Monday, April 8, 2019

20 tips from 1949's "How to Make Money at Home"

How to Make Money at Home was penned by Polly Webster1 and published in 1949 by Whittlesey House, a division of McGraw-Hill.

The hardcover book had a price of $3, which is the equivalent of about $32 today (70 years later). So, right off the bat, you would have been challenged to make this book pay for itself in the late 1940s. Then again, there was no Google back then where you could search "get-rich-quick schemes."

So, without further ado, here are 20 ideas that Webster offered up for that generation to make some money at home...

  • "If you are truly interested in children and can read or tell stories in a fascinating manner, approach your library with the idea of becoming their paid storytelling lady."
  • "Cynthia Richardson, in Alexandria, Virginia, sends out biweekly letters signed, 'Susie Cucumber.' Susie Cucumber is a black-and-white terrier and the series of twenty-eight weekly letters plus a book about the terrier sells for five dollars."
  • "A polio victim in the hills of Vermont uses her nimble fingers to carve from wood the tiny characters of Alice in Wonderland."
  • "Robert D. Bowerman, a Farmington, New York, farmer, raises white mice, which he sells to research laboratories and hospitals."
  • "You can sit back and live on your royalties if you are as clever as the inventor of the Protecto Shield. This is the plastic, colorless covering that the housewife puts over an electric light switch to keep the wallpaper around it free of finger prints. It took a man to think of it."
  • "Six hundred dollars a year profit is what Billy Hepler, twelve-year-old New Hampshire farmer makes a year. Billy refuses orders for his Tiny Tim tomato seeds if they'll put him over the six-hundred-dollar mark because then he'd have income-tax troubles, and this is just too weighty a problem, he believes."
  • "Winning radio, newspaper, and magazine contests is a challenging and interesting home career, and it pays off nicely for those who persevere at it."
  • "While confined to an Army hospital bed for two years, and later when he was able to get around with a cane and brace, Corporal R.O. Jackson, veteran of World War II, built himself a business repairing fountain pens."
  • "A Good Cheer visitor is a man or woman who, for a dollar an hour, entertains sick children."
  • "Sometimes a cage of bears or monkeys will be enough to make tourists stop. ... Children love animals; they also love Indians."
  • "A retired tailor bought a trailer and now is seeing the United States, sewing as he goes."
  • "Many a vacant lot has turned out profitable dollars when it was used for pony rides for children."
  • "It might have been a chemist, but it was just an average woman who, after experimenting with different inks and a way to cure the bones, started writing messages on wishbones. Now she carries on an unprecedented business and her wishbone cards, sent as unique greetings, sell for anywhere from one to thirty-five dollars."
  • "The lowly coconut has meant handsome profits for three young people in Honolulu who have built 'Kokies,' a roasted coconut-chip product, into booming business."
  • "There are many types of ghostwriting. One housewife keeps busy writing speeches for other club women. Suppose you have to give a paper on Charles Dickens. You don't have much confidence in your own research, so you send her five dollars, and within three days you receive a well-written five-page, double-spaced article on Mr. Dickens."
  • "Irene Schmitz, a nurse, knowing that some children are afraid of the dark, conceived a best seller in the form of a luminous doll that would glow in the dark."
  • "A New Yorker specializes in colonial dolls with real hair. The hair is sent to her by parents who have cut it off their own children."
  • "Mrs. Perrins read The Day Must Dawn, by Agnes Sligh Turnbull, which mentioned drinking mulled cider out of wooden noggins, and she had some tiny pottery noggins made up."
  • "Providing birth certificates is another one of those services that doesn't seem, at first thought, to have many possibilities. Yet one Westerner keeps a staff of six busy helping her trace birth certificates."
  • "Another Middle Westerner creates and completes handmade and hand-embroidered underclothes of all kinds."

Related 2011 post

1. Polly Webster was, according to the dust jacket, "the mother of two children, the wife of a college professor. In addition to home making, she has found time to run several successful part-time businesses. She is the author My Private Life, a record book for teen-agers and has conducted a newspaper column."

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