Recently, Barbara Brotman, a Chicago Tribune writer that I have admired for many years, wrote a column about the talents that we still have, but often do not use. She challenged today’s young generation to read a map, rewind a tape of your favorites to the right song, and defrost a refrigerator. But the skill that she still uses often is this one: I still make a bed with hospital corners, as if no one had invented duvets. When I tried to teach it to my daughters, they looked at me as if I were starting dinner by rubbing two sticks together…this little domestic ability deserves respect…isn’t it possible that the rarity and frequent uselessness of old-school ways also give them a kind of cachet?
Yes, Barbara, they do. And your piece made me remember that in seventh grade my best friend Jean and I organized and ran a Home Economics Schoolfor the younger, sorry to say, just girls in the neighborhood. I don’t think any boys asked if they could attend, but our consciousnesses were not raised yet. It was 1960!
We taught our five pupils how to make a bed, using hospital corners, how to dust and vacuum, how to sew—that was a big challenge and my mother had to help—and how to cook a simple meal. Jean’s mother, who had eight kids of her own, was the hero for this class. She let us turn her backyard into a small restaurant where on a balmy summer day we fed the neighborhood children PBJ sandwiches, chips, and milk. For free! What were we thinking?
We actually had a graduation ceremony on my front porch where we gave one of the five pupils, Sherry, an award for being the best student. Thinking back, I see it more as a subtle bribe—she was the neighborhood handful.
The entire process, brochures listing the classes and dates, assembling things we needed, getting parental permission, was a huge undertaking. And our own dear mothers were so cooperative, interrupting their own work to accommodate our classes.
I ask myself now—what if I had run with this idea starting right then? Maybe I would have become another Martha Stewart. But there were just too many wonderful things to learn and explore. Why settle on one?
Like Barbara Brotman, I too still use hospital corners. As for sewing, forget it!
Thanks to Google Images