Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1931-1940

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 4 and we'll be looking at the the Depression Era, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here, or for part 3 about 1921-1930 here.

With the 1930s comes a new national obsession with thrift and the documents written about housekeeping seem to reflect it.  There is less material, and the percentage that discusses cleaning is comparatively minuscule.  The new topics at hand seem to be how to get the most bang for your buck and making sure that your children are not malnourished.  Because of this, we are taking a slight departure from our previous look  at the Good Housekeeping  archives to look at the Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers, "Letters From a HOmemaker to her Friend on House Cleaning" by Ella M. Cushman.  

Cornell bulletin for homemakers: Part V, Number 262 - Letters From a Homemaker to Her Friend on House Cleaning

By Ella M. Cushman


Greenacres Farm, Saturday.

Dear Friend:

Mrs. Livingston has certainly cheered up since I saw her last.  She shampooed her large living-room rug with soap lather and it looks almost like new.  She said she really enjoyed doing it.  She decided to be experimental, too, and went so far as to try the soap lather on an upholstered chair which she has had for ten years and which had never been cleaned.  She said it was so dirty you couldn't tell what color it was, and you could hardly distinguish the pattern.  First she was careful to test the colors behind the back and found they were fast.  The top of the back was greasy where people had rested their heads, so Mrs. Livingston was afraid the soap lather might not take out this grease.  She poured some carbon tetrachloride into a saucer and with a soft brush scrubbed the soiled part until she felt sure that the grease had been cut.  In cleaning it, she used exactly the same method she used with her rug, and was particularly careful not to allow any water to soak through, as she was afraid it might rust the springs.  

When Mr. Livingston came home that night he said, "Where did you get the new chair?" 

I saw the chair myself and felt that Mr. Livingston was justified in his question.  The chair was a very good one, of solid mahogany.  Mrs. Livingston wanted to know what to do with the mahogany so it would be as clean as the upholstery, so I told her how Mrs. Broome had cleaned her varnished furniture.  When I left, she was mixing the solution and I suppose that the next time I drop in all the varnished furniture and the woodwork in the Livingston house will be clean, for Mrs. Livingston certainly does like to try new ideas.  

These are the directions Mrs. Broome gave me.  I know that she had good results:

Into a dish containing one quart of hot water, put three tablespoons of linseed oil and one tablespoon of turpentine and set this dish in a pan of hot water.  Wash the varnished surface with the mixture until all the dirt is removed, then dry and polish it with a soft dry cloth.  As soon as the mixture becomes dirty, throw it away and mix up a new solution.  

Cordially yours,

Mary Smith.  

For the complete text of this letter, and the others included in the Bulletin click here.

Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here

WWII Hangar Dance

WWII Hangar Dance

This past Friday was my husband and my fourth anniversary (how time flies)! To celebrate we decided to went to the Goodhue County Historical Society's World War II Hangar Dance. It was my first experience going to a hangar dance, and let me tell you, it was: Amazing!!