but I wonder if Ralph-E's underwear could stand up all by themselves! Knowing Meme, who did everything perfect in the eyes of this little girl, just the right amount of starch was sprinkled to smooth out the wrinkles and make those boxers perfectly presentable to her husband...who happened to be a mailman.

Can I mention here that Ralph-E only ever kissed us with his signature Ralph-E kiss? My kids and I give one another Ralph-E kisses to this day. Wrap your lips around your teeth (you know, like someone that has no teeth), and then suck in. It makes a wonderful little popping noise. See there, now you can give someone you love a Ralph-E kiss too.

Let me digress for another second...I made a wonderful little discovery about 12 years ago as I was creating slime for my two-year old son to play with (yes, what on earth was I thinking!). The recipe called for starch as one of the ingredients. I had never bought a bottle of starch before. I'm sure I had never even used starch before. Well, when I opened the bottle and poured some into a bowl, memories came flooding back. I remember standing there in my laundry room just smelling the smell of starch. Honestly, that smell catapulted me back in time. Meme died when I was only 10.

Anyway, Meme let me iron the simple things at first. Hankies (this is when people actually used hankies) and pillowcases. I'm sure I must have burned myself at some point or another, but I honestly don't remember.

My Grandma B lived just down the little country road from where we lived. I would walk to her house as a little girl. I can remember her teaching me to iron the harder things and then giving me a little basket of items to press. To this day, because of my beautiful red headed grandmother, I can still remember the order in which to press a dress shirt.

Well, who knew that a few weeks ago as Rachel and I were spending the afternoon at Mrs. Nagy's house, Mrs. Nagy turns to Rachel and says, "I'm sure you know how to iron, right?" My little heart stopped on the spot. Rachel looked at me. I looked at her. Then I looked at Mrs. Nagy and said, "Um, no. Oh, Rachel, I'm so sorry!" Then I poured my heart out and confessed to Mrs. Nagy that I had never taught my daughter the very thing my grandmothers had so lovingly taught me. You may not believe the reason, but I can assure you it's absolutely true. I was afraid. I was afraid she'd burn her hand or her beautiful slender fingers that spend so much time on the piano keys. I didn't want my little girl suffering from an ironing catastrophe. That's how I pictured it in my mind...a third-degree burn and a trip to the hospital. I know. Honestly, what was I thinking. I apologized again and committed myself to teaching my only daughter how to iron.

A few days later, I happened to wash all of the sheets and pillowcases and found it was a perfect opportunity to teach Rachel how to iron something simple. I'm afraid to say there's no one I know that uses a hanky (it's not even in the Blogger dictionary!) these days. My family happens to be very good friends with Puffs Plus. Do you think it's a little more sanitary to throw away stuff that comes out of your nose than to carry it in your pocket? I suppose so. Sigh. It's no wonder ironing has gone by the wayside. How do you start ironing lessons if there aren't any hankies that need ironing?

By the way, Rachel loved ironing the pillowcases. I suspect she'll enjoy learning how to iron a dress shirt too. And just for the record, Caleb's going to learn how to do that too. I mean, at some point in his life, he will need a crisp dress shirt that isn't provided by his mother. Yes, I still iron dress shirts. I happen to think there's just something wonderful about a perfectly ironed shirt. My grandmothers thought so too.

Iron't you glad you stopped by today?


  1. AnonymousJune 03, 2010

    Well your favorite Auntie still uses Handkerchief's. She has so many that it would keep your daughter a week of solid ironing. No Kidding. Always kept them in her "Bosom" where she always had a little dab of perfume.
    Think she should share some of them with you? Well maybe she will!
    Oh and by the way She too learned to iron in her Grandma K's very same house as your Grandma B's house. Awww what great memories you Stir up in this ole lady. Love your Blog! El Bel

  2. I loved "this"! Took me back to childhood days. And, glad Mrs. Nagy asked that question!

  3. Hankies, mountians of hankies. I ironed them for my dad. He liked them stacked flat (like a pile of napkins) but his Sunday hankies had to be folded and the creases ironed in. . .
    Shirts, mountains of shirts. Carl's shirts. All hanging in the basement waiting to be ironed. He can usually guess when I am behind in the ironing because I mop the floor. It's pretty bad that I mop the floor to put off ironing (he can also tell because his closet is empty). Maybe Anna will like to iron. . .

  4. Ironing is one of my least favorite chores...but it does yield good results. :)