Museum Talk

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Old fashioned wooden curtain stretchers are on display at BI Museum.

Does anyone remember the old curtain stretchers? Betty Thompson of Monette donated a set of antique Maid of Honor curtain stretchers to the Buffalo Island Museum. When assembled they are five by eight feet. They are from the 1940s and were sold by Sears and Roebucks Co.

Years ago, just about every home in our area had sheer lacy or organza curtains on their windows. There was no air conditioner, and the sheer curtains let the breeze through. During spring and fall cleaning, the curtains were taken down, washed and stretched and hung on curtain stretchers. These were large, wooden frames with a row of pins down each side about every half inch apart. You had to pull the curtains tight onto the pins.

You had to be very careful when putting the curtain on the sharp pins as you didn't want any blood on the clean curtains. I remember my grandmother used a starch that was cooked, then cooled and the curtains were dipped in the starch and wrung out very carefully. The starch made the curtains sticky as I helped to put them on the stretchers. The curtain stretchers were set up in the sunny back yard and the curtains were soon dry and crisp with no wrinkles. One lady told me her mother always used sugar water to make her curtains crisp.

In those earlier days, the work was well worth the effort to see the clean curtains once again hanging on the windows. Women didn't have the steam irons with low settings or electric clothes dryers with delicate settings that we have today. The delicate curtains couldn't be ironed with the old hot flat irons without causing some damage.

These curtain stretchers were also used to dry the delicately crocheted tablecloths that were so popular during that time.

These curtain stretchers have found a home in the laundry area of the Buffalo Island Museum beside the old wringer washing machine, lye soap, and the washboard. Seeing these antique things makes me be very thankful for the conveniences of today.

The Buffalo Island Museum in Monette is open on Friday and Saturday

12:30-4 p.m. from April-December. Admission is free. Visit the museum's Facebook page for more information. You may contact the museum at our email address:

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