Monday, 28 April 2008

Informative literature, 1948-style

One of the perks of working with the elderly is receiving the occasional gift. Depression-era folk save everything. One of my clients had kept, washed and stored away every polystyrene meat tray for the past 10 years or so. She just offloaded them on me, which is great because they are perfect thing to use for the Carrot top experiment with my class. Another gave me a lot of old sheets which I use as drop sheets when the kids do painting. About a year ago another of my clients moved into a nursing home and told me to grab whatever books caught my eye. I got some cook books and some gardening books, and two big old thick books: Good Housekeeping's Home Encyclopedia (1952) and Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide (1948).
As part of my ongoing quest to avoid all homework and other responsibilities, I have recently started browsing through them. This is one of those occasions where I wished I had a scanner so I could prove the following is actually from a text. Today, I share passages from the latter book.

CARE OF THE NEW MOTHER (Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide p. 221)
When you awaken after the baby's birth, you will see your husband and be shown your newborn baby. The delight with which you will both welcome him will far exceed your joy in anticipation of his arrival. Every day that you remain in the hosptial, you will see your baby from time to time at nursing intervals and your husband and parents will come during regular visiting hours.

When you awake?! It sounds like women didn't get any bonding time with their newborns, and the husbands were just spectators. I also don't care for them telling the expectant mothers how they will feel directly after the birth. I've never given birth, so I have no clue, but I'm sure each woman feels different. I hope that all are overcome with joy, but I'm sure for many it's scary and overwhelming and painful and you might need a little while to feel a sense of joy about it. Also- throughout the entire book a baby is referred to as a 'he'. Pet peeve!

HOW TO CARE FOR THE BABY (Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide p. 231)
6:00 AM Cup of boiled whole milk
9:00 AM Cod liver oil
9:15 AM Play and exercise
9:30 AM Bath
10:00 AM Breakfast
10:30 AM Nap out-of-doors in fresh air and sunshine

2:00 PM Dinner
2:30 PM Nap out-of-doors
5:00 PM Play time
5:45 PM Cod liver oil.
6:00 PM Supper
6:00 PMto 6:00 AM Sleep

Oh, is this such a relic of the past. My supermarket doesn't even stock whole milk. Cod liver oil? I know how great it is for you, but my father has horror stories of being force-fed cod liver and he only had to have it once a day, this poor 10 month old has to be tortured twice. And can you imagine anyone putting their baby outside to nap? Firstly, unless the mother is sitting beside that kid for the 6 hours is it meant to be outside no mother would feel safe to leave the kid outside unattended. Secondly, the whole in the ozone layer. Thirdly, why give a kid fresh air when you have air conditioning and central heating? My baby deserves an environment I can adjust down to the perfect temp. Fourthly, you can't put a kid in front of Baby Einstein for 3 hours if they are outside.

CHANGE OF LIFE (Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide p. 257)
On all fronts, the woman in menopause feels herself defeated, beaten back, unwanted. "Who wants to love a middle-aged hag like me?" is her underlying constant thought. She struggles under a burder of an accumulated sense of guilt, a sense of inadequacy, a sense of inferiority, realizing how short she is of the mark she had set for herself in her confidant youth.

Gee, she sure does after reading this.

HELPING THE OLDER MAN FIND HIS BALANCE (Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide p. 261)
Just as the husband mist be understanding of her wife's menopausal manifestations, so now the wife must be tolerant and understanding of her husband's condition. If infidelities occur, she should get him medical and psychiatric care, instead of dragging his through an unnecessary divorce. Many a home can be saved by timely medical treatment.

I had no idea there was medical treatment for being a douche.

In some instances, notably in connection with gonorrhea and syphilis, transfer of infection may occur through contract with various objects such as drinking glasses, douche tips, towels, etc.

Shit, I need to watch out for syphilis. I share my douche tips all the time.

The syphilictic child may experience a feeling of physical enertia which discourages him from outdoor play and leads to overemphasis on indoor reading and study.

This explains so much. I've had syphilis since childhood! This would have made it so much easier to get out of PE. Rather than faking cramps or a sprained ankle I could just say, "sorry, coach. I have to sit this one out- syphilis, you understand."

There are so many more good bits I'll have to go through later on. I must find a way to scan some of the pages on sex. To their credit, they devote a couple of chapter to having a fulfilling sexual life and not being embarrassed to see a gynocologist, which I didn't expect from something published in '48. The funny thing is that every image that appears in these chapters is of a mother and child, or mother and infant. I'm not expecting them to post full-colour pictures of a flaccid penis or a couple in flagrante, but if you aren't comfortable with pictures that suggest a focus on sexual intercourse, just skip pictures for that chapter, or put up the old standard of the cross-section diagram of a female reproductive system (what movie/TV show is it that described it as looking like a map of Six Flags? Hee!). They have a bit of theme of having dissociated images in unpleasant topics, like the picture of mother and daughter doing crafts together in the Diseases of the Large Bowel, Rectum, and Anus chapter.
The authors seem to have a real thing for Freud, so the How to tell your child about sex chapter will be fun. There is also a couple of chapters devoted to 'Nervous tension'. I had a quick skim through and I am sad to report I can find no mention of 'the vapors'.

One last tidbit:

IDIOT. A person born without intelligence, who remains so throughout life. Idiocy is the lowest mental state or degree. (p. 678)

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