Friday, November 18, 2011

Practical advice, and then some

The past two weeks I've brought you excerpts from "Die Rechte Hand der Hausfrau", a book of advice from 1950 for solving common household problems. Today I want to bring you not only some practical entries from this charming manual, but also some of the more, shall we say, strange bits of advice.

We begin with some solid advice for protecting your pantyhose:

644. Die Strümpfe werden geschont, wenn man eine Sohle aus Samt in die Schuhe legt.

Minimize damage to stockings by placing a sole made of velvet in your shoes.

(For more excellent illustrated advice on this topic from a modern woman who wears vintage stockings, see this tutorial by Shelly from the New Vintage Lady.)

Next we move to a problem which I have occasionally encountered before when I iron my clothes on Tuesdays, although my solution has always been different:

219. Rostige Bügeleisen bestreiche man mit etwas Butter und feingestoßenem Salz. Diesen Ueberzug scheuert man mit einem groben Tuch ab, nachdem er vorher eine Zeit auf den Rost eingewirkt hat.

One should coat rusty irons with some butter and fine grain salt. Rub off this layer with a coarse cloth after letting it work on the rust for a while.

My guess at how this works is that the salt acts as an abrasive substance that, mixed with the butter acting as a substrate, creates a paste that works like many modern scrubbing cleansers. I would not recommend this technique for steam irons, as the little holes will probably clog up with salty butter—not a good recipe for keeping rust away in the long run.

Now we move to what strikes me as a rather obvious description of what happens when someone breaks a bone:

1094. a) Knochenbrüche erkennt man an der abnormen Stellung eines Gliedes, an den heftigen Schmerzen, oder an der ungewöhnlichen Beweglichkeit an sonst festen Stellen.

One recognizes broken bones from the abnormal placement of the limb, the intense pain, or the unusual movement in places that are otherwise immobile.

With this next tip I get the impression that the author is actually talking about a child-rearing technique:

712. Hunde- und Katzenfutter soll möglichst immer dasselbe und nicht zu fein sein, damit man die Tiere nicht verwöhnt und lecksch mach.

Dog and cat food should preferably always be the same thing and not too nice, such that you do not spoil the animals and make them into picky eaters.

source: The Long and Short of it All

Finally, a piece of advice so absurd, I dare anyone to come up with a rational explanation as to how this could work:

677. Erdflöhe halten sich nicht in Blumentöpfen, wenn man Streichhölzer mit dem Kopf nach unten in die Erde steckt.

Flea beetles will not reside in flower pots in which one places a match with the head facing downwards into the soil.

Next week expect some more advice to make you smile.

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