Deep in the dark, musty smelling, cement-chilly basement of my childhood home stood the mangle, yes, you read right. The mangle’s purpose was to iron sheets. I remember my mom feeding freshly laundered, sun dried, flat sheets into the thin, wide mouth of the noisy machine. An iron-hot steel roller pressed the sheet up against a water-stained board and within seconds perfect little folds, hot to the touch, would appear on a little shelf below. In addition to mangling the sheets my mom mangled my dad’s shorts and t-shirts. Such was the life of a modern woman in the 60’s.
Upon reflection I think my mom was pressured into using the mangle by her mother, who was so particular about her bed coverings that she marked the middle point of all of her flat sheets with a colored stitch of thread. Horror of horrors should the sheet not be folded perfectly down the middle. Somewhere along the line of moving from Troy Street to Cedar Circle, the mangle disappeared. My mom, finally set free, joined the ranks of the truly modern woman of the 70’s.
Doing laundry in the 21st Century is a lot easier than it was forty years ago. My washing machine has all sorts of settings and spins, can speed wash, slow wash, hot and cold wash. My grandmother would consider my dryer as something from the space-age. It offers any setting a girl could ever need; but, folding sheets is no easier today than it was 100 years ago. As I struggled to fold my fitted sheets, again, last night, I couldn’t help but wonder why nobody invents a simpler way to untangle the mess of unruly sheets. I often wonder why I even care. What is it about our DNA that says it’s “against the rules” to wad up the dang sheet and throw it in the closet?
Horror of horrors.