Funny, I don't remember the iron as one of the game pieces in the Monopoly game. Now that they have replaced it with a cat, I am trying to remember our old Monopoly set.
My brother and I played a lot of Monopoly when we were growing up, but since there were rarely more than the two of us — Mom said the game lasted too long and she had other things to do, like ironing — we each took a favorite game piece and left the others in the box. I expect the iron went unnoticed. I remember once when I got well ahead and was becoming a railroad and hotel magnate, my brother — never good with money — blew his stack and tipped the whole game over. Mom said we both had to pick up all the pieces off the floor. The iron must have been there.
Likely, we were screaming too much to notice.
I have a new snazzy iron at my house. It looks like a Cadillac, sans wheels. I know people who rarely touch such appliances. Still I occasionally find that something needs a serious ironing.
My new iron is nothing like the first iron I ever saw. When I was young we lived without electricity in the new irrigation district near Madras. I remember standing on a chair next to the ironing board, and lifting the iron from the heated wood stove surface to iron handkerchiefs and other flat things.
It was kind of fun, until you realized you were going to have to do that the rest of your life. The experience did qualify me to explain sad irons (aptly named) in the Harlow House museum in Troutdale. (The Crown Point Country Historical Society has a really great collection.) We show school children how to pretend the stove is hot, how to attach the handles and lift the heavy irons to the ironing board.
Now, the iron appears to be doomed to extinction. Any day, some kid will ask, "What's an iron?"
Back in the day — and doesn't that sound old? — when the kids were little and the afternoon soaps came on, a couple of hours of ironing was what you did. You never got to the bottom of the ironing basket, but if you did, the kids had outgrown the stuff in the bottom anyway.
Liberated by chemistry and appliances, women no longer spend hours at the ironing board just as their husbands don't usually go out and shoot dinner.
Still, the disappearance of the Monopoly iron warrants some kind of protest. The right to bear irons? Maybe not.
Sharon Nesbit is a historian who lives in Troutdale. She' writes a weekly column for The Outlook.
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