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Needful Things: 1935

November 1935. "Household supply store. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania." 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the U.S. Resettlement Administration. View full size.

November 1935. "Household supply store. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania." 8x10 inch nitrate negative by Walker Evans for the U.S. Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Reflections on a window

If you look closely you can see Walker Evans and his tripod where the brooms are, as well as a person who looks to be sitting on a stoop across the way above the wash boiler.

The large syringe

Just a guess, but I think the large syringe is for filling sausage casings. In my grandmother's time, animals on the farm were slaughtered when the weather got really cold, I think November was the usual time in southern Indiana. The kitchen would be a busy place for a couple of weeks as the meat and by-products were prepared. Making sausage was one of the most important tasks.

The laws are made in Harrisburg

The giant syringe is a sausage stuffer. Load it up with meat, put the casings on the end, and push the handle. My family just made sausage patties.

That syringe

... is for making sausage. Fill it up with mince, put the casing on the end, push the plunger down.

"Hours of Fun"

This would make a heck of a jigsaw puzzle.

Watching Walker

I'm sure he looked suspicious to her.

That big syringe

Could that syringe be a sausage stuffer? Perhaps the economy model, I usually see them with a base to clamp to a counter or tabletop.

Copper City

That wash boiler was made in my hometown of Rome NY, By a division of Revere Copper. The company later produced the line of well-known Revere Ware cooking utensils. At one time there were many factories in Rome that produced copper products, such as wire, cable, tubing, sheets and consumer products such as wash boilers. There used to be a sign on the outskirts that proclaimed that 10% of the copper processing in the US was done in Rome. "Copper City" indeed.

Baking syringe?!!

No, though I suppose one could could find a way to use it in baking. Maybe for piping, but it would be pretty unwieldy to use. It's a sausage maker.

Baking syringe, or sausage stuffer?

I think that's a sausage stuffer. Found this whilst searching:

Two things

Not 100% sure, but the large "syringe" looks like a sausage stuffer.

They do indeed still make furnace cement, but I'm sure it no longer contains any asbestos!

The Magic Mineral

By the mid 1930s asbestos was finding it's its way into all sorts of products including the Rutland's furnace cement in this picture. Asbestos was cheap, versatile, and virtually fire proof. In the 1930s studies funded by the asbestos industry itself showed a link between cancer and asbestos. This information was suppressed for decades but by the 1970s the evidence was overwhelming, marking the beginning of the end of the asbestos industry.

Barrel tap

To the right of the alarm clock, at the bottom of the window. Also, I go through about four of those brooms a year to sweep snow from my outside wooden stairs and to sweep snow and street grime from the concrete walkways. They do wear down, but it sure is sweet using a new one.

A Posulation from a Shorpy Postulant.

I respectfully submit that the appliance drawing so much attention is a hand-held sausage stuffer.

Re: Furnace cement is still a thing

Besides the packaging update, I'm guessing the formula has been modernized as well since it looks like asbestos was the main ingredient back then.

About that slicer

"Perfect for making potato chips."

Yep, that or heaps of sauerkraut. And, from personal experience, the ends of fingers.

Rutland Furnace Cement

It certainly is available today, but one ingredient (in the original name) is missing!

Window Shopping

Reflection of a person, next to the hanging egg beater, across the street on a balcony doing a little window shopping.

The Syringe

I believe is a sausage stuffer. Casings were slipped on the end and ground pork, fat and spices were pushed into the casings which were twisted in between each link.

Tin syringe

Sausage stuffer.

Furmace cement is still a thing

In the lower left corner, there's a tin of what I thought was "Furnace Cream," which I thought was odd. (Keeps your furnace young-looking?)

Turns out it's furnace CEMENT: it's glue that isn't affected by heat (up to 2000°F!).

And it's still available from Rutland in the handy 8 oz. tub, although the packaging has been refreshed a little.

Mandolin slicer

That thing hanging on the left looks like a mandolin slicer. I have a contemporary version of the same thing, only made out of plastic. Generally you have a guide that you use to push the vegetable/potato/whatever across the slicer, which keeps fingers away from the blade (in theory). Out the bottom come nice, thin slices. Perfect for making potato chips.

Interesting Implements

Alongside the eggbeater style, umm, eggbeater, I want to know what the giant steel syringe is for!!

And yes, that wooden mandoline is a tool to be cautious with.

Pardon me

I wish to speak to the manager about those brooms you have stored with the bristles pointing up.


In today's world, the broom's instructions would be longer. Do not eat the broom. Unwrap the broom before using it. Remove the wrapper prior to using the broom. Position the straws down.

I'm trying to remember the putty like stuff we used to use to clean the wallpaper when I was a kid. Absorene or something like that. I expected to find that in the window.

Also trying to imagine what that huge hypodermic would be.

[Baking syringe. SAUSAGE STUFFER!- Dave]

It Slices! It Dices!

Any vegetable and also any fingers or knuckles that happen to get in the way. That wooden dicer is similar to one that my mother-law had if that is what it is. It does look dangerous.

Professionals only!

Not to second guess, but

A good place for the Shorpy logo would have been on one of those coffee mugs. (I always have coffee with my morning Shorpy.)

Broom with Instructions

It seemed funny, until I realized that I've been misusing brooms all my life.

Paul Bunyanesque ax handle

It would take a real he man to handle that tool. Window is a picture of modern day antique store.

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