Friday, October 08, 2004
The Better Way
The annual used book sale is one of my favorite events held at the college. This year, I helped out with the sale for a couple of hours. All the more time to browse the books. Each year before the sale, I go through my shelves to find books I want to donate. This always results with me deciding I can't possibly part with any of my books. And each year, I come home from the sale with a couple of shopping bags full of new books to find a place to stash until the unforeseen day when I may actually read them all.
"A fact-packed treasury of hints and inside information for every homemaker."
Among my finds this year, two books from the 1950s--one on housekeeping and one on manners. Books written about housekeeping reveal a lot about how the role of women change through the years, and I'm always on the outlook for them. The Better Way promises to be "A unique, money-saving handbook for homemakers." The funny thing about this book is that it does not actually include a lot of information about housekeeping. The entire housekeeping section is only 25 pages, including a chapter called "How Did We Ever Get Along without Saran Wrap?" which includes some interesting uses for this stuff. One tip--cover eyeglasses with Saran Wrap while painting to keep paint flecks of the specs.
The rest of the book is about buying things, which is curious for a book that promises to offer ideas for saving money. There is a chapter on "How to Buy a Cat." Buying plants for the garden and furniture for the living room take up the rest of the book. Actually, this sounds a lot like the women's magazines of today, with the fashion spreads and room makeover. Things haven't changed all that much from the 1950's.
The etiquette book is even more of a treat. The cover, in Martha Stewart style, promises that "good living is pleasant living." Inside, the book is all about dating. While there is a section for men that includes the proper method for lighting a date's cigarette, the rest of the book outlines "the rules" of courtship to women.
There is a whole chapter of "Visiting Those Fascinating Men in Uniform." This is my favorite part of the book. In particular, the book admonishes women to "Be agreeable. A fault finder...whiner...complainer...is not very much fun. No matter how you feel, it pays off to pretend you are cheerful and look the part." Solid relationship advice, if I've ever heard it.
Here's another gem: "Don't pursue other men or even the one you happen to be with at the moment,in and obvious way, but give them the privilege of pursuing you." Which certainly would be a privilege, unless you're a whiner.
The etiquette book is fodder for next year's used book sale. I'm far too suave to need advice about whining. The housekeeping book may come in handy, especially if I need to find a use for Saran Wrap.
With The Better Way as my guide, I've reorganized my home office yet again, which of course requires some serious shopping to find the perfect organizational tools. Reorganizing seems to be a perennial pursuit of mine. What to do with all those stacks of paper, the piles of unread books, the drifts of knitting magazines I can't possibly give away. And what fun it is to buy more things to deal with this problem. This year's solution was a set of metal mesh shelves from KMart, my donation to the Free Martha Fund. Now, all the books are off the floor, and I've rescued my yarn stash from underneath the bed. As you can see, I'm not much of a yarn stasher. There's enough here for two sweaters, so I'm only a couple of months ahead of my knitting ability.
Hmmm, that gives me the urge for a little shopping...