Whatever happened to the handy hanky?

Photo taken by Akeeris

It was by chance that I came down with a cold Monday night and found myself spending Tuesday day in bed.  I felt dreadful and my nose had turned into a bit of a rain cloud, sputtering out water as heavy as the recent Melbourne rain. My garden has been loving it, but my tissue box was a little worse for wares.

It was then a thought occurred to me.  Whatever happened to the handy hanky, always in your pocket, multi-purpose and great for blowing noses?  The handkerchief is still a word that exists in the English vocabulary, so surely it cannot be extinct.

I took a few moments to think about the last time I had seen a hanky. It seems our disposable replaceable convenience loving society has killed the washable reusable always handy hanky. Thus I could not even remember the last time I saw one in a shop. I suppose that’s because health experts have deemed tissue to be more sanitary, much to the horror of all the trees slaughtered as a result of this prognosis, and the cotton which was no longer wanted by noses.

Not being one to fear germs and other nasties, I decided in that moment I had to have a hanky!  I’m all for buying local, but clearly hankies have long been replaced by tissues in my neck of the woods.  Sure, I could pay $7.00 to hop on a train into the city to wonder through the Myer and David Jones department stores to find an expensive made in China hanky with a brand name logo on it, but being sick, I wasn’t in the mood.  Seeing as we live in a packaged society where so many things can be bought elsewhere for cheaper, I decided to abandon my buy local determination just for this one thing and hop online.  .

Much to my surprise, Google popped up a website of a lady who makes handkerchiefs in Mudgee, NSW, Australia.  My first thought was: where is Mudgee in New South Wales?  Clearly it’s a very small country town, so small that even my Australian partner doesn’t know where exactly it is, so good on this lady in Mudgee for taking her business online to reach a larger audience for her seemingly dying craft!  10 minutes later I had ordered two hankies.  They were lovely and beautiful and the perfect size.  She was all too happy to send me my order straight away, and not only that, she only charged me $3.00 for shipping.

I suppose this is why so many people want to buy local, but end up buying overseas and online.  For two little hankies to go into a package, onto the back of a van and driven for 4 hours down the highway to Sydney, then onto an airplane to be flown to Melbourne, and hand delivered straight to my desk at a lesser cost than for me to take a train into the city and back, no wonder Australian shops are suffering more than usual and online shops are growing in popularity.  Clearly moving things can be much cheaper and easier than moving people!

My handy hankies should be arriving Monday or Tuesday much to my anticipated excitement.  Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?) for them my cold is all but gone but that doesn’t matter to me.   They are cute, and they will save me alot of money overtime that would otherwise be spent on trips to the supermarket to buy boxes and boxes of tissue.

And to conclude my story of the handy hanky, last night I decided to head out to the western suburbs of Melbourne to meet my friend David for dinner.  We were eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant which was lacking in napkins.  David spilled a bit of soup on his hand and so he reached into his pocket, and much to my surprise pulled out a red and blue hankie!  So the hankie has not died.  It still exists buried in the occasional person’s pockets.  Hankies can still be bought at David Jones & Myer, and from the Swanky Hanky lady in Mudgee, NSW, and I’m sure elsewhere in the world.   Perhaps they may never die and maybe someday grow again in popularity.  So it seems the trees and cotton have reason to cheer after all.

If you live in Australia and my story has inspired you to do your own part in saving trees and supporting cotton farmers, along with country Australian businesses, you can order your own handy hanky from Donna the Swanky Hanky lady in Mudgee, NSW.   Just click on the linky here. 

February 7th Update:

My handy hankies arrived in the post and were quickly washed, folded and placed in my handbag where they are most accessible.  Between bouts of hay fever, wind, and a dusty storeroom clean-out they have been put to good use and still working great.  The tissue box that sits neatly on my desk untouched and collecting dust is suddenly getting much use as my team has come down with a summer cold.  I moved the box to the centre of the room for all to use as I really don’t need it anymore as my handy hankies are getting a good workout.  I wish I had hankies to offer everyone instead, and once the tissue box runs empty perhaps my co-workers will be more keen.   It doesn’t matter to me at the end of the day what they choose.  I love them and that’s all that matters.

Linked up at 6 Word Saturday 🙂 


11 thoughts on “Whatever happened to the handy hanky?

  1. Tilly Bud says:

    I prefer paper hankies for the hygeine. They don’t seem to have disappeared in the UK: go to any jumble sale or car boot sale and there’s always a blue box with a cellophane front, holding three men’s white handkerchiefs. probably donated by a Dad or Grandad when the little gift-giver isn’t looking.

    Come to think of it, could be the same box circulating the jumble and boot sales! Because no one uses them any more 🙂

    • Yolanda says:

      haha, how cute! I’m sure it is the same box making the rounds. I didn’t see any when I wondered through a car boot sale in Devon a few years back, but then again I wasn’t exactly looking for it either. But yes, they are definitely a dying breed as Kleenex and other tissue companies have taken over the market. After all, who can resist the pillowy softness or the fragrant fresh scents held within a box or pack of tissues?

  2. My hubby is a hanky person, despite being a tough guy – ugh, as a chronic hayfever sufferer I dislike them myself and much prefer tissues.

    I’m astounded that someone from Mudgee actually has an online ‘hanky’ presence – curiosity means I have to go and look now

  3. Ron. says:

    I think my grandmother took them all with her when she died.

  4. columbibueno says:

    I saved the hundreds that my family used (and kept so pristine in large satin bags, embroidered). Thank you for the reminder!

  5. Was hoping for a picture of you beautiful hankies. LOVED this post. Blessings from 6WS.

  6. Karen S. says:

    they call them tissues! and they are everywhere!

  7. Joseph says:

    I think the hanky is a good idea but, I wouldn’t wan to carry around a towel that I blew my nose on. : )

  8. Marie says:

    Great 6 and essay. Lovin’ on the hankie – an invaluable piece
    of cloth, no doubt. You can’t beat the flourish of a hankie appearing
    out of your pocket.

  9. betty says:

    My hubby still carries a hankerchief. he always seems to be handing it to me too since I don’t carry anything, LOL

    glad to hear you are feeling better!


  10. Elaine says:

    I still see a few people using ‘real’ hankies and we have a couple of gift boxes of them at home – given to us years ago but we prefer tissues – although that is mainly because I don’t really want to have to launder the real ones!

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