“Then Ma took the sadiron out of the wagon and heated it up by the fire. She sprinkled a dress for Mary and a dress for Laura and a little dress for Baby Carrie, and her own sprigged calico. She spread a blanket and a sheet on the wagon seat, and she ironed the dresses.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie.
Some days I don’t change out of my pajamas. It doesn’t happen often, just every once in a while when I’m feeling lazy. So, when I read the passage where Caroline Ingalls ironed the family’s clothes on the wagon seat, I wondered why. I understood washing the clothes, but ironing them? After all, the Ingalls were traveling in a covered wagon and pioneers wore the same clothing day after day. Even if Caroline ironed the clothing, they would quickly wrinkle again. Yet she plugged in the iron—no wait! She heated the iron by the fire and pressed the clothes using the wagon seat as a makeshift ironing boar
Why endure the drudgery of ironing on a wagon seat in the wilderness? Caroline clung to a strong sense of propriety. Standards mattered.
Our culture applauds nonconformity. Color outside the lines. Zag when everyone else zigs. I agree with this philosophy—to a point. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I wish young men would pull up their pants. When I see people wearing pajama bottoms in public, I want to shout, “Get dressed already!” And, for goodness sake, house slippers are called “house” slippers for a reason.
In the scheme of things, does what we wear and how we wear it really matter? Maybe. Psychologists say our clothing influences our behavior. If we are slouchy, lazy, and unkempt today, what type of society can we expect tomorrow?
Do you think Caroline already thought of this? Now, I’m going to look into my closet and see what needs to be ironed, right after I change out of my pajamas.
“Study first propriety for she indeed is the Pole-star.” C.S. Calverly
Until next week,