How to Keep Cool: 1860-1902

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885 http://collections.lacma.org/node/172791

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885 http://collections.lacma.org/node/172791

The weather has been so beastly hot this week that Mrs Daffodil thought her readers would appreciate some cooling suggestions.

Here are a few sensible health hints for ladies at the seashore or in the country:

Read the latest books

Bathe early and often.

Seek cool, shady nooks

Throw fancy work away.

Wear lightest, lowest shoes.

Let hats be light and bonnets airy.

Eschew kid gloves and linen collars.

Dress in cambrics, lawns, and ginghams.

Be lavish with laundresses, fruit men and fans.

Let melons precede and berries follow, the breakfast.

Remember that seeming idleness is sometimes gain.

Order freshest fish and corn cake; never mind the heavy fritters.

Do not tell your hostess how sweet the butter and cream were at your last summer’s boarding house.

Omaha [NE] World Herald 17 August 1891: p. 3

A wealth of hints may be found for home, table, or garden:

The Canton girls buy their shoes two sizes too large, utilizing the vacant space as a refrigerator for packing ice around their feet. In this way they have become successful competitors of the Chicago Belles in their world-wide reputation for having considerable in the line of feet or understanding. [Chicago women were reputed to have the largest feet in America.] This is a novel way of keeping cool, however. The Canton [SD] Advocate 7 July 1887: p. 4

ICE CONCEITS FOR THE TABLE

Great blocks of ice may be hollowed out with a hot flat-iron, and are useful on the summer table; in these glittering ice-wells are sunk crisp leaves of lettuce and scarlet tomatoes peeled; they are served from this inviting receptacle and over them is poured luscious dressing a la mayonnaise. Strawberries, cherries, or any kind of fruit look lovely held in a block of ice. Lobster or fish in mayonnaise may be served in the same manner.

Instead of the paper-flowers in which ices are frequently served, natural ones may be substituted. The inner petals are plucked from a fragrant rose, and pistachio or strawberry cream placed in the centre, the stem must be cut off just below the calyx, and the flower made to stand securely in a small, round pasteboard box, which is not perceptible; any other suitable flower may be substituted.

Godey’s Magazine, 1896

Much has been done of late by the use of ice-wrung cloths over the windows. A yard or two of blind calico, made ice cold by wrapping it around a block of ice for five minutes, is hung up over the open windows and the blinds let down behind it, so that the warm air from the street or from the garden may be cooled insidiously as it enters. Cool rooms are also possible if a sufficiency of ice is provided. Baskets of all shapes and sizes, lined with tin, make excellent receptacles and these, placed close to the table when reading or working, or used instead of a center piece of flowers where the dinner table is concerned, will do much to freshen the air. In the hall or passage a tub, furnished with a large block of ice, will last a whole day, and possibly longer, if placed on a square of blanketing, while, to economize, all the ice left in the house by evening may be collected and wrapped in bags of thick felt.”

Evening Star [Washington, DC] 23 August 1908: p. 41

A new Parisian invention is an iron water pipe, running up the sides of those trees In public gardens which require plentiful showers In summer. In this way a fountain can be turned over them at any moment.

Religio-philosophical Journal September 1866

Some authorities recommended alcoholic stimulants for summer refreshment:

A COOL AND REFRESHING SUMMER DRINK

From the receipt book of a Western member of Congress.

The following is said to make a pleasant beverage: Take one pint of whiskey, stir in one spoonful of whiskey; add one pint of whiskey and beat well with a spoon.

Take one gallon of water and let a servant carry it away beyond your reach; then put two spoonfuls of water in a tumbler, immediately throw it out and fill with whiskey. Flavor with whiskey to suit your taste.

When it is to be kept long in warm climates, add sufficient spirit to prevent souring.

The Alleghenian [Ebensburg, PA] 9 August 1860: p. 1

The other day a teacher in a Boston school showed a little girl a picture of a fan and asked her what it was. The little girl didn’t appear to know.

“What does your mother do to keep cool in hot weather? Asked the teacher.

“Drink beer,” was the prompt reply of the little girl.

New York [NY] Tribune 28 February 1889: p. 9

Mrs  Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Victorian and Edwardian newspapers were chock-a-block full of suggestions for how to keep cool in the summers before central air-conditioning. However, there were some who believed that “mind over matter” would serve as well as a block of ice and a fan.

HOW TO KEEP COOL.

Don’t walk too fast;

Don’t fume and fret;

Don’t vow ‘twill be

Much hotter yet;

Don’t eat too much;

Don’t drink at all

Of things composed

Of alcohol.

Don’t read about

The sunstruck folks;

Don’t read the old

Hot weather jokes;

Don’t work too hard;

Don’t try to see

The rising of

The mercury.

Don’t fan yourself;

Don’t think you’re hot;

Just cool off with

“I think I’m not.”

And, more than that,

Don’t read a rule

Beneath this head—

‘How to Keep Cool.”

Baltimore American.

Mexico Missouri Message 7 August 1902: p. 8

 

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.

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One thought on “How to Keep Cool: 1860-1902

  1. Pingback: Being Hot the Wrong Way: Heat Remedies in the 19th Century | Victorian Paris

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