In conducting research on the Washington Heights tract of Echo Park, Rory Mitchell came across a resident named Harry Ellington Brook, an Englishman and writer who lived more than a century ago in a Victorian-style home on Elsinore Street near Alvarado Street. Brook wrote what was apparently the L.A. Times’ first health column, “Care of the Body – Suggestions for Preserving Health”. In addition to dealing with serious health issues, such as tuberculosis and malaria, Brook also delved into “practical hygiene.” Following a spring heat wave, Brook, under an item titled “Summer Underwear” published in May 1910, suggested to readers that it might be time to get rid of those old woolen undergarments in favor of something more clean and comfy:
Now is the time when people begin to think of changing their underwear. If you are not content entirely to avoid, at all seasons of the year, that filthy, unwholesome woolen underwear, which is never really clean after it is once worn, at least throw it out during the summer. The best of all materials for underwear is linen mesh, and by far the best kind of linen is ramie linen, the linen of the Bible, the material in which mummies of Egypt were wrapped. Those who have once experienced the pleasing effects of this semi-silk fabric next to the skin will never want to wear any other material.
Perhaps it’s not too late for the Echo Park American Apparel store – which happens to be located in the Washington Heights tract – to stock up on ramie linen thongs and underwear in time for summer.
Click here to learn more about the history of Washington Heights and its other residents.