A couple years ago, my Dad decided it was time to clean out his garage and he brought me one of several long-forgotten boxes so I could sift through and salvage whatever treasures I could find. I was able to take a cursory glimpse when he initially brought it, but the box then disappeared to the depths of the basement for many months until I finally had a chance to unearth it recently.
The top layer was photos from my childhood-basement birthday parties (“The wonder ball goes round and round, to pass it quickly you are bound. If you’re the one to hold it last, the game for you has quickly passed and YOU. ARE. OUT!”) and bowling birthday parties at Garden City Lanes (“Hamburger or hotdog? Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? Grape or lemonade? What size shoe?”). There were lots of photos from parties my parents had over the years-from really wild Halloween bashes in the 60s to more staid 40th and 50th anniversary parties for my grandparents. Good times.
And then the box got even more interesting. My mom’s and dad’s school memorabilia. Greeting cards sent to my grandparents in 1942 when my mother was born. My grandmother’s camp scrapbooks. Although most things smelled a little musty and I sneezed uncontrollably the closer I got to the bottom of the box, I adored touching these treasures and thinking about what life was like when the letters were written or the cards were sent or the mementos were lovingly glued into the scrapbook. With every album or bag I uncovered, I felt like an archaeologist, and I feel so lucky to possess such well-preserved tangible history.
One of the most “practical” gifts from the past was an old paperback publication, and given the need for austerity during our current economic times, I thought I would be magnanimous and share a little wisdom from this booklet. It’s entitled 1003 Household Hints and Work Savers – To help you beat the high cost of living. Published in 1947 through the support of advertisers, this copy was apparently obtained at The Providence Institution for Savings Old Stone Bank” (“Yabba dabba doo, love that Old Stone Bank!”).
And so, without further ado, here are some-ummm, shall we say “interesting”-cooking, housekeeping, fashion and driving tips. I hope you’ll find at least one of these nuggets useful in helping you beat the high cost of living in 2011:
• Don’t shake your dust-mop out the window if you want your neighbors to love you. Tie a big paper bag around the mop head and shake vigorously. Then throw bag and dust away.
• One pound of bacon will yield anywhere from 1 to 1-1/2 cups of deliciously flavored fat for use in seasoning and cooking. To keep drippings in best condition for use, follow these precautions: Pour into small jars so bottom layers won’t become rancid. Date or number each jar. Store in refrigerator. Use oldest fat first. Economy tip: In baking with bacon drippings, use 1/4 less than for other specified shortenings since its shortening power is greater than that of most other fats.
• Stale, dried-up cheese turns into a delicious spread when placed into the meat grinder with raw chunks of onion.
• Wait, lady, wait! Before you buy that new dress, consider its possibilities for later re-styling. Does it lend itself to easy remodeling? If it does, you will have “two dresses for the price of one.” If not, you may be wasting money.
• If you drive a car, get in on the side nearest the wheel, instead of scraping along the whole seat until you worm your way into position, thus wearing out the seat of your fur coat.
• For longer girdle life, fasten garters straight and in the center of the stocking’s hem.
• Here’s a smart way to salvage that teen-age lassie’s leather shoes or sandals. When scuffed beyond repair, paint them in bright colors and go over them lightly with colorless nail polish.
• Does Junior howl when you want him to wear rubbers? Protect his feet from moisture by giving the soles of his shoes several coats of shellac.
• Rhinestone pins and buckles turn “brand new” when soaked in gasoline for about 15 minutes, then rubbed with a flannel cloth.
• The woman with unusually large hips in proportion to her bust will find her dressmaking easier if she selects a pattern that is midway between bust and hips; that is, a pattern a trifle larger in the bust and slightly smaller in the hips.
• Be good, sweet maid, and clever, too…by making a snug, warm coat out of a worn blanket…by changing a retired chenille bedspread into a short beach coat or a long housecoat.
• It’s good psychology to keep a box of facial tissues in the bathroom, when guests are in the house. Most women will thoughtfully use these, instead of guest towels, to remove excess lipstick.
• Cooking prunes for breakfast? Before retiring for the night, set the pot of prunes and water over the pilot light on your stove, making sure the lid is on snugly. The prunes will be nicely stewed and ready to eat when you get up in the morning, and it won’t cost an extra penny to cook them!
• When burning coke, always put twice as much in your furnace as you did when burning coal. Then burn it half as fast. You get a longer run from your furnace and a steady, uniform heat over the long firing period. Keeps your wife out of the basement if you fire in the morning, because you can usually put in enough coke to last a whole day.
• Don’t “shock” your engine by turning off the switch immediately and cutting the motor dead after a long run. Idle the engine for a couple of minutes to let it cool off gradually ““ and safely.
• Picnic sandwiches will stay fresh twice as long if, after wrapping them, you seal the edges of the wax paper with a hot iron.
• Turn one pound of butter into two with the magic of gelatin!
• Brassieres are easy to iron. Iron toward the center of each cup, turning the brassiere on the board until each area is smooth and dry. Then iron the flat sections and the straps.
• To remove a fresh cod liver oil stain, sponge with carbon tetrachloride; then wash in warm suds.
I must go now. For some reason, I have a sudden urge to buy a big box of paper doilies, stick my nose in a fresh bag of moth balls, and then ring up my friend, Myrtle, at “GAspee 1-9358″ to ask her to come over and help me cover all my furniture in plastic before Ward gets home. And so, little ladies, I’ll leave you today with these four delightfully inspiring gems. Heed these words, my friends:
• “Your woolens, like your husband, should be treated with care…”
• “Men like sweater girls. Girls like sweaters. Keep yours shapely and good for all the wearings possible by following these rules…”
• “Men think beads are just gimmicks. Women know what they do to beautify the neckline…”
• “Boys will be boys and a spanking won’t mend torn trousers…”