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In the Good Old Days

While the Iron Is Hot

Trivia Question

What was Zenith's groundbreaking addition to the television set in 1950?

While the Iron Is Hot

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My son came home from college last weekend, bringing home a tux so he could serve as an usher in his friend's wedding. He also happened to bring home a dozen of his college friends who would be attending the wedding. While the story of housing, feeding and providing enough beds, blankets, pillows and towels for that many young people under our roof would certainly be entertaining to write about, there was one task that I performed that busy weekend that deserves special mention: I ironed. A lot.

I try to avoid ironing. I buy wrinkle-free clothing as much as possible. I rush to hang up garments as soon as the dryer buzzer sounds. I purposely bought a dryer with a "wrinkle-release" setting so I could toss in any rumpled items for a quick 20-minute refresher -- no iron needed. But there are times even I have to resort to pulling the ironing board down from its hiding place behind a cabinet door and cranking up the only iron I've owned since I got married almost 27 years ago. Last weekend was one of those times.

I closed myself off in the laundry room and got to work pressing not only his tuxedo shirt, but also several of the other guests'/groomsmen's shirts.

A funny thing happened while I was standing there, carefully positioning a shirt sleeve over the edge of the ironing board so I could neaten the cuff: I was transported back to a yellow kitchen in a house at 202 E. Water St., where I grew up. It was there that my mom first taught me how to iron. I recalled coming home from school and bursting through the kitchen door in search of a snack, only to be halted by the ironing board my mom had set up there. Her laundry room was way too small to navigate around an ironing board, so the board always reported for duty in the kitchen. Mom looked up and smiled at me as she fiddled with a spray bottle and rolled up an item of clothing in a bag, placing it in the refrigerator. It all looked so mysterious to me; I begged her to let me help her. She lowered the board a few notches, provided a quick safety lesson on using the old black iron with its slightly frayed cord and gave me my first project -- one of my dad's hankies.

I probably spent 20 minutes ironing that hanky. I wanted it to be just right for my dad, and I wanted to show my mom I was ready for the responsibility. The hanky had to be perfectly square, with no rolled edges. I was so proud of myself when I finished and the neatly folded material was ready for my dad's pocket.

Last Saturday night, while I was sitting at a table with friends at the wedding reception, one woman happened to mention that she had had to iron that day too. "I remember that my mom used to give me my dad's hankies to practice on," she said. "That's how I learned to iron." I laughed a bit with her, sharing my similar experience. And then I told her if she was so inclined, she could go across the room and ask my son to see his hanky.

It was in his pocket, perfectly square and neatly folded.

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. How did you learn to iron? Do you still iron as much as you did in the past? Send a brief response to me at and it could appear in a future newsletter or in Good Old Days magazine!

Keep your replies coming! Here are a few more email responses from the Nov. 27, 2013 newsletter question: Were you ever pestered by a chicken or a turkey when you were a child?

Glady Z. emailed: "I was about 4 years old when my dad and I visited a farm in Alberta. I remember there being a large corral, and I went inside. I was walking back toward the fence when, out of nowhere, this big turkey came flapping his wings at me. I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me to the fence and made it over before the turkey caught me. I think he was as big as me or at least seemed to be. My dad and his friend thought it was funny, but I didn't. To this day (60+ years later) I still have a fear of live turkeys. They do not get a pardon from me either. I hadn't thought of that turkey in ages. Reading your story brought the memory back. I thoroughly enjoy reading Good Old Days for all the memories it brings up."

Judy B. replied: "I really enjoyed your memories of turkeys. I also have some not-so-good memories of turkeys. I attended all eight grades in a one-room school in rural South Dakota in the 1950s. Our school did not have running water, so it was the job of some of us to carry a bucket across the road to a farmer who provided us with drinking water. He had several of the big dark-color turkeys that you see in pictures (not the sleek white ones that are so popular now). Those turkeys would wait until we got our bucket full of water and were heading back to the school. It is really hard for two kids to carry a bucket between them and run from a flapping, squawking turkey and keep some of the water in the bucket! Every year there was justice though. That farmer would donate a turkey as the prize for a 10-cent ticket raffle that was held during our Thanksgiving program."

Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters, live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.

Fill out the easy feedback form and let me know your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Trivia Answer

In 1950, Zenith, maker of radios since 1918 and televisions since 1948, introduced a "Lazy Bones" press-button remote control with its new Zenith "Black Magic" television. Attached by a long cord to the set, the remote could "change programs from anywhere in the room."

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