Soap

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Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm sure not all Third Class passengers avoided washing.<<

I don't think they did. As crude as some conditions were, by this point in history, people were starting to understand the importance of good hygine. Unfortunately, the facilities available on the Titanic left a lot to be desired so they might just have to tough it out.
 
May 27, 2007
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I wouldn't take Chad's remark above too seriously - I'm assuming he was repeating Kenneth More's gag line from the train scene in ANTR! :)
That he did! That puts the remark in perspective but I was actually thinking that Chad was relaying a remark made at the time.Steerage Passengers washing themselves and acting like humans would of shocked the socks off the elite.
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Especially after them touting the case of Typhoid Mary's wholesome and delicious cooking. Yummy! Eggs anyone?
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Sunlight was the soap of the people in Edwardian Britain. It founded the Unilever empire. I remember it as a child - it was a yellow block and was used for washing people and clothes, though my mother just used it for getting stubborn stains out of clothes before putting them in the washer, I think. She referred to it as household soap and it seemed to last for ever, though it was hard and went into horrible little cracks as it aged. William Lever, who spotted the growing public awareness of the importance of hygiene, put unprecedented sums of money into advertising it.

It would be difficult for the very poor to keep clean in the slums, of course, no matter how they might have wanted to (as Eliza Doolittle commented), but there was considerable social pressure amongst proud working class people to keep home and children clean. And they scrubbed everyone and everything with Sunlight.

I think part of the trick in keeping on top of the washing was layers. My aunts wore daily changes of the sort of underwear that can withstand boiling and dolly-tubbing, a frock which was not intended to be washed frequently, and a pinafore over the top, which was. They wore their best dresses for a formal Sunday roast, which was presided over by my stern grandfather, and does not sound to have been too jolly an occasion. If you weren't in your seat when he strode in to carve, then you got no lunch, and you had to eat every scrap - including the fat. Ugh.

http://www.fashion-era.com/Christmas/christmas_children_old_adverts.htm

As for the Titanic, well they'd all had to go through the 'health' check, so they can't have been that dirty. There seems to have been considerable pressure on all the bathrooms, not just third class, by our standards. I expect they worked out a rota between themselves. That's what I'd have done.
 

Dave Gittins

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While shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round a tub,
A bar of Sunlight soap came down
And they began to scrub.

A little ditty, possibly from Edwardian times.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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From the opening chorus of The Sunshine Girl, here's everything you ever wanted to know about soap:


(ensemble): When you need a cake of soap
To finish off your toilet,
We're the folks who boil it,
With your needs to cope.
Ev'rywhere we take the cake
We always take the prizes,
Hence the term arises,
"While there's life there's soap!"

(girls): Soap for this and soap for that,
(men): Soap that's round and soap that's flat.
(all): Soap that's thin, soap that's flat,
Soap to wash the dog (or cat),
Soap to wash the dog and cat,
Yes, soap to wash the dog and cat!

When you need a cake of soap
To finish off your toilet,
We're the folks who boil it,
With your needs to cope.
Ev'rywhere we take the cake
We always take the prizes,
Hence the term arises,
"While there's life there's soap!"

(basses): We do the toilin' work,
boilin' work, oilin' work,
We do the soilin' work,
All the 'ole day through!
(ensemble): We do the killin' work,
Grillin' work, swillin' work,
Five-hours-a-shillin' work,
And we earn it too!

(soloist): Here is a soap of ev'ry hue,
Heliotrope and emerald and cream and blue,
Scents of ev'ry flow'r that grows,
Hyacinth and lavender and crimson rose.
(all girls): Pink and pansy, mignonette,
White gardenia, violet!

(men): Soap for girls and soap for men,
(all): Soap for almost ev'rything and ev'rywhen;
(men): soap for pauper, peer or pope,
(all): Honey soap and sunny soap and simply soap!
(girls): Ev'ry kind of soap one knows,
Even soap that won't wash clo'es!
(all): Ev'ry kind of soap one knows,
Even soap that won't wash clo'es!

Soap! Soap!
Scents of ev'ry flow'r that grows,.
Hyacinth and crimson rose,
Hyacinth, lavender,
Pansy, gardenia, violet!

When you need a cake of soap
To finish off your toilet,
We're the folks who boil it,
With your needs to cope.
Ev'rywhere we take the cake
We always take the prizes,
Always take the prizes,
Always take the prizes,
Hence the term arises,
"While there's life there's soap,
There's soap, there's soap,
There's soap, there's soap!"
.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Hmm, having looked at the song titles for The Sunshine Girl, Bob, I rather fancy a revival of this. And George Grossmith Jnr. was Lord Bicester in it, and he was the son of Geo. Grossmith Snr, who co-wrote Diary of a Nobody and Gilbert & Sullivan lyrics too. And it introduced the tango to the fascinated audience.

Incidentally, anyone who thinks the late Victorians / early Edwardians were different from us should read The Diary of a Nobody. We're all there, and instantly recognisable. The upwardly mobile, the insolent tradesmen, the spoilt toddler, the unruly urchins who'd get an ASBO now probably, the despairing parents of a 19-year old youth who can't hold down a job and is addicted to speeding (in a horse-drawn carriage of course, and dressed in a huge coachman's coat), the wife's fashion-mad friend who is a 'bad influence', the husband's boring friends, the unsuitable girlfriend who smokes, everyone claiming to be of moderate habits but always embarrassing each other by getting drunk etc. etc. It's also one of the funniest books ever written.
 

Bob Godfrey

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I thought the name 'Grossmith' seemed familiar. And as always, Mon, you have provided me with inspiration. A new version of The Sunshine Girl could be just what we need for one of our - er - collaborations.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Yes, indeed. I suppose we need to update the occupation of the heroine, who worked in the Sunlight soap factory. Thinking of where young women are incarcerated for hours doing soulless work under the strictest of conditions, I can only come up with The Call-Centre Girl which, sadly, seems to lack the romance to inspire a new musical. Perhaps you can do better?
 
May 27, 2007
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As for the Titanic, well they'd all had to go through the 'health' check, so they can't have been that dirty.
Yes they would of at that.

I want to read the "Diary Of A Nobody". Sounds right up my alley. Right after I read "Memoirs Of A Midget" which isn't about a real Dwarf but a fictional one but is a good read or so I've heard. Came out in 1923.

I can only come up with The Call-Centre Girl which, sadly, seems to lack the romance to inspire a new musical. Perhaps you can do better?
Hmm I think we could go with the "The Wind Power Factory Girl" or the "The Wind Mill Girl." We Could use the "Political Survey Girl" or "Telemarketer Girl" instead of "The Call-Centre Girl". I really didn't do better but threw some titles out to ponder. "Memoirs Of A Call-Center Girl" sound any better?
 

Bob Godfrey

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I think that title will do very nicely, Mon, provided it's not abbreviated to The Call Girl. A call centre, eh? This has the makings of a classic Bollywood musical.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Reverting more to the topic, William Lever not only made soap to make £ millions, he fervently believed in cleanliness. He built Port Sunlight 'village' (Saltaire) for his workers, and gave them living conditions far, far better than most of their contemporaries. So he was similar to the other great British Victorian manufacturer-philanthropists, Cadbury and Rowntree, in that he believed in a clean, sober and industrious workforce. We tend to view this sort of thing as being patronisingly paternalistic, but I bet his workers thought he was great, and didn't begrudge him his profits.

My father worked at Port Sunlight for Lever Bros. just before WW2. Among his other tasks (managing a regional Trufood baby milk salesforce) he had to be 'Sister' to whom worried mothers were invited to write for advice. They couldn't be allowed to know 'Sister' was a man of in those days, of course. So under his pseudonym, my father dispensed brisk advice along the lines of "Try to feed the little ****** yourself, but if you can't, don't worry. Just get the formula milk down. And make sure it's Trufood."
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Here you go, George. It's in the public domain, and this gives you the entire text + the illustrations, which are a must. It was originally published weekly in the satirical magazine Punch - which is sadly no more in the UK - and published as a book in 1892. Never mind the midget, this one is obviously based on people the authors knew (and who probably never spoke to them again).

http://www.authorama.com/diary-of-a-nobody-1.html
 
May 27, 2007
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Thanks Monica!
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I feel that since you recommended The Diary Of A Nobody I should recommend a book I just read which is Pompeii :The Living City by Alex Butterworth and Ray Laurence which tells of about the last 25 years of Pompeii before the eruption of Vesuvius. This will tell you about just everything that went on in the Pompeii and Campania (Bay Of Naples) the area around Pompeii. Politics, Slaves and factoids along with a diverse bunch of characters. It's like a novel in parts but at other parts like a biography Of The City. The Product description will tell you all you need to know about this great book then I could.

happy.gif


Now back to the Topic of Soap. I'm told that volcanic ash makes a good soap?
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Thank you for the book link, George, it sounds very good.

I've vaguely heard of volcanic ash in soap - sounds sort of abrasive, but no matter. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, after all.
 
May 27, 2007
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Thank you for the book link, George, it sounds very good.
Your Welcome, Monica. I'm hoping I get the P.T.L.C. for Christmas. Knock on wood. If not I'll buy it myself. I read it twice now and still find facts I really didn't notice the first time around.

I've vaguely heard of volcanic ash in soap - sounds sort of abrasive, but no matter.
That's what I thought as well. I'm told the Ash is ground very fine and really recommended for mechanics with grease or oil on their hands. Volcanic soap would make a great household detergent.
 
May 27, 2007
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Hello Taylor,

I agree I just started Diary Of A Nobody and it's fascinating. I like the wordage which gives you a good idea of how an educated person spoke in 1892. Interesting too. I had forgotten that the monkier Carrie was in use for girls although I knew boys were sometimes names Cary or Carey so it makes sense. I definitely recommend the Pompeii book if your into ancient Rome or Pompeii.

Back to soap and Steerage. If I had a soap back in the Gilded Age or came out with Volcanic Ash Soap I'd call it Pompeii. I'd also come up with a commercial silent of course that would play before the feature along the lines of the Grey Poupon Mustard commercials like they had in the late 80's and early 90's. "Have you any Pompeii?"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_pGT8Q_tjk
Cut and Paste.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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George,
You are quite right about the language of Diary of a Nobody. But just start laughing, because that's what they intended in 1892. Pooter is a truly good man, but he's daft.

So, back to Pompeii, when they were not daft.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Yes indeed, Mon, Pooter is quite instructive about lifestyles, language, prices and the like, but mainly he's very funny. Except when he intends to be, of course. Lor! How we roared. I thought we should never stop laughing.
 
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