"Dashing away with the smoothing iron," was a song we sang around the old piano with its brass candlestick holders in front room, my aged maiden aunt's nimble fingers dancing over the ivory keys.
In the early 1950s two grey Calor gas cylinders were installed at my family farm at East Knowstone, the flat iron was cast away and a deluxe light green model heated by a gas flame was purchased, together with a boiler for boiling the washing. Back kitchen copper became redundant, and Monday washday drudgery was made slightly more bearable. A compact cream coloured wringer, which could be clamped to the sink, was bought and the red and green cast iron mangle was only used for large items. I had placed my fingers between the wooden rollers on one occasion and they were gently pulled free and kissed better by my aunt with the words,"He won't try that again."
At the end of Monday afternoon, the large double cotton sheets were picked in, the gipsy-carved pegs handed to me, and my mother and aunt performed their washday "dance." Stepping up to each other and smiling, they each grasped two corners of the sheet, then they took two quick steps back and pulled it taut. It was then shaken up and down and all about in a white billow-flap. Stepping forward, the partners faced each other, the sheet was folded over and handed to my mother who completed the laundry process jig while my aunt retreated a couple of steps. The dance was repeated with the second sheet, and when the routine was over, I proudly carried the sheets indoors.
Dashing away with the smoothing iron they stole my heart away.
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