Vintage household hacks
February 20, 2011 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Home Kinks, part 1 and part 2 - for years, Popular Mechanics Press published a series of tips, many from readers, in a special edition format they called "Household Kinks." Scanning Around With Gene has posted a collection from 1940s and '50s editions.
posted by madamjujujive (40 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
You realize, of course, that there will be many, many disappointed MeFites when they discover that "kinks" does not mean what they hope it does.
posted by tomswift at 8:11 PM on February 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


"kinks" does not mean what they hope it does.

Shush. It's still hot.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:14 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, the "Pocket Made From Handkerchief To Carry Baseball" reminds me of "... I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time..."
posted by smcameron at 8:21 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


smcameron - first I thought, "that was really crazy", then I googled that sentence. In the trade, we call that "loose association", maybe not crazy, but, still......
posted by tomswift at 8:24 PM on February 20, 2011


I am totally putting a spring on my clothesline come springtime.
posted by madajb at 8:25 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, if only they had AdSense back in the old timey days. You could publish 20 kinks a day and get bought by Nick Denton!
posted by Nelson at 8:26 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clothespins make a cheaper and easy-to-find substitute for...

Oh.
posted by honeydew at 8:37 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have this book called 'What To Make. And How To Make It' that was published by Popular Mechanics in 1948. I found it in an abandoned house about 10 years ago and have hung onto it, for its corniness and charm, ever since; it's a few feet away from me now. I realize now that it's basically a 'Best Of' of these reader-submitted Home Kinks.
My dad grew up in the 40s and 50s and kept all of these old magazines too - I guess it was the South African edition of Popular Mechanics - so I grew up reading them, and fully believing in this world of sturdy handymen. I remember once, in 1978 or so, trying to send away for some awesome go kart plans or something, until my dad had to explain that the offer had probably expired 30 years previously.
posted by Flashman at 8:39 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you haven't looked already, there are a bunch of old issues of Popular Mechanics, dating back to 1900, on Google Book.
posted by crunchland at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"world of sturdy handymen"....

The images evoked by that phrase are wonderful!
posted by tomswift at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be one of those disappointed mefites. Still, a list of kinks from Popular Mechanics? That'd be interesting, and most likely well planned out.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Odd Socks - April 1954. Will this problem ever be solved?
posted by unliteral at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2011


The inner tube beach raft looks familiar.
posted by Tube at 8:59 PM on February 20, 2011


This is good stuff: Wooden Partition in Rear of Auto Forms "Play Pen" for Child

Also found on Google books.
posted by ericost at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"kinks" does not mean what they hope it does.

Please. No spoilers!
posted by Chuckles at 9:22 PM on February 20, 2011


Wow, Hostel 3 really does not have much of a budget. The actress is really selling the fear, though.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:36 PM on February 20, 2011


Dangit. This one.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:37 PM on February 20, 2011


The wife is free to exercise in the yard, but she still has to pass food from her enclosure through a security device.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:39 PM on February 20, 2011


"Hi, Ward Bond here, this my new project for you single guys"
posted by clavdivs at 10:51 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to collect old Popular Mechanics just to enjoy this kind of old-timey can-do mentality. In those days a guy could open up the hood of his car and fiddle around with its innards without voiding the warranty. If you needed a part, you just went down to your basement workshop and built one. If it was a metal part you could just smelt the iron yourself in the kitchen. If you didn't have iron you just got the boys together and did some excavation in a friendly neighbor's backyard.

Those were simpler times.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:20 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I remember Mad magazine spoofing these back in the 70s. Or I think it was a spoof. They were practically the same.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:42 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a book my dad got from, I think, Reader's Digest a mere 20 years ago with hundreds and hundreds of these. It's amazing how many of them -- at least a third -- are pretty much completely obsolete, and I don't just mean the ones on getting a wonky cassette player working again.
posted by dhartung at 12:02 AM on February 21, 2011


"Feather serves as handy brush to recover spilled mercury."

Dash it! I've spilled the mercury again! Mother, see if you can corner Polly for me, won't you?
posted by pracowity at 12:07 AM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, I liked the one with using a fork to help with cutting off a button.

I've been trying to come up with an easy way to hold a button just the right distance away from the surface of a garment when sewing it on to create a proper shank. I think I'll try a cheap plastic fork after snapping off and throwing away the handle. Never would have thought of it if I hadn't seen this 40's hack/kink.
posted by marsha56 at 12:24 AM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really brings to mind how much the connotation of 'Kink' has changed in the past 50 years.
posted by empatterson at 2:47 AM on February 21, 2011


Also - is this what LifeHacker would have looked like in the 50s?
posted by empatterson at 2:49 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"No more waking the children with squeaky springs, I say! And nothing says 'sexy' more than a flower-as-a-vagina painting hanging above the bed."

Yep, pa sure was proud of hisself that day.
posted by NoMich at 4:18 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also - is this what LifeHacker would have looked like in the 50s?

was going to say, "kink" in that time seems to mean the same as present-day "hack" as it's moved beyond computer usage. Both falling above "half-assed" and below "best practice", as pleasing for the ingenuity as the practicality.
posted by bendybendy at 5:08 AM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]



"Feather serves as handy brush to recover spilled mercury."

See, I actually remember the time my mom dropped glass thermometer and mercury went everywhere. This would have been a useful thing for her to know. To my chagrin, she forced me out of the room.

But she is a nurse and I think held onto using an old-school thermometer longer than most.
posted by threeturtles at 5:11 AM on February 21, 2011



"Feather serves as handy brush to recover spilled mercury."


Notice how he is sweeping the mercury into a wineglass?

was going to say, "kink" in that time seems to mean the same as present-day "hack" as it's moved beyond computer usage. Both falling above "half-assed" and below "best practice", as pleasing for the ingenuity as the practicality.

All these sound great until you move into a house where the previous owner liked to hack/kink/half-ass everything. Once you have spent a lot of time and money undoing and redoing all the half-assery, the appeal of the low-grade DIY stuff wanes.
posted by Forktine at 5:14 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked it better when sexual connotations hadn't permeated through so much of the English language.
posted by oddman at 6:37 AM on February 21, 2011


I liked it better when sexual connotations hadn't permeated through so much of the English language.

Well, there was a time when there was no such thing as the English language, but ever since its invention I think sexual connotations have been a mainstay of it. Chaucer and Shakespeare certainly used their fair share, for example.
posted by Forktine at 6:52 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked it better when sexual connotations hadn't permeated through so much of the English language.


Really? Life must have been far less funny.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:15 AM on February 21, 2011


NoMich: ""No more waking the children with squeaky springs, I say! And nothing says 'sexy' more than a flower-as-a-vagina painting hanging above the bed."

Yep, pa sure was proud of hisself that day.
"

Not to mention his magic pants which are sure to confuse and hypnotize if you stare at them long enough -- which is probably his goal, given that he's waxing the bed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:41 AM on February 21, 2011


I liked it better when sexual connotations hadn't permeated through so much of the English language.

I wouldn't think we'd have posters around here who were familiar with the time before the Norman conquest. Learn something new every day.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:43 AM on February 21, 2011


Also in the pages of PM, BPs response to Katrina
posted by ahimsakid at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2011


I hear you, oddman. Sure, there has always been innuendo and more. But it used to be possible to talk about something besides sex. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.
posted by eritain at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2011


"Springboard Fastened Onto Wall Amuses Young Children" You bet it did when the little brats intentionally left it down after dark to have dad trip over it after he had one too many martinis.
posted by digsrus at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2011


I love the improvised fish scale remover - "if you are on a fishing trip and have no scaler..." - but you curiously manage to have a paddle shaped wood block, 4 bottle caps, screws and a screwdriver on hand, funny that.

Looking at these and some of the others people have contributed from Google books, I understand what drove my Dad, an incurable but comically inept kink & fixit man. He fixed the clothes drier once and then the family all went to church. We came home to a smoke-filled house and a red-hot drier. When it cooled down some hours later and we were able to take the clothes out, everything had shrunk to child- and doll-size clothes - it was almost like some unintentional magical Disney-Dad serendipity shrink-machine invention.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:26 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


These Lifekinker suggestions are really swell! This is why handkerchiefs need to come back. Also, I never would have thought my fish bowl could have more than two uses.

You...don't use your fish bowl for that?
posted by therewolf at 4:39 PM on February 22, 2011


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