An itinerant ironing man.

I saw this man in the street outside our apartment one day.  He rolls his cart from block to block, ironing the clothes brought to him by apartment housekeepers.  I don’t know how he heated his iron, which  was the heavy old-fashioned type.

A man stops his cart along our street, about once a week, to iron the neighborhood laundry.

The norm, apparently, is for one’s housekeeper to do laundry every day, scrubbing garments by hand on a rough stone bench in the small courtyard between apartments.  Our apartment has a washing machine, so we chose to do our own wash.

The washing machine (above) has two hoses; you hook one hose to the sink and places the other next to a floor drain.  You insert the electrical plug into a wall socket.  You add clothes on the left side, turn on the water until you think you have enough, and turn a mechanical dial that causes the machine to agitate for a while.  Then you turn another dial to cause it to drain.  Then you move the clothes to the right side, which is for spinning; another mechanical dial times the spin.  Usually, the water drains too fast and floods the kitchen a little.  This process takes a little practice, and a deft touch in the dials.

Either way, the clothes dry on a clothesline strung on the roof.  (The roof is flat, with a tiled floor and walls, plus a clothesline on poles.)  Of course, this is the rainy season, so it is very humid and rains nearly every day, so we have to keep a sharp eye on the weather.

Someday, we may learn more about the man with the mobile ironing service.  

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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