Almanac: The ironing board

Almanac: The ironing board

On May 12, 1874, a day that was anything but a wrinkle in time, the prolific African-American inventor Elijah J. McCoy patented an "ironing "table."

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On May 12, 1874, the prolific African-American inventor Elijah J. McCoy patented an "ironing "table." CBS News

Responding to complaints from his wife about uneven ironing surfaces, McCoy came up with his easy to set up (and easy to fold up) ironing table.

That ironing was woman's work was for years an unquestioned assumption ... a widely-accepted popular belief that found musical expression with Joan Blondell in the 1934 movie "Dames."

A girl who works in a laundry,
Has a dream lover all of her own;
A lover unseen, whose love she keeps clean
With water and soap, and a washing machine
Oh, she loves to launder his linen,
Ev'ry collar and shirt is adored;
And she loves all the stitches
In his flannel britches,
The girl at the ironing board

Dames (1934) – Girl With The Ironing Board by Warner Archive Instant on YouTube

Fast forward to more recent times, when quiet laundry room ironing gave way to so-called "extreme ironing," as Bill Geist showed us a few years back.

From 2003: Extreme ironing

Ironing transformed, from domesticity … to eccentricity.

       
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Story produced by Trey Sherman.