Vintage “Hintage”

Today I’m linking up with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls. Please join us for some coffee and catching up.

Great news, everyone! I just found this money-saving hint in a book:

Here’s how to waterproof your shoes and lengthen their life: Melt together a dressing of two parts of beeswax to one part of mutton fat. Apply it at night and, in the morning, wipe it well with a piece of flannel. You now have waterproof shoes, at practically no cost to you.

What’s that? You don’t have any beeswax, mutton fat or flannel? Oh. Well, maybe this next hint will be more helpful:

Do you like perfumed handkerchiefs? Get a little Orris Root at your drugstore, put it into a little muslin bag and boil with the handkerchiefs next time you wash them. You’ll like the delicate fragrance of violets which will cling to them.

Oh, wait… that one’s worse yet. I never even heard of “Orris Root,” and who uses / washes handkerchiefs, anyway? Especially if you have to boil them. Yeccch.

What was wrong with the people who compiled those hints? Not a thing in the world; it’s just that the book came out in 1947 (revised 1951). It was a freebie that my grandmother got from a bank in Missouri. Some of the hints are perfectly relevant today, like weatherproofing windows to save heating costs. But many of the hints talk about things like wringer washers, refrigerators that use chunks of ice to chill food, and other obsolete appliances.

Or chores that hardly anyone does any more: making clothes and jelly, repairing clothing or utensils, shelling peas, ironing underwear. I mean, really. What a lot of work. That’s what technology is for!

No, there’s no point in continuing a practice or method once it has become obsolete or irrelevant. But it is fun to look back at those “labor-saving” hints and see how far we’ve come. Yesterday’s cutting-edge innovation is today’s old news: A tremendous time and wear saver for home laundering is the automatic dryer. There’s no… lifting of heavy wet clothes up basement stairs to hang them on an outside line…

Equally enlightening, though hardly amusing, is a look back at some of the actions and attitudes of my growing-up years. I shudder to recall my thoughtless remarks, the times I caved in to peer pressure or cornered myself into a lie. How thankful I am that years of experience have matured my trust and confidence in God. Thanks to His leading, these days I can usually take the considerate, kind and honest route. After all, you expect a child to be childish. But in a grownup, childish attitudes are both inappropriate and toxic. Sort of like it would be to follow this gem of a hint: …insulate your water-heater tank and pipes with ready-made asbestos pipe covering…

We didn’t know any better, but that was never a good idea!

Which reminds me, did you know that The best parts of worn linoleum which is about to be replaced in kitchen or bathroom can be cut into place mats? Paint both sides and decorate with your monogram. Sure, I’d love to have old bathroom linoleum on my dinner table! (Eewwwwww…)

Thanks for reading!

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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10 Responses to Vintage “Hintage”

  1. Debbie says:

    Oh my goodness – I love reading those old books. It’s so funny to see how people did things “back when”. I actually have beeswax – but the mutton fat? I don’t know… Some time savers then are still applicable, but I do like the convenience of things on the store shelves these days. I have made my own laundry detergent though and found it to be rather effective with general laundry needs, so some of those old things are still GOOD things. Thanks for sharing – it was fun to read this post!


    • Jan says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Debbie! We have some beeswax candles, ourselves. I noticed many of the hints seem, like the shoe waterproofing, to be outrageously frugal. But then, they were published right after WWII. People had to repair lots of things because replacements simply weren’t available!
      (I am late responding because your comment got filtered to the wrong spot… don’t know how.) Thank you for writing!


  2. Star says:

    Okay…totally cracking up at the linoleum one. I thought the same thing, why would I want to use pieces of the floor…especially the BATHROOM floor on my kitchen table! Nope, have to draw the line at that one!


  3. Dani says:

    I started reading and was like that’s cool but, um
    Glad to hear you felt the same way! Ha!


    • Jan says:

      Gotcha, huh? You must have thought I was pretty weird until you got down to the “1947” part…
      Thanks for reading to the bitter end, and for commenting!


  4. Jen Ferguson says:

    These are hilarious. Don’t you just love unearthing things of old? It’s so fascinating!


  5. jennibell says:

    Ha! What a fun post!! It’s fun to see the “mundane” of the past. . .sometimes we get so mired in the fantasy we forget that they were killing themselves with asbestos 🙂 I wonder what some of our “timesaving” hints will prove to be toxic (all the germ-X possibly?) or just a waste of time fifty years down the road???


    • Jan says:

      Hi, Jennibell. I, too, wonder what our “antibacterial obsession” is doing to our immune systems. Thank you for stopping by!
      Your story inspires me, by the way.


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