Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Humorous Look at Housekeeping

Last August I picked up a thrifted copy of Keeping Up With Keeping House: A Practical Guide for the Harried Housewife by the Former White House Housekeeper by Mary Kaltman. Published in 1971, I have found it to be a delightful trove of helpful information and humorous anecdotes. I had to include one of my favorite passages:

“My mother used the same brand of powdered detergent for years, and she used it for everything: dishes, fine fabrics, cleaning woodwork, mopping the floor, and doing the washing. It was a household fixture, satisfactory in every way. She was frightfully upset when the manufacturer upt enzymes in it, and I understand her reaction. Hers is a small rebellion against a surfeit of exaggerated claims and a plethora of products – more every day, and not all designed for use instead of an old product, but in addition to it. There’s a product for every specific purpose and almost every specific person. At the present rate of proliferation I can easily see what may happen to my favorite old scouring powder:

BOFO – A scouring powder. For everybody. For use anywhere scouring powder is needed.

could change to:
BOFO – With ABC added. For cleaning kitchen sinks or bathroom fixtures in either city or country houses.

BOFO – With ABC and Sonjz added. For cleaning kitchen sinks in city apartments.

BOFO – With ABC, Sonjz, and purple crystals added. To use in the feminine bathrooms of country houses. For cleaning bottom of bathtub only.

BOFO – With ABC, POF, Sonjz, Jazzl, and purple crystals added. For use by male apartment dwellers under five feet. To clean outer rim of sink when kitchen faces west.

and finally to:
BOFO – A scouring powder with ABC, POF, XYZ, Sonjz, Jazzl, Zanky, purple crystals with green centers, and plain shocking pink crystals added. For use by women over thirty who have brown hair, blue eyes, live east of the Mississippi in houses with brass owl door knockers."

Her prophecy has proved true, as the word "scouring powder" is now practically obsolete. I shall now check all of our household cleaners to see if they contain "Jazzl" or "Sonjz." I find myself envying the housekeeper who could wash the clothing and the floors with the same cleaner!

At any rate, I hope you had as good a laugh from this as I did!

1 comment:

  1. Very true! And well said. Laundry detergents are even worse.

    One reason I support using plain chemicals(chlorine bleach, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide) whenever possible.


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