KEROSENE COMMENTS AND A HISTORY PREVIEW (February 12/08)

Historian Ivan smith of Canning writes that my January 8 column on the once common use of kerosene in the household “brought up an ancient memory.”

He has some interesting revelations about the use of kerosene, writing that when he was growing up in Lunenburg County in the 1930s and 1940s, his mother regularly used it as a cleanser. “For the kerosene she had a rectangular metal can with a small opening in the top with a screw cap,” he writes. “I clearly recall being sent with the empty can to the local garage to buy a refill (for) fifteen cents. This quantity, about a pint, would last two or three months. The can was kept on a shelf in the kitchen. It was always there during the time I lived at home.

“I do not recall it being used to clean glass surfaces, windows or mirrors. She used it for cleaning the glazed kitchen and bathroom sinks. I remember that after I was big enough to reach across the bathtub, one of my chores was sometimes to remove the ring around the bathtub after the Saturday evening baths.”

A wet cloth daubed with kerosene was used to clean the sink and tub, Smith writes, and for this “the kerosene was very effective. It left a clean surface that needed only a rinse with warm water.” After 1948, he concluded, his mother stopped using kerosene for cleaning and switched to Bon Ami, a powder cleanser that has been around for over 100 years.

History Preview

I reported in last week’s column that Mack Frail is busy researching and writing a history of Centreville. Mack recently sent me an excerpt from his upcoming work, with permission to reprint it here. In it he looks back on winter in Centreville some 50 years ago.

“The Centreville meadows would flood during January thaws and when they froze over, there was skating from highway 359 to beyond the railway bridge in Billtown. The large bon fires we had near the ice could be seen for a long distance. Clearing the snow off the ice and setting up for a game of hockey require some effort by the children. A pair of lumberman’s rubbers …. provided excellent goal markers.

“Without a net to stop the shots on goal, there were interruptions in the game to retrieve the puck. It required some nerve to be a goal tender considering that we wore little or no pads for protection. Our equipment was crude by today’s standard. Magazines or catalogues were attached to the legs as shin pads. A curved alder branch could be used as a hockey stick. The broken sticks that were discarded at the rink were in demand by us boys to be repaired and put back into service.”

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