The Picture Actress and Her Gowns: 1916

Dressmaker Is the Skeleton in The Picture Actress’ Closet

Brand-new Gowns Are Demanded For Almost Every New Scene in Photoplays.

MUST ALWAYS BE IN STYLE

Film Patrons Also Insist on Creations of Famous Modistes, and Players Provide Them.

“Gowns! Gowns!”

“And then some more gowns!”

This is the reason given by a motion picture star who is well known in Washington, why young girls should take something strong and positive when the symptoms of a desire to become a motion picture actress first appear.

The business of dressing a motion picture play is more serious than the play itself, declared this actress. She has had considerable experience on the stage, and has become very well known in motion pictures. As she has been a great stickler for proper costuming in her picture work, she desires that she shall not be named—but she is one of the real stars of the film.

“The average stock actress has a lot more trouble with her costumes than she has with her lines. And she thinks her troubles are the worst,” declared this actress. “But the stock leading lady has a comparatively easy time when compared with the picture player.

Cannot Wear Gowns Twice.

“Did you ever see your favorite staress in the same gown twice?”

“You never did. And, furthermore, you never will. She wouldn’t scintillate long if she wore the same gown twice. The stock actress when she gets tired of buying new gowns can go to a different town and wear her old dresses all over again, with a little fixing over.

“But the motion picture actress cannot do that. Her public follows her from place to place. I have worked for five motion picture companies—but my public has been the same. I’m glad to say my public has grown a lot in numbers since I started motion picture work. But the point I want to make is that I can’t change my audience like the stock actors. The same people go to see my pictures.
“And, furthermore, none of my stock wardrobe—the gowns I wore in stock company productions—will go in pictures because the public has seen me in all those gowns! The result is that every time I put on a picture I have to put on several gowns.

“And believe me, the public is becoming rather captious as to the number of gowns one must wear in the various scenes of a picture. We must appear in a different gown for every day the picture is supposed to cover.

New Dress for Each Day.

For instance, if I am to appear in scenes covering several days I must have a new gown for each of those days. It wouldn’t be right for me to appear in the same gown two days in succession.

“It seems absurd, of course, in parts where the character is a girl in moderate circumstances. I know that before I went on the stage, I considered myself lucky to have half a dozen gowns—one of which would be a regular-honest-to-goodness stylish affair. And when I went out I wore that stylish gown time after time. I couldn’t do it with the same sort of a character, in the same situation in life. In motion pictures though, I must have a new gown for every day the action covers.

“And the quality of the gowns must be right. You hear a lot about ‘Lucile’ and ‘Redfern’ creations on the screen, and you think the labels are sewed on by press agents instead of the people who own the copyrights to them. But that is not true.

Public Demands the Best.

“The public demands ‘Lucile’ and ‘Redfern’ and all the rest of them. And we must furnish them. It’s a horrid shame, too. I actually spend more time with a dress maker than I do with the play I am appearing in.

“I would ask a young girl anxious to go into pictures if she can stand quietly day after day and permit herself to be draped and stitched and pinned into something she must pay for, but will never have an opportunity to wear—nine cases out of ten—because she can’t afford to go where the gown belongs? That is totally aside from the business of trying to figure out something new.

“That is one of the real tests. One of the things I want to take a vacation from is gowns. Honestly, I almost cry when I think of a new play. It means new gowns—more gowns—and I’ve got so many already that I can’t do a thing with!”

The Washington Times 13 April 1916: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Poor thing! Sacrificed to the relentless whims of the public! What a horrid nuisance, having to be fitted for all those Redfern and Lucile confections! The anonymous narrator may be one of the genuine “staresses” of the Silver Screen, but she seems to be ignorant of the well-known solution to the problem of her bulging wardrobe: the second-hand clothes trade. This well-known dealer reported a brisk trade with stage actresses:

I deal extensively, too, with actresses. They can find among the stock of stage dresses gowns that are suited to the role they are to play, and the reduced cost of which is very gratifying both to their managers and themselves. In fact, the stage dresses go back and forth among the actresses, many times before they begin to show wear. I act the part of the middleman, you see, in these cases, and get paid for the bother of caring for the garments properly while they are here awaiting a new purchaser in the interval when they are not being worn on the stage.

Some of these richer gowns are sold to me by actresses who have no need for them off the stage, and dispose of them as soon as the play in which they were worn has run out its course at the theater.” The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 9 May 1891: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Sports of Queens: 1908

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

HOW QUEENS AMUSE THEMSELVES

They Drive Motor Cars, Play Tennis, Ride on Horseback, and Enjoy All the Healthful Out of Door Sports That Amuse Their Less Exalted Sisters Throughout the World.

It is a mistake to think that the royal women of the world set all the fashions. The women of lesser degree may indeed imitate queens in small matters of gowns and hats and coiffures, but in many of the large affairs of life the great world of women are the leaders and the queens are the followers.

The women of America and England, indeed, have taught the royal women of the world how to amuse themselves. Time was when a queen was a languid creature, too dainty almost to lift her fan. She would not have walked a mile for the sake of her kingdom. She had a page, or a procession of pages to carry her train, and she scorned every sort of physical exercise as beneath her caste.

But when the royal women saw how beautiful and healthful the athletic women of America and England were, they took advantage of the lesson. They found out that there was a good deal of fun to be had in playing golf, fishing, motoring, riding horseback and taking part in other athletic pastimes—and they, too, began to enjoy themselves. Now, outside of the Turkish harems or the courts of the orient, there is hardly a queen or princess to be found in the world who is not devoted to some form of sport. The result is that they are a great deal more vigorous than they were in the old days. Their cheeks are rosier, and they have more of the joy of life.

How Queen Alexandra Keeps Young.

Queen Alexandra always has lived out of doors a great deal, and she attributes keeping young and enjoying good health to this fact. When a young girl she was fond of swimming, rowing, and driving, and even now she never permits a day to go by without taking some exercise. If the weather is too bad for walking she passes several hours at billiards. She is wonderfully skilled with the cue and is proud of her game. The queen has taught all her daughters and her ladies in waiting for play billiards, and the room sometimes becomes lively when there is a championship game.

But in nice weather her favorite exercise is walking. When living at Buckingham palace and at Windsor she walks five or six miles a day, and nearly doubles the amount when at Sandringham. When she was younger she as so fond of walking that she could go miles and miles without getting tired, but since she became lame it is more of an effort.

At Sandringham she visits all parts of her farm twice a day and in the afternoon takes a long walk with the king. This is more of a pleasure than a task, because she usually amuses herself on the way by taking snap shots with her camera or playing with one or more dogs.

Fond though the queen is of outdoor life, she avoids hard exercise. Yachting and driving she enjoys, but she has never played golf, or put a ball over tennis net.

Persistent automobiling, she believes, offers the quickest means known for getting rid of a nice complexion and gaining 10,000 wrinkles. About once in a fortnight she takes a spin for about an hour, but always swathed in veils, quite like a Turkish woman.

Fishing Drives Out the Wrinkles.

Fishing is Queen Alexandra’s favorite sport after walking. She says that fishing rests the mind, steadies the nerves, and drives the wrinkles right out of the complexion. It is impossible to think of anything else while you fish. Her place at Sandringham, as well as the estate in Scotland, is well stocked with a wonderful variety of fish. Even when alone she spends hours in some shady nook waiting for a fish bite, and rarely goes home until she is satisfied with her haul.

When younger she rowed, but since her lameness has begun to annoy her she has a rowing machine at Windsor instead, and here, with the windows wide open she goes boating in a rowing machine. No longer able to ride a bicycle, she has a stationary machine fastened near one of the windows, and she rides it as energetically as if she were spinning over one of the country roads.

Queen Alexandra believes so much in fresh air and exercise out of doors that she often sleeps in a tent she had put up for her Sandringham. One day one of the younger grandchildren came to visit her, and hearing that the queen was sleeping out in a tent, the child asked: “Grandma, are you not afraid to stay there, alone?” The queen kissed the child and answered: “But, dear, I am not alone. I have the stars, God’s sentinels. They are taking care of me.”

At Windsor she has a roof garden, and as soon as it grows warm she sleeps out of doors.

Once asked how she managed to keep young, she said: “Fresh air and exercise are the best elixirs of youth.”

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

Queen of Italy a Mountain Climber.

But Queen Alexandra as a devotee of sports is forced to share honors with Queen Helene of Italy, for she is a Montenegrin, and the women from Montenegro are daring. As a child her time was divided between the field and the mountains, and it were hard to say which she enjoyed the more.

When the king came to court her she said to him mischievously: “I am so glad you came. I want to teach an Italian what mountain climbing means.” Their first day’s climb was not difficult, but her gallant cavalier confessed it was a fairly good ascent for a woman. At the end of the third expedition the king was growing desperate. But when she showed him the side of a mountain as straight as a wall he said, “Never!” But she would not yield, and, seeing that her gallant young escort could not be forced to go, she said: “Never mind. You wait here, and I shall go alone.”

The prince became pale at the thought of making the venture, and still he did not see how she could go alone, even without a guide. She went, he waiting for her below, until she returned that evening with rosy cheeks, but no worse for the climb. When his family opposed the marriage as being too bourgeoisie, he recalled her courage at mountaineering and realized that this was a little plebeian for a woman who would someday share a throne. But shortly after she beat him at tennis and then he explained to his parents. “This Montenegrin is the woman for me; she is as skilful in the fields as in climbing mountain heights.”

When the queen came to Rome she consoled herself for the mountaineering she lost by playing tennis. The first gift the king gave her was a tennis court and when the king was not busy with affairs of state they were seen playing tennis together, and she was as proud of her stroke as of climbing mountains.

Goes on Hunting Trips with King.

The king is fond of hunting and has beautiful hunting estates. She is equally fond of this sport, and they both go on long hunting trips together. Rare is the day on which some trophies do not fall to her gun, for it is hard to find a woman more skilful with a shogun or rifle. She is a beautiful horsewoman, and before her children were a year old she had them ride a pony. They were strapped in a basket so they could not fall.

Both Queen Helene and the king delight in yachting. They have a beautiful yacht and the family spend many happy weeks every year cruising in the Mediterranean.

It is at San Rossore, the country estate where they spend the summer time, that the king, queen and children have an idyllic life. Here they hunt, ride, drive and fish. There are beautiful streams and ponds well stocked with a great variety of fish and here the queen and children pass many happy hours fishing.

Before automobiling became so popular, Queen Helene was enthusiastic about bicycling, a pastime which Queen Margherita, her mother-in-law, before she became a widow, often enjoyed with her. Queen Margherita presented to Queen Helene shortly after her marriage a bicycle fitted with gold and silver and together the two royal women used to cycle in the park daily.

It was Queen Margherita who has made her son and daughter-in-law enthusiastic automobilists. At first they were indifferent about this sport, but the queen mother insisted on their making tours in her car and now they have several handsome machines. Not long ago they made an excursion of 225 miles in their car, completing this distance in fourteen hours. They started at 4 o’clock in the morning, dined in the open fields at Oneglia, and reached their destination that evening, confident it was the most unconventional and pleasantest short journey they ever made.

Queen Margherita has had many daring and exciting adventures; she admits that her happiest days are spent touring. At first she was prejudiced against motor cars and would not be persuaded to ride in one, as she considered them both ugly and dangerous. One day, however, she permitted a friend to persuade her to take a spin. Just as they were ready to speed down hill the brake refused to work and the queen was in a dreadful state of fright. But it cured her fear, and from that day she became wildly enthusiastic about machines.

Queen Margherita Daring Motorist

She keeps few horses in her stables, though she has a finely equipped garage filled with a half dozen machines of different makes. She has the most complete touring car in Europe and one of the handsomest in the world.

One day, with her chauffeur and a lady and gentleman in waiting, Queen Margherita started after luncheon for a spin, saying that they would be home for tea. Five o’clock came, and when they did not return the household grew worried and started a searching party. There was a wild ringing of telephones, flying of horses, and dispatching of servants. Nothing was heard of the machine until a carabineer reported he had seen a similar car in a small village. A little further on, looking through the vines in a garden, they saw the royal party dining at a small bare table while the chauffeur was struggling hard to repair the machine.

She has toured through all parts of Europe. A few years ago she planned an extensive tour through the United States, and it was only her dread of crossing the ocean that led he to change her plans.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

German Empress Plays Tennis.

The emperor of Germany accepts the doctrine of the strenuous life quite as seriously as does President Roosevelt. When not engaged with affairs of state he is enjoying exercise out of doors. The queen shares all of these pastimes with him because she believes in fresh air and has a horror of getting stout. When they were first married she rarely let a day go by without riding or driving with the emperor and she has kept up this practice.

In Berlin they often are seen riding their horses or driving in the park. She has her own stables, selects her horses, and gives her own orders governing them. When younger she said that she never saw a horse she was afraid to mount, and the harder they were to govern the better she liked them. She is one of the few queens who are members of a royal guard, and she can go through a drill as well as a man.

The empress is also fond of playing tennis and has a beautiful court at Potsdam. She has had several unfortunate accidents while playing this game. Only a few months ago while playing she fell, and it was thought at first she had suffered some serious injury. The king begged her to give up this sport, at last for a while, but she could not bear the idea.

When she was younger she liked to play with some of the young officers at court. The emperor, who was then possessed of some of that jealousy natural to youth, always managed to watch the game, though he did not play.

The empress is known throughout Europe for her splendid complexion. One day a royal friend complimented her on this fact, when the empress answered: “I shall give you my recipe—plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The emperor also believes in this doctrine and all outdoor sports have played an important part in his children’s education.

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Princess Cecelia Is a Crack Whip.

Though the betrothal of the crown prince [Wilhelm, son of the Kaiser] to Princess Cecelia [sic] was not a love match, they had many tastes in common right from the start. They both were interested in photography. They were crack whips, and she could hold her own with him in managing the wildest horses. She is devoted to all outdoor sports, while he would rather be in the field than in the ballroom. Her mother-in-law taught her to play tennis, and she proved such an adept pupil that now she has hard work finding any one to beat her at singles. Her devotion to horses led her to accept the office of patroness of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And she likewise influenced her father-in-law to abolish the bearing rein it the imperial stables.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Takes Long Walks.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain—whose love for outdoor sports did much to win her a throne—if she were not a queen she could well be dubbed a nice boy, she is ever ready to rough it. The king and she walk miles every day, and she has taught him to play an excellent game of tennis. She is learning to play golf, is enthusiastic about it, and says that he must learn. Before she was married she did more reckless things. When a young girl she acted as stoker and engine driver once in the country.

A very young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

The future Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 7, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

Though the young queen of Holland has few athletic tastes in common with her consort, they met in the fields. They are both skilled in managing horses and he cannot suggest a drive that can tire her. When the queen was a young girl she always begged for the most reckless horses. When the queen mother opposed this she often explained: “No, I must teach them that I am their mistress.”

Queen of Belgium Enjoys Many Sports.

The queen of Belgium is one of the best all round sportswomen. She is a superb and fearless horsewoman and thinks nothing of riding forty or fifty miles. She never gets into the country but she walks and climbs, and the more difficult the ascent the better she likes it. Though known as an equestrienne, she is even a better sailor. She never visits England without enjoying some delightful cruises with the king and queen. She understands all the fine points about yachting and is ever ready with some good sea yarns. [Queen Henriette-Marie died in 1902 so it is clear that there was a delay in publishing this article in the American press.]

Empress Alexandra of Russia

Empress Alexandra of Russia

The czarina of Russia inherits her sister’s love for outdoor life, but the conventionalities of court limit her pleasures. Her court ladies were much shocked when she told the czar that she wanted a billiard table. By means of her splendid tact she succeeded in getting some of her ladies in waiting to enjoy the game. She has wonderful saddle and driving horses.

She can mount and dismount with all the ease and grace natural to a well-trained officer. She rides horseback until the snow and cold force her into a sleigh. A few years ago she had a tennis court laid out at one of her country houses. But her ladies in waiting were so horrified at seeing her chase after a ball that she never again suggested playing tennis.

The Chicago [IL] Tribune 7 June 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: As the Olympics comes to a close, we look at the sports of Queens: their amusements and past-times. It is diverting to think of the Crowned Heads of Europe staging their own Olympic Games. One could compete in such categories as “Bazaar Opening,” “Ribbon-cutting,” “Plaque-unveiling,” and, most strenuously—ship-launching with a bottle. Other events might include clocking how many anodyne remarks can be made in a fifteen-minute walk-about or Synchronised Corgis. Given their fondness for horses, the British Royals would undoubtedly scoop the equestrian events; while the Scandinavian monarchies would provide keen competition in the Tiara Classes.

And, of course, the victors will be crowned with jewelled laurels.

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Running for a Bride: 1888

runners

We read of the desperate struggles of to-day’s Olympic athletes to win that coveted gold medal, worth, in US dollars, $564.00—quite a paltry reward when one considers these foot-race competitors who ran for a bride worth $100,000.

THEY WILL RUN FOR A BRIDE.

Miss Douglass Will Wed the Man Who Wins the Foot Race.

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 29 Miss Annie Douglass, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, who is known throughout Tennessee as “The Oil Queen,” because of her large possessions of oil property in Spring Creek district, is to be married next Thursday night to the winner of a foot race. Miss Douglass is an orphan, residing with her grandfather, James Douglass, proprietor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.”‘ Nathan Overman, a neighbour, was a suitor for the hand of Miss Douglass, and he had no opposition until two years ago, when John Lane, of Indiana, a cousin of Mrs. Hendrick’s came to the neighbourhood. A rivalry for the hand of the young lady became intense and bloodshed was feared. Mr. Douglass, who had no preference between the young men, decided to end the matter, and being an eccentric man, hit upon a novel plan.

He got the three interested persons together and proposed that, as the lady herself could not decide between the men, that they run a race of eight miles on parallel roads, the winner to marry the girl before night. All agreed and promised to faithfully abide the result.

At 8 o’clock next Thursday morning the men will start, and on their return they will have a banquet, which will be followed by the marriage. The whole country is aroused, and thousands will see the race. All the persons concerned are well-to-do and well educated. Miss Douglass is worth $100,000.

The Sun [New York, NY] 30 January 1888: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Much as Mrs Daffodil wishes this story were true, she can find no trace of the actual participants, nor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.” The story was told and retold, as late as the early 1890s with trifling variations such as Miss Douglass’s father being the race-proposer. To Mrs Daffodil’s disappointment, despite the wide syndication of this diverting anecdote, no one recorded the result of the race and the name of the happy, if breathless bridegroom. The inventive journalist who, one fears, paltered just the teensiest bit with the truth, was perhaps sacked before he could file the sequel.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Race with a Phantom: 1892

bicycle racer 1888

A GHOSTLY BICYCLIST

A Wheelman’s Story of an Effort to Overtake a Phantom Who Rode an Old-Fashioned Wheel

“I used to ride in races and only last year I spun around the track at my home in the east, but I was cured of the sport in a rather remarkable manner,” said a visiting bicyclist at the races of the Garden City Cyclers to a San Jose News reporter.

“The story is a strange one,” he continued, “and I have never told it to any one yet that I think really believed it, but so firmly am I convinced of the reality of an incident that was frightful in some of its details, that for fear of a repetition I have not had the courage to ride in a race since. “The races were run on a half-mile horse racing track that had been rolled and otherwise partially prepared for the purpose. I had never been especially fast, but just before the event I had bought a new pneumatic tire racer, one of the first seen in that part of the country. The machine was a beauty, full nickeled and with the object of making a display more than anything else, I entered for the five-mile race with a fifteen-minute limit, the conditions being the same as those of the last race in San Jose yesterday that Wilbur Edwards won.

“There were seven starters in the race and we had ten laps to make. I thought we were making rather slow time, and from some remarks that I overheard from the judges’ stand when we passed on completing the eighth lap I was certain that it would be no race, as the winner would not make the distance within the time required. By this time I was well winded and was sure that I would not come out first, but I did not feel in the least disappointed, as I had not expected to win the race when I started.

“In the beginning of the ninth lap, however, as I was tolerably well in the lead, I thought I would spurt a little, so I forged ahead and was allowed to make the pace for a while, each of the riders having done this in turn before me. I had been in the lead seemingly only a second when to my surprise I saw just ahead of me a strong-looking rider on an old-style solid-tire wheel. I had not seen him pass and did not know that any such man had entered the race in the first place.

“The stranger was well in the lead and I felt so much ashamed of myself to think that I was plodding behind on a new style racing pneumatic while he was making the pace at a swinging gait on a solid tire that I just dug my toe nails into the track, so to speak, and did my utmost in an attempt to pass him. It did no good, however. I could not decrease the distance, although spurred on as I was, my speed, as I afterwards learned, became something terrific.

“When I passed the grand and judges’ stands at the end of the ninth lap for the finish there was tremendous cheering. I could not understand what it was all about as I did not consider that my efforts on a pneumatic flyer to catch a man on a solid tire with a spring frame were worthy of much applause. I did not have time to look around and see what the rest of the riders were doing.

“On I flew like the wind, every muscle strained to the utmost in my endeavors to catch the stranger, who kept swinging along about ten feet in the lead. I felt that he must tire out at last, so I did not relax, but rather increased the immense strain to which I was putting every fibre of my being. When we neared the grand stand I could hear thunders of applause rolling up to greet us, and when I was within fifty yards of the scratch I made a last desperate effort to pass the stranger.

“In the strain that was upon me I shut my eyes and paddled like lightning. When I was certain that I had crossed the tape I looked up just in time to see a terrible spectacle. The wheel of the rider ahead struck something. He was thrown forward and struck on his head. I was sure his neck was broken and blood gushed forth from his nose, mouth and ears. The sight was horrible and in my exhausted state I could stand the strain no longer. I fainted and fell from my wheel.

“The next thing I knew I was stretched out on a blanket in the rubbing-down room with a crowd around me. As soon as the boys saw that I had recovered consciousness all of them began to talk to me at once. They congratulated me on my wonderful victory, all declaring they had never seen anything like it before. They all wished to know, however, why I had exerted myself so much when I was so far in the lead. I had left all the rest of the riders far behind, and yet I swept forward and saved that race, coming in just inside of the fifteen-minute limit.

“When I spoke of a rider that I was trying to catch all were dumb with amazement. They had seen no such wheelman and the judges had given me the race. When I described the man I saw and his wheel he was recognized as being identical in appearance with a man who was killed under similar circumstances several years before in a five-mile race on the same track. It is scarcely necessary to state that I almost fainted again when I learned that I had been urged forward by a spook. I have never had the courage to get in a race again for fear that there would be a repetition of my former terrible experience. I had before heard of ghostly riders on horseback, but it was my first and I hope it will be my last experience with a spook on a bicycle.”

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 24 October 1892: p.6  

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Wilber Edwards [1872-1951] was a record-setting speed-demon from San Jose, California who set the “paced” world speed record for one mile on a bicycle: 1:34 minutes, on 9 February, 1895. This story, in a chapter of ghosts haunting the roads and the out of doors, appears in The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past. That free-wheeling person over at Haunted Ohio has also told of a dead cyclist who won a race and wonders if this story somehow inspired that legend.

Mrs Daffodil has written previously on ghosts who ride velocipedes.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Lady Fencer’s Costume: 1902

The [London Ladies’ Fencing] club uniform consists of a short silk-lined black alpaca skirt with the regulation brass-buttoned white linen fencing coat. Silk linings ensure “slipperiness” and ease of movement, while the lightness of alpaca adds to the agility and ease wherewith the player makes successful lunges against her adversary. The skirts are cut somewhat after the fashion of the cycling skirt, and most of the members wear black or white shoes. A few elect to don brown shoes with scarlet trimmings, which look very smart. The stockings are either of silk or wool: the silken hose is distinctly to be recommended for daintiness and finish. A white glove with a black or scarlet gauntlet is drawn over the right hand.

lady fencers

Fencing develops the muscles of the right arm, and tends to cause the size of glove taken to increase by a size or two. Some one or two among the members adopt a kilted skirt. There are a few enthusiastic devotees who wish to abolish the wearing of any outward or visible sign of femininity in the shape of skirts, and who prescribe the undisguised satin knickerbockers. But one of the stringent rules of the club sternly decrees that no member may fence save in a skirt.

En Guard lady fencer

It must be confessed that from an aesthetic standpoint the ideal fencing dress for a woman has yet to be invented. And could not a more becoming mask be invented? The motorina’s mica mask is a joy and thing of beauty compared with that worn by the woman fencer.

Accordion-pleated silk, satin, or alpaca skirts have been tried, but on submission to feminine verdict have been rejected and despised. These skirts would doubtless prove lovely and becoming were the pleats graduated increasingly from the hips downward. With the width of the lower hem disposed around the hips, the accordion-pleated skirt is by no means a success. Black silk or satin knickerbockers are worn beneath the silklined skirt, so that no clinging draperies hamper the ease and dexterity of movement so essential to a display of good fencing form…

the salute lady fencers

But to return to the all-important question for a woman fencer: “What shall I wear, and wherewithal shall I clothe myself so as to present a beautiful translation of the fencing art to all beholders?”

Lady Colin Campbell, champion lady fencer.

Lady Colin Campbell, champion lady fencer.

One very skilful and graceful woman fencer deprecates—as does Lady Colin Campbell—the wearing of a skirt. She is assured by long practice that full knickerbockers of black satin or vicuna allow unfettered and more graceful play for the limbs. She wears a narrow corset belt with one bone only at back and front, and over this a loose silk shirt. A cunningly cut coat of scientifically padded soft grey or dull black suede is slipped over the silk shirt. The daintiest black silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes complete her most fascinating fencing kit. There is no denying that the linen coat can never be made to look shapely, and it undoubtedly bears too close a resemblance to that coat of many splotches worn by the common or spring house-painter.

To many conventional fencers the thought of a corset, though this be merely a waistband boasting but two bones, is anathema; and with a shapely suede tailor built coat its absence would scarcely be noticed.

Reverse of 1904 fencing jacket. Metropolitan Museum Collection

Reverse of 1904 fencing jacket. Metropolitan Museum Collection

Feminine Fencers and Their Clubs, Annesley Kenealy. Lady’s Realm: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine: 1902, pp 767-8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Captain Alfred Hutton, an expert gentleman fencer quoted in the 1902 article above, remarked that he did not think “masculine” weapons such as the épée or sabre were appropriate for ladies, who should confine themselves to the dainty foil. Mrs Daffodil notes that to-day’s Olympic lady fencers use whatever weapon they dashed well please. She further suggests that in watching the international teams of lady fencers, who bound and leap, lunge and feint in their electrified knickerbocker suits, one rather doubts that their first thought was “wherewithal shall I clothe myself so as to present a beautiful translation of the fencing art to all beholders?”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales

The Etiquette of Pleasure: 1922

Mrs Daffodil, in honour of the Olympics, is sharing posts on sports and recreation. To-day Mr Donald Ogden Stewart tells us all about “the etiquette of pleasure.”

DOStewart man ripping up pool table

In this work-a-day world, one is likely to forget that there is an etiquette of pleasure just as there is an etiquette of dancing or the opera. One often hears a charming hostess refuse to invite this or that person to her home for a game of billiards on the ground that he or she is a “bum sport” or a “rotten loser.” The above scene illustrates one of the little, but conspicuous, blunders that people make. The gentleman, having missed his fifth consecutive shot, has broken his cue over his knee and is ripping the baize off the table with the sharp end. This little display is not considered to be in the best taste.

donald ogden stewart man clutching horse

The man of culture and refinement, while always considerate to those beneath him in station, never, under any circumstances, loses control of his emotions for an instant. Though the gentleman-rider in the picture may be touchingly fond of his steeplechase horse, it is unpardonably bad form for him to make an exhibition of his affection while going over the brush in plain view of numbers of total strangers. In doing so he simply is making a “guy” of himself, and it is no more than he deserves if those in the gallery raise their eyebrows slightly and smile knowingly.

GOLF” (from an old Scottish word meaning “golf“) is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and almost every city now has at least one private club devoted to the pursuit of this stylish pastime. Indeed, in many of our larger metropolises, the popular enthusiasm has reached such heights that free “public” courses have been provided for the citizens with, I may say, somewhat laughable results, as witness the fact that I myself have often seen persons playing on these “public” courses in ordinary shirts and trousers, tennis shoes, and suspenders.

The influence of this “democratization” on the etiquette of what was once an exclusive sport has been, in many instances, deplorable, and I am sure that our golf-playing forefathers would turn over in their graves, were they to “play around” to-day on one of the “public” courses. In no pastime are the customs and unwritten laws more clearly defined, and it is essential that the young lady or gentleman of fashion who contemplates an afternoon on the “links” devote considerable time and attention to the various niceties of the etiquette of this ancient and honorable game.

A young man, for example, when playing with his employer, should always take pains to let his employer win. This is sometimes extremely difficult, but with practise even the most stubborn of obstacles can be overcome. On the first tee, for instance, after the employer, having swung and missed the ball completely one or two times, has managed to drive a distance of some forty-nine yards to the extreme right, the young man should take care to miss the ball completely three times, and then drive forty-eight yards to the extreme left. This is generally done by closing the eyes tightly and rising up sharply on both toes just before hitting the ball.

On the “greens” it is customary for a young man to “concede” his employer every “putt” which is within twenty feet of the hole. If the employer insists on “putting” (Ed. note:—He won’t) and misses, the young man should take care to miss his own “putt.” After both have “holed out,” the young man should ask, “How many strokes, sir?” The employer will reply, “Let me see–I think I took seven for this hole, didn’t I?” A well-bred young man will not under any circumstances remind his employer that he saw him use at least three strokes for the drive, three strokes for his second shot, four strokes in the “rough,” seven strokes in the “bunker,” and three “putts” on the “green,” but will at once reply, “No, sir, I think you only took six, altogether.” The employer will then say, “Well, well, call it six. I generally get five on this hole. What did you take?” The young man should then laugh cheerily and reply, “Oh, I took my customary seven.” To which the employer will genially say, “Too bad!”

After the employer has thus won his first three holes he will begin to offer the young man advice on how to improve his game. This is perhaps the most trying part of the afternoon’s sport, but a young man of correct breeding and good taste will always remember the respect due an older man, and will not make the vulgar error of telling his employer to, for God’s sake, shut up before he gets a brassy in his ear.

A wife playing with her husband should do everything in her power to make the game enjoyable for the latter. She should encourage him, when possible, with little cheering proverbs, such as, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and she should aid him with her advice when she thinks he is in need of it. Thus, when he drives into the sycamore tree on number eleven, she should say, “Don’t you think, dear, that if you aimed a little bit more to the right. . . .” et cetera, When they come to number fourteen and his second shot lands in the middle of the lake, she should remark, “Perhaps you didn’t hit it hard enough, dear.” And when, on the eighteenth, his approach goes through the second-story window of the club-house, she should say, “Dear, I wonder if you didn’t hit that too hard?” Such a wife is a true helpmate, and not merely a pretty ornament on which a silly husband can hang expensive clothes, and if he is the right sort of man, he will appreciate this, and refrain from striking her with a niblick after this last remark.

A young wife who does not play the game herself can, nevertheless, be of great help to her husband by listening patiently, night after night, while he tells her how he drove the green on number three, and took a four on number eight (par five), and came up to the fourteenth one under fours. Caddies should be treated at all times with the respect and pity due one‘s fellow creatures who are “unfortunate.” The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, and one should always remember that it is not, after all, the poor caddy’s fault that he was born blind.

DOStewart hunting

Nothing so completely betrays the “Cockney” as a faulty knowledge of sporting terms. The young lady at the left has just returned from the hunting-field hand-in-hand with the dashing “lead,” —who happens to be an eligible billionaire. Her hostess, the mother of the sub-deb at the right, has greeted her by hissing, “S—s—so! I see you’ve had a good day’s hunting!” The use of this unsportsmanlike expression-—instead of the correct “Hope you had a good run,” or “Where did you find?”—at once discloses the hostess’s mean origin, and the young lady will almost certainly never accept another invitation to her house.

DOStewart card game

In spite of his haughty airs and fine clothes, the gentleman betrays that he is not much accustomed to good society when, having been asked by his hostess if he would care to remove his coat and waistcoat during the warm evening of bridge, he, in doing so, reveals the presence of several useful cards hidden about his person. This sort of thing, while often tolerated at less formal “stag” poker-parties, is seldom, if ever, permissible when ladies are present. The young man was simply ignorant of the fact that Hoyle and not Herman the Great [the conjuror] is the generally accepted authority on cards among the better people of the “beau monde.”

 

DOStewart man shoots loader

You will exclaim, no doubt, on looking at the scene depicted above, “Chechez la femme.” It is, however, nothing so serious as you will pardonably suppose .The gentleman is merely an inexperienced “gun” at a shooting-party, who has begun following his bird before it has risen above the head of his loader. This very clumsy violation of the etiquette of sport proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he has learned to shoot from the comic papers, and that his coat-of-arms can never again be thought anything but bogus.

Harper’s Bazaar, Volume 57, 1922

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The classic selection above is from the American screen-writer and humourist Donald Ogden Stewart, author of the parody etiquette book, Perfect Behavior, which P.G. Wodehouse said was his favourite book.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Water Golf: 1922

water golf

Playing Water Golf. The Ball is Shown on the Floating Tee. The Player Is Ready to Make a Drive, with the Caddy Anxiously Awaiting Results. Which Not Infrequently Means being Tipped Out of the Canoe.

In a nod to the Olympics currently being held in Brazil, Mrs Daffodil is throwing the spot-light on sport. Golf returned to the Olympic roster this year; last played at the 1904 St Louis Games. This would make an amusing variant.

WATER GOLF IS LATEST FAD OF PLEASURE SEEKERS

Water Golf, the latest fad of pleasure seekers, is played entirely on the water with the aid of a canoe and a floating tee. The tee, which is tied to the canoe, is placed in the water the ball upon it, and then driven over the “fairway” in the direction (if one is fortunate) of the next “hole.” The holes consist of markers that are anchored at specified distances apart. After the drive, the caddy paddles to the point where the ball has stopped, the player puts it on the tee again and makes another drive, and thus the game continues. Retaining one’s balance in the canoe while driving is an extremely difficult feat, the frequent capsizing of these furnishing an amusing feature of the sport. 

Popular Mechanics Magazine, Vol. 37, 1922

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: How serene and simple the young ladies make the game look! This 1932 article suggests a more industrial flavor to the equipment, which one can make at home from scraps, and a more rough-and-tumble, locker-room atmosphere—”gamey,” is the adjective used—than a lazy drift down the river.

The game was introduced to California resorts in 1929, with the addition of an actual bag for the caddie.

Water Golf has appeared at a California resort and is reported to be popular among tose seeking novelty and a thrill. The holes are represented by rings that float on the surface. The caddy holds the bag as usual, but is also the oarsman to ferry the player around the course in a small boat. Considerable skill is required in making shots and in keeping balance.

Popular Mechanics June 1929: p. 976

California Water Golf

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.