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Monster in the House

By Mary E. Adair

One day Daddy came through the door beaming
Who knew twas the prelude to future screaming,
He'd found a solution to save Moma time
As I'll try to explain in this little rhyme

With full skirts the fashion before permanent press
And the aim of his daughters to neatly dress
He'd noticed that ironing was quite the big chore
Though we'd not given much thought to that before

Ironing day followed washing day as a matter of course
Though getting me to the ironing board took some force
The bulk of washing day always fell upon me
So on ironing day I thought that I should be free

After dragging the benches to where the tubs had to sit
(Without three rinses, clothes were considered unfit)
And hauling hot water the washing machine needed
Using a hose to fill the rinse tubs was lightly heeded

The wringer was a marvelous progress Moma said
As wringing out by hand she would forever dread
But instead of a machine to make washing fun
Daddy had improved ironing, or thought he had done

Introducing the 'monster' he rolled into the house
As "The Mangle" even left Moma quiet as a mouse.
He plugged it in to the socket in the wall
And my sisters came running when they heard Daddy call

"I'll show you," he said, "just what this will do"
And he asked Moma to hand him a sprinkled shirt or two.
For the dry clothes from the clothesline were dampened again
Before being ironed, and were rolled tight and packed in a bin

If you didn't get them ironed in a day or perhaps two
They'd sour and you would put them with washing to do
Later when freezers were the new appliances to buy
You could freeze the damp clothes to last til you die.

But now this mangle promised results with speed
And getting everything ironed that you'd ever need.
So he tested the curved metal surface to see if it was hot
Then spread the buttonhole side of the shirt Moma had got

Pressing with his foot, the metal dropped down
And the muslin covered roller went round and round
The buttonhole edge fed through as Daddy showed what he'd found
Keeping the cloth taut as we watched without a sound

Smoothly flattened as it fell off the rollers back
Daddy pulled it to him to take up the slack
The button edge was next, "Buttons down," he advised,
Then pedaled it to go again on this machine he prized.

The collar was next and it went fast as zip
As through the mangles roller it took its trip
He draped one shoulder top over the roller end
Daddy pressed and released and did the second one then

The shirt front was spread without any bother
And both fronts and the back were pressed from one edge to the other.
He smiled and reached up to pull out a rod from the top
So you could hang things right up and not have to stop

He showed us wire hangers he'd picked up from the cleaners
Long before recycling, my folks were real gleaners
Smiling he asked who wanted to try the next shirt
But no one volunteered so his feelings were hurt

Then Moma smiled her smile and said "Maybe I can try."
And he grinned because it was for her that he'd made the buy.
Before many days had passed we felt like experts
Ironing pillowcases, blouses, and those billowy skirts.

We ironed the cuptowels, our gym shorts, and tops of sheets
And even learned how to do Moma's nice dress with the pleats
We ironed everything we could get to fit through the space
Between the muslin roller and the pressing plate's face

For awhile it was a novelty and even friends wanted to try
Then the magic wore off and Sister burned her hand with a cry
Really a scream it was, as she was our drama queen
And swore she'd not again be using that monster machine.

So after the monster had been in residence about two years
And we all had conquered our reluctance and dried our tears
We began to ignore it, and it stood quietly to one side of the room
And finally Moma covered it with an oilcloth to hide its gloom

And I never saw Daddy sit down at the Mangle any more
And mostly we started using the iron and board as before
Because we only needed to touch up each brand new dress.
As all of them were made from the new permanent press.

4/28/2011 Mary E. Adair


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