Written during the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020…
There have been odd shortages during these recent times of collective concern, and my own personal challenge has been procuring my favorite flour for baking. I can’t understand why stock has been depleted in every brick-and mortar supplier as well as the major online providers. The positive takeaway is that more homes are filling with the unparalleled aroma of freshly baked treats. In my opinion, the general well being of the entire planet might be elevated by that means.
Anyway, concerns for the homey details of life took me this week to the publication Womankind. Although it is shelved with our titles that often focus on suffrage in detail and politics in general, this is a different content altogether. The January 1893 issue holds a “Household Department” column headed “DOMESTIC ECONOMY. How to Cut Over Stockings for the Little Ones. How the Thoughtful Mother Can Save Many Dollars in the Course of a Year–Diagram for Remodeling Hosiery.” The title is quite daunting, but the attendant copy delivers on its promise with remarkable detail. Further subheadings deal with egg white for sore throats, lemon juice to whiten frosting, salad oil to remove tar and the ingredients to make coffee jelly. I can well imagine that households eagerly awaited the next installment of this handy publication. In fact, in a corner of the paper that solicited letters to “Aunt Celia” from area children, I found evidence of that very fact.
“My papa takes your paper and we like it very much. I don’t go to school now, but will go in the Summer. I have never gone to school much but I can read and write…I can help papa plow and tend to the bees, can help gin and grind.”
Advertisements for angler’s hooks, gloves, egg baskets, and cameras mix with cures for rheumatism, headache or obesity, and a litany of virtues proceeding from the ingestion of syrup of figs. It is a delightful, entertaining 18 page ticket to the late 19th century, and completely distracted me from my fruitless quest for a missing ingredient. Additionally, it reminded me how thankful I am for the levels of work that have been accomplished by others prior to my purchasing a ten pound paper sack of ground, filtered, cleaned and delivered flour.