Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Permanent press

The other day I was silently admiring my husband when he came in from work because he looked as though he'd just put on a freshly ironed shirt - it was crisp and wrinkle-free - rather amazing after a day at the office. And that got me to thinking about "permanent press".

My mother used to be tied at the hip to her ironing board. Many days when I came home from school she would be there in the tv room with a pile of laundry in the basket and neatly folded piles of freshly pressed things on every piece of furniture in the room. Some of my earliest memories are of watching Saturday morning TV with my brother while Mom stood at the ironing board behind us watching "Sky King" and the rest of the morning line-up. It seemed as though the baskets of clean clothes in the laundry room were never empty as she fought the never-ending battle of the 50s homemaker.

Then in the sixties a wonderful thing happened: permanent press was invented! Suddenly shirts and dresses were "permanent press" and although they weren't totally wrinkle free, they no longer needed to be dampened and ironed with precision - a quick once-over made them look like they were just off the racks at the department store. No more did Mom need her "sprinkler" at the end of the ironing board because between the permanent press fabric and the new "steam iron", her task was suddenly slashed in half.

Today's "no-wrinkle" fabrics have allowed us to rarely use an iron at all anymore. Pants and shirts have permanent creases and our more casual lifestyle has made it possible to pull things right out of the dryer and put them on. An occasional visit to the ironing board is all that's needed to keep us looking pretty good.

I have a collection of linen tablecloths that I use when I have company and I actually find the process of sprinkling them with water and ironing them flat to be almost therapeutic. Since I don't do it often I don't mind it at all and its not the drudgery it was for my ancestors. I'm not sure my mother or grandmother would understand that. My but how times have changed!

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