When Pictures Do the Talking

I recently received an email from a company seeking my business. The message contained so many symbols, it appeared more a drawing upon a cave dwelling wall than modern day communication. Interpreting the symbols’ intended conveyance wasn’t difficult, as the little graphics were easily recognizable, and were this a correspondence between an adult and a child, I’d not wonder as to the suitability of rainbows or happy-face sunshines in the stead of actual words.

When my children were very young, I purchased stationery for them to write thank you notes. The phraseology of such a typical note, from greeting to salutation, was printed on the sheet. What the child did was fill in the blanks with pictures of their own drawing. The notes were adorable keepsakes to doting family from children too small to write but old enough to express gratitude.

Such hieroglyphics were once an educational tool for elementary-aged students. In each issue of Children’s Activities, a magazine published from 1934 through the Fifties, there appeared a full page, two-column story. At the top of the page, a legend was provided to acquaint the child with the characters (both people and animals). The drawings broke up a rather long bit of type and made the reading more fun for everyone.

Substituting symbols for words wasn’t just for kiddos. Back in the day, such picture play was enjoyed by the vintage homemaker, also. Promising Hot Toast Makes the Butter Fly, this toaster cover is one of my favorite finds. I’d purchased it with the original tag stapled to the cover and always wondered if it was a kit or not. For others as domestically curiosity, I found the answer while flipping through Household’s February 1955 issue!

When we ran out of appliances to cover, there was always a child’s apron to adorn.

childs apron busy beeWhat’s old is new again, and yesterday’s hieroglyphic is today’s emoticon. While my toaster wears the cutest cozy, I’ll stick to letting entire words do the talking…that is until I’m corresponding with a grandchild; then, will my  heart rejoice and a  regular_smile be my umbrella.

xx EllynAnne




Mothers of Invention

Purchasing old magazines is yet another passion. Finding them in good order and minus the musty odor, these magazines are a colorful glimpse into women’s lives of earlier generations. Like a diary, the monthly magazines chronicled the details of daily life with recipes, advice, fiction, humor, diet and make-up tips, crafts, travel and fantasy.

The American Magazine, of which I have three issues from the Fifties, had a unique column titled Why don’t they? Readers were invited to submit “a need which no one as yet seems to
have filled. As incentive to send in your suggestion, the magazine paid $5.00 if yours was published.

In the February 1956 issue, Mrs. Ed Belvins wondered why someone didn’t “Perfect a small umbrella to attach to your camera for rainy-day picture taking?” It only took 50 years for Tom Knightlinger to wonder the same thing and in 2006 invent the Popabrella

Mrs. S.J. Althaus earned $5.00 with her suggestion that someone “Invent a device to hold your head in place, so it does not wobble from side to side, while you are asleep on a long journey in a bus, train or plane.” Twenty-one years later, Doris Sweeney and Mary Ellen Lee tired of their own heads bobbling and jolting them awake, and in 1971, received a patent for their invention, the Contoured Travel Pillow

Mrs. E. Penno wished fervently that someone “Invent a pillow that either absorbs the snorer’s snores or vibrates and awakens him!” Thirty-two years it took until this woman’s prayers were answered in 1988 by a trio of Japanese inventors and their vibrating snoring deterrent pillow

What’s so astonishing is how long it took for these obvious inventions to come about, especially the controured travel pillow. On occasion, haven’t we all wished “someone would invent…” as a solution to a predicament?

My most fervent beseeching was in 1980. I was mommy to a newborn and a 20-month old. The Snuggly baby carrier and folding umbrella stroller were the latest child gear, and we had one of each. Going out was easy as long as Daddy wore the baby and I pushed the toddler.
On my own, however, a baby strapped to my chest and a definant, almost two-year old breaking free of the umbrella’s straps and running into traffic, had me wishing for a contraption that would restrain both a baby and a toddler. To The American Magazine, I’d have submitted this need: “Why doesn’t someone build a dual kiddie carrier that’s half a pram and half a stroller?”

Twenty-three years later, Michael D. Williams must have answered his wife’s prayers and applied for a patent to protect his invention of a dual infant and child carrier in the shape of a stork.

This updated version is so colorful and beautifully designed – if only it came adult sized, so I

could give my big boyz a push around the block, as I would have so loved when they were my babies .

Those who submitted “a need” to The American Home column would today be in their eighties. Should Mrs. Althaus still be around, I can imagine her telling everyone that the u-shaped travel neck pillow was her idea.
Then there is the idea that would have The Greatest Generation scratching their collective good sense.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!