“Lobelia!” The voice of Mr. M’Swat was high-pitched and imperative, yet had a note of vague alarm in it.
“What is it, Billiger?”
“I can’t find my neckties.”
“Your neckties? They’re scattered all over the bureau.”
“I don’t mean the ties I wear every day. I mean the others.”
“The—the ones I’ve worn from time to time, you know, and put away, as good as new.”
“How should I know anything about them?”
“Do you mean to tell me, Lobelia, you don’t know anything about a a—box of neckties I have kept for years in this second drawer?”
“What a fuss you are making over a box of old rags! What do you want of it, anyway?”
“I want to put a few of these in it. You don’t know what you’re talking about, madam, when you call them a lot of old rags, either. I want to know where they are.”
“Well, you needn’t go to rummaging through any more of those drawers. You won’t find them there. I can tell you that.”
The wrath of Mr. M’Swat assumed a lurid, ghastly character.
“I think I have certain inalienable rights in this house, Lobelia Grubb M’Swat,” he said. “And among these is the right to keep my neckties in my own drawer, in my own dressing case, in my own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States and the statutes in such case made and”—
“You needn’t tell the neighbours about it. Before I’d make all that racket about a lot of old, worn-out neckties–”
“Who told you they were old and worn out? Didn’t you hear me say distinctly they were”—
“Now, you know, Billiger M’Swat, you haven’t worn one of those old ties for years and years. What’s the use”—
‘Then you do know something about them! I thought sol Why did you try to deceive me? Why did you tell me”—
“That’s right! Accuse your wife of lying!”
“Didn’t you tell me you knew nothing about them?”
“No, sir! I said nothing of the kind!”
“Lobelia! Wife of my bosom! Look me in the eye. Where are those neckties?”
“Wh-what do you want of them?” asked Mrs., M’Swat, rather feebly.
“I simply want to know what has become of them.”
She put her handkerchief to her eye. ”
“I–I th-think it’s just mean”—
“Here I’ve slaved away day after day, making something nice”—
“Lobelia, where are those neckties?”
“Billiger, I have made them up into the loveliest crazy quilt”—
“A crazy quilt!” he yelled. “Thunder and Ben Franklin! Woman do you know what you have done!”
“lt was nothing but a lot of old”–
Mr. M’Swat became tragic.
“Mrs. M’Swat,” he exclaimed, in a deep bass voice. “I have been making a collection of artistic neckties for ten years. Some of them cost me over a dollar. None of them less than 50 cents. You have ruined a unique, unequalled, original 75dol. collection of ties”—
“Oh, Billiger, why didn’t you tell me?”
“To make a 4dol. crazy quilt! Why didn’t you tell me?”
Husbands and wives, why will ye hide things from each other?— Chicago Tribune.
North Otago [NZ] Times 8 April 1911: p. 2
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The craze for “crazy patchwork” was a long-standing one and one perhaps responsible for more marital unhappiness than any number of Vamps. Mrs Daffodil has written of the patch-work “mania” and the terrible lengths ladies would go to for “samples” to make their quilts and of their depredations on the households’ wardrobe. It was a dark time…
Truth in Jest
The girl with soft grey eyes and rippling brown hair that walked all over your poor fluttering heart at the charity ball, has just finished a crazy quilt containing 1,064 piece sof neckties and hat linings, put together with 21,390 stitches. And her poor old father fastens on his suspenders with a long nail, a piece of twine, a sharp stick, and one regularly ordained button.
Southland Times 26 January 1886: p. 4
This squib suggests that the craze even changed fashions in men’s neckties:
The crazy quilt rage goes on in as intense a fashion as that of roller skating, and Lent has not subdued but rather emphasized the rush for “pieces” of the most gaudy hues. Men growl that their neckties are not safe, the dry goods houses are getting niggardly about samples, and gradually masculinity is arraying itself against another woman’s right. Have you noticed the tendency toward sobriety in color in men’s neckties? It is a growing one and only the result of a plot between men and brothers against women and sisters. And I don’t wonder at it. Neither will you, when you lose a brilliant-hued scarf for days and have almost forgotten it, when it suddenly appears to you in the form of a center piece in a crazy quilt. I have gone necktieless, suffered and cursed, and am therefore a rabid adherent of the new movement in neckties, even if it, in the end, leads us to black and sober solid colors. There are more ways of crossing a river beside jumping it. Therefore a change of style in mankind’s wear that will cripple the crazy quilt mania will be in the nature of an elevation of the dynamiter with his own mechanical can.
Plain Dealer [Cleveland OH] 25 March 1885: p. 4
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.
Good excuse not to turn up at the office, though – “Sorry, can’t come in today, my wife has made all my neckties into a quilt!”
A very apt excuse, although with “Casual Fridays” (or, really, Casual Any Days of the Week) so prevalent, one fancies one’s employer might raise his eyebrows sceptically before sacking you.
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Gone are the days when people like my dad sat on the beach in his suit with a collar and tie. The concept of casual was unknown!