Books of Household Hints Were Fixtures in the Homes of Yesteryear

A 1920 booklet titled “Did You Know? – Book of Facts, Household Recipes and other Valuable Information” from the Chattanooga Drug and Chemical Company promoted three health products and at the same time offered 20 pages of interesting reading.

The main sales item was Ziron Iron Tonic, a medicine said to prevent diseases, not cure them. One user claimed that after taking two bottles of Ziron, she had more energy to do housework. “When I began taking it,” she said, “I weighed 129 pounds and now I weigh 140.”

Velvo Little Liver Pills were described as a purely vegetable remedy for problems associated with a “torpid liver.” A testimonial claimed, “I had a deep-seated cold and my liver did not act. I tried other liver pills (Carters Little Liver Pills maybe?) and did not do me any good. One dose of Velvo relieved me at once.”

Mentha-Col Chest Salve was sold as a refined, antiseptic, expectorant preparation, for external and internal use in coughs, colds, sore throat and simple chest troubles. An ad proclaimed that the product offered immediate relief to a little girl who was beset with chiggers, those annoying little red bugs found in wooded areas.

In a section titled “Games For Rainy Evenings” one amusement was called “It Is to Laugh.” A player was blindfolded and given a cane. The others joined hands and circled around him or her. The blindfolded person then tapped the floor for them to stop, pointed to someone and said “It Is to Laugh.” The selected person had to laugh without revealing his/her identity. If the person was identified, they traded places; if not, the blindfolded person tried again.

The newsy publication also contained 39 “Household Hints” such as preserving potatoes: “Dust the floor of the bin with lime; put in about six inches of potatoes; add more lime; and alternate in this manner. One bushel of lime was used for 50 bushels of potatoes. The lime was said to improve the flavor of the potatoes and prevent rotting.

“To renew a razor strop, apply clean tallow over the surface and work it in with the palm of your hand; then rub the (leather) strap with soft pewter or lead.

“To keep corn green, gather it with the husks on. Put a layer of salt in the bottom of a clean barrel, then add a layer of corn and alternate until the barrel is filled. Add another layer of salt and put on a weight on it. Make a little brine of salt and water, pour over the tip and set it cool place, being careful that it does not freeze. The corn will keep sweet and fresh the whole year. When you wish to use it, take off the husks and soak the corn for 24 hours in cold water.

“To test milk, procure a long, glass bottle. Cut a narrow strip of paper the length of the bottle from the neck to the bottom. Mark off the strip of paper with 100 equal parts and paste it on the bottle. Pour in the milk and let it stand. After the cream rises to the top, the number of spaces occupied by it will be the percentage of cream in the milk. It should occupy from 11 to 13 spaces.

“To cool a room, wet a large cloth and hang it in the room. Let the ventilation be good and the temperature will drop 10 to 20 degrees within an hour.” This might offer a possible solution to our energy crisis.”

And finally, one item dealt with how to determine a horse’s age by examining its teeth. Before three years old, the animal sheds one on each side of the center teeth. At four, it loses the two corner and last of the four teeth. At five, it cuts the under tusks. At six, the grooves and hollows begin to fill up and at eight, they are filled up.”

These informative booklets became a common fixture in area homes of yesteryear.