My hands have reached the point where they show my age. Oh, heck, my whole being shows my age. Somedays I look 80+ and feel it. Other days, if the light catches me just right in a store window I look...who am I kidding. I look old. My mind is still 12, but my body and brain apparently aren't keeping in touch anymore. I'm lucky that my face isn't lined and there are no bags under my eyes. But oyyyyyyyy, some days...my hands. I look down and think, "Who do these belong to?" There's a whole Creature from the Black Lagoon thing going on when I notice them.

Well, let us step back in time to 1942 with the following ads, both from the March Cosmopolitan with Lana Turner on the cover. (What did Lana do when her hands started looking old?)

Jergens ad_1942_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Jergens Lotion. The company is still in business. I have a little travel size bottle that's been around since probably the 1960s or '70s that still contains lotion, still with the same nice fragrance. I keep it in the cupboard with all my old tins and various vintage packaging. But then there's this ad:
"Jergens Lotion smooths on in a jiffy--never feels sticky."
Was this a serious problem back in the '40s. Was there a need for jiffy lotion? Did other lotions take an interminable amout of time to apply? I get the whole "never feels sticky" part, but the jiffy part? I guess I've just never felt that hand lotion was taking up too much precious time.

I love the way they're trying to convince woman with short stubby fingers that Jergens will solve their problem. No, it won't miraculously elongate your fingers but...
"Rather short fingers indicate a capable hand. And this "achieving" hand can be romantic, too."
Well, that's good to know because seriously the only thing that comes to mind with short fingers that are achieving is milking a cow. Good farm hands is what they're saying. You can have good farm hands and still there's a guy out there for you. Which brings me to the next product...

Campana Balm_1942_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Campana Balm. I don't know why, but whenever I hear the word "balm" I think of a cow's udder. Perhaps it's because I still have some old Watkins products from the 1930s when my paternal grandfather was a Watkin's dealer. I know on one of the tins it says something about udders. The product was good for humans and cow udders. It was a balm. I shall not mention udders again in this post. I'm through with udders. There, I just said it again.
"Strange things can happen to Romance when a girl neglects her hands. This is called "the fade-out." Mother may not have warned you, but frequently the male is quite peculiar. He may discount all your other charms--if your hands are not alluring."
Okay, seriously? I needed Campana to tell me "frequently the male is quite peculiar"? And today, with everyone and their mother figuring they could write a screenplay "fade-out" just means a transition from one scene to the next. I never knew it was what you called the situation when the guy never calls back. I've experienced enough fade-outs. Perhaps it was because I didn't have "winsome hands." Yes, that's what it says below the last image panel.
"All is well! Dick says I have winsome hands. He treasures their softness--I safeguard it with Campana!"
Here's the deal. Campana Balm used to be called Italian Balm until WWII came along. Then people didn't like Italian things so much. You know, it was like...fogetaboutit. So they changed their products name to Campana after the Canadian doctor who invented it. Okay, that makes sense...but why was it originally called Italian Balm? Have no idea, but here's a little bit of history about the company. All signs lead to Dow Chemical:
The Campana Company began business in 1927. The imposing building at the northwest corner of Fabyan Parkway and Rt. 31 was built to house the Corporation in 1937. In it was manufactured the popular product, Italian Balm, a hand lotion and a number of other feminine products. During World War II, when Italy was an enemy of the United States, Ernest Oswalt, the company's founder, changed the name of his balm to Campana Balm after the Canadian doctor from whom he had purchased the formula.

The unique Campana Building, designed by architects Frank D. Chase and William James Smith, is an all-steel frame building with glass blocks and bricks used extensively in the design. Inside the lobby are Deco bathing ladies that can be seen through the second-level windows. The Campana Tower is a landmark in the valley and encases a 45,000 gallon water tank used for water circulation for air conditioning and fire sprinklers.

In June 1962, Campana Corporation became a member of the Purex Corporation of California, a subsidiary of Allied Laboratories. In 1960, Allied merged with Dow Chemical Company. The company's products continued to be made in Batavia until operations were eventually moved to other facilities out of state.

Ernest Oswalt was one of the first entrepreneurs to see the value of media advertising. He used newspapers, magazines, billboards, and radio to get his message out. Oswalt hired Florence Ward, a fiction writer who lived in Batavia, to write radio scripts for the company's famous "First Nighter" radio program. Italian Balm was introduced nationally through this show. The program was a fixture on radio in American homes for twenty-two years. (SOURCE: Batavia Historical Society)
Okay, what other "feminine products" did they make? I'm sorry, but my first thought when I read this is Italian sanitary napkins. What exactly would have set apart Italian sanitary napkins from those made by other companies? Make up your own jokes here, I'm not touching it.

Now, if you like historical buildings, art deco style, take a look at the old Campana HQ located in Illinois at the following links: Landmarks Illinois, Agilitynut.com, and Waymarking.com.

So, what have we learned the last two days?

1. Massage your gums if you want to get people applauding when you play the piano.
2. If you've got bad breath you might want to buy yourself a nice headstone.
3. If you're short on time buy Jergen's products.
4. If you don't use Campana Balm you might end up like Billy Idol "Dancing with Myself."

Let's see...which body part to worry about next?

One last thought...if an Italian has dry hands does it impede their ability to talk? I'm just askin'?


  1. Oh come on! Pull the udder one. There, you have made me say it as well. Now I have a real complex. My fingers are short and I am worrying in case they get shorter and become 'rather short'. That's when the advert suggests hands become 'capable'hands. I don't want capable hands. I want my hands back!

    That reminds me. As I make my weekly trip up the motorway, I have to stop at the Services for a comfort break. Recently, I noticed that as the jet of hot air from the hand dryer hit my hands, the skin was pushed back towards my wrists. Luckily, the skin flapped straight back afterwards, but I don't want flappy skin. What cream might help? Kindly provide me with the name of an udder brand of skin cream!

  2. Have you ever pinched some of on the back of your hand and then sat and watched it slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly go back into place? If you're ever on a plane or train next to someone who annoys you just keep doing that over and over again. Make sure they know you're really getting a kick out of it. Then suddenly turn and say, "Let's do it on you!" They'll leave you alone. No doubt about it.

    Personally I actually do the following: barely dry skin, put a small glob of vaseline on, then some drops of oil such as lavendar, and rub it in. Water seals your hands and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than commercial stuff.

  3. I get the whole 'jiffy' thing. I find putting on hand cream an unbearable bore and it is always sticky! I also seem to get it in my eyes (don't ask me how), so I rarely bother and, of course, I am paying for it now. Yes, those high powered hand driers are a bit of a revelation but they do dry your hands 'in a jiffy'.

  4. I'm tellin' ya...damp hands with tiny bit of vaseline. Melts right in.

  5. Okay I'll try that, so now you have to find some vaseline ads...that'll be interesting!

  6. Janice,

    You know, I don't think I've ever seen an ad for Vasline. Their lotion yes, but plain old vaseline? I'll have to keep my eyes open for this. New category to look for!!