I recently came across 2 images from the 1940s and 50s which both tell of very different days in terms of linen, its production and care.
First of all the photo of linen being spread out on a bleaching green.
The label on the back of the photo reads as follows:
"Northern Ireland: An elderly worker spreads out fine damask linen on the grass to bleach in the sun." Dated November 1949. The worker doesn't look that "elderly" to me, but this is how he was perceived in the press in the USA. This photo came from the archives of a New York press agency.
The second image made me laugh out loud. Again from the archives of an American press agency, this one is entitled "Winsome Twosome"!
Dated November 1957, the label gives us more information on the scene.
"Paris: The 'Blue Flower' of French womanhood, Camille des Ardins, turns her cheek for a congratulatory kiss from an official of the French linen industry in Paris. She was named Parisian winner of a nationwide contest to find the girl having the best qualities for the upkeep of household linen, some of which is prominently displayed during the ceremony at the Eiffel Tower."
The blue flower refers to the flax flower of course, and it was often represented on the selvedge of French linen metreage and sheeting. It is also the emblem of Northern Ireland and was adopted as the symbol for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Poor Camille! I can imagine the hours she must have spent practising her ironing skills, and that was in the days before the steam iron was in use! And after all that she gets to wear a sash and receive a kiss from an old boy in a suit! A high price to pay!!
This image will come to mind as I tackle the next pile of linen laundry - although it is unlikely anyone will offer me a sash as a reward!! I shan't even think about the chap in the suit!!!