(2) Strike While the Iron is Hot
The black irons sat cold in their wire cradle. Why couldn’t we put them on the stove, I wondered aloud. Because it’s time to fix supper. There were some excuses about not wasting the wood that I really didn’t understand. Finally, when the wash water went on the stove, so did the irons. I was so excited. While they warmed, I had to make a portion of starch water. After adjusting the wooden ironing board to a height I could reach, I laid the pieces of pre-cut Sue on a flannel covered towel. I was ready. However, Granny said there was a lot to do before we could start ironing.
What now!? Sue needed to be sponged with water, the edges rolled and pinned. Whattttt? I didn’t remember seeing any of that being done. No, I usually went out to play when the ironing was being done in the morning, or asleep when they ironed at night. So began lesson two of Sunbonnet Sue. Curling the edges of the fabric with my fingers and a butter knife and pressing the edges with a desert spoon, then pinning the turns so they didn’t come undone. I tried to hide the yawns. The sun was low in the sky. I was really ready to crawl into bed and read my self to sleep. However, I had hot irons waiting.
I stirred the cornstarch water with my finger and rubbed the folded edges of the pinned pieces. After positioning the pieces close to each other on the ironing board, I got my first iron. Grandmothers frail hand covered mine as we placed the iron on the corner of the ironing board, counted to five, then lifted it. We felt the spot where it had sat. “Just right,” she said. “Almost too hot to touch, but not hot enough to burn.” The iron moved to the collection of gingham prints. “Press down. Only down. Lift and move the iron. Press down again. Don’t wiggle, and don’t wait too long before lifting the iron,” advised my wise grandmother. “1,2,3,4,5," I said hurriedly, then tried to lift the iron. Her hand remained firm over mine, holding for “3, 4, 5." Then we looked. “Move the iron to the damp spots, and press again.” And so we did. When everything looked dry, my grandmother advised that we put the pieces a safe place where the cat wouldn’t bother them until morning.
. . . to be continued, next Monday