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The Burden of Ironing Clothes in San Pedro Village

By Angel Nuñez

Very few persons even today find ironing clothes a pleasant chore.  Now if ironing clothes today with the fancy electric irons that are equipped with thermostats and steam is not a pleasant experience, imagine the burden and awful task it was 25 years ago with the irons used then.

Before I even describe them, let me show you a good photo of these antique irons and then describe how they functioned. Take a good look at these irons that were not powered by electricity, kerosene or gasoline which I will talk about next week.  

These irons were made of iron.  I wonder if that is the origin of the name “an iron”.  Each one weighed about three or four pounds and most homes had four to six of them to make the task of ironing not too long.  Let us begin by heating up the irons.  You had to light up a good fire with firewood, of course, and set a hot plate (comal) over the fire.  Once your “comal” was very hot, you set the six irons on the “comal” and leave them there for some ten to fifteen minutes until they got very hot also.

The Burden of Ironing Clothes in San Pedro Village

Then you proceeded to iron the pants, shirts, skirts and blouses and dresses, curtains, and tablecloth in the normal way of doing this homely, feminine chore. You probably ironed for a minute or two with one iron and then had to set it on the hot plate for re-heating.  But by then the others were already hot, and you used them alternating them. As long as you kept your fire going full blaze, you also kept the “comal” hot and by the same order the irons as well.  

You might probably be thinking how do you keep these iron gadgets free from rust and from putting rust spots on the clothing?  I will assure you that the secret to keeping them clean, smooth and rust free was to keep them in use so the “iron lady” used them as regularly as possible, perhaps every two days, and were also very willing to lend them out to the neighbors. You can be sure that after heating them on the “comal”, the iron was tried out on some old fabric before pressing them unto the good clothing including white clothes.

The Burden of Ironing Clothes in San Pedro Village

You have probably figured out by now that 25 years ago ironing was done close to the fire hearth and in the outdoor or patio kitchen.  You have also probably figured out that it got pretty hot for the “iron lady” and of course after finishing with the burdensome task of ironing her family clothes, she had to take some time to cool off before being able to take a shower or jump into the sea for a refreshing swim.  Fortunately there were no refrigerators back then so they did not run the high risk of getting sick due to the factor of moving from very hot to very cold.  I am sure there is one more thing that you have figured out by now, and that is that men did not partake in the burdensome task of ironing clothes twenty five years ago.  Indeed you can be sure that ironing in days gone by was a “ladies thing”.


25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
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