Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1917 (2)

She Had a Question, 1917 (2)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 16, 2011

Let us return to the days of 1917, with Catherine Hurst and the Girl Queries of the Young Woman’s Journal … queries requiring the use of a surprising number of chemicals …

Janet, Ollie, Grace – For the shiny places on your suit, rub the spots with fine emery paper, then brush thorough and sponge with bluing water. To take the ink spots from your white skirt, mix the juice of a lemon with salt and rub over the spot, then put the garment in the sun. For ink in colored goods, place the stained part in melted tallow or kerosene. Afterwards wash with soap and water. Equal parts of powdered alum and cream of tartar moistened with water will also prove effective.


The ring left from gasoline or other cleaning process may be removed by holding the spot in the steam from the teakettle for a few minutes. The material must be perfectly dry before doing so.


“Bride-to-be” – Announcements are not sent out until the day of, or the day following, the wedding. It is not absolutely necessary for the bride to carry a bouquet, although if a reception be held it is customary. If the bride be going away immediately after the ceremony no bouquet is necessary, but she may wear flowers.


What is the origin of the “hope box” or who first thought of it? – Dorothy.

According to Greek mythology, the first mortal woman, Pandora (“all gifted”) was made by Vulcan out of clay, at the command of Jupiter, who wished to punish Prometheus by giving him a companion. When the statue was animated, each god and goddess bestowed on her some special charm, while Jove himself gave her “Pandora’s box” which could only be opened by the mortal she selected for her husband.

Prometheus refused to be bribed by her charms. His brother Epimetheus fell captive to her charms and eagerly asked for, and obtained, the lovely Pandora for his wife, upon which she presented him with the box. When he opened the box all the ills and mischief that afflict mankind flew out and spread themselves over the world, and the consequence would have been more fatal had not Hope been at the bottom.

Another story says that the box was not to be opened by mortal, but Pandora’s curiosity led her to peep into it, when out flew all the ills of humanity, and she had just time to close the lid before the escape of Hope.


Why do we eat plum pudding and mince pie on Christmas? – Madalene.

The Christmas pudding, as also the mince pie, in its contents is thought to symbolize the rich offerings made by the Wise Men to the infant Jesus, and dates back to the early Christians. At one time plum pudding was called “hackin,” signifying the “hackin” or chopping of the ingredients, meat, fruits, suet, etc. Plum pudding seems to have survived only in England where it is a national dish. it was brought to America by the English colonists.

The early Christians used to make the mince pies immense, and in the form of a cradle or manger. After several centuries the pies were made smaller in size, but still carried out the idea of the manger.


“Daisy” – To make the blacking adhere to your range, mix the black lead with vinegar or oil of turpentine instead of water, and add a piece of yellow soap the size of a walnut to four ounces of the lead. Melt the soap, then mix with a little clear coffee to make it creamy before adding to the blacking. or, in place of black lead, use a rag that has been soaked in paraffin, rubbing it all over the iron and steel parts while they are warm, two or three times a week. it will not rub off, and gives the stove a glossy appearance.


I know of no preparation that could be used to make Pastels permanent. The only way to preserve them is to cover with glass, and paste paper securely over the back to keep out all dirt. Then again they should be moved carefully and not often, as the color comes off so easily.


“Pearl” – An honored guest is seated at the right of host or hostess. If at the table only four or six are seated, the honored guest could be placed at the end opposite the host. the thought is that he be not far enough removed from the host to prevent a pleasant conversation in a subdued tone.

(2) “The Up-to-Date Waitress,” by Janet M. Hill, price $1.55 postpaid, will give you all the information asked for on the several topics. “The Blue Book of Etiquette for Women,” by Mrs. Charles Harcourt, price 75c, deals with topics other than dinners and luncheons.


What are “military brushes?” – Daisy.

“Military brushes” is the name of a pair of brushes for the hair – the two of a kind, oblong in shape, with good bristles set in ebony or hardwood.


What does “beat,” “stir,” “cut” and “fold” mean in a recipe? – Elva.

“Beating” means to mix over and over, letting the bowl of the spoon touch the bottom of the mixing bowl and carry the mixture to the opposite side. By beating, lots of air is enclosed.

“Stirring” means to stir the mixture round and round until the materials are thoroughly mixed or blended.

“Folding” and “cutting” mean to turn the mixture over, cut down and lift up, and so repeating until the mass is blended, but the air cells are unbroken.


At a gift shower, should the bride-to-be open the packages in the presence of the guests? – Jean.

Yes, she should open them and cordially thank the givers.


“Mrs. M.B.” – The care of the feet is just as important as the care of the hands and face. Bathe the feet at least twice a day using a mild soap, and softening the water with a few drops of ammonia or a spoonful of powdered borax. the same ointment used for the hands may, with equal benefit, be used on the feet.

For the “burning,” “tired” feeling you mention, soak the feet in strong warm salt water, or in water to which has been added, to a gallon of water, one pint of bran and one ounce of common baking soda. Let feet remain in either solution for fifteen minutes. Dry well with Turkish towel, then rub the rough or callous places vigorously with a pumice stone, after which treat the feet to a camphor rub, followed by a vaseline rubbing. The latter treatment will soften the bunion making it less painful. Soaking the feet in cold water three times a day is also good for that “tired” feeling.

For the chilblains and chapped parts, use the following ointment: Boric acid, 2 parts; vaseline, 30 parts; glycerine, 3 parts. Rubbing with kerosene is also good to correct chilblains. Do not go near a fire.

For the corn tie a fresh piece of lemon on the corn daily, until it eats into the roots so that it will come out. Or, make a strong solution of common soda and soak the corn for half an hour for several nights. Or, apply each night with a wooden toothpick tincture of iodine or aromatic vinegar. In a few days, when bathed in hot water the corn will loosen and come out. Do not wear slipshod shoes, shoes that are tight, or that have run down heels.


“O.B.” – To clean your white kid shoes, dip a clean white flannel cloth in a little ammonia and rub lightly over a cake of white soap. Rub the soiled spots gently, changing the cloth as soon as it becomes soiled. Or, wet a clean white flannel in benzine or gasoline, rub lightly. Hang in the air to dry. Remember benzine and gasoline are inflammable.

To soften kid, rub once a week with castor oil. To polish your tan shoes, wash the shoes clean with a sponge and warm water. Wipe dry, and let dry thoroughly, then rub freely with the inside of a banana peel. Wipe carefully and polish with a piece of cotton flannel. orange juice is also good to polish tan shoes.


“F.E.B.” – to prepare starch for collars, cuffs, etc., mix the required amount of common starch, or cornstarch, with a small portion of cold water, to the consistency of cream. Rub and beat the starch well so that all particles are evenly wet through. Thin with a little more cold water. To one part of starch add eight parts boiling water, pouring the water in a thin stream, stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Set over the fire and boil from three to five minutes, stirring all the time. Mix with the starch while cooking some white wax, or equal parts of white wax and spermaceti, that have been previously melted. A lump of wax the size of a walnut to one quart of cooked starch is the proper proportion. or, prepare a solution of gum arabic by using two ounces of finely powdered white gum to one pint of boiling water, put in bottle, cork, tightly and shake until the powder is dissolved. Let stand 24 hours, then strain through a cheese cloth and bottle for use. Add two tablespoonfuls to one pint of cooked starch, while boiling. For fine dress goods, lawns, etc., have the quantity to a pint of starch.


Explain “Arrange on a folded napkin” and how that could be done when croquettes, etc., are served at the second and third course of a dinner. – Rae.

The napkin is folded and placed on a plate in a short of nest-like fashion, the food placed upon it and passed to the left of guest. It is not usual to place food upon a napkin if such would leave a soiled spot. Viands like croquettes would leave a stain. Biscuits, rolls, potato on the half shell, etc., would not. Caterers and cooks differ somewhat in the serving of dinners, therefore there is no fixed rule for many forms of serving.

To your second query, “Food and Health” by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley, deals with your problem. Price 75c postpaid. Or, write the Washington Bureau Editor, Washington, D.C., enclosing a two-cent stamp with your request, and the information in a condensed form will be sent you. Then for five cents you will receive a Bulletin on corn meal with a number of recipes on using it. Another on popcorn with recipes for making popcorn confections may be had for the same small sum.


A very good book on sewing, giving precise instructions o9n the use of the needle, etc., is “Educational Needlecraft,” price $1.00, by Swanson and Macbeth. Another very great help for the sewing room, is the school tablets on sewing, price 50c. For ordinary sewing the tablet used in the fifth or sixth grade would be the correct one to order. the above are for sale at the Deseret News Book Store, or Sunday School Union Book Store.


“L.C.” – To remove the paint from your dress, apply a mixture of turpentine and essence of lemon, 5 parts to 1, with a small brush or sponge. Or, wet the spot with alcohol until the paint crumbles. Or, try kerosene, afterwards gasoline to remove the grease. Do not use gasoline near a fire or flame.


“Charlotte” – For the red ink spots on your straw hat, use a solution of oxalic acid (poison). To one-half pint of warm water add 1 teaspoonful of acid. Put on with a brush or sponge, and rinse in clear water to which has been added a spoonful of ammonia. Or, use chloride of lime. Directions are on the can. If these fail, have your hat dyed in some color to cover the spots.



  1. I can confirm that Mrs. M.B. is following all those instructions to this day. Except the part about the “slipshod shoes” which she ignores on Saturdays and holidays.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  2. Man am I glad that I can go to Wal-Mart and get all these chemicals already mixed, prepared, packaged, and printed with instructions!

    Comment by Carol — November 16, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  3. Egad! The lead poisoning that would result from blacking a stove that way!

    Comment by Coffinberry — November 16, 2011 @ 9:06 am

  4. “the use of a surprising number of chemicals”

    Ha! Well said.

    So many domestic inquiries here. Is it me or hasn’t Sister Hurst opined more on questions of doctrine/theology and morals in earlier posts? Did her column move gradually away from that over time?

    Comment by David Y. — November 16, 2011 @ 9:12 am

  5. This post should come with a skull-and-crossbones warning!

    There does seem to have been a definite shift in the kinds of questions answered. I can’t guess whether that was an editorial decision, or whether this represents a shift in the kinds of questions the girls asked (hard to imagine, though, that a new crop of girls wouldn’t be asking the same how-far-can-I-go-with-a-boy questions of the previous years). The column ended in 1918. Maybe this is why — the questions became less about the blushing and giggling and more about the prosaic details of housekeeping.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 16, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  6. Thanks for that, Ardis. Don’t get me wrong — I love the fascination with all the tinctures, etc., but wondered about an apparent shift in topics. You’re right — such a shift could have been due to the kinds of questions that Hurst got asked in the first place.

    Comment by David Y. — November 16, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  7. I now know that I know nothing of household chemistry.

    I had to look up several words. Spermaceti, fat from a sperm whale’s head. Chilblains, a kind of skin injury to the extremities due in part to wet and cold. I’ve heard of Egyptian cotton but never specifically Turkish towels. My grandfather had two brushes like the military brushes, that that my mom wanted after he passed away. I didn’t know they had a name and that two handed hair brushing was a common thing.

    The caution with several of the instructions to avoid flame was interesting. Using lead to blacken the stove top mixed with turpentine, oil, yellow soap and some coffee, wow. So much poison and inflammable in one article, it is staggering.

    Comment by Dovie — November 16, 2011 @ 9:52 am

  8. “Rubbing with kerosene is also good to correct chilblains. Do not go near a fire.”

    “Wipe dry, and let dry thoroughly, then rub freely with the inside of a banana peel.” Do not go near a monkey.

    I was intrigued by the differences in beat, stir, cut and fold. I probably could have asked my lovely wife, but it’s more fun to learn it here…

    Comment by Paul — November 16, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  9. What strikes me with many of these, especially the foot-bathing advice, is the amount of time and often energy needed to implement the instructions. No wonder our grandmothers were exhausted. Come to think of it, I very much doubt that my grandmother would have been bothered to soak her feet three times a day…

    Comment by Alison — November 16, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  10. Wow, so many chemicals, so little time. The instructions on making starch just makes it so much easier to take my dress shirts to the shirt laundry, and get them done for $1.50 these days. All that work just to make the starch, and then you still have to heat your old solid iron on the coal stove you’ve just blacked with lead, just so you can iron a shirt. Staggering.

    “Do not go near a monkey”. BCOTW!

    Comment by kevinf — November 16, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  11. I remember when my next-door aunt cleaned some of her clothes in kerosine (or something similar) then hung them on clothes hangers on the clothes line.

    The instructions for cleaning all of these articles of clothing or for helping body problems made me tired just reading about them. How on earth did those women ever have time for just fun?

    Comment by Maurine Ward — November 16, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

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