Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Operating Instructions

When you buy a new appliance, the manufacturer gives you operating instructions. Nowadays they don't assume that you have the common sense that Mother Nature gave a mouse, (and they wish to avoid liability). For example, one of my computer manuals advised the user NOT to use it in the bathtub. It's NOT a laptop. (I don't think you should use your laptop in the tub, either) When my babies were little, I used to get a great deal of amusement reading the instruction, "Add Water Before Feeding" on their baby formula. "Who could be that stupid? Who would give a baby dry powdered formula?" I asked my mother. "Oh, you'd be surprised at how stupid people are", she said. "Our next door neighbor when you were little was a new bride. She went to roast a chicken and the package said READY TO COOK so she popped it right in the oven, plastic and all." Today when you buy a chicken they even tell you to cook it to a certain temperature. They don't assume you know anything about cooking. They even tell you to wash your hands.
However, back in the 60's, instructions had a lighter touch. They assumed you had a certain level of expertise around the house. Women back then were professional homemakers, and they knew what they were doing. For example, my dad sent me the 1960s operating manual for a Kenmore Washer. The instructions are full of helpful hints but they assume you know how to wash and dry darks and lights separately and they give tips for different fabrics. The booklet is very sexist in a chipper, perky way though. The instructions aren't sexist...exactly...but the pictures are.
The women in the manual are dressed in cheery aprons or chic homewear, and they are oh so happy to be doing laundry! Not a man in sight in the whole booklet...oh wait! Here's one - the repairman! Look at Mrs. Shirt's pride in that crisply ironed shirt! True happiness.
The other booklet in my post today was the Sunbeam Mixmaster instruction book and recipe book from 1957. It welcomes me to the "family of over twelve million homemakers who are saving time and arm-work and enjoying more delicious foods with their Sunbeam Mixmaster Mixers." I feel so special! But wait! In the pie chapter I am told, "It's pie for the man of the house, and really not difficult to make!"
Can you even imagine a booklet saying that today?
Most men I know do their own laundry, and know how to cook. We've come a long way, baby, from 1957. (This recipe for Lemon Cake Custard looks delicious -they knew how to make dessert back then.)

I almost forgot! The witty and eloquent E has nominated me for an award. That's so sweet! The award states that I am supposed to nominate others, but I looked and all of the blogs I read have one already. Thank you all for your generous sharing of information and support.

Their links are on the side. I'm off to make Lemon Cake Custard. I'll let you know how it comes out. The Route 66 shirt is half finished. Progress tomorrow.
Happy sewing!

1 comment:

The Slapdash Sewist said...

If the lemon cake custard comes out well I hope you share the recipe! Or just invite me over for a piece. `-)