Sunday, February 19, 2006

old school solutions

I own my mind, but sometimes even i don't know how it works! The other day i was working and most likely documenting either someone's myocardial infarction (heart attack), or chemotherapy protocol, maybe it was a psych consult, or the ever popular 'stomach problem'? I don't even know -- so many patients every day, it all blurs together! So, for some reason i can 'double track' -- do my job, plus think about everything else under the sun!!! So, like always, while i work my mind seeks diversion from the monotony of illness and so much technical jargon. . and i just started thinking about how when we were kids, my sisters and i used to feedtorn up strips of bread, raw, beaten eggs and milk to our dog, Blackie, when we ran out of Alpo! This was our parents' solution to put off a trip to the store! I wonder, was this good for Blackie?!!! What do you think?!!! So, I started to think of other 'make do' methods or ideas that either our family came up with to fix things, or stretch things, etc.

These are pretty old school things. . my time of reference here is the 60's and 70's. . some penny pinching practices that could seem pretty smart or pretty dumb. .some products that i haven't heard of in decades.

*Mecca ointment -- this smelly, goopy stuff came in an orange tin and always made an appearance if we had an infected wound, which we seemed to happen quite often with the 3 of us falling and scraping our extremities. We hated Mecca! It was like something from the 1800s.
*ketchup clinging to the bottle? We put a bit of vinegar in there, put the lid on, shook it up and used up the dregs.
*cod liver oil - yeah, this stuff was sold in different forms - i think?- our mother happened to choose the 'fish oil taffy'! YAY! Our grandmother probably told her to give this to us to stave off illness? I can still see us lined up in that moss green carpeted kitchen on Paradise Road and each ingest a whopping spoonful of thick, amber-coloured, fish guts molasses. (it was disgusting beyond words) We still got sick. . and we never saw that jar of sludge again! Thank you, God!
*broken crayons -- It seemed that large, megaboxes of crayons didn't stay intact very long. We would take the broken bits, remove the paper and put them in old muffin tins, heat them in the oven to melt, but not stir them. Then let them cool in the tins until they were hardened. We popped out the multi-coloured crayon pucks and had fun!!!
*chest cold? My Nana would make this witch doctory 'mustard plaster'. . slather it on our chest and cover this over with flannel. It heated up. . it stunk. . I don't even know if it did anything? but i had the displeasure of being mustard plastered!
*spoke flappers -- all the boys in our neighbourhood would affix playing cards to the spokes of their bikes wheels with clothes pins! Made this cool snapping sound as they rode around!
*caps -- if you were a kid without a cap gun in the 60s. . . all you needed was a stone! You placed your roll of caps on the sidewalk - pound each circle with a rock and POW! smoke and a flash! vvvvery exciting!
*cleaning windows -- for some reason, my mother and grandmother seemed to advocate the use of vinegar and water sprayed on the window, and they wiped this off with newspaper!!!???
*skipping dilemma -- If you wanted to skip and didn't have 2 turners. . . a telephone pole would do in a pinch!
*baking --- if you wanted to make some tarts and didn't have pie filling, or didn't want to make any filling . . . jam will always do the trick. If you wanted apple pie but only had green tomatoes, you could make them taste just like apple - apparently. *seems weird!* I have a 50s recipe book. . they were really into ersatz back them - maybe a WWII residual?
*game from a sewing box! -- girls in the 60s would regularly raid their mother's sewing baskets for packets of stretchy elastic cording. 2 'holders' stood across from each other holding the elastic at calf level. The jumper would have to jump over this elastic limbo line in any old way she wanted. Everyone would take their turn. Then the holders 'raised the bar' and so on and son on. .
*run out of milk? living on a shoestring? -- this was so gross, but mothers everywhere would mix up powdered milk, add some 'real milk' to fool us *AS IF!!!* and we would be made to drink this blue-tinged, icky-tasting pseudomilk. Sometimes there would be pasty bits of undissolved powder. UGH.
*mercurochrome -- this was a neon-pink tinture that was a MUCH cooler solution for scrapes and cuts than Mecca ointment!!! Of course, our mother didn't use this cool pink stuff, we got the crud in a tin that attracted stray dogs and insects! bah!
*silver all dark and yucky? No Silvo in the house? A tube of Crest would be the next best thing. When we had the cleaning of the silver chore, i remember using toothpaste!
*curlers too uncomfortable? Every Saturday night was get ready for Sunday morning time. We all had our freshly-washed hair wound up with these hard plastic 'rollers', affixed with these equally hard plastic pins. . try sleeping!!! strips of rags tied to your curls were much easier to sleep on - at least your head wasn't 2 inches off the pillow, forcing your neck at this weird angle. Being a girl back then was such a pain!
*new life for a ball game -- it was strangely popular to hack off one leg of a pair of your mother's pantyhose, place a small rubber ball in the toe - remember those tri-coloured, red, white and blue balls? and do these strange 'hitting the ball against the wall' games with this device!

Well, those are just a few things that came to me. I'm sure you have our own memories of things from your childhood, maybe things your parents did to economize, products you had in your house. I love thinking about the stuff that's in the recesses of my mind. . is that a sign of age-ing?!!!!!


Lindsay said...

Those are cool! I remember doing that skipping rope tied to a telephone pole thing, and didn't you make us those melted crayon pucks one time? I remember having them! As for the vinegar as glass cleaner, this is true, we sometimes use it at work if a client requests it and it works just as well! We don't wipe it off with newspaper, though...wouldn't the ink rub off on the glass?

Kathryn said...

yeah, the skipping rope thing is timeless!! Yes, we made the melted crayon pucks!!! yeah, i know. . you'd think the ink would be a problem, it didn't seem to be. . . weird.

supersimbo said...

the vinegar newspaper on windows thing works apparently, i reckon vinegar is an expensive and ultra smelly way of doing it tho!!!
I must think about some of these old but wonderful fables, my granda on my mums side of the family was such a legend when it came to to gadgets and ideas and making things.....he shoulda been in teh a-team!

Sherri Lavender said...

Yes, vinegar and newspaper - a staple for cleaning windows!

I was always so jealous of my friend (whose name, interestingly, is Kathryn) because she had mercurochrome - VERY COOL!!

spoke flappers - YES!

jam in pastry tarts - still do it... very tastey!

OK, RAW egg and all that other people food didn't make your dog sick? Did you give unlimited quantities, or was it just tiny amounts?

I can't think of too many things my parents did to economize - however, I DO remember my mother would try to trick us into eating no-name food (like peanut butter and rice krispies) by first buying the real thing, then, when we had finished it, putting the no-name stuff in the brand-name packaging... As if we could be fooled! You can't just change peanut butter brand-names and expect it to go unnoticed!!!!?!?!!?

Kathryn said...

Hey, Sherri!! Yes, i too was totally jealous of friends who had mercurochrome!! I even asked my mother to buy some, but she wouldn't. My mother did the same thing with peanut butter and brand name cereals. . my father would only have Kraft. . she would buy the no name and put it in the empty Kraft jar too!! He would FREAK! (not in a terribly mad way, just in a whiney, "I want my Kraft peanut butter" way!) She never tried that again! No name rice krispies taste like cardboard!!! blech.

al hakanson said...

according to your current pic you are truly a vamp