Lane Hope Chest - I cedar appeal, but kind of obsolete.

Gosh, what a serviceable-but-not-hilarious pun in today's title. You try and think of something clever. Shut up.

Growing up, we had a thing in our house that we just called "the cedar chest". Little did I know it was a "hope chest" - something I had heard of in old TV shows, but never understood. I never knew what a hope chest is until this morning when I threatened an unpaid intern with dismissal if he didn't look it up for me. Until today, all I knew about them is that they smell nice.
According to the "lazy person's knowledge source"... "hope chestdowry chestcedar chest, or glory box is a chest used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life." I never knew that. I don't think there are many people who have these any more, at least not by the "hope chest" name. Back in 1950, the year of this ad, women didn't have - shall we say - many options. Marriage was just about everything they were expected to want, and the hope chest was the thing a girl used to store up her linens and stuff, in anticipation for the Big Day.

Now women can do lots of things, such as "have a career" and "leave the house". A hope chest is an anachronism, especially when you consider that things like bed sheets and towels are pretty standard wedding gifts, and don't need to be stashed away in long anticipation of marriage.

Hope/cedar chests are nearly always made of wood, with a lining of cedar. Why? Cedar wood contains cedar oil, which smells great to humans, but is gross to bugs and mold. So, if you surround your linens with cedar, they'll stay moist and delicious forever.
Click for hugeness.
Apart from that, cedar oil has been used historically in cosmetics and paints, but these days, we mostly use it for the smell. It's a pretty common ingredient in men's colognes. Ask the counter lady at the store for a men's scent with a "woody note", and you'll probably get something with cedar oil in it. If you're lucky, she may even spray it in your eyes as you approach her, and ask you if it's okay afterwards. Good luck finding the ingredients on the cologne's label, though. Any company that sells its juice for fifty bucks a bottle holds their cards close to the vest when it comes to telling you how they make it.

Incense often is made with cedar. You can burn cologne too, but doing so lacks the relaxed, long-burning control of incense. It tends to go up like gasoline. Plus, once you light it, you'll be adding the smell of your terror to the room's olfactory cocktail, and that is the world's worst cologne of all.

The Lane ad calls a cedar chest a "Love Gift". Double-you Tee Eff? You may give gifts to people you love, but you don't go calling it a Love Gift. That's creepy. You know who would do that. Rachel Dratch's and Will Ferrell's "Lovers" characters from Saturday Night Live, that's who.


Fil said...

You could have just asked me what a hope chest is, rather than terrifying that poor intern.
My mom's hope chest sat in our garage the entire 18 years that I lived there. While there was certainly linens of sorts inside, there were also wonderful treasures from her childhood. At least, that is what I saw when I would snoop around inside.
A deck of cards she had seemed to be a take on charades. Each card had some action the reader would have to pantomime, presumably for others to guess at. I recall that one of them said, "Pretend you are a negro who has just been given a big slice of watermelon." The accompanying art was appropriately racist. There were dozens of cards, but that one has stayed etched in my mind. A relic from an ignorant past.
The greatest treasures were the comic books. While nowhere near 'mint condition, they were from my mothers childhood and I would spend hours reading them. I remember they were mostly 'Harvey' comics. Little LuLu, Lil Audrey, Sad Sack... Baby Huey...
Anyways, that was my 'hope chest' experience. The cedar oil is powerful stuff. When I would open that lid, the cedar aroma would fill the entire garage. Good times.

Anonymous said...

Fil, nice comment post, thanks! I hope PAG enterprises sends you a pointy tree day card, you deserve it. (Got mine today, AWESOME!) -nonmouse

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Yeah, Fil With An F. That comment was like a post all it's own. Way to pour yourself into your work. The smell of cedar is beloved by almost everyone I know... except my mom, who can't stand it, ironically. Our cedar chest was just the place where we stored all our old clothes. As the youngest, most of my clothes came from there: hand me downs from my older brothers. The only good part of that was the smell.


PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Fil With An F's Ex-Mess card is in the mail, by the way, as are all of them. If any readers haven't received theirs yet, just wait longer.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Postman delivered my pointy tree day card today! Thanks, P.A.G.!!! Well done! Note: I actually found those same "tooth forceps" (12-8-11 post) in an old coffee can in my garage...Now I know what they are. Thanks for the enlightenment...

Oh, and Merry Christmas Phil.


Anonymous said...

He's closely inspecting her chest while hoping to soon give her love box a wooden love-gift.

Yes, that was lane.

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