Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Good Old Days Hints-No Mulberries This Time

As I wait for President Obama's speech tomorrow evening, I thought I might write something a little different, a book review.

You may have noticed in my “profile” for the blog one of my favorite books is How to Do Things a compendium of all kinds of things from The Farm Journal, 1919, Wilmer Atkinson Company, PA.
It is such an interesting and useful, still, book. By using a little creativity and common sense you can modernize many of the devices and recipes as well as the formulas found in the book.

I also love old, really old, cookbooks. These cookbooks are full of so much more than recipes. Many of them are like taking Home Economics, and Home Health Care courses. Then too I have a few old texts of all kinds; US history, Missouri History and Civics, English grammar and writing. You name it and either my spouse or I probably have an old book on it.

From the How to Do Things book, I built some little portable gates of scraps of lumber and chicken wire. I want to keep our two dogs in the front or back yard sometimes while allowing the riding mower to be used all around the house with little impediment. I noted my spouse has a bailing twine collection he keeps in a modern-day version of the “Cocoanut Twine Holder” found on page 518 in the House Furnishings Handy Devices section. In these days of recession and recycling, maybe you like this suggestion:

Bailing Old Paper
By using a good-sized box with a slot cut in the bottom you can bale your
waste paper. Arrange a cord and a lining of old cloth or very tough paper
as shown in the cut.
(there is a little pen and ink drawing here)

Pack the paper down hard,
fold the lining over the top and tie securely. Turn the box over push through
the slot and your bale will slip out ready to weigh and sell.
(in our case, to recycle)

I can remember seeing this next hint where I grew up though these days I doubt it would be allowed and with good reason. The “bos” that lived in the vacant lot at the end of our street used it on their shipping crate houses. Please do not try this one though I don't want to see your house go up in smoke.
Some friends of ours bought an old farm house that had plaster and lath walls with large areas of the plaster gone. Upon investigation they found, benefit for me, the walls full of paper and old books.

Paper Walls for Warmth
Almost every home has at hand the means of making farm buildings
warm. Tack on coat after coat of old newspapers.. Then board, shingle, or clap-board
directly over them. Air simply cannot pass through successive layers of paper.
If desired red building paper can be put over the newspapers in the manner
shown in the cut,
(another little drawing found as illustration)
so if water gets through the boarding, it will be carried down
to the ground by the resin sized paper.

(See we just can't let newspapers go by the wayside. They can be useful)

There is a section called Babies and Children. The one that is fun is the section Games and Entertaining. Within the section are these divisions; Indoor Games, Outdoor Games, church and School Entertainments, Home Parties, and Special Occasions.
If we tried more of the simple but active Indoor Games, we might not be so unhealthy. Here is one for you.

Chinese Table
The players sit in a circle and each one takes the name of an article used at
the tea-table, such as tea, sugar, cream, cake, bread, etc. The one called “tea”begins.
He rises,, turns around and around in his place, saying: “I turn tea; who turns sugar?”
Sugar turns, saying: I turn sugar; who turns milk?” And so on, till everyone
in the circle is turning. They must continue turning till the leader claps his hands
and calls out: “Clear the table,” when all sit down in their chairs again.

(I think they could have more accurately named that game, English Tea)

I think many would enjoy the book as much as I. It has many simple ideas as I quoted here but it also has many not so simple ideas for various problems found around the farm or the home. The Foreword gives a little history of the Farm Journal along with some great old photos. Then there is the Free Information Service with coupons for subscribers to fill in and attach to letters asking for information.
They apparently even answered legal questions. “All of this service is free, except that inquiries of the Law Department, requiring immediate answer, must be accompanied with remittance of one dollar.”

You know it might be fun to just have a forum or blog of nothing but information, suggestions, or book reviews of little known books over the age of 50. Please leave a comment if you have something similar to How to Do Things in the way of old books. Give us a review of yours if you like.

Look what I found on line! http://www.tumbledownfarm.com/drupal/How_To_Do_Things and Amazon has the book for sale. Just how great is that.

The photo at the top should be called How Not to Do Things. My husband is the photographer. Link to his photos is on my blog list. Show Me Photography


  1. I loved every line of this!! I enjoy (and often utilize) a lot of those old hints... and the old cook books too. My favorite one comes from SD. It was Barbara Anderson's mother-in-law's cook book she started housekeeping with back in 1887. Reads better than a novel. With the economy, these old publications should be reprinted. The market is there and growing.

  2. the Tumbledown farm link is a good one for much info.
    I love the old cook book I have that has the ad "the first Cookbook for women by women.

  3. "the first Cookbook for women by women."

  4. You hit home with me on this post. I was born in a little frame farm house, cold in winter, so newspapers were used to cover cracks in the walls at times. Mother chose my sister's name from a newspaper article she saw on the wall right after the baby was born.
    I have some old cookbooks from my hometown and I love to read the ads in the back and see the names under the recipes donated for the book. Brings back many memories. These cookbooks arent' as old as Pat's. They only go back to the fifites.
    Love your blog.

  5. annonymous,
    I am sorry I did not see your comment here.
    With apologies for the oversight.
    I really appreciate comments so I know if there is an interest in some subject or the other.
    I usually check the posts for comments several times. Don't know how I missed yours.