Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book: Heloise All Around The House

A few weeks ago, a friend mailed me an original copy of Heloise All Around The House. This book, according to the information on the first page, was published in 1967.

A full 4 years before I was even born.

Generation after generation after generation of women (and men!) have housewifery advice to pass on. We just have to listen. Or in this case- read.

There are so many things that I've enjoyed about this book. Starting with the $0.75 price tag in the upper corner. Can you imagine paying $0.75 for a brand new book, hot off the printing presses?? And not just any ol' book but a Heloise book!

Reading through this book was like taking a step back in time. Back when being a housewife, a good housewife, was a point of pride.

It seems, in more recently published household hint books, that the main message is Saving Time. How to do things easier. How to get it done and over with, with as little pain as possible. The message I get from this book is one more of learning to enjoy what you're doing. Not one of tolerating it or muddling though, but taking pride in being creative, thrifty and Good At It.

I was surprised at how many of the tips I already knew. I continue to think of myself as a late-bloomer to housewifery, feeling ignorant among my peers. I am not.

(Well. I may be still but I'm catching up to you!)

I was also surprised to know that some of these tips that I know, that I USE, haven't needed improvement for some 40+ years. In how many walks of life will you find that to be true?

For instance; clear nail polish on a run in your nylons. Ammonia and a plastic bag for dirty pots. Other 'new' hints that are now standard store bought items; like, take your kitchen dish rags and sew netting on one side to make scrubbing dishes easier. Those are the rags I buy.

Or, salad dressing in a spray bottle.

You won't find hints on how to clean your microwave. You will find a TON of sewing tips. Everything from making your own sheets to curtains to clothing- even how to make a "cleaning blouse" from a towel- so you don't spot your good blouses.

Some of the tips are charmingly outdated. Such as "Keep 5 to 10 pennies and a few nickels in the glove compartment of your automobile for those parking meters!" When you even see a parking meter anywhere, how much are they now? A dollar? Seventy-five cents?

And "When your 5 year old takes off on his tricycle, tie an alarm clock under the seat and set it for dinner time so little Johnny knows when to come home!" I can't think of any parent these days who would let their 5 year old out of their sight, let alone off to cruise the neighborhood on his tricycle.

Or how to best separate, and care for, your "every day" hose and your "best" hose. It's skirts and blouses, chenille, ironing (and how to avoid blisters from ironing too much!).

Heloise encourages you to change up your routine by doing some of your chores in your living room (parlor). That way, you can view all of your pretty things AND consider yourself "company". Drink your coffee, do your ironing.. just go wild with it!

That amuses me to no end. I cannot imagine it. I guess I don't know anyone who has a parlor, a living room set aside to use only when company comes. We live in every room of our home, I do chores wherever I happen to be standing (or sitting!).

The book speaks of simpler times, makes you nostalgic. Though there are a few tips from men, the overwhelming majority of the tips are from women, to women, for women. When housework was women's work, with no apologies or shame assigned to it. The book isn't littered with attempts to include both sexes or full of allowances for women who choose other "careers". It talks of the men going to work and the women staying home. And liking it.

I love that.

1 comment:

  1. Sad that it was printed when I was born lol Made me feel old! Sounds like a completely charming book. I would love to read...going to see if my library, who often carries old books, has it.

    I like that it was of the attitude that being a housewife had not shame. I really think that would be a good post sometime. I know in when I was married and did the housewife thing for a while I got a lot of grief over it. And now Master's friends often wonder "what I do." My cousin feels I have to be lacking in life without a career. It just is one person after another that doesn't get the satisfaction I get from being a "housewife" (house-slave).



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