New irons come with automatic temperature controls; set the dial on the temperature for different fabrics and when it reaches that setting, it stops heating ~ perfect. A sad iron ~ set it on a hot stove and let it heat, hoping it won't be hot enough to scorch that white shirt. Mama tested the heat by wetting the end of her finger then quickly touching the bottom of the sad iron. If the moisture sizzled, the iron was ready to use.
The bottom of the new iron is so bright things are reflected in it, making it look brown!
Of course, with the addition of polyester to cotton fabrics, ironing is much easier today anyway. The new irons make steam to remove small wrinkles, and if there is a stubborn wrinkle, just push a button for an extra shot of steam. A lot of clothing was made from cotton feed sacks in yester-years and was starched to give it body. Before the clothing could be ironed a good sprinkling of water droplets made it easier to remove wrinkles: Mama dipped her fingers into a bowl of water and sprinkled the items, then rolled them up so the moisture could reach the entire pieces. While ironing, if she came across a dry spot, she would wet a cloth and rub it over the spot, then continue ironing the item.
Oh my! The new iron seems heavy to me now, but how in the world could I iron with a sad iron! And, by the looks of that stack of tablecloths, I need to go iron! But, as Scarlet would say, "I won't think about it today; I'll think about it tomorrow."