Laundry: Women’s Work?

Robots are taking over the world.  Well, maybe not completely, but they are doing a good job of it, according to a newspaper article I read recently.

There are robots in bars in Japan serving cocktails (I wonder if they shake or stir…?) one robot filling prescriptions in a hospital pharmacy in California (really…?)  and now, scientists from the University of Columbia have developed a robotic iron that not only does the ironing for you, but doesn’t leave any creases (but what if want a crease…?).

I wonder what my grandmother would have made of this news?

Granny and laundry go hand in hand when I think about Irene’s  Times Past challenge which she hopes ‘will give us social insights into the way the world has changed between not only generations but also between geographical location’.

For February’s prompt, Irene asks:

Prompt No 2. First memories of wash day. Was it a ritual in your house. Did you have to play a part. What kind of washing machine did you have? Was it the sole province of the women of the household? What was the style of your clothes line? Any memories of doing the laundry you care to share. I am sure that we are going to find some differences both geographically and generational with this one. Help me prove myself right or show that I am wrong by joining in.

Writing as a tail-end baby boomer growing up in a village in Surrey, England in the 1960’s and Suffolk in the 70’s, my ‘wash day’ memories take me further north to a place I visited many times as a child…

Granny loved ironing so much (or so I believed), that I nicknamed her Mrs Tiggy-Winkle (the ironing-obsessed hedgehog from the Beatrix Potter stories).  But Granny didn’t just have the latest, all singing, all dancing iron; she was also the proud owner of an ironing press.

Allowed to ‘play’ with it as a girl – supervised of course – I remember clearly the hiss of floral-scented steam as I released the handle to lift the top, only to reveal the perfectly pressed and starched article inside once the steam cleared.  It was like magic.

My grandparents lived in a large Victorian style house in Hale, Cheshire.  With its polished, wood floor of the large, open hallway, bay windows and window seats, a huge attic and endless nooks and crannies (not forgetting the beautiful summerhouse at the end of the garden), it called out for adventure.  There was even a cellar, which is where Granny did her laundry.

If doing the laundry was drudgery for her, she didn’t show it.  She taught me how to take each item of clothing out of the washing tub (no automatic washing machine for Granny until a decade or so later…) and feed it through a wooden wringer. I loved turning the handle as water squeezed out from one end into a bucket below as the flat, much drier, clothing appeared through the middle and out the other end.

Next, I helped her hang the washing with wooden pegs on the long line outside, or if raining, on an airer in the cellar.  By the 70s, she was the only one I knew who had an electric dryer, but she used it rarely since it was expensive to run. She always preferred to iron, and she ironed everything, including tea-towels and knickers.

Granny did much more than washing and ironing. Holidaying as a family on the Norfolk Broads was one of them. 1960s (c) Sherri Matthews

Granny did much more than just washing and ironing.
Holidaying as a family on the Norfolk Broads was one of them. 1960s
(c) Sherri Matthews

There was no particular wash day in my house, but it was women’s work for both my grandmother and mother, and one of my chores growing up was the dreaded ironing (not taking after  Granny in that department).

We had a rotary washing line at home which always reminded me of an upside down umbrella as a child.  When I first visited California in the late 70s, I was amazed to learn that hardly anyone hung their washing outside. Everyone had matching (and huge to me) ‘washer and dryer’ sets, something I had never heard of.  The ‘washers’ were top loading, not unlike the ones I had seen only at launderettes in England, since our washing machines were/are front loading.

Granny continued to enjoy ironing all her life, which is just as well as she always seemed to have a massive pile to get through.  Baffled by this, one-day I asked her about it,  since by then she lived alone. “Most of it’s for Frank, dear,” she laughed.  “I do all his ironing.  He’s too old to manage it himself now.” She was pushing eighty herself, and Frank, as it turned out, was younger than she.

In fact, most of the ironing belonged to friends and neighbours who could no longer manage it. She also disappeared at mealtimes with plates of food covered with foil for the ‘old folks’ who lived around the corner or in the flat above hers.   She was that kind of woman, one who inspires me still.

Although she would have been intrigued by the robot iron, I  know without a doubt that she would never have given up ironing.  Scientific or not, nobody could press a trouser crease like my Granny.

 

 

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Memoirs, Times Past Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

133 Responses to Laundry: Women’s Work?

  1. Rachel M says:

    I’m impressed by your Granny’s dedication to ironing. I hardly ever iron. I can’t even remember the last time I did any ironing. Our whole family wears crinkled clothing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. restlessjo says:

    Oh, I could have put your Granny to such good use, Sherri! It’s one of my hated tasks, although if I’ve got something like War and Peace to watch it’s tolerable (but the creases do end up in the wrong places 😦 ). I do remember that mangle, and being in dread of flattened fingers. 🙂 Have a happy weekend, sweetheart!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh goodness, I certainly WISH that I loved to tackle the ironing like your Granny! I will admit to detesting the task and sometimes going to work with a slightly rumpled shirt that I’ve “steamed” while in the shower. How special that she even did it for others- what a kind hearted woman 🙂 No laundry days in our house growing up, although my mom had shared memories of her laundry and ironing duties growing up. To this day she still irons the pillow cases for all the beds in her house! Such a fun glimpse into your past Sherri, thank you for sharing. Happy Friday my friend!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      That kind of ‘steaming’ is a great sort-cut 🙂 My mum carried on with the ironing tradition and did the same as your mum when she visited…neatly ironed pillow cases are wonderful to sleep on! I iron when I absolutely have to and despite it being a chore, I do like to see the nicely pressed pile of clothes aftewards! Thanks Heather, and I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend, hunkered down with your delicious almond cake 🙂

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  4. I am old enough to remember washing day starting with filling the copper and lighting the fire and bringing it to the boil…….. it was an all day affair back then. Thank heavens those days are over!!

    I still enjoy ironing – not so much the activity, though once in it I find it to be quite a meditative time – but more the result. There is nothing quite like getting into bed and sliding between freshly pressed sheets……. And nicely ironed clothing just feels and looks better – though I don’t iron my underwear 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Pauline, no wonder it took all day to wash clothes and no wonder you’re glad those days are over! I agree, although a chore, once zoning out and getting the job done, there is a certain satisfaction about getting the ironing done and there is something quite wonderful about slipping into freshly pressed bed linen ( no WordPress pun intended 😉 ).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jennypellett says:

    I loved this! My Nanna, who lived with us, did all our ironing. I think she felt it was her contribution to family life. I can also remember very clearly, rushing out to the garden with her to get washing in from the line during a particularly wet July. Mum was occupied elsewhere and I had Nanna to myself. A couple of days later Mum appeared again with a small bundle that was my baby sister. We also had a mangle, in the garden with a tin bucket. I felt like putting the baby through it. It wasn’t love at first sight for me. Ah, memories….😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      I think that’s exactly how my Granny felt, she did all the ironing at every family visit and took great pride in the job itself and in helping the family. Oh Jenny…I enjoy reading about your memories of you and your sister, so I’m relieved to know that the mangle wasn’t put to use in the way you imagined back then 😉 Reminds me of my Aspie D who had a doll’s house. Strangely, the baby always ended up in either the washing machine or the oven…hmmmmmm! Interesting you call it a mangle and I call it a wringer. Do you think that’s from living in the States so long? Or did I always call it a wringer? I honestly can’t remember!

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  6. Sunni Morris says:

    Oh my! I wrote a post a couple years ago on my blog about doing laundry. If anyone would like to read that, this is the link: You may have to copy and paste into your browser.
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/2013/04/doing-laundry-old-fashioned-way.html

    I grew up on a farm in the southern US. Our family wasn’t well off by any means. My mother didn’t get a washer for years and actually did laundry in a washtub with a scrub board. This was set up out behind the house on a makeshift table (plywood propped up on sawhorses.) We had an old-fashioned clothesline that we hung clothes on. I can’t imagine this and am thankful I was too young to get involved in that at the time.

    I don’t know if my mother ever got a dryer. I don’t remember one. Clothes were hung out to dry winter and summer. In the winter sometimes they would freeze on the line. Laundry was women’s work, but that’s changed today. My husband and I both do laundry in our house.

    I rarely iron anything either and certainly not sheets and things of that nature. But I remember my grandmother had an old cast-iron iron that she would heat on the stove before ironing clothes, sheets, etc. Today I have that iron in my house and use it as a bookend.

    I enjoyed this post. It brought back memories.

    Sunni

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Sunni, lovely to read your memories of wash day, thank you for sharing them, I left a comment on your post. How times have changed. Wash day was an all day chore that we of our generation can be so grateful not to have to do. My great-grandmother had a cast-iron iron, they do indeed make great antiques now 🙂 The big difference reading the comments here seems to be the hanging of washing on the line. Here in the UK even though a lot of people now have dryers, most people still hang up their washing on a line, be it a long line or a rotary dryer. Having to rush outside and bring in the washing as the rain starts to pour is a common activity! But how wonderful to bring it in with that wonderful fresh air scent on fine days. It still needs ironing though…can’t escape that!

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  7. I’m still laughing at this, Sherri.
    When my brother was 12, a friend gave him a very early windup robot that walked straight ahead until it ran into something. My mother’s reaction? “I’ll cheer when it can do washing and ironing!”
    😉
    The pictures are wonderful, especially the one of you kids by the boats with Granny on vacation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Haha!! Oh Marylin, that’s so funny, I’m laughing with you! 😀 Your dear mom would get a kick out of the news of a robotic iron…I always knew she was a woman ahead of her time! Are you sure she didn’t secretly invent it years before? 😉

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  8. My mother still used a scrub board in the late 50s and we hung laundry outside on a long clothesline. Yes, with wooden pegs as well. Mondays were laundry day at our house. My mother ironed not only sheets and pillowcases (why? o_O ) but also tea towels and underwear. I can’t recall the last time I ironed anything. I did develop an appreciation for the smell a hot iron and freshly washed clothes generated. Hmm. I can still imagine it.
    Wonderful post. Thanks for the walk back down memory lane. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      I don’t remember a scrub board in my granny’s cellar, but I’m sure she must have had one. The generational differences are fascinating aren’t they? To think that a huge part of a housewife’s day was taken up with all those household chores? I wonder though, with all our ‘time-saving’ gadgets, if we are any happier? Taking pride in our tasks whatever they are is the key, I’ve learned, and I know that Granny took great pride in ironing. Always enjoy walking down memory lane with you Tess 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤

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  9. I’ll do laundry all day long, but put an iron in my hand and I’ll run in horror. Hate it…never liked, never owned an ironing board and no longer have an iron. My solution…I don’t buy clothes that wrinkle. Kudos to your granny, Sherri! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      Haha! Something tells me you don’t like ironing then Jill?!! I don’t mind it once I get started (and I don’t do it very often, but when I do I have a huge pile.. ) and watch TV to zone out, but I do like the end results. Most goes in my dryer though…I was so happy when I finally got one of my own! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend Jill and the edits are going well. I’ll be in touch in the week… ❤

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  10. What wonderful memories Sherri. Like you I hate ironing but liking ironed clothes Roger bought me from the second hand shop an ironing press like your Granny’s. I love it. I can put the trousers in and whilst cooking the creases into them can fold the baskets of washing. In fact Roger thought I could get through it that much quicker so he bought me another so I could have two going at once (also from the second hand shop.) It didn’t work though as it just blew the fuse.
    Your Granny sounds like a marvellous person – taking in the ironing in her eighties for those that could not do it for themselves. They don’t make them like that anymore. Have always loved that holiday photo of you. I can just see you at the wringer. I used to love doing that too at my Grandma’s place.
    Thanks so much for joining in. You’ve added an additional rich layer to women’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      I loved putting those creases in trousers with Granny’s ironing press, so satisfying! Oh Irene, I had to laugh, you crack me up, I know I keep saying that! LOL – two ironing presses and the then the fuse blew? Oh dear. All that steam going on , ha!!! They are wonderful though 🙂 Ahh, yes, I have used that photo before as you well know, one of my favourites too. I don’t have any Granny ironing ones, but I thought it would be nice to include this one again. My Granny was indeed very special, I miss her still (she lived to 94 so I can’t complain). I love sharing memories with you Irene, and so pleased to be able to get this post out in time. I’m very much looking forward to your next prompt and will be heading over shortly to read all about it and also your thoughts on the answers to your wonderful ‘wash day’ prompt. It’s got a lot of us remembering and talking about the good old days! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • It makes you very aware that we rarely take photos of the mundane and everyday and possibly it would be nice to have a record. Next time I’m ironing I will get Roger to take a photograph. So glad you had many happy memories generated by wash day. The British, it would seem, in my small sample, tended to do things the hard way yet it is seen by some as the ‘good old days.’ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Ha, yes, you’re right about that Irene! It is ironic isn’t it that with all the ironing Granny did over so many years of years of her life (she lived to 94), so far as I know, there isn’t one photo of her doing so. I would love to see a photo of you using your iron press…or two, lol 😀 Hmmmm….that is very interesting about the British and our perception of hard work and the ‘good old days’. Heading over to read all about it… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Times Past: Prompt 2 Women’s Work? | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

  12. Mabel Kwong says:

    What a nice trip down memory lane, Sherri. Very nice of you to share. I iron my knickers too, just like how your Granny does. However, I am not a fan of ironing and it is the chore that I dread the most 😀 I am also very slow when it comes to ironing, so that does not help. I would happily give all my very-wrinkled pieces of clothing to your Granny to iron 😀

    Never had a dryer at home before and always hang my washing outside to dry. Even when the weather is miserable and wet outside, I like to hang my clothes under the shade or bring them indoors to dry. Not only does it save on electricity, but I think it’s better for the environment. Hope you are well, Sherri, and your book is coming along 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Mabel, that’s great that you iron your knickers too! My Granny would have loved to have heard that 😀 I’m with you, I do love the freshly ironed pile at the end of what is a long, labourious chore, but it is one I also dread. Granny would have happily done your ironing for you, and with a smile 🙂 I love hanging washing outside too, there is something so revitalising about having all that fresh air blowing through it isn’t there? But as with you, many a time my washing has hung in the rain if I don’t get to it on time!
      The book is coming along Mabel, thank you so much for asking. I’m getting there slowly, making my way through each chaper as I rewrite the earlier ones. My blogging will be intermittent for a little while but you will know that is a good sign that my book is progressing, but I won’t be far from the summerhouse, checking in as often as I can. So long as I can keep the balance going, I’ll be happy 😀 I hope all is well with your in your beautiful neck of the woods Mabel, where I am heading right now! Thank you as always for your lovely comment and visit, always such a pleasure 🙂 ❤

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      • Mabel Kwong says:

        Take your time with the book, Sherri. Looks like you are slowly finding how you want your book to become. Creativity takes time and I am sure you are enjoying each moment of it. The sun will always shine on you and your Summerhouse ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Norah says:

    You’ve brought back memories from my childhood and showed me insights into some other customs too. My earliest memory is of a copper filled with hot sudsy water outside, at the back of the house. I think Mum used bars of Sunlight soap to scrub the clothes. She had a long wooden “stick” for stirring the laundry in the copper. She had a wooden mangle for wringing the water out of the items which were hung on long wires strung between two T-frames. The wires could be raised or lowered using a long pole as a prop.
    In my earlier years Mum had a real iron, that was heated on the wood stove. It was very heavy. She actually had two so that one could be heating while the other was in use. In my teenage years she had an electric iron (not yet steam) and I had to do my share (if I could hear her calls when I was on my bed reading! – sorry Mum). Handkerchiefs and tea towels, and almost every item of clothing needed to be ironed. I have never been good at ironing. I love the crushed look that has become popular now with new fabrics and have few shirts that need ironing. Mostly I iron when I need something to wear.
    Thanks for the memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      And I would say to you Norah, thank you for YOUR memories, I loved reading this! I remember the same, long wooden ‘stick’ to push the clothes into the hot, sudsy water, not in a copper pot but in Granny’s twin-tub washing machine, and my mother’s too. I had to stand on a stool to reach the top 🙂 The same long pole to push the long washing line up too. I remember a steam iron from very early on, and all the starches and ‘ironing waters’ Granny used. She made a profession out of it, and even though I don’t like the actual chore of ironing (like you, I too was called away from my reading/writing, darn it, ha!), I do love the end result. So fresh and clean and neatly pressed 🙂 It’s great sharing memories with you, thank you Norah! I’m so glad those days of scrubbing washing with bars of soap outside are over for us…so very fortunate 🙂

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  14. I would have loved your granny!! She sounds like the most wonderful and kind woman anyone would want to know. I love to iron even now. Ironing, dishes, all those horrid household chores are my favorite. Funny how everyone disappears when there is work to be done so I get a lot of peace. 🙂 I’ve been ironing since I was in my early teens, dishes even earlier. Cooking is the one thing I hate to do because I’m not good at it. Your granny’s kindness for her neighbors says a lot about why you turned out to be such a lovely person. Great memories for you.. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      And my Granny would have loved you too Marlene!! Haha…yes, funny how that happens isn’t it? I have the feeling your family are very happy that you enjoy all those chores so much 😉 I’ve been ironing too since I was 12 or 13. I had to figure out the best way too, since I’m left handed ha! I go through phases with cooking, enjoy it and then get bored cooking the same old thing. I have all these recipe books and still can’t decide half the time. Ahh Marlene, what a sweet, lovely thing to say ❤ You are so kind. Granny was very special, I hold her dearly in my heart and always will. Thank you so much for sharing these memories with me…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mom was and my daughter is a lefty too. We just put the board in the middle and take different sides. 🙂 Isn’t that how life goes? With the thousand books on my shelves, there are maybe a half dozen cookbooks. That should tell you everything. 🙂 My favorite thing to make for dinner or lunch is reservations or take out. :))

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  15. Annika Perry says:

    Sherri, my dear friend, this post has stayed with since I first read it yesterday.😀 Oh, your Granny was a wonderful and inspirational person, her warmth shines through, helping others all her life, providing such a reassuring and loving house. The picture you paint of wash days transports me straight into another time; it’s as if I can feel the sun glowing as you’re at the mangle, I can imagine you as a little girl, surrounded by steam as if in a movie set. And an iron press? Sounds impressive. It’s so true that in America many don’t seem to hang out the washing, even on the warmest or windiest day. Whilst there I insisted on hanging mine out, much to the chagrin of the family I was staying with – well, there was a washing line! This was such a precious post of timelessness and love and I’ll never look at ironing with boredom and resignation again. Wishing you a lovely weekend. Hugs ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…dear Annika, how lovely, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I’m beaming 😀 I’m so glad to share just the tiniest of glimpses of the kind of amazing woman my dear Granny was. There is so much else to share, but I have a burning desire to write so much about her and my earlier, family life that I think it might have to be my next book! Her life wasn’t easy at times though, far from it in fact, but the way she dealt with life’s blows with such stoicism and yes, joy and forgiveness, was quite incredible. She had a ‘quiet’ faith that she lived out in word and deed. And she had a great sense of humour too! That iron press was pretty impressive, my mother inherited it I’m pretty sure when Granny got a new one. I’ve never had one…hmmmmm…maybe I should think about it! Trouble is I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it, certainly not in the summerhouse, lol 😀 Oh I can imagine that when you were in America. I had some good friends many years ago when I first moved to California, they were very ‘back to nature’ folk, and she insisted on using a washing line. When I told here that we all used washing lines back in England, she was amazed!! I think I need to look at ironing in a different light too…and think of Granny and how much pride she took in her never-ending task! I had a good weekend, thank you, and I hope you did too, and a great week ahead my friend…March tomorrow already…how did that happen? Hugs… ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Annika Perry says:

        What a wonderful book that would make, Sherri! Give it a serious thought, eh? My grandmother sounds so similar in many ways, her faith shone through her life, never preaching, always helping others, taking joy in life and never complaining despite many traumas and losses. If I need to find more strength inside myself I just think of her and stand taller! Always helps. She’s there by my side…

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        • Sherri says:

          Oh thank you Annika! I’ve got a lot of ideas for other books (after the memoir, naturally) so I don’t share too much here because of that. Let’s see what happens down the line! Our dear grandmothers were cut from the same cloth it seems…a generation of women who inspire and fill our lives with hope, joy and love even now. What a blessing! ❤

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  16. Annecdotist says:

    Always seemed strange to me how some people enjoy ironing, even find it relaxing – I hope that WAS the case for your granny since I guess she had no choice. But it sounds like she made sharing the experience fun for you.
    As a Brit, I am amazed – actually shocked and a little repulsed – that in some communities it’s frowned upon to hang out the laundry to drive, even in the blazing sun. As someone who doesn’t get out much (!) I’m always immensely satisfied when I manage to get laundry dried outside in the depths of winter – I’m always on the lookout for the next windy day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Granny did make sharing the experience fun, and I loved ‘playing’ with her ironing press, but back at home it was definitely the dreaded chore, and still is. I leave it until the last possible moment. Oh Anne, I know what you mean, there is nothing like the smell and feel of laundry that’s hung on the line no matter the seasons. Those dry, windy days are just so perfect. And it wouldn’t be the same without the mad dash (if at home, that is) to retrieve it before the downpour. I missed that in California. I had the standard washer/dryer set in the garage (until finally, after almost twenty years, I got a house with a utility room, oh the joy…two years I had that pleasure, and then, well, you know the rest…). Here’s to those glorious outside drying days!

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  17. Luanne says:

    My next door neighbor/babysitter had the roller and I wasn’t allowed to go near it. My parents were terrified I would be pressed in it haha. Then when I went to kindergarten I stayed with my grandparents while my mom was at work. My mother also brought all our ironing to Grandma in a big plastic bag, already sprinkled with water (it was kept in the fridge). That was part of my grandma’s work along with taking care of me, doing our ironing. She didn’t act as if she minded it and I played right there at the table near her while we sang songs with the radio.
    Of course, later on, laundry and especially ironing became the biggest “stand” in women’s rights. Women were not supposed to iron men’s clothing any longer. If they wanted their shirts ironed, they needed to do it themselves. Miraculously, clothes no longer needed ironing. hahaha. Have you ever read Tillie Olsen’s short story I Stand Here Ironing? http://producer.csi.edu/cdraney/2010/278/resources/olsen_ironing.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I didn’t want to reply to your comment until I read the short story. And wow…that is a power read Luanne, thank you so much for the link. The emotion packed in there. I want to write like that! Love your memories of your time with your Grandma. They sound so happy. Like mine with my Granny. I hope I’ll be a Granny one-day 🙂 And I love your comment about women’s rights. I never thought of it that way – that was pretty amazing how suddenly no-iron shirts hit the shelves! Such great timing, LOL 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. TanGental says:

    I can’t imagine anyone ‘liking’ ironing. Ok, it can be done in front of the TV, you can feel a job well done with a neat heap but it’s a CHORE! But then I don’t understand dark chocolate and Ant and Dec and scratch cards but a lot like them so maybe it’s me. Your granny sounds wonderful, Sherri. Far better than any robot.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sue says:

    Oh, wow! This brings back memories of my grandma’s washing days, the twin-tub, the mangle…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. hbobh3415 says:

    Priceless. So well spoken. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh what a wonderful story, Sherri! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! What an incredible woman, your grandmother! I am sure she didn’t necessarily love the chore but knew it was something she needed to do and took pride in it. There’s not enough of that going around these days. Taking pride in something even if it is not a choice, instead we complain and whine and feel sorry for ourselves, don’t we? At least I do. 🙂

    My maternal grandmother was a wonderful homemaker, talented seamstress, chef and artist. She did it all and did it with pride. My paternal grandmother had the means to pay someone to do all the chores and was perfectly happy using her time to travel and teach. As for me, I am a horrible ironer! My husband is way better than me and he makes sure to remind me of this. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thank you Maria, I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Granny definitely took great pride in her tasks, something I want to remember when I grumble and complain about my meager chores compared to hers…and my mother’s too. Inspirational women, both, just like the women in your family 🙂 What different lives both your grandmothers lived, yet both took pride in the way they lived their lives. Mind you, wouldn’t it be great to have someone to do all the chores? My great-grandmother (Granny’s mother) had a maid which my mother remembers when she stayed with her for a while during the second world war. Can you imagine? The irony is that it was Granny who looked after both her mother and her aunt from their 60s on, widowed and a spinster, living to late 80’s and 90-odd respectively. And they both smoked like troopers!! Mind you, they didn’t touch an iron their entire lives. Maybe that’s the secret of long life lol! Or maybe not: Granny lived to 94 🙂

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  22. Ahhh this post brings back memories. Yes I remember our wringer washing machine and how the clothes would get stuck going through the wringer if I wasn’t paying close attention. My favourite chore was hanging the clothes out on our wire clothes line in the backyard. Why? Because adjoining our backyard was the depot where the paperboys came to pick up their bundles of papers on Saturday morning, which happened to be wash day at our house. So I would get decked out in my finest and head out to the backyard with the clothes basket. Of course while I was hanging out the clothes, I got to flirt with the paperboys. So wringer washers have a special meaning for me. Thanks Sherri for this wonderful nostalgic moment while reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Bev, I just love your ‘wash day’ memories! I’m beaming reading about you getting all decked out to impress those paperboys…no wonder wringer washers hold such great memories for you, they would for me too! Thank you for sharing, this is priceless 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I don’t remember too much about wash day in our house, except we had a twin tub to do the washing in. Ironing is my job and I hate it, so I’d be happy for a robot to take over! Loved reading about your memories though Sherri and your SuperGranny 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I remember the twin-tub too! I wonder if this ironing robot will take off…watch this space, you never know!! Haha…love that, ‘SuperGranny’. She would have laughed at that! Thanks Andrea!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Prior-01 says:

    what a special memory with granny and love the photo. I will be back later to chime in more (but of course) but wanted to say hello for now – xxooo

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Imelda says:

    What a sweet woman your Granny was, both to you and to her neighbors.

    Laundry in our neck of the woods, when I was a very young girl, was done manually. Women (for I only saw women doing the job) stooped over big wash tubs and washed clothes with their hands. When they were done, they often stood up wet, sore, and some would have scrapes on the back of fingers and wrists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Imelda, lovely to see you again 🙂 Yes, Granny was indeed a sweet and wonderful woman. That kind of laundry makes the ‘chore’ of laundry we do now seem like a walk in the park doesn’t it? So easy and no scrapes to show for it. I need to remember this next time I complain about the amount of washing piling up…

      Liked by 1 person

  26. We still hang clothes outside on rotary clotheslines here in sunny Australia!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What a magical upbringing you had! My Granny was just like that, except she didn’t have a steam press.
    When she was 80, she was visiting the “old folks” too!!
    Oh definitely woman’s work! Our menfolk would never have been caught dead doing laundry- or dishes either! Thank God my first husband was beyond his years. Our kids would have been naked, and eating off the floor if he hadn’t helped!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. My grandma could out-iron your grandma anyday! 😜 They would have been fast friends by your description. ❤️ Beautiful post.
    Interesting that washing day was women’s work. I’ll have to think on this. It’s not now but pretty sure it was when I was growing up…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…love it! They could have had an ironing contest, lol 😀 Ahh…fast friends…that’s so sweet ❤ I had to think of that too Sarah, when I look at my boys who do their own laundry even though I did it when they lived at home. The division of labour within the home has come a long way… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I used to love being allowed to turn the handle on the mangle which sat between two ‘jawboxes’ – giant enamel sinks. I still hang washing outside if it’s fine and on a pulley indoors if it’s not. In fact, I hang things on coathangers from the pulley until just about dry then put them into the dryer to finish them off – no creases. No ironing. I detest ironing out of every possible household chore. So much so that, last week, a dress I took from the wardrobe, that was slightly rumpled at the hem, was treated to a little pressing from my hair straighteners which happened to be on. And the dress was already on me! Your granny would have had a fit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      That’s the great thing about dryers. I admit, I do like hanging my washing out but I do also love having a dryer 🙂 Ironing seems to be commonly detested, or at the very best, put up with, and I never knew anyone who enjoyed it as much as my Granny. My mother reminded me after reading this post (she reads them all, lol 🙂 ) of how she used to hide all her ironing behind the sofa when Granny would visit, but the first thing Granny always did was to find it and get started! We couldn’t keep her away from it. In the end, we both used to save it up for her, she loved it so much! That’s great with the hair straighteners…Granny would have had that dress off you in a flash and straight on the ironing board, haha 😀 Thanks for your great comment scottishmomus!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. jenniferkmarsh says:

    Gosh, a ringer!! What an arm workout they are xD Aww, how terribly nostalgic though.
    The only laundry-related thing I can think of from my childhood is that I used to sit in the ironing basket. haha!
    But yes, when I went to America in 2013 I couldn’t believe the size of their washers and driers! Absolutely huge!! I think it seems an awful shame and indeed a waste to not dry clothes outside when the weather allows for it though; use nature when you can, don’t waste energy so needlessly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ironing baskets make for great boats, I remember doing the same thing as a child 😀 Those washer/dryer sets blew me away when I first laid eyes on them. I do enjoy hanging up the washing on those glorious, windy days. Even if it rains, when the sun comes back out, it dries again 😉 Gotta love our fickle British weather! Lovely to hear from you dear Jenny Jen Jen… hugs… 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • jenniferkmarsh says:

        Oh yes, it is a dear love-hate relationship we Brits have with our temperamental weather! 😉
        Yes, I’m hoping to get my blog post out sometime this year :S (that would be good!) You take care of yourself, dear Sherri P xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          LOL…well, some time this year, I’ll be sure to look out for it dear Jenny Jen Jen… 😀 Thank you, and you too, be good to yourself and keep your eyes on your prize 😉 See you soon…love Sherri P ❤ xxx

          Like

  31. Lisa Reiter says:

    Lovely post Sherri with great images of houses and running grand children! I love the way it evokes times I shared – I’m almost there with you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Lisa, thank you, I adored my grandparents house. So many wonderful memories. And of course, the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden that I played in as a child, this blog’s namesake so many years later 🙂 I’m glad you’re almost there with me… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Tom Merriman says:

    I think I could do with one of those robots, Sherri. When I iron, I tend to iron in more creases than are needed, and iron out the ones that should be there! And you’ve just reminded me I’ve left a pile of washing in the washing machine since this morning!
    And… Hale in Cheshire! Not too far away from here – mind you, as I’m in Cheshire it wouldn’t be, all things considered!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh dear…maybe an ironing robot might be just what you need Tom! And don’t remind me, I do that a lot lately with washing. I blame blogging and writing, lol 😀 I thought of you when I mentioned Hale, thinking just that very thought… I have wonderful memories from my early years visiting. A very special place for me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Ali Isaac says:

    Lovely memories, Sherri! It’s hard to believe it is within living memory, it was such a different world. I do remember the twin tub, but no dryer, the radiators were always hung with damp washing. As a consequence, that’s something I can’t bear, now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Ali, I’m glad you enjoyed them! 🙂 And yes, I too am so grateful for those days to be far behind us. It is something to consider isn’t it, how different things have become within our lifetimes. When I was first married and had my little boy, we had one gas fire in the living room, that was it. Every morning the windows streamed with condensation and I had to hang our washing (including cloth nappies – couldn’t afford disposable ones…) on an airer in the living room if it was too wet to hang it on the washing line in the communal area outside (we lived in a flat). When we moved two years later, the entire wall behind our wall unit was black with mold from the damp. Oh glory days…not!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  34. What a kind person your granny was! i also have memories of wash day. My mom had a copper ‘Ponch Tub’ which she filled with sudsy water and the ponched the clothes to get the dirt out. I think they got rinsed in a zinc bath, which also served as our once a week bath tub in the kitchen. No such thing as a washing machine. She also had a wooden mangle and I got to turn the handle. then I would pass her the wooden pegs as she hung the clean laundry to dry, right up the garden on a wash-line supported by wooden props. It was quite a business and usually happened on a Monday. She taught me to iron on dad’s handkerchiefs, when I was about 8-years-old. I remember feeling so proud showing him his nicely ironed hankys when he got home from working at the Pit. When I was first married and had our baby daughter, I had no washing machine, so had to wash all the towelling nappies by hand. 😦 My MiL gave me her old top-loader when she got a new machine. It wasn’t balanced properly and used to dance all over the kitchen floor, leaving black marks on the Marley tiles. We have it so easy these days, and still we seem not to have enough hours in the day. Thanks for the memories, Sherri. I’m so grateful for my gorgeous new washer and dryer which was delivered to our new house a few days ago. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Sylvia, thank you for sharing your memories of ‘wash day’, you evoke even more of my own. I remember starting out ironing hankies and tea towels, then pillow cases, before my mum taught me the proper way to iron a shirt, collar, sleeves, then the rest. Even today, deeply engrained those lessons although no ironing hankies anymore :/ ). I had a table top washer in which I had to wash my son’s terry towelling nappies as we were too broke to afford a washing machine in 1982(after using Napisan to disinfect them in a bucket). My mum surprised me with the delivery of a brand new front loader one day, and I can still remember the thrill. Then, when I got my first washer and dryer in the States, well, I thought I had hit the jackpot 🙂 Like you (and how exciting!), I don’t take my lovely washing maching and dryer today for granted, not for a second! Can’t wait to see your house pics! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  35. dgkaye says:

    Oh Sher, what a grand story. How wonderful to have had such a warm relationship with your gran. I remember those washboards from my own grandmother, and her laundry hanging out on a clothesline in a rather affluent neighbourhood, lol. She was old fashioned, kind of reminded me of the Beverly Hillbillies Granny, lol. She lived in a big house after many years of being poor and also had the washer and dryer that she wouldn’t use. Just one more parallel for us, except my gran was pretty cold to me. Great story! xoxo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thank you dear Debby, I’m honoured to share these memories with you ❤ 🙂 Those old washboards…so glad we never had to use them!! Oh I love that, 'Beverly Hillbillies Granny' …but the mindset of being poor and the way of life that entails continues to pull at the 'old ways' it seems, even when material improvements offer an easier life. It becomes engrained, I think. But I'm sorry your gran was cold to you… 😦 I remember my mother saying the same thing about her grandmother (my great-grandmother, who I remember as being eccentric and quite odd). And that's another story, ha! 🙂 xoxo

      Like

  36. I often wonder if man can go to the moon then why has nobody invented a cupboard where you can put your freshly washed laundry and five minutes later it comes out all ironed?

    I don’t know if you ever watched “Lost In Space”, Sherri, but, on it, they had a washing machine which not only washed clothes within seconds but also produced the clothes freshly pressed and wrapped up in polythene. Oh, how I have always wanted a washing machine like that. Maybe I’ll have to buy one of the new ironing robots?

    I loved reading your story about washday. It took me back to watching my mother doing the laundry.
    I remember how she would sometimes boil tea towels and socks in a huge pan before washing them. To this very day, I still copy her by ironing tea towels but I gave up on ironing socks years ago. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…great point Hugh! You would think, right? I do vaguely remember Lost in Space, that big robot right? Oh for a washing machine like that! You know, I used to wish I could be like Mary Poppins and with one click of my fingers, the entire house would be cleaned and tidied up in a second, lol 😀 Love your memories of your dear mother…nothing like a good boil to kill those germs. And I still iron tea towels too….but like you, not a sock to be seen near the ironing board. No knickers either 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Ste J says:

    That is some woman, I hate ironing myself, it bothers me and things are more creased than when I started, it defies the laws of physics surely. Still those cocktail robots could be handy in the pub.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Marie Keates says:

    My mother was always ironing too. Oddly my iron has a thick layer of dust it’s used so rarely.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Now if someone could invent a robot that would take the clothes out of the laundry, hand them to the robot iron, then fold them into the correct shelves, I would be impressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I’m not that keen on housework but, like your Granny, I love ironing (albeit as my excuse to do a catch-up watching my favourite TV programmes at the same time). Mister wonders how I manage to iron without burning the clothes, but it’s all to do with women being able to multitask. Also, I don’t have a tumble drier. If it’s not raining, my washing goes out on a rotary line (yes, like an upside-down silver umbrella with green line). If it is raining, it goes on a hanger in the bathroom and I open the window wide.
    I remember sitting on the kitchen counter as a child, watching my mother washing stuff in the sink and then helping her wringing the clothes out with the wooden device that you mention.
    Golly gosh! Your post certainly brings back memories, Sherri xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh dearest Sarah, I am so sorry for missing your lovely comment here. As you know, I’ve been MIA for a while, and I just saw again your kind share of this post on FB and clicked over only to find it. I remember now reading it and intending to return to reply, but as you can see, I never did 😦 I agree with you about ironing being the perfect time to catch up with TV watching. Quite theraputic actually 😉 Sounds like we share a lot of very similar memories! So glad this brought back a few good ones for you too…thank you for sharing them Sarah! xxxx

      Like

  41. Wonderful memories and written so well Sherri. My poor mum with nine kids was always at the clothes line and in photos she was always at the clothes line and sometimes pregnant. Being an older child I tried to help her. She did not have any modern machines and I look back and think ugh! How did she do that day in, day out. I don’t iron, most of the fabrics we wear seem to have no wrinkles. Every now and again the iron comes out but its a rare occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Your mum certainly had her hands full…a full time job looking after her ever-growing family and all that laundry. I don’t know how she did it either! Glad you enjoyed the memories, thank you Kath 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Denise says:

    Lovely memories – I like the mixture of old and ultra new. I am just about to do my ironing while watching Series 4 of Breaking Bad! Hope you and your family (especially your mum) are doing OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…so you’re onto Breaking Bad now! Did you get up to date with GOT? It’s about to start again soon as you know. Would love to know your thoughts about BB. I loved it, totally hooked! But, I have to say, Eldest Son got me the DVD set of The Sopranos a year ago and hubby and I started watching recently. I will say that it is the BEST of all. I never thought I would say that after BB, but we are obsessed with it lol. The strange thing is that I never watched when living in California, even though it was at the time I lived there, at least for the first few seasons, and everything about the style of dress and home decor would have been just what it was like for me at that time. I was obviously in a completely different season of life then 😉 Lovely to hear from you Denise, I’m glad you enjoyed these memories, the old with the new! And thank you for asking, Mum is home now and recovering so well. Quite a shock, but I think I’m recovering now too…although it’s taking me a while to get back to the swing of things. I hope things are going well with you and your LD’s…must see you this year 🙂 xx

      Like

      • Denise says:

        A colleague just posted that she is half way through series 5 of GOT and so I have messaged to ask whether I can borrow it afterwards in return for some very nice wine. They are very shrewd only releasing each DVD set just before the next series.
        BB had a great start, and I still like it, but it has slowed down a lot during end of series 2 – beginning series 4. I tried the Sopranos on TV, but I came in on it half way through and it made no sense. And of course I didn’t know you then, to think about how interesting that you lived through that time.
        Hope life with your mum continues on an upward trajectory, wishing you all the best with your family and your writing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Oh I’m so glad to hear you’ll be getting series 5 of GOT…happy viewing! Sounds like a good trade to me 😉 I think you’ll find BB will pick up again and becomes very intense…great stuff. And yes, I can see why Sopranos didn’t make sense. It builds from every episode so if you miss one, you’re lost. Maybe one of these days you’ll feel like watching the whole thing. Eldest Son has been telling me for years that I’d love it and he’s right! And thank you again about Mum…she’s doing really well, working hard on her rehab and physio, the most work is done during the vital few weeks after stroke we’ve come to understand. In fact, we’ve learnt so much about it and recovery, quite fascinating the way the brain can learn new pathways to help restore movement in the affected limbs. Neural pathways I think…amazing. I’m getting a little on my memoir done here and there, but I find I can’t cope with that and blogging. I’ve been on mental overload and I’m struggling myself I admit, but I’m taking things one day at a time. Hope Lewis is treating you well 🙂 xx

          Like

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