Minden Press-Herald

Thursday
Oct 02nd

Old things and friendships

Way, way back, when I was young, we used Tangee Lipstick, which was pink in the tube but turned a bright orange on your lips.

Men used Jeris Hair Tonic or Brilliantine. Women used Green Wave setting lotion, and rolled their hair on metal rollers. We used snaps in our plackets before zippers were invented.

Ipana was the toothpaste of choice. Listerine was the only mouthwash back then, and it is still here today. Mothers used Airy Fairy Flour.

Washing powder was fairly new and more expensive than soap in the late thirties and early forties, so P & G bar soap or Octagon bar soap was used for laundering clothes, and rural families used homemade lye soap.

I might add that the clothes were washed in No.2 wash tubs, scrubbed clean on a rub board, and rinsed in another No.2 wash tub.

Clothes pins fastened the freshly washed clothes to a clothes line in your back yard. After they had dried and were brought in off the line, they had to be dampened down and IRONED. Ironing was such a hot and exhausting job. There was no wash and wear.

Fountain pens were filled from an ink bottle, because ballpoint pens had not been invented. That was when Esso, Cities Service and Magnolia were the names of some brands of gasoline that are now marketed under the names Exxon, Citgo and Mobil.

There were many shoe shops such as House's, Herman's, and Sam Delia's, because we had to have our shoes repaired, new soles and new heel lifts, as we could not afford to throw old shoes away and buy new ones. Many of us used the "stick on" rubber soles that cost a dime.

Grocery stores were trusting and anxious for business. Orders were phoned in, the grocer delivered them and almost all of them extended credit to their customers.

They expected you to pay up at the end of the month since many people were paid monthly for their work. In a few cases they allowed some customers to run their accounts longer, and sometimes the grocer lost because the bill was not paid.

The June 5, 1942, issue of Minden Herald carried a list of grocers who announced that they would make deliveries only once a day between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. because of fuel rationing. Orders must be placed before that time for delivery that day.

Teachers' salaries were so low that they could not afford to rent a house or an apartment, so many of them had a room with a family that allowed them "kitchen" privileges. Miss Kuma Shealy and her sister, Mrs. Lavinia David, kept several teachers at their home on West Union just below the high school.

Across town, Miss Mary Bell and Miss Varah Hardy shared a small efficiency apartment. Miss Bell told me that she had never cooked a thing, and so Varah did the cooking and Miss Bell did the cleaning.

Long years ago, teachers were not allowed to marry, but during my lifetime many of my teachers had husbands. Of course, there were also some of "life's unclaimed blessings."

With salaries were so low, it seemed that rent on rooms, apartments and houses was awfully high. However, in May 1942, the Office of Price Administration froze all rents in Webster Parish at their rate as of July 1, 1941.

Rent property was almost impossible to find and that was the reason that more than one family shared a house. I remember that my mother and I lived on First Street, about where the pastor's office is in the First Baptist Church today. We kept girls who worked downtown.

Back then parents were careful about where their daughters stayed. One that I remember was Mary Kirkley's sister, Carolyn Almond, who is now Mrs. Eldred Elkins. That was back in about 1941, and we are still friends.

Another was Clarice Ware, who is now our local accountant, Clarice Beard. When we see each other we always remember those days of long ago.

Nylons were not available, so our stockings were for the most part rayon. They lacked the elasticity of today's nylons. I was so skinny that the hose wrinkled and-bagged so on my little legs that they fitted me exactly like "a sock on a rooster."

Also, if you were lucky enough to have hand-me-downs, they might have belonged to a girl who was not as tall as you, or one who had plumper arms than you.

However, you wore them anyway, with knobby knees peeking out from under the too short skirt, and spindly arms hanging out the sleeves. In spite of the grotesque appearance the clothes gave you, you were appreciative for the clothes in order to have something to wear.

Lawn mowers were the "push" kind. I don't know when mowers started having motors to power them, and edgers had not been invented.

Sidewalks were edged with either a hoe or a small hatchet. I remember my mother cleaning up the stove and pots and pans with "Old Dutch Cleanser," since this was before Comet and other abrasive cleaners of today were on the market.

This was before the day of Pledge and the other aerosol furniture polishes. We used O'Cedar which was greasy and left a build-up over the years.

Even postage stamps were different back then. We licked them, no pressure sensitive stamps like today. Of course it cost 3 cents or less to mail letters back then, and we had twice a day mail delivery to our door.

For a time there was a book binding project located over David Drug (which was where Vivian's Dress Shop is located today.) Ladies worked for a government agency that taught them how to place old library books in a vise, and sand down the edges until the book looked almost new.

With an art gum eraser they removed all the pencil marks on the pages. When a comer of a page was tom away, they patched it, finally it received a new binding and the front and end pages that are located just inside the cover. These books looked almost new and were usable for a number of years.

About 40 or 50 years ago, the church that I attend often had a special attendance day when we would have nearly 1000 in Sunday School.

The worship service saw every pew filled and chairs put in the aisles. The churches did not have to compete with Sunday ball games, and TV evangelists, and popular Sunday TV shows. Perhaps that is why Minden had such a low crime rate back then.

People were not afraid to walk to and from church on Sunday nights, and parents were not afraid their daughters would be harmed. President Carter called this "the age of innocence," and Minden surely was in that age.

In spite of all the things we did not have, those were days that friendships were formed, that dreams and ideals were visualized, and those days make us more appreciative of today. I know, I lived it and I remember. Do you?

Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.摡

 

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