Interesting details

Good Housekeeping, December 1934.  An interesting period piece:

Why can't she pick out her own damn iron?

Ask to see the demo model "at your light company" -- well into the 1950s, the office of the electric company was where one went to buy electric appliances.  And in the days before tumble dryers, "everything from heavy damp sheets to sheer silks" did in fact call for ironing.  But what really caught my eye was the last speech in the dialogue:  "Have our dealer send one out."

It's an interesting line, because of who it's coming from.  If Tom and Helen are a typical middle-class couple of their time -- and as little affected by the Depression as they seem to be -- he's the employed one, and he handles all the money.  Today, we'd assume that the selection of an iron would be handled by the person who did the ironing:  but Tom probably takes care of their (his) bank account, gives Helen a weekly "housekeeping allowance", and decides himself how the rest of the money is to be spent.  And note that Helen, while she's obviously had her eye on an Ironmaster for some time, hasn't brought it up until now -- until her desire for a new iron affects Tom's social life.
  • Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Helen can say whatever she wants, but she won't convince me that Peggy's not tired for any reason other than a little speed on the sly.
Peggy was mighty efficient in her meth kitchen too. But Helen never had the time to do so. Once she has the superlight iron, she can free up the time to cook up a batch and get all "social" by the time Tom comes home.

I think it all comes back to the superlight iron.
I remember Mom's sprinkled ironing lived in one particular refrigerator drawer. I myself can't imagine putting up with such bullshit.
All I could think about through the whole "story" is what a unthoughtful jerk Jim is for inviting company over when Peggy's been slaving over the ironing board all day. Somehow I doubt Peggy is any more thrilled about this than Helen is, even if she does have a lighter iron.
Absolutely! I think Helen is probably a much more successful manipulator - clearly a highly valued trait for a successful woman of the time.
For many households, an iron was the first electrical appliance ever purchased. The difference between a stove-heated flat iron and a continuously heated electric iron is huge, and ironing took up a huge amount of time and effort. One reason you had to iron everything (besides the lack of synthetic fibers) was that most old-fashioned washers did not have a spin cycle. Water was removed from laundry by a wringer, which squeezed in wrinkles as it squeezed out water.
One thing I learned in my teens was that a good snap of the garments before hanging them on the line took care of a lot of that. A windy day helped too.

My Mom used a wringer washer until the mid 80s. She only replaced it because it became hard to get parts for it. When I was a small child, I do remember her ironing a lot more than she did later so I suspect that changes to standards and fabrics in the 60s and 70s were a factor too.
My mama Irons. Irons with SPRAY STARCH. She blisses out about it, too. I think there are good drugs involved...

In fact, I know there are. She has narcolepsy and ADD. Can we say legalized speed?
I am also one of those weirdos who love ironing. Something about steam and pressure easing out bumps and wrinkles. I think it appeals to my OCD.
glad to know I'm not to the only one who's mind jumped to that conclusion about him and good ol' jim
"But Helen, Jim says it's ironing day for Peggy too. Why isn't she as tired as you?"

This very much reads to me as "Why are you so much lazier than Peggy?"
I am amazed that Helen got away with sassing Tom about her heavy iron! And he didn't reprimand her for it!
...or maybe not. Perhaps Helen was quite handy with those irons, and Tom didn't fancy a concussion or a skull fracture. Or just a broken finger or two.
I guess 'I want a new iron but can't come out and say so directly,' was as close as you could get to 'go fuck yourself,' back then.
Looks like the same artist who drew the JAD Salts ad. Helen even has the same facial expression in the first panel as "Fat Jane" did.

Edited at 2010-11-28 11:08 pm (UTC)
I am so glad I was born long after the need to iron everything.
Excellent commentary.

Women were supposed to have the house spotless, her husbands shirts and slacks ironed perfectly, and also be wearing a smart dress with heels and panty hose. Oh and have the kids look presentable too. And her nails polished. And hair perfect. And coochie cleaned with Lysol.

Golly I just don't understand why Helen can't just perk up!