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The Columbia Press

Columnists & Other Opinions

Senior Moments: Dealing with the 'old wives'

Emma Edwards
By Emma Edwards, Thursday, July 11, 2019

An “old wives tale” is defined as “an often traditional belief that is not based on fact,” according to my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Believe it or not, some “tales” have been going on since the 15th century.

Most of us grew up hearing many old wives tales and looked at them simply as fact. This time of the year, especially, we are told that swimming with a full stomach causes cramps, and that one should wait an hour after eating before swimming. This is false, according to Wikipedia.

Another familiar old wives tale is “Don’t cross your eyes or they will stay that way.” Ask your ophthalmologist on your next visit and you won’t worry about it.

What got me on this subject? One day last week I was putting fresh linens on my bed and there was that pesky tag sticking up, “Under penalty of law this tag not to be removed except by the consumer.” As a child, I was afraid I’d go to jail, so I would hardly touch it.

For more than eight decades, I’d never noticed the words “except by the consumer.” That was a freeing moment in my somewhat sheltered life. Hey, I am the consumer. I found my favorite scissors and cut off the tag. It felt good. I felt like a liberated woman on that day last week.

Doing a tiny bit of research, I learned from answer man Roger Schlueter that “In other words, the second you get it home, you can rip, cut or tear to your heart’s content with no fear of a SWAT team ramming down your front door.” I also learned there’s a law in the U.S. Code (Title 15, Chapter 2, Subchapter V, Section 70c) that makes it illegal to remove, mutilate or cause to be removed or mutilated any stamp, tag or label from a textile fiber product in commerce prior to it being sold or delivered to the final customer.

So the tag warning is for the seller not the consumer and dates back to the early 1900s when it was found that the filling in pillows and mattresses could cause infestations of mice, bedbugs, disease and unwelcome allergens.

Tags are there for our protection. And in some cases to protect warranties.

With warm weather around the corner, remember that ice cream leads to nightmares and toes pointed up signify low blood-sugar.

Another bogus rule is to beware of cracking knuckles, which can give one arthritis. And how often have we heard that only the good die young?

Maybe that’s why you and I are still here!


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