Tuesday, October 27, 2009


And I did. Almost all day, some weeks, depending on if I had the Great-Grandfather’s khakis in the mix. Grandmother wasn’t well a lot of the time, but she insisted that he go out of the house (even to the garden) in fresh creases and presses, so sometimes I’d go get her basketful and iron it with my own.

Many a morning-into-afternoon was spent at that screaky board, the hiss of steam and Niagara, the scent of Duz (I built up quite a little set of pale-blue glasses as Duz premiums---there was one in every box, and they ranged from teensy juice to some good-sized goblets---what a thrill to tear back the lid and shake the powder aside to unearth that shining glass. And never a one had been broken in transit---amazing) with the old familiar cloy of the starch and occasionally, Ironing Board Sandwiches. The children were still very young in that little house, I remember, and I’d set up the board in the living room so I could see the TV---it made the work go much faster.

We’d take a break for lunch, and usually I’d have made us each a sandwich right after breakfast and stashed it in the fridge for lunchtime. Their favorites were what we dubbed Ironing Board Sandwiches---after standing at the stove to make grilled cheese quite a few times, I hit upon the Ironing Day idea of putting each one in foil, with a tiny smear of butter on the outsides. At lunchtime, I’d put a couple of dishtowels on the board, top them with a paper towel or two, and iron our sandwiches---a precursor to our later ones, made in the fireplace with a long-handled "Croque Monsieur" iron---at least our version, which translated into more like a Croque Bubba.

The family favorite was our version of a Tuna Melt---a little can of Star-Kist stirred with a little mayo, perhaps a few finely-minced home-canned sweet pickles, spread onto the bread or buns (buns didn’t even NEED butter on the outside). A slice of unwrap-it cheese, and the top laid on, to be wrapped and await its ironing.

I’d usually do two at a time, so I could keep up with relative “done”-ness and heat and crisping of the outsides. The scent of the buttery, crisp-bread steam coming from the little packets was enticing, and one child would scurry to set out some grapes or share out slices of apple, another to pour the milk or tea, and as soon as the second two sandwiches were pronounced ready (usually judging by their flatness) we’d sit down.

Long years after, when they had teen friends over, a couple of times I made up a dozen or so of the packets and stuck them in the oven for long enough to crisp the outsides a bit and melt the cheese---they ate up every one, and my three would mention that they were MUCH better ironed. And once, they even got out the board and "cooked" them right then and there.

Ironing---I don’t know if any of the children still iron any of their clothes in this day of dryers and wrinkle-frees, but they all still speak fondly of those Ironing-Board Sandwiches.


Keetha said...

Ironing sandwiches. You are so clever!

This post kind of makes me want to get my iron out, just for kicks.

Anonymous said...

Well, with the ironing board sandwiches, I'm four square against using steam and think the linen setting may be too hot. Which setting did you use for the sandwiches?

Honestly, I love this post. Had no idea you had prepared ironing board sandwiches. The first time I saw this done was on the movie Benny and June. If you haven't seen it, it's a hoot!

Love as high as the sky