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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Home Ec: 1921

Home Ec: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Junior high school: Home Ec." Speaking as someone who needs to go lie down after microwaving a bag of broccoli, just looking at all this food preparation makes me dizzy with fatigue. View full size.

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Mean Girls

So interesting to observe that so many of you call the girl stirring the pot in front as a "beauty" -- I definitely saw her as a pot stirrer, but of the other kind. One look at her and I immediately tagged her as the "mean girl of the class" -- the know-it-all bully. Perhaps she resembles an old bully in my past?

Brand new cookstoves

Look at those two stoves in the front right center of the picture. I think they still have some strings left used to secure loose hardware and doors for shipping.

Some Home-Ec class THAT is!

When's the last time somebody took a damp rag to that chalkboard?

Washboard Training

I can't wait for my wife to come home. I have to show her this photograph with the girls using the washboard. She has talked about her Home Ec classes back in the sixties, but I don't think they taught her how to use a washboard.

And today?

The safety concerns in today's schools would make a scene like this impossible! Exposed gas rings?!? Open ranges between crowded worktops?!? OMG! They are all in immediate danger. Little worry about the danger of actually learning something!

What is with those New Process ranges, though? There seem to be no pot supports above the burners. At first I thought the units the girls are working at would be moved on and off the larger ranges, but no, they appear to have their own burners.

I wonder what the impish girl, third from left in the back, is adding to her partner's prep?

Curds & Whey

Ric: My guess is your crush is stirring a pot of those, but there seems to be a flour-like consistency.

[Looks to me like photo-op oatmeal, i.e. soap flakes. - Dave]

Interesting tidbits

One of the things that intrigues me about these old photos are the items that appear in periphery that must have an interesting backstory.

For instance, there's an empty milk bottle on the right side of the shelf just above the sink. And then there's the word "glucose" written in a cursive slant on the clean left side of otherwise well chalked blackboard. What stories could be related to these items!

Stirring the pot

I too, fell for the beauty stirring the pot on the left. Hard to believe these girls are all Jr. High.

Interesting stove in the aisle. "New Process"

Ready, set, open your jars!

Ready, set, open your jars! No one jar is open yet. Any guess on what they could be making?

[They're making a photograph. - Dave]

State of the art

Look at the size of this classroom. These look like over-the-top facilities which is probably why they were photographed. The classroom was well-run. The girls are in proper attire, too. Even the cooking hats are "period pieces." And they were years away from microwave broccoli, so the skills they learned served them well, I'll bet.

Canning Jars

I can't quite get enough detail on my monitor to see if those are Ball-patent two-piece lids, or the original one-piece. 1921 is late enough for the two-piece, early enough that the originals might still be in use. The ones in the very front look like two-piece, and certainly a truly modern Home Ec course in 1921 would have used the latest technology -- look at the high-tech gas rings they're using, instead of clumsy, awkward stoves.

The first canning jars had a separate sealing ring but a one-piece cap. The next advance was molding the sealing ring into the cap, which was cheaper and more reliable but makes the jars extremely difficult to open because you have to turn the seal on the glass lip. When the two-piece design came along people went for it like a pack of rats, partly because it's so much easier to open.

Love at first sight of the girl near the front, looking down so solemnly at what she's stirring. Unfortunately (or perhaps not) my time machine is on the fritz.

So many jars to open...

Where's a man when you need one!

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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