Did you ever see/use of these? Yesterday, while doing a crossword puzzle, the word came up, and it reminded me of yesteryear.
When I was in second grade, my job was to help the sisters in church to set up for Mass. The altar cloths were huge (or seemed that way to tiny me!) They had to be perfectly ironed before they were placed. One day, Sister wasn’t satisfied, and she took me with her to the laundry area of the convent. I was surrounded by large washers and other equipment, but the item that caught my eye was this one. It’s called a “mangle,” and it irons flat pieces. I watched as Sister fed the cloth in, and it came out perfectly smooth. She warned me to keep my distance because the machine was very hot.
I couldn’t wait to tell my mother. After all, she merely had a small iron and ironing board. When I told her about this amazing invention, my mother laughed. She told me the mangle was really an old invention, and at one time they weren’t electric! Whaaat?? My mother explained that they were once heated near a fireplace and some were steam operated.
Another old throwback was the ‘wringer.’ That dandy was attached to the wash tub and laundry was fed through the rollers to wring out the water. Sometimes, the wringer was also called a mangle. By the time my mother was giving me this laundry lesson, we had an electric washer and drier (though the latter was only used when the weather was too harsh to hang laundry outside.) Later, I remember my dad’s shirts and our uniforms being sent out to be laundered, but in those early years, my mother still did it herself.
The next time it was my turn to help in church, I begged Sister to use the mangle again, and she just smiled. “Not unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she replied. I guess it was such a novelty to her.
I know these machines are still made and used – especially at dry cleaners. Many people even have smaller versions in their homes. But for me, they’re a reminder of long ago.