My pressing dilemma: Are ironing boards a thing of the past?

I have a dilemma that’s likely familiar to other Prime-Timers. At least to us ladies. What to do with my ironing board? It’s been gathering dust forever. I’ve probably only used it three times since moving in 2011. Is it time to donate it to Goodwill? Do second-hand stores even want such relics? It might be better suited for the Kroot Corporation’s scrap yard. But ironing and I have some history, and I’m having a hard time letting it go.

I learned to iron back in the mid-1950s, before I aged into double digits. During that early-Elvis era, mothers still passed on their knowledge of domestic arts to their daughters, as had been done for centuries.

It’s STEM and sports for girls today, but when I grew up, math, science, and basketball took a backseat to cooking, cleaning — and ironing.

Mom started out by training me to iron wrinkles from pillowcases and cloth handkerchiefs. Hankies — another item lost to history.

With three daughters, Mother ironed a lot of dresses. The only pants we girls wore as kids were dungarees for outside play. I recall mom only wearing jeans or slacks on Girl Scout hikes. There were plenty of ruffles, collars, sleeves and pleats needing pressing. Polyester and other “no-iron” fabrics were still in research and development back then.

A glass coke bottle full of water — with a sprinkler top — was mom’s tool of choice for dampening the never-ending basket of ironing. After the clothes were dampened, she rolled them up and stuck them in our refrigerator, of all places, until she was ready to subject them to the business-end of a hot iron.

Mom eventually graduated from a “regular” iron to a steam iron. That was a great leap forward in ironing technology. Thanks, Sunbeam! The sprinkler bottle was retired from active duty and rejoined the other “return for deposit” bottles headed to the grocery. It was pre-plastic times before we were a throw-away society.

After my sisters and I learned to iron (a few burned blouses notwithstanding), we did all our own ironing, much to Mother’s relief. As a young widow with three children, she had more on her plate than many women her age.

When my husband, Mike, started his career as an optometrist in the late-1970s — and I was a new mother with a fussy baby — I would fire up a pot of coffee to bolster myself for the task of ironing his dress shirts and lab coats. As a young stay-at-home mom, I could barely keep up with cooking and cleaning, but I sure didn’t want Mike wearing wrinkled shirts to work. When we discovered I could take his dress shirts to a laundry to be cleaned and pressed by someone else, I did a major happy dance. That was the beginning of the end for the ironing board.

My daughters-in-law both say they own irons and ironing boards, but like me, they rarely use them. I’m thinking by the time my granddaughters are young and married, ironing boards will truly be a thing of the past.

A year ago, I purchased a handheld clothes steamer, with the thought it could replace my iron and ironing board. Here’s the current state of affairs: Not only do I still have my iron and ironing board, but I also have an unused clothes steamer, too.

When our sons empty out our house one day, no doubt, the ironing board and iron will end up in the trash pile. But until then, I think I’ll keep them. They may have outgrown their usefulness, but they still hold memories of my mother and days gone by.

Sharon Mangas is a Columbus resident and can be reached at [email protected] Send comments to [email protected]