Oyster Shells Will Break Up Clinkers: Household Hints from the 1940s

Now that I’m no longer working full time, closets and drawers have begun to call my name, begging to be cleaned up or cleared out.  Recently, while cleaning out the telephone drawer (does anyone even have a land-line telephone anymore, much less a nearby drawer for the telephone directory, address books, etc.?), I found this:

Printed in 1948 (before I was born, I must add), it was billed as “A Treasury of Household Hints to help you beat the high cost of living.” Price: 50 cents.  I remember seeing it in my mother-in-law’s kitchen ages ago. It must have made the journey south with us when we packed up and moved 16 years ago.  And for 16 years, it sat at the bottom of my telephone drawer under old phone books and other outdated stuff.

It was asking to be read, and so I did just that.  Many of the hints are timely and useful today.  Many more, not so much.  Here are some that show how much things have changed since 1948:

“Picnic sandwiches will stay fresh twice as long if, after wrapping them, you seal the edges of the wax paper with a hot iron.”

“Remove veils or fragile trimmings before packing hats away.  They will look fresh and new next time you wear them.”

“To restore drooping veils, dip them in gum arabic solution, spread flat on a towel to dry, and press carefully with a warm iron.”

“Oh them golden slippers!  And the silver ones, too!  Applying a careful dabbing of gold or silver paint, respectively, with a small brush, will make them glamorously new again.”

“Wash clothespins in a salt-water solution before using.  They will last longer and not freeze on the clothes when there’s ice in the air.”

“Warning! To protect your rubber swim cap, wash it thoroughly, dry, and cover with a little talcum powder or corn starch inside and out.”

“A single, serviceable vestee with three button-on jabots gives you delightful variety at small outlay.”  A what?  With what?

“Sewing with a loose thimble that constantly falls off the finger is uncomfortable and tedious…Solve the problem by inserting a narrow strip of adhesive inside your thimble…”

“Revitalize your hand-sewn lamp shades by first thoroughly brushing off all dust and then swishing up and down quickly a few times in warm soapy water.”

“Freshen up your wax flowers by dipping them in alcohol and swabbing them off with a soft, small paint brush.”

“Liquid moth sprays protect upholstery fabrics, not stuffing…If moths have settled in the stuffing of upholstered furniture, fumigation is the only cure.”

“To stuff feathers into a pillow quickly, and neatly, substitute the ticking for the vacuum cleaner bag.  Dump the feathers on paper, turn on the vacuum and draw them in.”  (I had to think about this one for a while.)

“Defrost automatic refrigerators about every ten days…”

For the washing machine: “Guard your rubber wringer rolls. Remove pressure the moment you are through washing.”

“Hang connecting cords for frequently used small electrical appliances over a wood block…”

“Printed flour and feed bags…make very attractive breakfast and luncheon cloths and napkins.”

“Painted radiators, harmonizing with the color scheme of your room, will create a most pleasant decorative effect.”

“When burning coke, always put as much in your furnace as you did when burning coal.  Then burn it half as fast.”

“Oyster shells placed back of the fire in a coal cook-stove will break clinkers…”

“Want to save $100? If your house needs painting…do it yourself.”

“When that bed sheet starts wearing out in the middle, slit it lengthwise, sew the two former selvedge edges together and run a hem around the new rough edges.”   Ha:) Spellcheck told me I misspelled the word selvedge.

“If your oiled silk shower curtains are definitely worn out, convert the usable parts into waterproof aprons or make-up capes.”

“Spare that choke! Engineers find that excessive choking uses up about four times as much gasoline as a warm motor needs.”

“Always have a hot spark.  You don’t get the full power out of your gas with a weak spark.”

And finally, my favorite: what to consider when choosing one’s dream home.  Note the method used to test the ceiling:

Thanks to the 1948 early morning crew at radio station WLS in Chicago for their household hints!

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8 thoughts on “Oyster Shells Will Break Up Clinkers: Household Hints from the 1940s

  1. What goes around comes around in Interior Design! Vintage Flour sack pillows are a big trend right now! Loved seeing this little gem of a book and the comments!


  2. lol I’ve used that ceiling testing technique lol it works well 🙂 🙂 a gentle poke of the broom stick won’t hurt a solid ceiling, but it will make damaged plaster fall off revealing the damaged area 🙂


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