Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Wrap a Kuchen

Viewer asks how was that kuchen
wrapped, tucked into the laundry case among the clean clothes and mailed back to the dorm?  You're right, it certainly wasn't in a plastic bag.  Nor was there aluminum foil -- I don't remember ever seeing that before The War except on chocolate bars. Neither aluminum nor the more familiar tinfoil would have been available in the kitchen anyhow, when all metals were needed for the frantic manufacturing push to defeat Germany.  In those days if you dropped a single bobby pin or hairpin you spent however long it took to find it.

Saran wrap hadn't been invented yet  (years later you will recall Benjamin Braddock being advised that the coming thing was Plastics.)  Cellophane was still so new that Cole Porter cited it along with the Eiffel Tower as wonders that were The Tops!-- and anyhow, it was available only for commercial products.

Mother wrapped the kuchen in waxed paper, a/k/a wax paper.  She didn't need to put it in a box.  That sturdy laundry case was perfectly designed to take the slings and arrows of the postal service -- which, wartime labor shortage notwithstanding, still gave us two mail deliveries a day.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Of Course the Laundry Case

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, writing -- if memory serves -- about a business model, I found a writer sneering about how inefficient it was for his uncle to send his dirty laundry home from college.
Not so, my young friend!  What else was Uncle supposed to do with his laundry – those white shirts with starched collars and cuffs -- with perma-press still decades in the future? Sending out to a professional laundry would break the student’s Depression-era budget.  Uncle could hardly expect to manage those shirts in the soapstone tubs in the dorm basement.  The Bendix, the pioneering automatic washer, wouldn’t hit town till manufacturers got hold of materials after the War --  and if WW II was still on, btw, why wasn’t Uncle overseas altogether?
Of course the dirty laundry went home to Mother, in a special laundry case, at low postage rates.  And when it came back, there was probably a fresh-baked kuchen tucked in the middle.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nomination for Most Useless

 From one of those catalogs that preys on the worries of Old Folks, here’s today’s nomination for the item I, for one, have never in 88 years thought about buying.  Still, they do manufacture it, so someone must need it. ("Avoid hefty repair bills...")   But can it really pay them to use the space in a general-interest -- to the old folks -- catalog?
Cute mouse, anyhow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Suggestions Welcomed

Ever since 1976, I've prided myself on answering every letter (email, comment, posting) that comes in from a reader of the real estate column.  Received this one a few minutes ago, just have to share it with someone so you're it.  I'll appreciate any suggestions on how to respond.
Edith, In my dad’s will my brother had 1 yr. to buy the property or put up for sale.  The sale price was 60,000.  My sister was the executor but she took for payment an antique car.  She now says she wants nothing more to do w/caring about anything. It has been well over 2 yrs . Now, my other brother says he's giving the brother who wants to buy his money of the sale.  That leaves 2 sisters and 1 brother (plus buyer brother) to divide 60,000.  Buyer says he only has to pay us each 10,000. I don't understand how he could keep 20,000 from sister and brother.  The buyer brother has a business on the property and added quite an addition to it. My dad always paid the taxes and bills for everything.  Two sisters went to the house and took what they wanted (and their kids) and its almost empty. I was under the impression no one touches anything until the estate was settled.  The buyer brother wants to rent out the house also.  There is now arguing with the sister and brother.  Dad did have a lawyer but he will only talk to big sister who has pretty much washed her hands of all. --A. R.
                               I don't blame her.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Today's Column

I suspect the copy editors down at the newspaper have no sense of humor.  Some of the most cheerful bits in my real estate column never make it to print.  But this morning's edition had a pleasant surprise -- they left in that second reader question, which I just couldn't resist.  (Friend tells me the Syracuse paper cut it out.)
       In case you're reading this on one of those tiny screens --
the first item is a standard real estate question: when to put the house on the market?  The third one is also routine: could I please explain title, deed, and abstract?  But the one in between clearly came to me by mistake:
    Dear Edith:  As a wedding gift in 1953 we received  a set of 12 Princeton University Wedgewood Collectors Plates.
    At our age with no one to pass them on to we are desirous of selling them.  Therefore, can you please advise possible value and marketability.  Self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed.  Thank you. -- C. W.
   Answer:  It looks like you sent your question to the wrong newspaper columnist -- that does happen.  But I was intrigued anyhow, so I took a look on the auction site eBay, where it appears that plates like yours sell for about $25 each, sometimes a bit more.
   You're welcome.  
I'll let you know if I hear any comments.  There'll be plenty of socializing over the next few days as I have two more funerals to attend.  Senior living includes the occupational hazard of senior dying.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Adventure

Sitting at the computer early this morning I glanced at the calendar and realized I had just time to get dressed and make my Wednesday haircut appointment.  We’re in a thaw so I took out the little yellow Smart --smallest car sold in the U. S.  Got halfway to the hairdresser when it occurred to me this just might be Tuesday.  Tried to remember what happened yesterday, couldn’t.
Pulled in to McDonald’s, asked the girl at the drive-in window what day it was.
She looked only mildly startled, said it was Tuesday and she liked my car.  So I had a fine bacon egg and cheese biscuit and a watery reconstituted orange juice.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Write a Letter

The clipping is not from a neighborhood advertising flyer.  I found it this morning in what used to be a large daily newspaper-- well, it's still daily but these days it weighs about four ounces.  The article gives detailed instructions about how to have a quaint antique experience:
                                                        How to Write a Letter.
Start, it advises, by visiting a stationary store [are there still such things?].  “If you are putting forth the effort to create a beautiful, handwritten letter, you can add to the experience by selecting a fine paper on which to write.  There are many different types of paper…”
and if you’re lucky you may even find some with flower petals embedded.
Seven more steps are listed, including
*practice penmanship before sitting down to write your letter,
*jot down ideas on a piece of scrap paper,
*be sure to proofread it for misspellings and grammatical errors,
working up to
“Write your final copy of the letter on the good paper.  Make sure it is neat and legible.”
And finally
“…wait a day or two before sending the letter to be sure [it is] truly what you want to say.  If so, mail…”
All this,  I remind you, in a major daily newspaper. Someone was paid to write that.  It's even more disheartening to realize there are probably grown persons who will need that guidance – if they ever do sit down to write a letter.