No, the lost books described in my entry of May 7th have not surfaced. Nor have the copies of FOUND magazine that I’d hoped to use with this post. But LW recently found an item worthy of submission to FOUND that I thought I’d share here, along with a few excerpts from the book in which it was discovered.
In case you are unfamiliar with FOUND, it is a magazine that publishes notes, lists, letters, diaries, photos, postcards, and other discarded ephemera people find in streets, playgrounds, laundromats, taxicabs, etc. These items are chosen for their appeal to our inner voyeur through their sheer banality, absurdity, inscrutability, or, occasionally, poignancy. You can check out FOUND’s website at www.foundmagazine.com for examples.
LW enjoys finding similar ephemera within the pages of used books. One of her more interesting discoveries of late was found tucked inside this 1960s era textbook used in a secretarial school or possibly a home economics class.
The item, a mimeographed worksheet for an assignment involving diet and nutrition, appears to date from the ‘60s as well. It is a chart for reporting the foods consumed for a week’s meals along with time devoted to exercise. The student who completed this chart also decided (in the interest of full disclosure?), or perhaps was instructed, to record the cigarettes she smoked. Here is her completed assignment, a snapshot into a lost world:
As a presiding spirit of a library, my nature is mostly non-corporeal. Therefore, I can understand that my readers might question my right to comment on a “real” person’s eating habits. However, my existence in the imaginal realm has acquainted me with food. After all, much of the appeal of food involves imagination. I have also familiarized myself with food through my occasional hauntings and possessions and also by browsing in the many cookbooks and food-related literature on my shelves. So I have a pretty good idea of what a nutritional human diet should look like. This is not it.
It is so “not it” that, upon reading it, I questioned the veracity of the student—Was this a joke? Was this an attempt to ridicule the assignment or the teacher? Or was it an early foray into a sixties-style rebellion? Possibly. And yet there is something terribly earnest about it. I mean, why even bring up the serving of “yellow beans” and “dish of corn?” And note the day that she consumed four aspirins. It is the same day she drinks ginger ale and something called “Team” (Tang?) instead of her usual Coke at breakfast. This rings true to me—she took the aspirins because was suffering from caffeine deprivation! Either that, or she had a headache from the beers she drank the night before. And if the Coke consumption seems a bit excessive, I have only to recall LW’s addiction to TAB that fueled her for years. And I remind you that this worksheet is from the 1960s, the indulgent “Mad Men” years, still a few years before the advent of latter-day health food and fitness movements.
My favorite thing about this chart, however, is the teacher’s one criticism of this diet in which scarcely a vegetable and nary a fruit appears. You can read it in the right margin: “More protein!”
No mention is made of the student’s excessive sugar or cigarette consumption. Even the book suggests that the main problem with a woman’s smoking is not that it might be a risk to her health, but that she might appear unfeminine in her style of smoking. These classic “blonde vs. brunette” pics show you how to avoid that. The brunette looks like she’s auditioning for a John Waters film.
The book does, however, offer some interesting advice for women on how to be popular, some of which is shown here:
One could say that the advice that a woman should “fill her mental cupboard with delectable tidbits to share with others” is prescient of blogging and social media. I shall take it to heart, even as I dream of delectable cinnamon Pop-Tarts.