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I wrote yesterday about traditions and items that have gone, sometimes in a fairly short period of time, from being absolutely critical to how we live our lives, to being tangential, irrelevant or even obsolete. In this case, my example was the handkerchief ... which I use, but that seems to be growing obsolete these days.

Got lots of email responding to the commentary...

MNB user Jim DeLuca wrote:

I am one of the dinosaurs too.  I also feel naked leaving my house without a handkerchief.  And I often get raised eyebrows when I pull it out; even if it is just to wipe the sweat off my brow...

MNB user Gary Harris wrote:

I’m in the same boat, Kevin. Phone, keys, wallet, cash and handkerchief are all part of the morning ritual. Interesting thing though, is that while I always carry a handkerchief, I NEVER use one! Now if that isn’t the stupidest damn thing I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is. Tissues are readily available anyplace I go, and the thought I would never think of shoving one in my pocket after using it, so why would I do that with a piece of cloth?
Actually, I do use a handkerchief, but it’s always to wipe away a tear during a wedding or funeral or a worship service. Oh, and at the birth of my grandkids. I guess it’s just us sentimental fools that need a clean hankie anymore…

Another MNB user wrote:

As I was thinking about all the pretty, colorful little handkerchiefs I used to iron, I realized, that's another anachronism--ironing laundry on a regular basis. I guess people still iron out a wrinkle (maybe) since irons are available in hotel rooms, but we used to iron everything that could be draped over an ironing board. Speaking of which, I wonder how many people remember the ironing boards that used to fold up into the wall and hide inside a skinny little closet? OK, time to stop ...

Bob Hermanns wrote:

I am right there with you and the cloth version.  However, you make a good point.  I am constantly amazed at how you can take simple examples from life and make them interesting and informative.

I said yesterday that putting a clean handkerchief in my pocket is as much a part of my morning as brushing my teeth and strapping on my wristwatch.

MNB user Curt Lindy responded:

Just add a wrist watch to your list of old foggy items that “are” or were indispensable depending on your age and state of mind.

MNB user Tom Robbins wrote:

I'm a dinosaur myself, because I too carry a handkerchief, BUT I carry it to clean my glasses!

From another reader:

What about diapers?  I haven’t heard any recent news but thought cloth diapers were what all environmentally conscious parents were turning to these days.  In a comparison of the two, for more or less gross, diapers win right? Do you think that’s a comparison?
I’m a relic too, maybe why I enjoyed that piece so much!  It made me think.

I have to admit that if I had to buy diapers these days, I'd probably use the disposable kind. Mostly, I'm glad that I don't even have to think about the category...

MNB user Damien McManus wrote:

I am with you, I too feel that something is wrong when I don’t have a handkerchief in my pocket, however, in my car and at my desk and in every room of our house we have a box of paper issues and I use those before my cloth handkerchief.  I also think back not to the TV shows but to my days as a boy scout back in England, it was essential that you carried a handkerchief, coins (for the emergency phone call) and a couple of other items, the old “be prepared” motto.  The handkerchief being the first bandage, a way to give mouth to mouth without touching the injured skin and a sling the list goes on.  I can also relate to the looks of your son and wife about still having one in your pocket but as with my family they always know I have one, which is why I always get a little nudge in church when someone needs a tissue and doesn’t have one to hand for my clean and neatly folded handkerchief to be passed down the aisle to relieve their running nose.  I have a one person use policy so I don’t take it back after it has been used.  As for the fax machine yep that has gone the way of the typewriter.

MNB user Gary Loehr wrote:

Put me in the same column as you.  I'd be lost without it.  A couple points in favor of the handkerchief: Sustainable. You don't have to find a place to throw it away. It doesn't cause a disaster if it is in your pocket and goes through the wash. A handkerchief can get you through the day with a cold, the tissue is one and done. You can't fit a box of tissues in your pocket.

MNB user Rich McLain wrote:

Not only do I have the same feelings about carrying that little white square in my back pocket everyday as you, I can’t tell you how many times I have had to use it to wipe blood from a grandchild’s knee or clean a bloody nose while some where. To go even one better I also get teased about the fact that I carry a comb in my back pocket. How many men do that today? We were all brought up to look our best and to always have shined shoes, a clean face and your hair combed.

From another reader:

Clearly the marketers at the handkerchief manufacturers must have missed the whole “sustainability” and “carbon footprint” movements…or really, convenience wins out in the marketplace.

Thanks for the great thought provoking articles.  Even though I am no longer in the industry, I truly enjoy reading MNB every morning.


From MNB user Rich Heiland:

I, too, start the day with a hankie in my pocket, even though I have read countless articles that they are not sanitary, etc. I just can't get my arms around carrying tissues in my pocket or even computer bag for some reason.

As for faxes, my wife is an attorney and when I go off on how out of date a fax is she points out that for a lot of legal matters you actually need a fax. For some reason email attachments won't do. Along these lines I was a witness on a will she was doing for a client recently and we had to dig high and low around the house to find a pen with blue ink. Apparently you can't sign an original document like a will with black ink because it looks like a copy. It was amazing how hard we had to look to find a pen with blue ink.

Another MNB user chimed in:

My husband uses the dinosaur method - i.e. cloth handkerchiefs.  I inwardly snickered at him until one day I was without any tissues and he gallantly offered his (clean, unused) handkerchief for me to use. I've been grateful that he subscribes to the handkerchief philosophy ever since.  It's interesting how many "sustainable" ideas are recycled from things that our parents and grandparents used.  Oh - and what a great idea to give kids who want to buy something for their Dad---inexpensive and much appreciated!

MNB user Jackie Lembke wrote:

My husband falls on your side of the equation. He never leaves home without a handkerchief, owns many and uses them. He rarely uses tissues, which I use all the time. Kleenex has done a wonderful marketing job, sustainability aside, you throw your germs away with a tissue.

Still another reader offered:

I’ve used handkerchiefs for years.  But not as much for cold relief – more so for wiping my brow.   I perspire more than the average person, and I keep a hankie in my pocket to wipe the sweat from my forehead.  I find it to be a bit more professional than using my sleeve...

MNB user Stephen Burbridge wrote:

I enjoy reading MNB daily and appreciate the humor as much as the news.  Thanks for the daily chuckle and lively “discussions”.

I began carrying a handkerchief 12 years ago when my oldest daughter was born and now, like you, I can not imagine not having one in my back pocket.  While it may seem like a throwback idea, I believe they are far more practical than tissues; I can clean my glasses (or my daughters’ glasses), wet it to clean up messy faces and hands, wrap it around a cut kneecap, and – yes – use it to wipe a runny nose.  I once gave a “hanky” to a perfect stranger in an airport whose son’s nose was running incessantly and had run out of tissues (it was a clean one and I had another in my briefcase).  Perhaps it is a bit of nostalgia as well as I always remembering my grandfather – who was the definition of the word “gentleman” and wore a hat and tie until the day he died – having one on his person at all times.  I fear that I will soon have to order them online from a specialty shop (there is a website “” that sells all types).

MNB user Duane Eaton wrote:

Holy cow Kevin - incandescent light bulbs, Twinkies and now handkerchiefs - how many stockpiles can my basement be expected to hold?

Another MNB user wrote:

You're a true pioneer and zealot for the handkerchief community.

I did write yesterday that I used to watch "Mannix." Forget blowing your nose - you never know when you are going to need a handkerchief to hold a piece of evidence or wipe the fingerprints off a doorknob or gun handle.

Which led MNB user Bob Norman to write:

Like you, Kevin, I don’t feel fully dressed for the day if I don’t have a clean handkerchief in my pocket. I’ve been using them for decades now [we’re about the same age]. I admit that I’ve never needed to wipe fingerprints off a doorknob or pick up a handgun with one, but I have had occasion to offer one to a tearful companion and that was much nicer, I (and she) thought, than a tissue.

And another MNB user wrote, simply:


You betcha. I was a total "Mannix" geek. I have an autographed picture of Mike Connors in my office, will own the entire series on DVD when the final season comes out next week, and would fly to California tomorrow for the opportunity to meet Mr. Connors.

So there.
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