Secret Pop

Jul 31, 2003

Injuries in the Home and How They Can Be Prevented

I was flipping through the The Goodrich Almanac for Farm and Home 1937, and I found a number of quaint bits of advice and charming old timey illustrations. I was looking for inspiration for my journal, but this sort of thing poses a problem for me. If I have a book or booklet that isn't already scrapped, it's difficult for me to tear it up or to use parts of it without feeling the anxious fear that I will suddenly realize the stuff on the reverse side of the paper is more wonderful than the stuff on the front as soon as I've glued it down. This must be what has kept me on the outside of the art world for so long: fear and neurosis.

Towards the back of the booklet (intact but for a missing corner of the cover), I found a feature called Injuries in the Home and How They Can Be Prevented. I laughed when I saw "Gun Shot Wounds" as one of the listed items. How perilous it was to live in 1937! The rest of the items were also surprisingly dire. These weren't just your run-of-the-mill in-home accidents. These were disaster-caliber incidents like "Asphyxiations and Suffocations," "Poisonings," and "Other." But as a reminder of the sweetness of that age, the illustration shows a mother gently bandaging the unsevered arm of her young girl child. I guess a sketch of a corpse with its eyes bulging out and a bottle in its hand marked "XXX" would have been too gruesome.

On the facing page, Helpful Hints Courtesy of "Successful Farming" beckons with entries like this:

Don't overlook the possibilities of old headlight reflectors for light shades about the farm buildings. When coated with aluminum paint they make extra good light. --M.H., Pa.

A useful device for the children in figuring, drawing and so on, is a dark-solored window shade fastened on the wall. It can be written on with chalk and can be easily erased. When not in use, it is rolled up. --M.W., N. Dak.

Turn a clear glass bowl over the alarm clock in the sickroom. You can then see the face perfectly, but the patient will not be dusturbed by the sound of the ticking. --Mrs. O.N., Nebr.

I'm not painting, but I sure am learning a lot. Did you know that the "B.F." in "B.F. Goodrich" stands for "Benjamin Franklin" -- I didn't.

All this, and still no artwork in the happening. If I say I paint with words, we can just keep the fact that this is a cop out between us. That way everybody wins.

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