Post last updated: October 3rd, 2018

Here’s one for the baby boomers. An old-fashioned sprinkle bottle for ironing.

sprinkle bottle-6012

I found it among Momma’s fabric stash in her craft room closet when we finally got emotionally strong enough to go through her possessions. Priss, being 6 years younger, might not remember the sprinkle bottle but I certainly do.

Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, everyone used a glass soda bottle with a sprinkle top that came from the five and dime store. This bottle is imprinted with DRINK DIXIE BEVERAGES. From my internet searching, I assume Dixie Beverages is now Dixie Riverside Beverage Company who bottles 241 drink products such as A&W Rootbeer, 7Up, Sunkist, and RC Cola. Remember when people would snack on an RC Cola and a Moon Pie?

The sprinkle bottle allowed just the right amount of dampness to saturate the fabric for later ironing. Oh the flood of memories that came with finding the sprinkle bottle. I can remember filling the bottle with tap water, sprinkling my purple dress and placing it in a bag in the refrigerator (to keep the fabric from souring) until I was sufficiently moved to do the actual ironing. This was before spray starch and irons with misting nozzles.

I also remember the clothesline, the clothespin bag and the standing laundry hamper that would fold shut. Even those wire stretchers Momma stuck in each leg of a pair of pants to help dry them with less wrinkles so she didn’t have to press the iron so hard. And how about all those “rules” for hanging your clothes on the line so the neighbors couldn’t peek at your unmentionables?

In the early 80’s, when Poppie and Momma moved to the ancestral property I now live on (the Southern Rural Route) she still had a clothesline. As the shade of water oaks hid it from the sun, it fell into disuse and was eventually taken down. Momma had Poppie fashion a makeshift clothesline stretching across the back porch where she would hang a shirt or rug. I don’t have such a line on my porch and sometimes I wish we still had that old clothesline.

Momma also had a collection of flat irons that had been passed down in the family. The pair you see here were “preserved” with a coat of black paint because Momma had a thing about giving everything “a fresh coat of paint.” I can’t imagine being an old washer woman having to iron all day with these things because they are heavy.

antique iron-6018

I believe this next iron was used for ironing ruffles. Momma really got carried away with that fresh coat of paint when she got hold of this itty bitty iron. She made it cute as punch but ruined the antique value of it.

antique ruffle iron-6019

32 thoughts on “MEMORIES OF IRONING”

  1. Yep, I remember most of all these memories. We had a blue plastic sprinkle “bottle” with a white cap – guess it was a little later version of the glass bottle. My mother hated these kinds of chores and I for the most part guess I got that from her, although I do have a clothes line and it brings a lot of wonderful childhood memories of being at my grandparents and hanging the laundry. I’d be hard pressed to give up my clothes line. I have wood clothes pins, that I use not only for the laundry but for various other purposes like closing the potato chip bag. Ah the simple pleasures. I think your mom’s painting is quite charming and that out weighs the antiquity value. Thanks for the memories. xo Kim

    1. Kim – Ain’t that a hoot? I use wooden clothespins for the tater chip bag, too. If you’ll look close, Momma’s sprinkle bottle was a soda pop bottle in it’s former life. I took that photo several times under different light conditions trying to get the soda pop name to show up. Part of what makes it hard to read is a crusty build-up inside the bottle that I couldn’t get out no matter what I soaked it in.

  2. Boyo, do I remember sprinkling and ironing. And as soon as you put something on, it no longer looked ironed. One of the best things that happened was the no-iron fabrics. I remember ironing little girls’ dresses over and over. When my mother-in-law sent them dresses that didn’t have to be ironed, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

  3. Well, being a gypsy, no need for irons!! I do remember ironing day at our house. What I wonder most is, do the baby boomers remember the five and dime???

  4. Love this! My Mom did the washing on Mondays and the ironing on Tuesdays. I, too, remember the stretchers that went in my brother’s jeans. Mom always “sprinkled” the clothes and put them in the fridge until ironing day. Linda, my Mom made my brother and I have lessons on how to iron white dress shirts. Lord, she was fussy about white shirts!!! Thanks for the memories.

    1. Betty – the stretchers went into Poppie’s work pants. In my late 30’s, I went to work for a lawyer who was 72 years old. When we parted, he was 82 and could get by with a part-time secretary. He used to tell me all kinds of stories about life long before I came into the world. His Momma always had a defined laundry day, too, and laundry was much more primitive back then (he was born in 1916).

  5. Talk about bringing back memories. Our stretchers were used for daddy’s work pants too, and it was a very important assignment to get them in straight. I still have one of mama’s flat irons (which I think was passed down from my grandmother). I keep it in a very visible spot in the house so I’m always reminded of them!

    1. Ann – Momma’s irons were very visible on the fireplace hearth. I don’t know why Poppie moved them. Wonder what happened to all those pant stretchers? You never see them on cable tV shows like American Picker. Guess they just aren’t exciting enough as a collectible. I decided to go back and add a third paragraph about the soda beverage company. Sadly, a lot of readers will miss that new info because they have read the post but I didn’t think to put that info in originally.

  6. Thanks for the added bottle info – adds another layer to the sweet story. We only got the RC and Moon Pie on very special occasions, and ate it with small bites to make it last as long as possible.

  7. Your post brings back some memories. I used to watch Mom iron and I would beg her to let me do a few things. She would usually let me iron a couple aprons. I still iron a sharp crease in my jeans and some of my no-iron shirts get a touch up. There is a clothes line for things like rugs, jeans and sheets on sunny days.

  8. Oh I love old irons! I’m too young to remember sprinkle bottles – interesting. I do remember having a clothesline at one of the houses we lived in. I’m very thankful we now have dryers and spray starch!
    When I went to India to visit my husband’s grandparents, I was fascinated by the ironing. They had a woman with a cart come around to all the houses on the street to do the ironing, and she still used those old fashioned non-electric irons.

  9. Enjoyed this Jones, thanks for the pics of Momma’s irons. I have one that I use as a door stop but nary a clue from whence it came…verra cool that you have these and I too think the painting is more valuable than the monetary value of it as an antique. I don’t remember a sprinkler bottle but always a bottle with a sprayer and my Ma was over the moon when they came out with steam irons. Mind you, the spray bottle is still verra much a part of her ironing 🙂 She is the ironing maven and when she comes to visit, that’s the first thing I dig out.

    Clothesline is a must in my world…nuthin’ like clean sheets off the line for good ol’ sleepin’! Clothespins on the chip bags here, too, along with numerous other places, they always come in handy.

    1. Thanks for your take on the old irons, Duncan! I don’t think I have to worry about the antique value of the iron as lots of folks who commented also seem to have them. Also, we are unlikely to toss the iron because of it’s antique value so that means we’ll always have some of Momma’s painting.

  10. Love this post! Don’t remember the water bottle but my mom ironed every day and so do I. Some people tell me they don’t even own an ironing board. I would be lost without one. Don’t have a clothesline anymore though and I really miss the smell of clean sheets from the line.

    1. Blondie – I like for my clothes to be nicely pressed but I can’t make claim to ironing every day. Lawsy, your poor mother. One of my friends doesn’t own an ironing board and I don’t know how she gets along without one. Duncan is real big on that smell of sheets from the line.

  11. I do remember the sprinkle bottle for ironing. I remember running out to get the clothes off the clothes line if it started to rain, but I don’t remember having rules as to where we could hang our unmentionables on the clothesline. Nor do I remember the pant stretchers. Do you remember the belt vibrator that was supposed to vibrate the fat off your ass?

  12. What a trip down memory lane … makes me think how much technology has changed things in such a relatively short time. I do have a clothesline though. Do most people in the US have electric clothes dryers?

    1. Catmint – I think probably most of the middle class, or what’s left of the middle class after the Great Recession of 2008, have a clothes dryer because you can wash and dry clothes at all hours with no need to worry about weather conditions. Most houses and apartments have dishwashers, too, but we don’t all use them. I’m trying to keep up with other bloggers’ posts but am on 24/7 care of Poppie. He had emergency back surgery on 2/18 when his 1/20 back operation began to leak spinal fluid. He’s having a harder time bouncing back from this one.

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