Thursday, January 5, 2012

"for the woman who knows what she wants to know"

Everywhere I look, I’m being pressed to organize and clean my house. From sales flyers to magazines to online sites, organizing is the order of the day. And I love that. I love to make lists and card files. When I’m finished and it’s all neatly in order, I push it aside and forget about it.

Maybe it’s not an unusual failing. An old “Father Knows Best” radio program treated the same subject. Margaret, the mother, is hard at work with some very strenuous spring housecleaning activities. She’s climbing ladders, pushing heavy pieces of furniture out from the wall, etc., with the help of daughter Betty. When a weary Margaret suggests she could really use some help with the heavy work, Jim (Father) says, “Oh no, I’ll tackle the yard.” (In radio days, father was quite the jerk.) Then he begins to note what needs to be done and decides the work properly begins with an orderly list. He then disappears to the den, taking son Bud with him, expounding on how nothing can be done until proper organization has occurred. Of course, the tasks at hand are never addressed anywhere except on paper. I can relate.

I love to read household management tips from any era but especially from vintage women’s magazines, housekeeping manuals, cookbooks, etc. In older works, I love the concept of home and womanhood. Being a homemaker was a recognized vocation, and ideas were available to help with this work.

The following are extracts from the Rumford Book on Home Management, compiled by Hannah Wing for the Department of Home Economics of The Rumford Company. No publication date appears – the ‘20s, I think. As the photos of the cover show, it's not an attractive little book, and my copy shows use, which makes it all the more special.

“This book has been planned by the makers of Rumford Baking Powder to give busy housekeepers and young home makers the most helpful of the recent knowledge of modern home economics as applied to the general management of the home. …. The book is a ready reference book not a discussion paper. It is planned for the woman who knows what she wants to know.” [Don’t you just love that -- “for the woman who knows what she wants to know.”]

A suggested program for the special work which must be fitted into each day while still carrying on the routine of the regular daily work. The program should always include a daily rest period and at least one afternoon away from home.

Monday:     Mend, count and prepare laundry. Tidy house. Wash ‘fine pieces’
Tuesday:     Washing. Mop kitchen and laundry floors. Basement stairs and back porch
Wednesday: Ironing
Thursday:   Clean bed rooms
Friday:        Clean living room, clean bath room and do special occasional cleaning
Saturday:    Clean kitchen, ice box. Week-end marketing, and extra cooking”

Sounds like a plan!

From what I could discern through online research, Rumford Baking Powder is still produced by Clabber Girl. I don’t recall seeing the Rumford brand, but I know Clabber Girl. KW

Report of “finishes”:
SS retirement benefit online application
Organizational emblems returned


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...


Rumford still makes baking powder. It is the brand I use as it contains no aluminum as does Clabber Girl.
Growing up my mom always used Clabber Girl, but she, too now uses Rumford.
You can get it at the Co-op I know for sure as that is where I purchase it. It comes in cans or in bulk.
Good ideas on organization, too!

Kathy said...

Thanks for this info, Molly. I'll look for it. We never used to use much baking powder but those oat bran muffins with no flour call for quite a lot.

I wrote Clabber Girl and asked if they could provide info on Hannah Wing.

Chris said...

As linear as I am, I seem to rebel at schedules. I say, strike when the mood hits!!! (I will say it usually doesn't hit often enough, though.)

These beautiful days we've been having, however, have inspired me to clean some drawers, organize some cupboards, and generally notice things that need a "hand." That sun coming through the windows tends to illuminate dust and dark corners.

Kathy said...

I suspect in the old days when women worked at being homemakers, they developed housework routines. I believe they took a lot of pride in their homes, too. Then they checked up on one another with visitations. (LOL)

I laugh, but second sister Joni told me that's pretty much the way it was. As a mid-'50s newlywed, she was an elementary teacher. She said her generation struggled to keep house as their mothers had because so many of them worked outside the home.

Hallie said...

I like a nice schedule and routine. Unfortunately, when a woman works full time, all of those chores fall to the weekend. Most of my chores are weekly, but there are a few that are on an every-other week schedule. This is where I begin to appreciate living in a very small space!

Kathy said...

Yes, there are definitely pros and cons to small-space living,the ease of keeping house is a pro while having guests/entertaining is a con.

Some people innately keep house well. Hallie shares this trait with her paternal grandmother, Bennie. Others, like me, don't have that sense of household routine. It has to be established in some other way, such as a list or card file.

Hallie, how do you keep track of your every-other-week chores?

Hallie said...

If I can't remember if I did it last week, that means it's time to do it this week. Ha! It might not be a perfect system.