Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

I woke up when the sun rose today.  It had snowed over night and the sunrise made the snow look orange-pink.  I wonder if that is why everyone says “the sun rose?” It was almost the same colors as our peaches when they are ripe.  I know snow is not fuzzy though. I was in a hurry to get dressed because it is cold. I have trouble with my undergarments because they have so many drawstrings. They have drawstrings at the neckline and the sleeves and the waist.  It is easier to press them because they can be laid out flat for drying and then ironing.  But they are hard to tie.  Mother’s hands were cold against my tummy when she helped me. I kept wiggling away.

After my breakfast, I practiced my stitches and lessons.  Josh visited for a moment but he left to find Brent.  I so wish I could help him but I know I have to keep busy. The women were ironing today.  It is easier to iron in the winter because it is cold.  It gets very hot when ironing is done in the summer. We have six flat irons because they have to be swapped over as each one grows cool. Some of the irons are a shallow box and have a middle bit that can be removed and heated separately then placed back inside the iron.  This helps to keep the clothes from being soiled from the bottom of the iron. The metal handles can get so hot they have to be wrapped in a cloth so the person ironing doesn’t get a burn.*

Sometimes I use my own small iron on flat pieces.  I iron the pocket handkerchiefs. I am very, very careful. Besides the flat irons, we have a tally iron for bows and bonnet strings.  A mushroom iron is for puffy sleeves and a fluting iron is for pleats.  They are mostly for the grown ups garments.  The women use a piece of beeswax to rub on the irons when they are smoked.  There is a clean piece of sheet iron in front of the fire to set the irons on to heat directly.  They stay cleaner that way.*

*www.vintageconnection.net
*www.oldandinteresting.com

by Mary Beekman

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Mary

Phyllis, I wish you a very Happy Birthday. I would iron

your handkerchiefs for you! I hope you had a cake and a

present to open.

Reply
Phyllis

Dear Mary, I turned 70 yesterday. In honor of the occasion, I will officially give up ironing for Lent!!!I love to read about your doing it, though. I am sure you are very careful and neat.

Happy New Year to you!

Phyllis

Reply
Mary

Sue, Josh tells me that his mother irons her pocket

hankies also. I must use such tiny stitches when I

hem hankies for Mother.

Reply
Sue T.

Sweet Mary, I have been waiting to hear from you again. It has been very cold here in Michigan, also. I am sorry to say we have not had a hoarfrost since I was much younger. The pictures that Josh took were breath taking and he made lots of people happy by letting us in on another beauty going on at the Beekman. Getting on to the ironing, I can't imagine having so many irons. I have a 1940's mangle that is great for pressing my antique linen collect but I now use this wonderful invention called a Rowenta pressure iron and steamer. I can iron my pocket hankies in such a short time that I can have time to do other fun things–like dreaming of spring. If the boys don't have one of the irons like mine you may want to leave them a note,however, I am sure that Dr. Brent has had one for some time. Take care and stay warm. I will be waiting to talk again soon. Sue T.

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