Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Man's work is from sun to sun

Armloads of dishes head into and out of the dishwasher a few times a day. Mountains of laundry pile into the washing machine--ugh--then the dryer.

To put our daily toils into perspective, check out this archived copy of Mrs. Owens’ Cook Book and Useful Household Hints.

Mrs. Owens, who originally copyrighted the book in 1884, uses personal voice and humor. Her household manual reads like a personal letter.

One of the book’s purposes is to eliminate unnecessary work and make the homemaker more efficient. 

“It is worse than folly to devote ten hours to a task which may be accomplished in five. These aids will make that difference,” she says.

She speaks of skimping on the ironing stating that no one will ever know if you only ironed the fronts of your husband’s nightshirts. 

The section on road-making was intended, along with the proper way to butcher meat, as reference for the farmer in the family. Believe me, this book is thorough.

Its advice for treatment of whooping cough prompted me to research the disease’s history. A vaccine for whooping cough had not been developed at the time of writing. 

Housekeeping was not so much about aesthetics or vanity, but a pursuit largely dedicated to disease prevention and survival.

Just when I figured there was no time for fun, I discovered a page regarding children’s parties. Though I don’t know many children who would cheer about panned oysters, the rest of the menu sounded appealing.

Listening to Mrs. Owens through her writing reveals wasted hours in modern day. I mean, our household does not rely on me to prepare fire kindlers, make ink or clean kerosene lamps.

But I never slack when ironing my husband's nightshirts! 

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