Friday, April 27, 2018

Thar she blows!

Okay,... So this has nothing particularly to do with Orange County history, unless you take into account that whales were once hunted off our coast. But I'm posting it specifically with my friend Bob Minty of Dana Point in mind. Bob portrays Richard Henry Dana at events on the Pilgrim, and he's a great collector of information about whales and the old whaling industry. If there's something he hasn't seen yet, perhaps it's this: Whale bone toilet seats!

Yes, we once slaughtered the whales wholesale -- not just for oil and ambergris, but also as something to poop on.  I stumbled across the ad in the pages of the Feb. 1922 issue of The American School Board Journal, which advertised nearly every product a school could want, from fire escapes to crayons.

Update: Bob has already responded: "The term 'whale bone' referred to baleen (not skeletal bones).  They used baleen for anything where we use plastic today."

I then asked him if that meant "whale bone corsets" were actually made of baleen.
Bob Minty at the Dana Point Historical Society, circa 2016.
"Yes," he replied. "Corsets, combs, policeman’s saps, buggy whips, bedsprings, fishing poles were all made from whalebone (baleen). When baleen is heated, it can be bent or twisted to any shape. The only use for skeletal bone, other than fertilizer, was to whiten cane sugar during the refining process.  (C&H Sugar -Terminal Island)."

"Another odd idea was  Mr. Wrigley (of gum and Catalina Island fame) wanted to develop a whale milk farm. They would use Orca whales as 'sheep dogs'.  I have the newspaper article."

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