Evelyn Hannon: Aging Disgracefully


You're Over 60? Do You Recognize These Wacky Products?

Under 60? You'll see what your moms had to contend with

cough drops

This post is my tribute to mothers and grandmothers who are old enough to recall these ancient artifacts of days gone by. A girlfriend recently sent me one of those emails that you are supposed to pass on to all your friends. I didn't do that. Instead, I thought I'd share it in this Aging Disgracefully blog space, because that's where many of my "cyber oldies" congregate. I knew that they would appreciate the nostalgia relating to these items. However, if you are part of my younger readership, welcome! I've explained what each of these artifacts is. Now, you all can have a good giggle, as well as appreciate what we moms and grandmoms had to contend with back then. 


A Gestetner machine (the brand name) was often referred to as a mimeograph machine or duplicating machine or even ditto machine. It looks like some sort of torture apparatus, but really it was used pre-Xerox machines to make copies of an original. As a working mom, I used one when I was a primary school teacher creating work sheets for my students, and as a camp director putting together camper newsletters. Duplicating was done via a purple ink with an unforgettable strange smell. Just crank the handle and you could create one copy per rotation. 


These plastic pants were a staple in every baby's wardrobe. They were designed to wear over cloth diapers (that's all we ever had) that were held in place by diaper pins. There was really little absorbency in those cloth diapers. They were put on, rubber pants followed, baby peed, and a little "steam room" was created. Need I say more? P.S. Every week a diaper service came by to collect soiled diapers mothers kept in a big canvas bag and replaced them with a week's clean supply. If I remember correctly, my Montreal service was called, Wee Folks Diaper Service. Anybody else remember theirs?


Toni Home Permanents cost $1.25 per kit and were all the rage beginning in the Fifties. They were also the bane of my pre-teen existence. When I was eleven, my mother decided that I should go from perfectly straight hair (so unfashionable) to lovely curly hair (so fashionable). The Toni box she chose came equipped with rollers and bobby pins, so you could create the kind of look you wanted. I remember that curling solution burning my scalp, and finding out that my mother (bless her) was not really a talented hairdresser. Once she had finished the job and I looked in the mirror, I definitely had thoughts of doing myself in. Check out this Toni commercialI think you will enjoy it! 


Speaking of hair, this lovely contraption was my hairdryer in my teenage years. Just plug it in, put on the oh-so-stylish cap, and try to adjust the air temperature that blew into it. Then sit there and sit there and sit there reading movie magazines until your hair finally dried. I remember red welts on my neck from the too hot air seeping from under that lovely, glamorous plastic bonnet. The pain women endure to be beautiful lives on. Right?


This, too, looks like some form of torture machine and in a way it was. You didn't just pop your clothes in, put your feet up, and let the washing machine go through its cycles. Nope! You filled the tub with water from two hosesone attached to the hot water tap of your sink, the other to the cold. Then you started the machine and washed the clothes in detergent for as long as you liked. Next step, you attached yet another draining pipe from your machine to your sink basin and emptied the dirty wash water. After that, Mom (always, Mom) filled the tub with rinse water and repeated the draining process. Finally, you turned on the ominous roller section at the top of the machine, took each soaking wet item out, and passed it through the roller until all the water was squeezed out. When that last step was completed, you hung your clothes on the clothes line with wooden pegs. It was a full morning's work. All I can say is, God bless today's washing machines. 


Today's kiddies use Skype, Facebook, and their iPhone to communicate with their gal pals or their boy crushes.  We had only the Alexander Graham Bell-type dial telephones then, and we talked on it to our friends (especially boyfriends) for hours every day. Often, we couldn't get "a line" to speak on, because our "party line" (another household that used the same connection) was using the telephone when we wanted it. What was really interesting was that even though we could listen in to any of our party line's conversations, we just didn't. It was considered poor etiquette to eavesdrop. Compare that to today's wiretapping. Have we really come a long way, Babes? P.S. I still remember my telephone number back then. It was, Talon (TA) 6670. Do you remember yours?

Check out these unique Mother's Day gifts for the unique mom who has no desire for flowers, chocolates, or diamonds. 

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