Me & Mrs. Jones

Sep 1, 2010

Editor’s note: Welcome back to one of our favorite Pasadena bloggers, Jean Gillis, who so kindly shares her posts with us. Here’s her latest.

“She bore her burden because she did not wish to be a burden.” I’m paraphrasing from an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story, “The Washerwoman.” It’s one of those anthology selections for ninth graders that kids never take to, a story that eventually resounds for those who live long enough to have the stuffing kicked out of us a few times. The titular washwoman is a birdlike Gentile who launders for wealthier Jews in an early 20th century Polish shtetl. Her frail build belies tenacity and pride in her lowly occupation—an occupation both arduous and invisible. I guess I’d call it a story where stature trumps status.

Often I’ve thought of that very story over the the past ten years since I’ve known Mrs. Jones. She is a longtime Pasadenan, living in her home since 1951. She’s raised a family and worked at the legendary FEDCO on Colorado Boulevard until she retired at about 70. That must be when Mrs. Jones started fueling her next career.

Mrs. Jones takes in ironing. I can say it no other way. She is a word-of-mouth phenomenon who can starch a flaccid shirt into respectability. She transforms a jumbled basket of laundry into prete-a-porter. For as long as I have patronized Mrs. Jones, by gum, my creases have been straight and my cuffs crisp. Mrs. Jones is all business and no play at her ironing board.

Just last week, while we were chatting about my house-hunting trials. Mrs. Jones handed me a xeroxed policy statement written in her elegant hand:

Dear Jean,

I’m going to give myself a 90th birthday present and raise the price of ironing
to $8.00 per hour starting Sept. 1, 2010. I hope you will still let me do your
ironing because I love doing it.


Mrs. Jones

All I could say was, “90? Mrs. Jones, you don’t look a day over 82!” I get such a kick out of her professionalism and her product, too. Ninety years old and still keeping Pasadena/Altadena unwrinkled? That to me is stature.

Read more of Jean Gillis’s posts on Dating Yourself in Pasadena, and if you want to find Mrs. Jones for yourself, let us know.

4 Responses for “Me & Mrs. Jones”

  1. Claudia Bailey says:

    I’ve been looking for a Mrs. Jones for a long time. I need her! Please.

  2. Frankie Stearns says:

    What a delightful story! I have always loved to iron. It’s one of the few endeavors where the fruits of your labor unfold (literally) right before your eyes. Polishing silver does that for me too. Mrs. Jones has lived a long time and is productive and appreciated. How great is that?

  3. Freda Chan says:

    I love her policy statement. She is an example of never-give-up, Great Spirit. Ironing is an important part of sewing, can’t do without it, as my teacher in fashion design indicated. Nice article.

  4. Heatherly says:

    My husband would love Mrs Jones info. I don’t *do* ironing. 🙂



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