As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I share my birthday with Veteran’s Day, just like approximately 1/365th of the world.
Naturally, the flood of wartime stories in the press around my birthday makes me ponder what life was like for earlier generations. I’d like to share an artifact I found in my grandmother’s garage. She was born in 1917. A year later German and Allied forces signed the Armistice of Compiègne at 11:00 am, Paris time, marking the end of WWI at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. 48 years later, I was born.
But, this isn’t about me. About 10 years ago I was helping my grandmother with some chores. While looking for tools in the garage, I found a pack of Mendets. Not only had she purchased and used one of them, but she kept the rest of the pack. I don’t know if she kept the Mendets as a practical matter or out of sentiment. She hadn’t exactly caught up with the disposable times we live in now; she still had her WWII ration books.
What are Mendets?
It’s a system for fixing broken pots, pans and hot water bottles. The packaging says “How 10¢ saves $10.” and “Don’t throw it away. Mend it with Mendets.”
A “mendet” is a pair of metal washers, a pair of cork washers, a nut and a bolt. If your cooking pot springs a leak, you use the pointy tool to ream out the crack until the bolt will slip through, then assemble the cork and metal washers on either side, tighten the bolt, and go back to cooking your rice.
Click the photos below to see them larger. I particularly like the package below that is hand-marked 15 cents, then crossed out and discounted to 12 cents.