One of the fun parts of owning an antiquarian bookstore is reading some of the old books…here are some “useful” bits of information from days gone by:
1. How to cure “Humid hands”:
“Nothing can be so disagreeable as a grasp with the over-moist hand. This infirmity is not seldom constitutional and though difficult of eradication, may be greatly relieved. Whatever tends to strengthen the body will alleviate, if not entirely remedy, the excessive moisture of the hands. Exercise in the open air, cold bathing, a generous but not too stimulating diet, habitual composure of mind, and perhaps a daily draught of some mineral water or medicinal dose containing iron, are the best general means of treatment. The most effective local applications are the juice of lemon and starch powder.” from The Bazar Book of Decorum, published in 1875
I have some ex-boyfriends who could have used this tip!
2. How to re-attach a severed finger:
“If a child has the misfortune to have a finger cut off by a machine, as sometimes [?] happens, the severed member should be picked up, washed in salt and water and put in place again [before or after the hysterical screaming stops?], being fastened with strips of adhesive plaster [will duct tape work?]. A bandage should then be wound around it and left undisturbed until the wound heals. If there is a disagreeable odor, or any evidence of inflammation, as redness, heat, or swelling, it must be unbound, washed in carbolized water and the dressing replaced. There is good hope that the parts will unite, and at least the experiment ought always to be tried [worst case scenario – the kid will get gangrene and die].” from The Care of Children, by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil, published in 1894
3. How to remove gunpowder stains from one’s face [yes, you read that correctly – face]:
“Gunpowder stains of the face may be removed by painting with biniodide of ammonium, distilled water, equal parts; then with dilute hydrochloric acid, to reach the tissue more deeply affected.” from Audel’s Household Helps, Hints, and Receipts; 3000 References, published in 1913
I just hate going to work with gunpowder stains on my face…
4. How to unclog the sink with your hand:
“If your sink drain becomes stopped up, you can often clear it by using your hand as a suction pump. Have plenty of water in the sink, and press in rapid succession with the palm of the hand until the water runs freely again.” from Audel’s Household Helps, Hints, and Receipts; 3000 References, published in 1913
Just be careful not to sever a finger (see #2!).
5. How to reduce a large, fleshy nose:
“Large, fleshy noses are reduced by wearing occasionally at night a contrivance which compresses the artery that supplies the nose.” from Audel’s Household Helps, Hints, and Receipts; 3000 References, published in 1913
Wouldn’t this “contrivance” cut off the circulation to the area? I’m thinking I’d rather have a “large, fleshy nose” than a hole where it used to be…
6. How to prevent worms:
“A teaspoonful of salt dissolved in a teacupful of water is a good remedy to prevent worms in children, taken at night before retiring.” from Audel’s Household Helps, Hints, and Receipts; 3000 References, published in 1913
Can I substitute Pepsi for water?
7. How to remove a button in the nostril:
“A button or other object that has been forced up into the nostril of a child is often removed by the use of a pinch of snuff held to the nose.” from Audel’s Household Helps, Hints, and Receipts; 3000 References, published in 1913
Now, where did I leave my snuffbox?
8. How to walk with a member of the opposite sex:
“When walking together, a girl does not take a boy’s arm unless she needs assistance. He should not take her arm either under ordinary circumstances, but sometimes he places his hand on her elbow when crossing the street in traffic. Linking arms or walking with arms around each other is not considered good taste.” from Teen Guide to Homemaking, by Marion S. Barclay and Frances Champion, published in 1967
I never was concerned about what other people consider “good taste.”