Items Once Thought to be Dangerous … Are Safe

Before science and medicine (before the late 1800s) could prove that diseases and illnesses were due to germs, the population the stench of human waste and decay – bad smells were what caused people to be ill. People tried to cover their nose if there was a hint of bad odors around. Medical doctors (1600s-1700s) were known to wear a long point mask over the face. In the pointed end were various herbs which the doctor would smell rather than any bad odors.

Postal stamps caused fear in people who refused to lick a stamp to have it attach to an envelope. Many people believed germs were on the sticky side. In truth there is little on a sticky side of stamp for a virus or bacteria to feed, so germs would not be there. In the early 20th century with typhoid and tuberculosis so dangerous, special sanitary vending machines with postage stamps wrapped in paper with little person handling became popular.

By the 1950s with televisions becoming the rage there was fear of exposure to radiation from the cathode ray picture tubes of the television. When that was solved, parents still worried and did not want their children to sit too close to the TV screen feeling it would damage their eyes. What did prove a bit harmful was anyone sitting in a dark room watching TV for endless hours.

With air conditioning of stores and theaters in the late 1920s and especially the 1930s, people attended more movie theaters and stores that were nice and cool. Being air-conditioned attracted customers. Only in 1929, a US Congressman, John Rankin, and others were sounding the alarm that going from a warm outside to inside with cool air could kill a person. Rankin made that speech right after air conditioners were installed in the Congress chambers.

Some of the New World foods grown and eaten by the native Indians were thought by the European colonists to be dangerous. This included the potato and tomato, never before grown in Europe. It was years of seeing other people eventually eating a potato or tomato and surviving. Now potatoes are grown across the globe and even Ireland is known for its potatoes.

It appears our ancestors had fears of anything new until it was proven safe.

Photos: Medical doctor of 1600s protected from Bad Smells; 1900 postal stamps; 1950s television; air-conditioning advertised for movie theater; potato/tomato.

Related Blogs:

Illnesses of Long Ago

Our Brave Ancestors

Medical Treatments

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