Hot Iron for your Undies?

Photo of New Iron by vichie81,

My friend Rachel recently returned from visiting her family in England.  She told me that her mother still sets time aside for ironing, including pillow cases, sheets and even underwear.

While there, Rachel told her mother —  to her mother’s surprise — that she no longer irons.

Rachel is a busy wife and mom to 3 boys— one is still a baby.

The topic of ironing reminded me of when I was stationed in Germany and of our loving babysitter, Oma (Grandma) Adelaide Lonien.

Baby Dominique in one of her german outfits, probably ironed by her Oma Adelaide

Any clothing that baby Dominique soiled while at Oma’s house got washed and IRONED.  Mind you, these clothes were for a BABY, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of SLEEPERS, and well…who SLEPT a whole lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I so appreciated getting the clean pile of uber-soft, perfectly folded, smoothly ironed baby sleepers when I picked up Dominique.

At the same time though, the thought of baby sleepers being ironed always made me laugh because I found it so unnecessary.

I suppose that it is a gesture of love and pride from certain people —- you want your family to look good right?

So perhaps the same thing with the ironing habits of my friend Rachel’s mom…but the ironing underwear part?    Well, OK, if you were modeling for Victoria’s Secret, you would not want wrinkly undies.  Not a good look on the runway.

I used to iron more than I do now…my favorite clothing to wear are linens and cottons, so it is a requirement really.  Lately though, my favorite linen shirts have been missing in action, in a basket piled with items to iron.  Lola is just too busy — after all, in addition to other tasks, I have a blog to maintain now!

My younger sister —who hardly irons anymore and is also in favor of wrinkle free clothing– recently uttered a saying in tagalog I have not heard in ages. Hahabulin ka nang plantsa! One says this when a person –usually a close friend or a much-loved relative— is wearing something so obviously in need of ironing.

It translates to something like:  The iron is going to chase you! I don’t think I have heard an English version of this (let me know if you have), so I wonder if Filipinos are just more wrinkle-phobic.

Old iron – photo courtesy of Leonardo Roque

And talk about old school ironing…when we were little in the Philippines and living in the province with our Nanay Lucing, ironing was a major and hazardous undertaking.  Here is a photo of an iron from that looks just like the one we had.

As you can see, there is no electric plug. And it is called an iron…because its made of IRON.  In order to use this contraption, you must first make a fire to have charcoal.  You then load the iron with glowing hot charcoal and lock the lever on top shut.

Old Iron on Banana Leaves, photo courtesy of

One must plan this out as you would iron first the items that were thick and can take the “high heat” setting — actually make that the “hot as hell” setting.  And be super careful lest you scorch –no, actually BRAND yourself (forever)  if you accidentally let any part of the iron touch your skin.

I was too little to help in this chore thankfully, so my older sister and cousin had this responsibility. There was always a pile of fresh, cool banana leaves as a place to set the iron. Then too, there was the starch…oh my goodness.  Nice to have that stiff cardboard look!

The part of collecting the banana leaves —well, the smaller girls were allowed to do.  And we hung around to watch if anyone got burned, and to smell the banana leaves.  Scorched banana leaves always did smell so good to us, because banana leaves are used in Filipino desserts.

With all the new wash and wear, and “wrinkle-free” type textiles in these modern times and our busy lives, who really irons anymore?  Is this a generational thing and do you still iron — and what do you iron?

Lola Jane

Related Germany post:

8 thoughts on “Hot Iron for your Undies?

  1. Hi Lola fantastic love the blog
    I had to tell my mom about it and you know what she was doing as I called her she was coincidentally ironing too funny!:)

  2. I Just had to tell my mom and she thinks its hilarious. She just told me a story …when my mom was a little girl maybe 9 years old she went to her aunties house to do some ironing and they had what is called a flat iron which had to be on a hot plate to heat the iron. Her aunty gave her a pair or silk stockings to iron and you could imagine what happened, yes, you guessed it, they frizzled to ASH hahahaha! And in those days they cost a fortune ooops!. She was never to touch an iron or her aunties stockings again lol.

  3. Thank you for the story Rachel. I’m surprised your Mom still likes to iron after the stockings-to-ash incident! I had not heard about the hot plate iron method.

  4. Chance is astonishing ! I lived in Dudeldorf for some years at the end of the 1970’s. That was during my tour in Germany, as an officer serving in the French artillery regiment of Bitburg (Wittlich for a second time). My house-holders were precisely the Lonien’s family (Hauptstr. 68). I found your blog while trying to recollect details about this family… and the part of my youth I have spent there. I feel very moving to read such an evidence about this family thanks to your blog.
    I remember them very well. Mr Lonien, the husband, had fit up himself the flat I rent, at the ground-floor of their house, near by his workroom where he made and stored coffins – he was both a joiner and an undertaker. We laughed at it the first time I visited the place, he ensured me that coffins were the best neighbours in the world and never caused any trouble… He was right ! And the flat was casual and cosy, no problem for me… Mrs Lonien, his wife, was a kind woman, taking care of me as a mother. They lived at the 1st floor, above my flat. They had 2 girls a little younger than me. I don’t remind their first names, so I just suppose that “Oma” Adelaïde was the mother…
    I have been transfered to Morocco in summer 1979. I went away and never saw them anymore. I feel very pleasant to remind by chance these people and this period of my life.
    Thank you very much for that.

    • Wow—how amazing. I put Oma’s name on the tag in the hopes that we can reconnect with the Lonien family one day…

      They are a wonderful family and took such good care of our daughter, Dominique. One of their daughter, had a son, Martin, who was the same age as Dominique, and I believe they had a son (Udo?).

      We were in Dudeldorf from 1983 to 1986, and lived at the top flat of Klaus’ house (can’t remember his last name), whose family ran the local taxi service. Sadly, Mr. Lonien passed away I think about 1 year after we lived in Dudeldorf, and it was one of two funeral services we attended while there.

      Interesting that you were in Wittlich too, as I am working on a blog post on the topic of their Pig Festival.

      All the best to you Allan, and thank you for commenting on this blog topic, though obscure…made a connection.

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