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To heck with technology!Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 6:38 PM
Originally published on August 25, 2008
This modern life has been getting me down for some time. I am now all hooked up to the Outside World here in the office, via the World Wide Web, which is sending a barrage of pop-up ads, flashing lights, and little animated people who run all over my computer screen, urging me to sign up for an online course and take on-line classes for on-line jobs in the on-line world.
It's all driving me crazy, and I find myself missing life in the early part of the century. That's especially troublesome, since I wasn't even born then.
A few weeks ago, a nice lady brought me a yellowed page out of the "Southern Farmer" newspaper from September, 1942, and I've been looking through this bit of memorabilia, marveling over how far we have NOT come since that distant time when I was seven months old.
The ads are by far the most interesting part of the this ancient paper. Why is it that so many marvelous products did not survive into the current age?
One ad asks the question, "Do you want Longer HAIR? Just try this SYSTEM on your hair 7 days and see if you are really enjoying the pleasure of longer hair that so often captures love and romance. Send $1.00 Fully guaranteed. Money back if you're not delighted. JUEL CO. Chicago, Ill."
Wow! I had no idea that long hair was the secret to "love and romance"! And, here I've been getting mine cut once a month! No wonder my life is so dull!
There are three ads for false teeth; two ask for $7.95 and one sells them for $7.00. There's even a ninety-day trial period - and what gets me is that the buyer doesn't even have to send any money! A bunch of these ads read, "Just pay postman $1.48 plus postage." Good grief! It was certainly a more trusting age! Can you feature asking your postman these days to collect the $7.95 that you owe on your false teeth?
Other quaint, colorful ads: "Dr. J.A. Dickeys' Eye Water: Useful after swimming, motoring, golfing, and sewing." It never occured to me that I would need "eye water" after "motoring." Can we assume that the vehicle in question was a convertible?
Why, land's sakes! The Empire Monument Company, Dept. 10, Station "F," Atlanta, GA, even sold tombstones for $11.95 - 26 inches high, 20 inches wide, and 8 inches thick. The lettering was free and the freight had to be prepaid. (I don't doubt that...) So, dearies, if Fred croaked on a Saturday, you could just order up a tombstone for him on Monday and have it shipped by mail. Be sure to tip the postman, darlin'.
It was evident that the United States was involved in World War II at this time, and I am struck by the number of ads for used clothing. One in particular advertised "TEN SILK DRESSES - $3 - Cleaned-pressed-ready to wear, beautifully styled, slightly used, all sizes, $5.00 values. Send $1.00 deposit. Balance C.O.D. plus postage."
Besides the fascinating ads, there are news articles, such as "Farm women urged to save waste fats," in which women were instructed on how to strain the pan drippings from meat, pour it into wide-mouthed cans, keep it in a refrigerator or a cool, dark place "until you have collected at least one pound. Take fats to your meat dealer, who is co-operating patriotically and will pay you for them."
As for what could be done with this used fat, another article was entitled "Yankee 'Trick' beats Hitler." The idea of this piece goes like this: "Hitler and his prowling submarines are not going to stop the shipment of perishable foods to England and Russia by sinking refrigerator ships. America has an ace in the hole against such a possibility." The article proceeds to explain that large containers of lard, chilled to a zero temperature, could be packed inside the holds of ships to save space, instead of using machinery.
And, considering how the U.S. and Russia seem to be gearing up these days for renewed hostility, the reference to sending goods to help Russia is a blast from the past!
As I read through this newspaper from that distant, memorable year of 1942, I have renewed respect for my 19-year-old mother, who had to cope with all the rigors on the Home Front. I wonder if she saved her pan drippings and ordered those ten silk dresses for a dollar?
I guess I'll resolve myself to life in the Computer Age, but I sure do wish I could stop all those little cartoon critters from running around on my screen.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.