A few weeks ago, I asked my friend if she took “Home Economics” when we were in high school. She said she did and I asked her if she had learned how to make a weekly menu. After spending a considerable amount of time convincing her I had not taken the class myself, she admitted she had only baked blueberry muffins and made an ill-fitting skirt. Apparently, Home Ec, as it was affectionately called, was in decline in the early 80’s.
If you do an internet search on the term, you might learn that while once considered a “fundamentally narrow, dull, and socially conservative” field, researchers now say that it “opened up opportunities for women and had a broad impact on American society.” Cornell University’s HEARTH project is a digital archive of books and journals ranging from the field’s early days to the present.
The topic of tending hearth and home is a powder keg filled with trouble, too much trouble for the Friday morning of a long holiday weekend. I’ll have to interview my mother about why she didn’t insist I take Home Economics in high school and why she didn’t teach me how to do laundry until the weekend before I left for college. Making menus and developing a cleaning routine in the midst of working a full-time job make the domestic arts a daily struggle. As a lady alone home owner, there’s a lot I need to know and do.
Handy didn’t take Home Ec. He took “Metal Shop” or something like that and he says he doesn’t remember much about it. He must have learned something, though, because he knows how to make a menu AND fix small engines.
This is the lawn tractor he bought for $100 dollars.
He bought it, fixed it up, and was going to sell it to me until he decided he liked it too much. I borrowed it yesterday and I have to admit I had a great time using it.
In the economics of saving time and energy at the big old house on the hill, Handy is a Ph.D.