Hazard A Guess: Week of Jan. 30, 2003

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Hello from Hazard!

The mail on Item No. 670 kept flowing, as we suspected it would. Item No. 670 was a fireman’s spanner wrench, used for a variety of purposes, including coupling and uncoupling fire hoses and prying doors open.

Thanks to the following readers for sending responses: W.J. McClelland of Canonsburg, Pa. (who calls it a do-it-all tool for the fire service); Al Siebeneck, Kalida, Ohio; Dave Goodyear was issued one as a cadet with the Cleveland Fire Department that he still uses every day; Gladys Hrabak; Chris Weber of Cooperstown, Pa. (who also speaks from fire-fighting experience); David Smith; and Marvin Sleith of Smithton, Pa.

We also heard more reminiscing from readers on the issue of oleo-margarine. Gladys Hrabak, who lived in a children’s home while growing up, remembers getting the margarine with the yellow pill. “I remember how much fun we had crushing and kneading it, but mostly, we hated eating it!”

Walter Turske of Cleveland, who will be 80 in April, remembers those early margarine years, and getting the margarine when he was about 9 or 10, and Pearl Banbury of North Lawrence, Ohio, remembers it in stores while living in Akron in 1927.

“I seem to remember a waxed, paper-like container… the packaged contained a small, foil packet containing the coloring. Later, the gelatin capsule was used for the color.”

Tom Downing of Ellwood City, Pa. (who writes a column on steam engines for Farm and Dairy), remembers white oleo and still has two or three packets of the powdered dye. “I also remember the ‘great advance’ when the plastic package with the dye in the ‘belly button’ came out.

“We kids loved to get those warm, and therefore, soft packages. A pinch ruptured the ‘belly button’ and released the dye, which was mixed by kneading the plastic bag.”

Downing was also the lone reader to respond to Item No. 671, shared by Tom and Debbie Edling of Salem, Ohio. From its size, Downing surmises it’s probably a toy, either a steam engine or pump. “The beam is typical of early practices in steam, i.e. Newcomer engines and early Boulton and Watt machines.

“I have also seen similar structures in toy and science catalogs as vacuum pumps.”

On to Item No. 672, shared by Robert Rauhauser of Thomasville, Pa., via Sam Moore, our Rusty Iron columnist.

The item is made of tin and the safety pin is about 2 inches long. The two give us a hint that the items pictured are in unused condition.

Think you might know what the item is used for? Drop us a line at: Hazard a Guess, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or via e-mail at: editorial@farmanddairy.com (don’t forget to include your hometown location).

If you’ve got something lying around that you think would stump our fair panel of 40,000 readers, bring it on! Send us a clear photograph of the item (no Polaroids, please), plus detailed description of size and use. You can use the address listed above.

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