Q Dear Miss Abigail:
I am completely disorganized and need help bad. Can you help? My house is a mess!!!!!
A Dear Disorganized:
I too am a bit disorganized and sometimes it gets the best of me. It doesn’t help to discover that in the olden days, houses must not have had clutter. I can’t seem to find many references to dealing with the overwhelming stuff that inhabits our modern-day lives. Clutter was found in the basements of many homes, however, so we’ll head downstairs to look for some tips from Mildred Maddocks Bentley about dealing with everything but the tool room. Seems like a fair comparison.
1924: Cellar Care and Cleanliness
According to the primer of housework, the modern self-respecting cellar calls for a casual weekly attention, to be sure, but it is the semi-annual cleaning after all that keeps it sweet and clean and healthful.
The weekly care calls only for a general tidying. Dispose of newspapers and magazines that may have accumulated. I have two capacious baskets. Both newspapers and magazines are placed flat in their respective baskets when they are no longer required above stairs. No second handling is required when they are taken away to their final destination of hospital, Salvation Army headquarters, or junk man.
Dispose promptly of broken articles consigned to the cellar because they are out of sight. Reclaim them at once if there is a possibility of repair. But chop up or burn up ruthlessly if there is no hope of rescue. Most cellars are untidy rather than unclean and solely because the cellar is used, as the attic, for broken or discarded furnishings. . . .
In most cellars, there is a tool room sacred to the masculine members of the family. I would leave this untidy.
Source: Bentley, Mildred Maddocks. Good Housekeeping’s Book on the Business of Housekeeping. New York: Good Housekeeping, 1924.
~ pp. 41, 44 ~