Ordinary items then are museum pieces now

DOOPer's memories

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John Stanger

When I was a youngster, there were a number of items that were in popular use, but have mostly disappeared.

Back in those days, most men and women wore hats when they went outside, so we had a hat rack on the wall in the front hall. The rack was fitted with a mirror so a lady could see if her hat were situated correctly before anchoring it with a hatpin, which was pushed carefully through the hat and into her hair.

One item that gave me great pleasure was the stereoscope. This was a double eye viewer fitted with a clip. Double scene pictures would be placed in the clip and seen through the viewer, which provided a 3-D effect. The pictures, which were mounted on a card, depicted scenery like the Grand Canyon and historical sites such as Gettysburg. My grandmother had a large collection of these pictures and viewing them enhanced my knowledge of what the places I read about actually looked like.

Beating rugs was generally a kid's job. Dusty throw rugs were hung on a clothesline and beaten with a wire beating device. My friend Jimmy claimed that this work developed both his batting swing and strength in his pitching arm and also helped him to get rid of his frustrations. When the rugs were struck, the dust flew, and the job wasn't done until no more dust flew from the rugs. I am happy to say that my mother loved her Hoover vacuum cleaner, so I was able to find other ways to develop my baseball skills.

My grandmother wore pince-nez glasses for many years until finally giving them up in the early '50s and switching to framed glasses. I believe she grew weary of having to visit the optician three or four times a year to have the bridge readjusted. Her pince-nez glasses were suspended from a chain that was attached to a removable pin on the collar of a dress. If the glasses slipped off her nose, the chain kept them from falling to the floor. She always kept two pairs of glasses handy in case the pin failed and gravity won.

My grandfather received a pocket watch from his parents when he graduated from Crane Tech in 1899. He wore it until the early '50s when the family convinced him to wear a wristwatch. He wore the wristwatch but kept the other one in a small pocket in the front waistline of his pants. I remember the pocket watch was attached to a chain (a "fob"), and he put the chain through a buttonhole on his vest. The watch was placed in a vest pocket and the other end was clipped to the other vest pocket, so the chain hung across his midriff. In order to tell the time, he would have to withdraw the watch from his vest pocket and pop open the watch cover. He did not attach any key or insignia to the chain. Those men who had a Phi Beta Kappa key discovered the chain to be a great place to display the key because it would be quite conspicuous and the object of either admiration or envy.

Today these things would be looked on as items that belong in a museum, but when I was young, they were accepted as a routine part of our lives.

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