There was a can of silver colored powder and a can of very finely ground gold colored powder on a shelf in the barn where my Dad kept his sea chest of tools under lock and key. These had been acquired during his service in the “Emergency Fleet” throughout the world unpleasantness of 1917-18.
These powders were obviously intended to be mixed with some medium in order to produce metallic gold and silver paint. From experience I know that linseed oil was not the intended medium.
In first grade, during the 1934/35 school year, our class was chosen to present an operetta. My teacher made the mistake of assigning to me the part of the “Indian Chief.” My one line consisted of “Pale face mistress likes me best of ‘um bunch.” This alone should have alerted the Principal not to invite the school board. My mother attempted to piece together from burlap fertilizer sacks something that might pass for Indian clothing. My father accepted the high honor of decorating this ill-favored snarl. He resorted to great gobs of gold powder held together with Linseed oil.
The next morning I did notice that I left a patina of gold on the seat of the school bus. When time came to stand and move to the stage for the big show my small chair was attached permanently to my somewhat whiffy Indian Chief suit. The result was not pleasant.
In the second grade I applied the silver mix to a model plane cut and scraped from a hickory broom handle with a dull paring knife. It was placed on a table at the fair with a “Do not touch” warning. By the time I arrived at the fair to review my exhibit the area was covered with long ugly grey streaks of silver gray smears left by those who,having disregarding the no touch sign, searched for a surface on which to leave the gunk on their hands.
I never learned the truth, always convinced that ultimately the “gold” and “silver” would see the family through the Great Depression.