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November 14, 2006


Such a wonderful series, Beth! I love reading these memoirs of what seemed to be a slower and more gracious time. What a wonderful family you had.

And of course I knew the mangle because my mother had a second-hand one. I was disappointed she gave it away when they downsized at retirement. It's great for doing huge tablecloths! Oh and she had a wringer washer (with the two rollers or mangles), and so did I in our first years of marriage.

http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Mangle asserts that the word is Dutch, like so many other interesting expressions, and meant "to press by rolling," and had nothing to do with what my mother told me when I admired the rollers on my grandmother's washtub in Canada -- put a finger in there and you'll have it mangled!

Mom called her secondhand ironing mangle "the ironer," and Dad installed it in a small, airless space behind the bathtub after dividing the upstairs bathroom in two -- it had been a large back bedroom, with a claw-footed tub in one corner and space enough to play basketball in.

Mom disliked housework and hated ironing with a passion, and while I thought she liked the ironer a little better than doing the work the hard way, I don't know for sure: As a prudent child, I stayed out of her way when she was working back there.

(I am still loving your stories, too).

I love this. The mangles my grandmother and mother had in the 1950s, long before they had washing machines, consisted of two big rollers on a tall metal stand with a handle to rotate them towards each other at elbow level (or shoulder level on my nan - the visual memory of this brings back something I had forgotten: how small my mother's parents both were; everyone thought I was going to be the same until I put on some final inches in my mid teens). This was placed close to the kitchen sink and rinsed wet washing dragged over and through the rollers, with a big metal tub underneath to catch the squeezed-out water, while the same person who was turning the handle with their right hand grabbed the end of the 'mangled' item with their left and tossed it into the basket of wet washing for the line. I love the history of domestic 'stuff' - it's not at all impersonal.


Did you know that in recent time old mangles were/are prized by impecunious printmakers because they can be easily adapted to serve as etching presses and/or letterpresses? I know people who did that but haven't tried one personally (I cherish my etching press which I bought, in installments, ages ago).
Your family history is wonderful, beth

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