Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vintage Wednesday

When The Writer was little, she used to read her sister's textbooks. Her favorite was Five in the Family, a health book. The stories imparted gentle health lessons, such as standing up straight, or little psychological tips, like the story where Sue, who is sick, is all grumpy and her friends hold a puppet show outside her window to cheer her up.

The Writer has a few health textbooks from the 40s. She has always envied kids from that period who went to the shoe store and had their feet x-rayed in a special machine. You stood in the machine and looked through the scope and saw the bones in your feet.

Today's book is dated 1905. What a difference 40 years makes! The Safety Hill of Health looks promising--the cover shows a boy on a hill flying a kite. The two-color illustrations are charming, framed vignettes in black and orange. Most of the stories feature Boy White and Boy Red. Boy White isn't good and Boy Red the bad kid, like you'd think. Boy White wears a white sailor suit and Boy Red's sailor suit is red. They're both nauseatingly good.

Here are two pages of the text so you can see how awful the stories are. The best character in the book is Weeny Rat, who drinks coffee and eats toast. Of course he is tired and doesn't grow much and his fur is rough. Sometimes he cried. Teeny Rat is the goody-goody, eating milk and oatmeal. Fortunately the book is short, so the poor kids in 1905 didn't have to suffer long.

I like Weeny Rat myself. I bet he'd make a tasty morsel. But The Writer's scans are making me seasick!
I know. I'll speak to her about it.


Becky said...

It's so good not to feel alone. I used to read my sister's textbooks too. And any of the books she'd check out for her research papers.

ellsworth said...

The Writer learned to read with her sister's textbooks. She desperately wanted to read "The Highwayman." She still has her sister's spelling book, which she drew pictures in and her sister had to buy.