Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Heloise's Housekeeping Hints" from the Bloomingfoods Swap Meet

We recently had another truckload sale at Bloomingfoods, and decided to use the tent at the end of the sale to hold a community swap meet. This was a huge success: people brought in all kinds of items to swap. There was a wedding dress, a brand new mattress, a spinning wheel, lots of television sets, several computers, household goods, books, toys, and clothes. Not a cash box in sight: everyone just
took what they could use.

I scored a first edition copy of Heloise's Housekeeping Hints, the first book of its genre, written by Heloise Bowles Cruse, who (like advice columnists Ann and Abby) was an identical twin.

Heloise graduated from business college, married a captain in the Army Air Forces, and moved from China to Texas, then Virginia and Hawai'i. She had one child, daughter Poncé Kiah Marchelle Heloise, who maintains the Heloise legacy today. Heloise began building her cred as "every housewife's friend" in 1959, with a newspaper column in the Honolulu Advertiser. By 1964 it appeared in 593 newspapers in America and abroad.

Building an empire on dust cloths and practical tips, Heloise eventually bought herself quite a fine hat and got to meet President Richard Nixon.

The original edition of the book is filled with very basic, practical suggestions and some pretty cool vintage drawings of a woman enamored of her ironing board. But what I love best is the photo of Heloise on the back book jacket, sitting at a chaotic and cluttered desk ("between many household duties"), talking on the phone, surrounded by piles of books and stacks of paper. Oh yeah: that's how media content used to get made, before the housewife had her computer!

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