This month’s book is The Illustrated Woman’s Almanac published in 1976 by Kathryn Paulsen and Ryan A. Kuhn.
I found it at John K. King’s Used and Rare Books in Detroit. They have over a million books in stock so it’s pretty spectacular that I was able to spot this handbook on tips for being a woman of today…35 years ago.
The book includes twelve sections: Health, Psychology, Sex, Motherhood, Education, Working, Your Own Business, Money, Legal Advice, Politics and the Community, Handywoman, and Simple Pleasures, which includes a guide to bellydancing, the ABCs of Ice Cream Making, Poker Ettiquette and Beekeeping tips. If those were my hobbies I think I would be the most popular, best woman ever. Maybe I could bellydance while making ice cream and beekeeping, during a poker game.
Needless to say, it’s a must-have for the Ladies Reference shelf. There are articles on how to assist in an emergency birth, how to hold your own in small claims court and how to start a consciousness-raising group which is very 70s and something I think we should definitely bring back into vogue. It would make me feel like Gloria Steinem and I always love pretending I’m Gloria Steinem.
Some of the articles are a bit outdated. For example, the first tip on the Child Rearing Checklist is “Don’t cage or confine your child for long periods of time”. But even the inaccurate information in this book serves as a mini look back on history. And there’s so much of it! You can open to any page and find something fascinating and/or hilarious. Here, I’ll do it now. Page 373. “Tips on What to Tip”. Cab driver: $0.25. Eesh. Times has changed.
I can’t wait for the next time someone is over at my place and says, “You know, I’ve always wondered how to do simple plumbing repairs” or “Say, I’ve lost my poster on how to do self breast examinations. Might you have an extra?” or “What are the benefits of being flimflammed anyway?’ (apparently before it was called a Ponzi scheme it was “gettin’ flimflammed”).
I’ll march right over to my top shelf and pull out my Woman’s Almanac for a fully detailed, if not terribly modern, answer.
In the meantime, I’ll be reading up on lady pirates and how to work with Auto Service People, and desperately searching the index for an article on how to make your hair look exactly like Carly Simon’s.