Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ironing board hidden in basement

April 8, 2010

How many of you remember the days before permanent press?

We were married in June of 1950 and one of our wedding presents from Ada’s brother was a metal collapsible ironing board manufactured by a company named “Rid-Jid.” Ada thought that was the most unromantic gift a young bride could get but probably was the most useful. It will last forever, probably because of lack of use now with all the wonderful new materials clothing is made of.

When I think of the hours that contraption was set up in our living room next to a basket full of “dampened” rolled up clothing, covered with a heavy towel, and pretty much was a permanent fixture. Also I remember how pretty and nice the clothing looked after being freshly ironed.

Many ladies in Lansing did ironing back then to earn extra money. They were kept busy much of the time. My mom, with four little boys, wouldn’t let us out of the house to go anywhere without a clean, ironed shirt, and that was the case with everyone back then.

Back in the 800s the Vikings used heated rocks as an iron and laid their clothes on a flat piece of whalebone. Some people say this was the forerunner of the modern ironing board. But it was many centuries later in 1858 before the first ironing board was patented by W. Vandenburg in the United States. There were several Vandenburg variations with the best known being by a black American woman, Sarah Boone in 1892, who is often sited as the inventor of the modern ironing board. By the 1940s manufacturers were producing all metal collapsible ironing boards with tubular legs, and the basic design has not changed since then although they have become lighter in weight.

Later there were small ironing boards that were made especially for sleeves or small items of clothing. They were usually two feet long and six to eight inches. We had one of those and it was made by the “Magla” Company. That company is still in business and producing items that we use every day.

My wife was so happy when the days of permanent press came along. Now that heavy metal ironing board rests in the basement and never sees the light of day.

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