Issue: 2015-05-07 PHOTO: Teresa Vander Meer-Chasse
Ironing clothes used to be a real adventure
No matter how often you visit Sid van der Meer’s Bordertown Garage and Museum in Beaver Creek, there is always more to see. Many people visit Sid more than once to hear his stories and discover additional objects in his collection. Sid’s collection is in constant change as he trades, sells, barters, and buys antiques. One thing that remains consistent is Sid’s enthusiasm for storytelling and touring folks around his museum.
Today, Sid guides us through Bordertown Museum’s themed-rooms into a replica of a pioneer’s cabin — with wooden floors and a beautiful vintage stove. Sid has everything in the replica cabin: a desk, chessboard, reading glasses, boots, long johns, and even clothing irons. “You heat them up on the stove,” Sid informs us about the clothing irons.
One iron, simple in style, has a very large air vent on the top. Holding it up, Sid explains, “These are the cast-iron ones that you put on the stove and heat up. The stove heats them up then you can use it. They’ll cool off and you put them back on the stove to heat up again.”
Still holding the unusual-looking clothing iron, Sid says, “That’s an old, really old one, probably from the early 1800s. I found it in a barn on a farm in Alberta — an old homestead of a buddy of mine. I found the iron in the attic of the barn in a pile of junk.”
Sid’s good friend let him keep the iron and it has been on display in the museum ever since.
The second iron Sid shows us is from the, “early 1900s, turn of the century”.
Looking at it more closely, Sid confirms, “It is solid cast iron from the 1910s, around the time they had early electrical irons. Most people didn’t have electricity so you still had to use the old wood stove ones. Some people lived without electricity until the 1950s.
“I have approximately twenty-five irons around the museum and inside my house. They’re from all different eras — from ones in the 1800s right up to the early, early electric ones. Then there are other ones that you put coals in. Even have gas ones; I have two of them from the 1930s to 1940s. You light up the gas ones just like the coal-oil lanterns. Caught lots of people’s clothes on fire. Cast iron were a bit more reliable, hold the heat for a while. It must have been a real adventure back in those days ironing clothes.”
Sid places the iron down and continues on his tour