Victorian Ephemera, Patent Medicine and Today’s Mollycoddled Offspring

ChildrensElastic-1975-F-208

Here’s a Victorian-era product that probably wouldn’t go over too well today.  Except maybe to NAMBLA members.

I know that knee pads are available for kids today – as well as shin guards, mouth guards and bike helmets- but these I think were designed more to preserve expensive clothing rather than to prevent injury.  One need only examine some Victorian-era playthings to understand that safety wasn’t first. Or fifth.  From the looks of some of that stuff, safety couldn’t have really been considered at all.

I can only imagine the geek factor involved for kids whose mothers required them to wear these, but then again, boys of the Victorian era typically wore those awful little man-capris with knee high socks.  Knee protectors couldn’t make that dreadful fashion too much worse.

rocks and a mace

Screw the pellet gun- let’s just give them rocks and a mace!

Granted, Steve-o had toys, ranging from the innocuous to the deadly.  He had Legos, Thomas the Tank Engine, Power Rangers, those annoying little finger skateboards, a BB gun (I’m still picking BBs out of the walls) and a Zippo (not to be confused with a flashlight.)

He had the latest video games, and a lot of other electronic toys too, but I didn’t want him to simply sit on his ass and watch as it grew huge, so I did allow skateboarding and in-line skating, which were responsible for both times he broke his right arm, once at age 6 and then again at age 11.   I should have stopped at the BMX bike, but even the BMX bike proved quasi-deadly.  Some little ass-pilot at his school decided to jam the rear wheel so the bike wouldn’t move when he went to take off on it. Unfortunately the little ass-pilot behind the engineering of that prank didn’t have much understanding of physics.  Steve-o went to take off on the BMX and as the rear wheel was jammed all 160# of his 14 year old body went over the handlebars and landed square on his mouth- blasting his two front teeth to smithereens, though by some miracle of God sparing his skull.

$3800 (that insurance didn’t cover,) three root canals, and two crowns later, Steve-o was redeemed from a lifetime of Billy-Bob mouth.  I was redeemed from $3800.  I guess the love of money is the root of all evil.  The only thing is, I’ve never been able to hang on to money long enough to fall in love with it, so I’ve not gotten to test the theory.

cat wash

Wrong on many levels, but still cute.

Patent medicines have always fascinated me.  They would have been awesome if they actually worked.  One of my favorites is the wash-the-fat-away soap.  If only one could scrub away the bingo wings and thunder thighs.

wash away fat

Wash away the lard- and eliminate the ravages of time.  What’s in this shit?  Acid?  Flesh eating worms?

Even better are the adjectives used in patent medicine ads to describe overweight people- “corpulent,” “stout,” “too much flesh,” and just plain “fat. “

fat people

Hey!  You!  Lard Ass!  Try this shizzle.  It’ll CURE your fatness!  Or should I say “corpulency” and “stoutness?”

Maybe the fat reducing ideas of the Victorian era were more effective than the potions and fads we try today, but then I would wager there were fewer fat people back then because everything one ate or drank had a good probability of giving one Montezuma’s revenge.  You got to crap your way thin whether you wanted to or not.

constipation wretched

Then again…

Perhaps if you lived on salt pork and corn cobs, constipation may just be an issue.  I have to say that using a bird (presumably that’s a crow) to hawk (pun intended) a constipation remedy is brilliant.  None of nature’s creatures craps more often or in more quantity for its size than birds.  The subliminal is right here: Take these pills and you’ll shit like a bird!

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