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5 Great Skincare Tips (From 100 Years Ago)

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Beautiful skin. It's not a vanity to desire it. In fact, doing whatever you can to get it may very well be God's will. Marie Montaigne explains in 1913's How to be Beautiful:

Almost while I was writing this, a learned Presbyterian minister reminded the sisters of his flock about the loveliness of flowers and admonished them that women were the flowers of the human family, and, therefore, that it was a woman's sacred duty to do everything she could to enhance her beauty and so confer upon the world the pleasure in the gift of a human blossom. [How to be Beautiful]

In 1913, many women were also the cows, pack-mules, kangaroos, and brood sows of the human family. Though it may be difficult to maintain your blossom while constantly pregnant, caring for six children, driving a plow, and hand-washing the clothing of an entire family while elbow-deep in lye, it is not impossible. A true woman can surely manage it!

Here, some helpful skin-care tips from 100 years ago.

1. Avoid the salad oil

To nourish the skin on your face, Dr. William A. Woodbury, dermatologist and author of 1910's Beauty Culture: A Practical Handbook on the Care of the Person, prescribes a mix of lard, lanolin, boric acid, and white wax. Ms. Montaigne, however, sees no need for such harsh ingredients. Furthermore, she cautions against what can happen if you use the wrong skin food.

An important thing to consider in the selection of skin foods is their tendency to darken the skin or make it hairy… Salad oil, unless made from pure olives, will make the skin hairy, while pure olive extracts will not. [How to be Beautiful]

Perhaps using salad oil on your skin never occurred to you in the first place. Good! It, like impure thoughts, causes unwanted hair growth. Avoid at all costs. However, dairy products may be just the thing!

Sour milk or that which has curdled, is very whitening to face and neck. Mixed with cornmeal it cannot be surpassed as a softening bleach for the skin. [How to be Beautiful]

You can be one of those rare human blossoms that smell like curdled milk. God's skunk cabbage.

2. Don't move

If you believe that wrinkles are an unavoidable part of aging, sister, you're just making excuses. You have wrinkles for two reasons. One, you didn't rub your face correctly, and two, you will not control your emotions. Why can't you be more like the Turks?

According to Beauty's Aids, a book written in 1901 by the anonymous Countess C__:

The most simple and most effective way to avoid the appearance of lines, is to try as far as possible to keep an immobile face — that immobility which amongst the Arabs and the Turks preserves for so long the purity of their skin. And it is the same even in our country. Many unimpressionable women are such mistresses of their nerves that nothing surprises them or troubles them, they remain always serene, never crying, never laughing, hardly smiling, until they reach that stage of force of will, that they prevent their passions from showing in their faces. [Beauty's Aids]

Faces aren't for feelings, dear. If they were, what would you bottle up inside, enabling you to build enough wrenching inner turmoil to keep your figure trim? Hmm?

But if you insist on being so gauche as to have visible emotions, you have the option of a facial "massage." From The Countess:

The cheek muscles… are manipulated with a clawing motion which must be light and quick; not pinching. This will fill out hollow cheeks, while it gives firmness to the tissues and banishes the tell-tale lines of worry. [Beauty's Aids]

Presumably to be replaced by the tell-tale signs of clawing your own face daily.

3. Be good for beauty's sake

According to Daniel Garrison Brinton and George Henry Napheys, who wrote Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve it in Accordance with the Laws of Health in 1870, the placement of wrinkles reveal your inner soul. And you can prove this theory simply by electrocuting a corpse.

Connect the poles of an electric battery with these separate muscles on the face of a corpse, and you will see the ghastly spectacle of the passions of rage, of mirth, of lust, of hate, one after another brought into horrid relief on the countenance of death. The habitual use of one of these muscles above the other, enlarges it, and leaves on the countenance marks which observers ever associate with the passion. [Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve it in Accordance with the Laws of Health]

4. Stock up on hog's lard

The anonymous Countess C__ gives serious consideration to many injurious skin conditions: carbuncles, blackheads, warts, and, of course, freckles.

These spots, which are ordinarily called freckles, and by the learned, ephelis, are the horror of blondes, red-haired, and dark people, with a fine white skin. How do they come? Medici certant — the doctors disagree, said one of my friends, a Latin scholar. Are they a sign of an excess of iron in the system? Do they denote an anaemic temperament, a feeble circulation? No one knows. However they come, they are very disagreeable for those who are afflicted with them. Fortunately it is possible to prevent them, and, as a rule, one can get rid of them. [Beauty's Aids]

Modern times tell us, of course, that freckles actually denote a lack of soul. Still, the Countess then offers a variety of recipes, principle ingredients including turpentine, hog's lard, and acetate of lead. It may seem drastic, but it's a small price to pay to be able to walk amongst the normals without having the blackness of your heart speckled all over your face.

5. Make your own dimples

The Skin: Its Care and Treatment by Emily Lloyd is a turn-of-the-century study manual for women considering becoming "beauty operators." Most of the book is dedicated to instruction on how to use what appears to be a car battery to electrically stimulate a client's face. (A live client this time, presumably).

The sections on cosmetic surgery, though detailed, do indicate that a professional surgeon should be called upon. However, an operator can make dimples for her client, all by herself. All you need is a very sharp knife, a hook and some scissors.

After the skin has been carefully cleansed the sharp point of a very fine knife is carried into the cellular and fatty tissue of the cheek, and then these tissues drawn up with a very sharp hook and snipped off. The amount of tissue excised is hard to describe as it will depend largely upon the location selected, also upon the style of a dimple preferred. [The Skin: Its Care and Treatment]

You don't think Shirley Temple was born with those dimples, do you? Only her beauty operator knows for sure.

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A Brief History of Black Friday

The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is often referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year. But where did this tradition start and just how big is it? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Black Friday. Hopefully they'll give you some good talking points tomorrow, when you line up outside Best Buy at 4 a.m.


It's hard to say when the day after Thanksgiving turned into a retail free-for-all, but it probably dates back to the late 19th century. At that time, store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades were common, and once Santa Claus showed up at the end of the parade, the holiday shopping season had officially commenced.

In those days, most retailers adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn't start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. Thus, when the floodgates opened that Friday, it became a huge deal.


You bet. They weren't just hoping, though; they were being proactive about it. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn't begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Ever the iconoclast, Roosevelt saw an easy solution to this problem: he moved Thanksgiving up by a week. Instead of celebrating the holiday on its traditional day—November 30th that year—Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday in November to be the new Thanksgiving, instantly tacking an extra week onto the shopping season.


Not so well. Roosevelt didn't make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its "real" date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as "Franksgiving." State governments didn't know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. In short, it was a bit of a mess.

By 1941, though, the furor had died down, and Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, regardless of how it affected the shopping day that would become known as Black Friday.


If you ask most people why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, they'll explain that the name stems from retailers using the day's huge receipts as their opportunity to "get in the black" and become profitable for the year. The first recorded uses of the term "Black Friday" are a bit less rosy, though.

According to researchers, the name "Black Friday" dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that's played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday, so the City of Brotherly Love was always bustling with activity on that day. All of the people were great for retailers, but they were a huge pain for police officers, cab drivers, and anyone who had to negotiate the city's streets. They started referring to the annual day of commercial bedlam as "Black Friday" to reflect how irritating it was.


Apparently store owners didn't love having their biggest shopping day saddled with such a negative moniker, so in the early 1980s someone began floating the accounting angle to put a more positive spin on the big day.


Major retailers don't; they're generally profitable—or at least striving for profitability—throughout the entire year. (A company that turned losses for three quarters out of every fiscal year wouldn't be a big hit with investors.) Some smaller outlets may parlay big holiday season sales into annual profits, though.


It's certainly the day of the year in which you're most likely to be punched while reaching for a Tickle Me Elmo doll, but it might not be the busiest day in terms of gross receipts. According to, Black Friday is generally one of the top days of the year for stores, but it's the days immediately before Christmas—when procrastinators finally get shopping—that stores make the serious loot. Black Friday may, however, be the busiest day of the year in terms of customer traffic.

Snopes's data shows the 10-year span from 1993 to 2002, and in that interval Black Friday was never higher than fourth on the list of the year's busiest shopping days by sales volume. In 2003 and 2005 Black Friday did climb to the top of the pile for sales revenue days, but it still gets stiff competition from the week leading up to Christmas, particularly the Saturday right before the big day.


Sadly, yes. One of the most tragic Black Friday incidents happened in 2008, when 34-year-old seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour was killed after a crowd of hundreds of people from the approximately 2000 people waiting outside knocked him own and stampeded over his back after the doors opened at 5 a.m. at the Wal-Mart on Long Island, New York.

In 2010 in Buffalo, New York, several shoppers were trampled trying to get into a Target. One of the victims, Keith Krantz—who was pinned against a metal door support and then shoved to the ground—told a CNN affiliate he thought he would be killed. “At that moment, I was thinking I don't want to die here on the ground,” Krantz said.

In Murray, Utah, 15,000 shoppers swamped a mall with such force, the local police had to respond to break up skirmishes and fistfights, and keep shoppers from ransacking stores.

In 2008, a fight broke out between a young girl and a man at another Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio, over a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen television. It was $798, marked down from $1000. The New York Times reported that the not-so-aptly-named Nikki Nicely, 19, leaped onto a fellow shopper’s back and began pounding his shoulders violently when he attempted to purchase the television. “That’s my TV!” shouted Ms. Nicely, who then took an elbow to the face. “That’s my TV!” The fight was broken up by a police officer and security guard. “That’s right,” Nicely cried as her adversary walked away. “This here is my TV!”


In an effort to keep a few would-be clients from personal injury law firms, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a special checklist for retailers expecting large crowds.

So what’s OSHA’s advice? Consider using bullhorns. Hire a team of police officers. Be prepared for “crowd crushing” and “violent acts.” Set up barricades. And, above all else, if charging shoppers come running, stay out of the way.

Haley Sweetland Edwards contributed to this story, portions of which originally appeared in 2009.

Hess Corporation
Pop Culture
A Speedy History of the Hess Truck
Hess Corporation
Hess Corporation

Unless you know someone crazy about air fresheners or caffeine pills, holiday gifts purchased at gas stations don’t usually provoke much excitement. But if you were one of the millions who grew up in the northeast, the annual release of the Hess toy truck at Hess gas stations—usually green, always labeled with a Hess logo, always boxed with batteries—was and is as much a part of the holiday as Santa Claus and his sleigh.

The idea for an affordable, quality children’s toy sold at service stations at thousands of Hess locations in 16 states was courtesy of Leon Hess, the college dropout-turned-fuel magnate who began selling oil door-to-door in 1933 and graduated to gas stops by 1960. Hess decided he would trump the cheap merchandise given away by gas stations—mugs, glassware—by commissioning a durable, feature-heavy toy truck modeled after the first oil tanker he ever bought for his company. Unlike most toys of the era, it would have headlights that really worked and a tank that kids could either fill up or drain with water.

Most importantly, Hess insisted it come with batteries—he knew the frustration suffered by kids who tore into a holiday present, only to discover they’d have to wait until it had a power source before it could be operated.

The Hess Tanker Truck went on sale in 1964 for $1.29 and sold out almost instantly. Hess released the toy again in 1965, and then introduced the Voyager Tanker Ship in 1966. For the next 50 years, hardly a year went by without Hess issuing a new vehicle that stood up to heavy play and offered quality and features comparable to the “real” toys on store shelves. Incredibly, fathers would wait in line for hours for an opportunity to buy one for their child.

The toy truck became so important to the Hess brand and developed such a strong following that when the company was bought out in 2014 and locations converted to the Speedway umbrella, new owners Marathon Petroleum promised they would keep making the Hess trucks. They’re now sold online, with the newest—the Dump Truck and Loader, complete with working hydraulics and STEM lesson plans—retailing for $33.99. Bigger, better toy trucks may be out there, but a half-century of tradition is hard to replicate.


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