"Shut, Sesame," and Its Magic Work
In these days when nervous breakdown is a serious menace to the world's workers, it behoves every woman who has the welfare of the members of her household at heart to do away with all removable irritations.
With the causes of nerve disorder I have nothing to do. Whether brought on by the strenuous life we lead, the rapidity of motion, the multiplicity of social engagements, and the hustle of modern conditions, it is not for this article to decide.
These words deal with the nerve irritation caused by noise in a house, and with some of the small alleviations which every capable woman can apply, so that weak nerves may not be made worse in the one place which should be looked upon as a haven of rest, where jarred sensibilities may be healed, and overwrought minds obtain a new lease of life through peace and quiet.
Everyone knows what a disagreeable physical jar is received when something is done to make us jump, such as an unexpected sound close to the ear, or an unexpected appearance, as in the childish game 01 booing round a corner. The heart seems to leap and beat hurriedly and suffocatingly for several seconds after. The nerves are jangled, tears leap to the eyes, or hysteria ensues, if the frightened child or adult is in delicate health or of a nervous temperament.
Extreme cases are known to many a doctor in which permanent injury has been done to the delicate nerve-centres by some childish and thoughtless trick of causing sudden alarm. That troublesome malady, St. Vitus's dance, has been brought on by such a cause.
Sudden unexpected noises in a house exercise in a minor degree the same pernicious influence on the nerves. When the noise is constant or persistent, rather than sudden, the effect is a sense of irritation and malaise, which is none the less harmful. The housewife, therefore, who wishes for a noiseless home should set out on her crusade with two definite types of evil to guard against - the lessening of frequent and continuous jarring noises, and the prevention, as far as possible, of short, accidental noises.
Chief amongst preventable, accidental noises in a house is the banging of doors. This not only jars our nerves, but also has a disastrous effect on the framework of the door itself, and, indeed, on the whole fabric of a house, if not very strongly built. We have known the glass in a garden door to be broken by a furious slam of the door against the framework, and the bricks to be loosened in the fabric of a porch by constant banging of the front door as the members of the family let themselves out.
The first remedy is to train your children and every member of the household in fastening a door properly as they leave the room. The casual running in and out of rooms, leaving the door wide open or ajar, is a habit which should never be tolerated. In the first place, it is a very acute form of selfishness, and shows an utter disregard of the feelings and comfort of other people. Leaving the door open is a habit, and one of very insidious growth; the mistress of the house is the right person to check it at its first appearance, and to show by example and by recalling the culprits to rectify their error, however urgent the errand on which they have left the room or however short their absence, that the door must be properly and firmly closed. The old-fashioned oiled feather applied to the interstices of lock and clasp, and to every hinge, should be requisitioned by the mistress herself for each door about every six months.
If a door has a defective handle, or one so difficult to turn that people shirk their duties on its account, have the matter set right by a carpenter or locksmith.
Occasionally the door of an attic or seldom-used bedroom keeps the whole family awake during the night by banging to and fro. The careful mistress will make one of the maids responsible for the proper closing of the upstairs doors of unoccupied rooms, or she herself will see to the matter. If such a door has a weak clasp, a penny iron bolt screwed on to door and frame will settle the matter cheaply and satisfactorily.
There are mechanical contrivances for the noiseless shutting of doors which may be fixed with great advantage. Some of these are merely to prevent the noise and jar of banging, others of more complicated nature close the door automatically after the person has passed out, and so ingeniously are such contrivances made that there is no noise, and even the latching of the door is achieved.
Amongst the simpler fitments within the reach of all are buffers of an inch-long strip of indiarubber set in a brass frame, from which they project about a quarter of an inch. The brass frame is inserted in the woodwork of the door where the door itself would touch the frame, and usually causes the disagreeable banging noise. When the brass is flush with the woodwork and fastened with two neat screws, the three indiarubber points only project, and are ready to receive noiselessly the jar of the door against the frame.
These useful little buffers are sold in sets of three, that number being recommended for perfect silence on a single door. They should be placed at the top, bottom, and about the centre of the door-frame, a few inches from the door-plate and handle.
To Silence a Door Which Shakes in Its Frame
We all know that odious sound which is responsible for more insomnia than many worries - the shaking of an ill-fitting door in its frame.
Though the modern builder may make our downstairs doors close properly, there is generally an attic or cellar door in every house which distracts us by its noisy shaking in its frame. Possibly we may not realise this weakness till the wind sets in some special quarter, generally in the middle of the night. Then the door begins to rattle with sleep-destroying persistence.
There is a small bolt-like contrivance, costing twopence, which is a certain cure for this affliction. The fitment is of brass, something like a cheap bolt. It is pierced for screw adjustment, and holds an indiarubber tongue which may be set long or short, according to the requirements of the door. Once on, the door may be wind-blown every night, but not a sound will be heard, because it will merely press against the indiarubber tongue.
Surely Aladdin never came across in his cave such perfect "Shut, Sesames" as may be had now at any ironmonger's shop. We privately believe that the Genii of the Lamp must have fixed to the door of the treasure-house one of these "liquid door-checks," for they fulfil all the mysterious duties of an invisible doorkeeper, which so alarmed the adventurous hero of the old fairy tale.
It is merely a matter of fifteen shillings for each of us to possess a patent genii of the door, shut up in a neat-looking gold cylinder, with a sceptre-like bar, doubtless symbolical of his sovereign power. When this is fixed, either to a right-hand or left-hand door, no hasty exit, leaving a wide-flung door, need be feared, for the door will be closed by the pneumatic genii living in the cylinder. Counter-balance might explain the mystery to the uninitiated, but the delightful part of the story is that the door does not just swing-to till it is ajar; within an inch of shutting it gathers momentum and closes firmly, as if by a careful hand. There is no slam, and can never be one, for the steel spring, though of sufficiently fine temper to close the door smartly, still has the check upon it which prevents it slamming.
Its makers tell us the cylinder contains the checking device and a special oil, but we know better; it hides the "Shut, Sesame," fairy.
There are other varieties of the genii. One has a contrivance for the regulating of the pressure, so that we can have the door shut fast or slowly. Such matters are for serious study with our ironmonger, or for careful examination with an expert.
All doors, whether heavy or light, may be fitted with pneumatic closers; outer doors of solid oak and iron clasps, inner doors of lightest make but equal slamming capacity - all may be robbed of the demon of noise - all may be brought under the beneficent rule of this genii of the noiseless "Shut, Sesame."
But the subject of the "noiseless house" is still far from being exhausted, for amongst the many difficulties with which the modern housewife has to contend is the question of how to settle the claims of a "healthy, noisy family." She acknowledges that sane and happy children are never quiet; she also knows that the adults in a household require as much peace as possible.
The problem is a difficult one and shall receive adequate consideration, therefore, in a forthcoming article.