Ironing in the Good Old Days

This old iron would have been what Gail’s mother, Ruth McGhee, used to press the family clothes in the early 1900s. Even when electric irons came into use, she didn’t get one for a long time. They didn’t get electricity as soon as people in the towns did.

old iron

Photo by Virginia Allain

In the oil camps in the Kansas Flint Hills, they were still using oil lamps in the 1920s. The company housing for the oil workers was too far out in the hills for luxuries like electricity.

Consequently Ruth ironed her clothes with heavy irons like this. They were heated on the surface of the wood cook stove and then pressed against the clothes to remove wrinkles. You would have one getting hot, while you used the other one.

Irons Heating on Stove Greeting Card
Irons Heating on Stove 

You still see these around, but people tend to use them for bookends or for doorstops now. I sure wouldn’t want to iron with one.

Eventually the electric iron became available and simplified the ironing chores of housewives.

One thought on “Ironing in the Good Old Days

  1. Of course, we had moved on to electric irons by the time we were kids in the 1950s and 1960s–no steam irons, though; just a coke bottle of water with a sprinkler top. Even then it was a huge chore for Mom, with a family of 8 to deal with. It was a lot of fun to be “Mother’s Little Helper” when she started us out on handkerchiefs (yes, we still used those!) and then pillow cases. But when we got old enough to iron shirts, pants, blouses and dresses, it was work.


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