Short Cuts to Better Housekeeping

I am a total sucker for the antique market. Now, you may be thinking that I adore looking at lovingly restored bureaus or mothball scented fur coats. No my friends, I love finding weird old printed stuff. I went to the market a few years ago (have you seen the video?) and came home with old photographs of people I don’t know, postcards written during WW2 era, and other random junk that I treasure.

This morning, after a trip to the camera store for a gorilla pod, I was ambling down front street on my way to the grocery store, when I walked past the St. Lawrence Antique Market.  Something caught my eye.

A magazine published by Popular Mechanics in 1949 titled “Short Cuts to Better Housekeeping”.

Well, it’s what I’ve been waiting for! Goodness knows I could save some time on hanging out the wash or polishing the ceramics in the house. How else am I going to have Cheesler’s dinner steaming on the table at 5 o’clock when he gets home?

The magazine has all kinds of tips for the housewife on ironing, canning, removing stains and improving your needlework. Wow, did these ladies ever work hard. And it looks like they really enjoyed it!

The more I read it, though, the less it seems like shortcuts and more it seems like a general how-to on being a housewife. I suppose it’s in case a young woman had no female elder role model to ask how to distribute french dressing evenly over a salad or make an effective bottle-cleaning solution. And let’s not forget how to protect your precious home appliances so that they last longer…

But wait, there are household tasks for the man of the house to perform. Things like unclogging the drain in the washing machine! And fixing the clothesline so that it’s easier for the missus to get his whites out to dry in the fresh breeze. And sharpening the cheese grater!

And lo! Underneath this treasure I found a copy of “The Metropolitan Host: The timely guide to New York”, published in 1935. Looks like it was an event catalogue for Manhattan society types. It includes theatre listings, feature  films in town, and things to see in New York.

It even has an “after-dark” section. How Risque!

It seems I find old magazines fascinating. Remember when I freaked out over the vintage estonian ladies’ magazine I found in Tallinn? Sigh. They’re so different than today’s women’s magazines, which are mostly about unaffordable fashion, anti-aging creams and quizzes on how you can tell if your man is cheating. The times, they have a-changed.

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Categories: Photography, Ramblings

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