Used Razor Blades

The innumerable ways that things have been done in the past, like during the 1950’s of Charlotte, will make sense if examined and thought about instead of criticized.

For instance, in 1957 Charlotte, citizens desired convenience just as they do in 2022. So,  in order to keep fathers from having to find a safe means of disposing of the double edged, still sharp razor blades, manufacturers of metal medicine cabinets provided an easy fix.

Since the metal medicine cabinets were recessed between wall studs, the makers of up-scale bathroom fixtures placed a small, downward pointed slit in the upper middle back of each cabinet. The slit was just large enough for one of those used, double-edged razor blades. Since the space between the studs and back-to-back sheets of  drywall was large and the blades small but still potentially dangerous for a child or unsuspecting adult, it was a good solution. Shave with it, then drop it in the slot preventing any finger from being harmed by it.

However, it must have been a slow news day in Charlotte on January 28, 2022, because our local paper ran a story of a relator making the discovery of such a medicine cabinet. It seems the realtor was assessing a partially renovated home when the electrician told him about what was sticking out of a wall. He rushed to see what had been found and then researched the phenomenon (on Google?) and learned something: Things were done differently, often for a sound reason, in the past.

But it seems the Charlotte relator is a late comer to making this discovery of what he describes as a “weird” way of the disposal of used razor blades. In 2020 it seems a Los Angeles woman made the same discovery in her home and posted it on TikTok. Her post had 3.8 million views and almost 3,000 comments.

Now, I understand that not everyone is knowledgeable of residential life during the 1950’s, especially knowing about such details as bathroom medicine cabinets. I applaud the Charlotte realtor for conducting what passes for research in today’s Internet world. I am also pleased that he has the character for admitting that he had learned something. However, what I object to is the Charlotte realtor saying/thinking about the way of disposing of razor blades, “It’s just weird, and we would never think of doing it at all today, at least I hope not.”  All I can say in response to him is that patients at one time were bled as a cure for illness. And as far as the Los Angeles woman, all I wonder is: Are we such a bored society that over 3.8 million folks are entertained on TikTok by a tiny slot in a medicine cabinet?

Sometime in my expanding tenure as a teacher as I aged, I realized how many years began separating me from my students. Aware of my own experiences and sensibilities, I began each new year searching the events of my students’ birth year. In that small way, thinking of the year they were born, I was more aware of their experiences and their exposures. This small knowledge helped me be more sensitive to the time that had helped form my students. From that hallmark, we moved forward as I taught them to fill in any gaps in their historical knowledge and to think critically of their time and times past.

These episodes concerning the renovation of a Charlotte and a Los Angeles home  and the attention they bring should serve as a “real-life example” of the importance for teaching critical thinking skills and history because it matters that our children be made aware that the world has not always been as it is for them. And that looking something up on the Internet is not research, just exploration.

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