Category Archives: Children

Genevieve, Whose Husband was Domestic: 1909

evenings at home 1919

Genevieve Whose Husband Was Domestic.

“I have been home fully fifteen minutes, Genevieve,” growls James. “Fully fifteen minutes, and here it is after 5 o’clock and no sign of dinner. You just getting home, too! I should think the entire day to yourself, galivanting about  was enough without staying out to such an hour! Where have you been?”

“Why, James, after I got the work done, I had to go down town to get your shirts ordered and to see about the children’s underwear for winter. Then I got a pattern for Jimmy-boy’s little coat that I’m going to make out of your old one. I hurried all I could and there’s plenty of time to get dinner. I’m not—so—very–tired.”

Genevieve has been dragging about the shops all afternoon with two babies. She always does, because James is certain that a good mother and a truly domestic woman would prefer to take care of her own babies, so they never kept a maid. “Useless extravagance,” said James, and he was a well-paid man, too. So domestic was James, besides. Quite the beau ideal of all Genevieve’s friends whose husbands were so depraved as to belong to lodges and smoke cigars and commit such like atrocities.

“How on earth you women find amusement in that eternal shopping! There, there. Let it go, say no more about it! Just get dinner right away. I’m hungry.” Shopping! And she got the children’s winter flannels and ordered James’ shirts, and had to run in an itemized account of her wild expenditure! Um!

“No, no,” continued sweet James to Jimmy-boy, aged three years, “no, no. papa’s tired. Run on out into the kitchen to mamma!”

Well! Jimmy-boy had been toddling about after mamma all afternoon and he was tired, too! So was mamma.

“Wa-a-yah-ow!” remarks Jimmy-boy.

“Genevieve, take that child out into the kitchen and get his coat off. Can’t you see he’s tired to death? Some people have no consideration for children,” cooes James, the dear, domestic husband.

Genevieve was ever such a belle before her James came along and gurgled at her about the ideal married life. A happy little home and a dear little wife was his text. No scouting about town for him when he had such a sweet girl as Genevieve waiting at home for him. And Genevieve looked upon her friends’ husbands who stayed out to lodge meetings and asked her friends themselves how about it, and they all said with one voice, “Genevieve, there’s nothing so calculated to make a woman happy as a really, truly domestic husband.”

Mother said so, too. And father remarked that James was a man after his own heart. But father belonged to two lodges and the G. A. R., bless him, and Genevieve wondered a bit and sort of shied at acquiring a hubby so much superior to the beloved daddy of her childhood and the companionable, let’s-get-out-among-’em father of her later years who took her every single place she wanted to go when there was no one else interfering around.

But she thought it must be all right. And James adored her. She was not yet wise enough to see that James adoring her was not quite the same as James being adorable or their both adoring each other, and that those missing matters might become conspicuous by their absence in the strain and stress of wedded life.

Well! So Genevieve married James. And now there was a Jenny-girl, aged six, and a Jimmy-boy, aged three, and Genevieve did all the work, except the washing, and took care of the children evenings after James went to bed at 8 o’clock, and enjoyed a hilarious life in general.

“Where did you go this afternoon?” says James.

“To the l.adies’ Aid meeting, James,” murmurs Genevieve.

“Does that take all afternoon? Where else were you?”

“Why, I stopped at mother’s a few minutes on the way home,” murmurs Genevieve.

“John Handy said he saw you downtown without the children at about half-past 4?” And James gazed upon her with an inquiring frown.

“Yes, mother wanted me to do a little shopping for her and I left the children with her while I went.”

“What on earth did your mother want that she couldn’t get herself?” (Thoughtful husband!)

“Why, she could have got the things, but she thought I’d enjoy the walk by myself.”

“By yourself! Well, of all the unnatural ideas! A woman with her heart in the right place could not bear to be away from her babies like that!” sniffed James.

No, Genevieve does not throw the coffee pot at him. She has been trained by generations of domestic women and by a circle of domesticated friends to believe that a man who pays the bills and stays home nights is the ideal husband. It would be wrong to crack a perfectly good ideal with a coffee pot.

But some days when James inquires who it was bowed to her on the street at half past 3 o’clock that afternoon, and who she saw in the stores, and why she stopped to talk to that blessed preacher when she knew he was waiting for her to come and take care of the children so he could get his Sunday afternoon nap, and if she thinks anybody is going to look at her that she togs herself out in that silly style–some time, some time, something is going to happen to that dear, devoted husband, who never belonged to a naughty club in his life, never smoked, never drank, thinks games of chance are of the devil and stays at home every night of his life with his dear little wifie.

Because, dear little wifie is a natural born widow, anyway!

The Sunday Star [Washington DC] 21 November 1909, Part 4: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has observed that the men who are most vigilant and suspicious (has James hired one of the Pinkertons to discover who bowed to Genevieve on the street at half past 3 o’clock?) are those who themselves have something to hide. Mrs Daffodil would not be surprised to find that the domestic paragon James is a good deal naughtier than he pretends, and, in fact, has installed another family in a happy little home in a nearby neighbourhood, where he is known as a hardware drummer who spends much of his time on the road.  Some time, something is going to happen, indeed….

 

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 anecdote

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.

Dolly. A Western Drover’s Story: 1870

DOLLY.

A Western Drover’s Story.

My name is Anthony Hunt. I am a drover; and I live miles and miles away upon the Western prairie. There wasn’t a house in sight, when we moved there, my wife and I, and now we haven’t many neighbors, though those we have are good ones.

One day, about ten years ago, I went away from home to sell some fifty head of cattle–fine creatures as I ever saw. I was to buy some dry goods and groceries before I came back–and, above all, a doll for our youngest, Dolly. She had never had a store doll of her own, only the rag babies her mother made her.

Dolly could talk of nothing else, and went down to the very gate to call after me to “buy a big one.” Nobody but a parent can understand how full my mind was of that toy, and how, when the cattle were sold, the first thing I hurried off to buy Dolly’s doll. I found a large one, with eyes that would open and shut when you pulled a wire, and had it wrapped in a paper and tucked it under my arm, while I had the parcels of calico and delaine and tea and sugar put up. Then, late as it was, I started for home. It might have been more prudent to stay until morning; but I felt anxious to get back, and eager to hear Dolly’s prattle about her doll.

I was mounted on a steady-going horse of mine, and was pretty well loaded. Night set in before I was a mile from town, and settled down dark as pitch while I was in the middle of the darkest bit of road I knew of. I could have felt my way, though, I remembered it so well, and it was almost midnight when the storm that had been brewing broke, and pelted the rain in torrents. I was five miles or may be six, from home yet, too.

I rode on as fast as I could. All of a sudden I heard a little cry like a child’s voice. I stopped short and listened–I heard it again, and again was answered. Then I began to wonder. I’m not timid; but I was known to be a drover, and to have money about me. It might be a trap to catch me unawares, and rob and murder me.

I am not superstitious–not very; but how could a real child be out on the prairie on such a night, at such an hour? It might be more than human.

The bit of coward that hides itself in most men showed itself to me then, and I was half inclined to run away; but once more I heard that cry, and said I:

“If any man’s child is hereabouts, Anthony Hunt is not the man to let it die.”

I searched again. At last I bethought me of a hollow under the hill, and groped that way. Sure enough, I found a little dripping thing that moaned and sobbed as I took it in my arms. I called my horse, and the beast came to me, and I mounted, and tucked the little soaked thing under my coat as well as I could, promising to take it home to mammy. It seemed tired to death, and pretty soon cried itself to sleep against my bosom.

It had slept there over an hour when I saw my own windows. There were lights in them, and I supposed my wife had lit them for my sake: but when I got into the dooryard I saw something was the matter, and stood still with a dead fear of heart five minutes before I could lift the latch. At last I did it, and saw the room full of neighbors, and my wife amidst them, weeping.

When she saw me she hid her face.

“Oh, don’t tell him,” she said. “It will kill him!”

“What is it, neighbors?” I cried.

And one said, “Nothing now, I hope. What’s that in your arms?”

“A poor, lost child!” said I. “I found it on the road. Take it will you! I’ve turned faint;” and I lifted the sleeping thing and saw the face of my own child, my own Dolly.

It was my own darling, and none other, that I had picked up upon the drenched road.

My little child had wandered out to meet “daddy” and the doll, while her mother was at work, and I had picked up her whom they were lamenting as one dead. I thanked Heaven on my knee before them all. It is not much a story, neighbors; but I think of it often in the nights, and wonder how I could bear to live now if I had not stopped when I heard the cry for help on the road, the little baby cry, hardly louder than a squirrel’s chirp.

That’s Dolly yonder with her mother, a girl worth saving—I think (but, then, I ‘m her father, and partial, may be)—the prettiest and sweetest thing this side of the Mississippi.

The Greensboro [NC] Patriot 10 February 1870: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: No doubt we are all exhaling and mopping our foreheads in relief at that happy ending. A very near thing, indeed…

 

 

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 Misfit Christmas Present Exchange: 1894

lavender men's slippers lily of the valley remember scrolls 1860s

MISFIT CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.

What this country needs more than anything else, just once a year, is a Misfit Christmas Present Exchange.

An enterprising gentleman has already started an establishment where one can dispose of duplicate wedding presents, but a person gets married once only in his life, whereas he or she, as the case or sex may be, endures many Christmases.

How sweet and pleasant would it be, for instance, if a young and pretty clergyman who has been remembered by seventeen or two dozen of the ewe lambs of his congregation with a pair of slippers from each, could trade off most of them for, say, a meerschaum pipe or some perpendicular linen collars! Until such an exchange begins to fill a long felt want, the daily papers could help on the good work by permitting their patrons to insert free such advertisements as the following, at holiday time:

“A boy of twelve wishes to exchange a new copy of ‘Josephus,’ handsomely bound, for a second hand copy of ‘Beelzebub Dick, the Terror of Gory Gulch’; or ‘ Deadhead Dan, the Young Detective of Mulberry Avenue.'”

“Young lady would part with seven (7) Christmas cards (four of them hand painted) in return for a diamond engagement ring.”

“Married man desires to exchange a pair of ice cream colored wristers for a glass of beer.”

“Young clergyman will dispose of an assorted lot of slippers, some of which are embroidered with blue dogs with scarlet eyes, for a serviceable pair of winter gloves, fur lined preferred. Must be mates.”

“Boston young lady, temporarily residing in New York, would like to exchange eight copies of Browning’s complete works, all new and unused, for a pair of gold rimmed spectacles, No. 5, near sighted.”

“Young married man will trade a box of cigars (handsome work of art on inside of lid) for a ten cent plug of chewing tobacco.”

“Gentleman desires to part with a pair of large red mittens. Will accept a two ply ham sandwich or three Frankfurter sausages in exchange.”

“Youth will give a copy of Lamb’s Poems of Childhood (leaves uncut), for a baseball bat or a cheap pistol with a box of cartridges.”

“A musically inclined girl will exchange her brother’s irresponsible cornet for an upright piano.”

“A young gentleman of eleven, in long pantaloons, will give a fancy cap, labeled ‘For a Good Boy,’ for a ticket to any accessible dime museum.”

“Young lady of fourteen wishes to exchange a wax doll, with real hair, for a copy of ‘The Quick or the Dead’; also a rubber cry doll for twenty five cents’ worth of chewing gum, vanilla or strawberry.”

“The father of a seven year old boy wishes to dispose of a new bass drum, warranted sound (too sound, in fact). No reasonable offer refused.”

Munsey’s Magazine, Volume 10, 1894: pp. 318-319

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  What a brilliant idea!  Still, Mrs Daffodil fears that consumers would fight shy of those cigars, which young brides were proverbially dreadful at choosing, not to mention uncut volumes of Browning and Lamb. The Quick or the Dead, which readers may examine for themselves here, is a sensational novel about a woman torn between her love for her dead husband and a living suitor. It was notorious in its day and has been described as “morbid,” “hysterical,” and “immature.” The author was particularly fond of adjectives:  “A rich purple-blue dusk had sunk down over the land, and the gleam of the frozen ice-pond in the far field shone desolately forth from tangled patches of orange-colored wild grass.” “She threw herself into a drift of crimson pillows … brooding upon the broken fire, whose lilac flames palpitated over a bed of gold-veined coals.” Obviously the perfect gift for a young lady of fourteen.

Mrs Daffodil hopes that all of you had a Happy Christmas and did not receive any of the presents above, especially that irresponsible cornet.

 

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 Society Reporter’s Christmas: 1893

society 1920

LITTLE EVA SWALLOWTAIL,

Or, The Society Reporter’s Christmas.

Early morn in the little parlor of a humble white cottage, where Susan Swallowtail sat waiting for her husband to return from the ball. It lacked but a few days of Christmas, and she had arisen with her little ones at five o’clock in order that William, her husband, might have a warm breakfast and a loving greeting on his return after his long night’s work.

Seated before the fire, with her sewing on her lap, Susan Swallowtail’s thoughts went back to the days when William, then on the threshold of his career as a society reporter, had first won her young heart by his description of her costume at the ball of the “Ladies’ Daughters’ Association of the Ninth Ward.” She remembered how gallantly and tenderly he had wooed her through the columns of the four weekly and Sunday papers in which he conducted the “Fashion Chit-Chat” columns, and then the tears filled her eyes as memory brought once more before her the terrible night when William came to the house and asked her father, the stern old house and sign-painter, for his daughter’s hand.

“And yet,” said Susan to herself, “my life has not been altogether an unhappy one in spite of our poverty. William has a kind heart, and I am sure that if he had anything to wear besides his dress-suit and flannel dressing-gown he would often brighten my lot by taking me out somewhere in the daytime. Ah, if papa would only relent! But I fear he will never forgive me for my marriage.”

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of familiar footsteps in the hall, and the next moment her husband had clasped her in his arms, while the children clung to his ulster, and clamored for their early morning kiss.

But there was a cloud on the young husband’s brow and a tremor on his lips as he said: “Run away now, little ones; papa and mamma have something to say to one another that little ears must not hear.”

“My darling,” he said, as soon as they were alone, ” I fear that our Christmas will not be a very merry one. You know how we always depend on the ball of the Gilt-Edged Coterie for our Christmas dinner?”

“Indeed, I do,” replied the young wife, with a bright smile; “what beautiful slices of roast beef and magnificent mince-pies you always bring home from that ball! Surely, they will give their entertainment on Christmas-eve this year as they always have?”

“Yes, but — can you bear to hear it, my own love?”

“Let me know the worst,” said the young wife, bravely.

“Then,” said William, hoarsely, ” I will tell you. I am not going to that ball. The city editor is going to take the assignment himself, and I must go to a literary and artistic gathering, where there will be nothing but tea and recitations.”

” Yes.” said Susan, bitterly ; “and sandwiches so thin that they can be used to watch the eclipse of the sun. But what have you brought back with you now ? I hope it is something nourishing.”

“My darling.” replied William Swallowtail, in faltering tones, ” I fear you are doomed to another disappointment. I have done my best to-night, but this is all I could get my hands on;” and with these words he drew from the pockets of his heavy woolen ulster a paper-bag filled with wine jelly, a box of matrons glacis, and two pint bottles of champagne.

“Is that all?” said Susan, reproachfully. “The children have had nothing to eat since yesterday morning except patis de foie gras, macaroons, and hot-house grapes. All day long they have been crying for corned-beef sandwiches, and I have had none to give them. You told me, William, when we parted in the early evening, that you were going to a house where there would be at least ham, and perhaps bottled beer, and now you return to me with this paltry package of jelly and that very sweet wine. I hope, William ” — and a cold, hard look of suspicion crept into her face — “that you have not forgotten your vows, and given to another…”

“Susan!” cried William Swallowtail, “how can you speak or even think of such a thing, when you know full well that…”

But Susan withdrew from his embrace, and asked, in bitter, cold accents: “Was there ham at that reception or was there not?”

“There was ham, and corned-beef, too. I will not deny it; but…”

“Then, William, with what woman have you shared it?” demanded the young wife, drawing herself up lo her full height, and fixing her dark, flashing eyes full upon him.

“Susan, I implore you, listen to me, and do not judge me too harshly. There was ham, but there were several German noblemen there, too — Baron Sneeze, of the Austrian legation. Count Pretzel, and a dozen more. The smell of meat inflamed them, and 1 fought my way through them in time to save only this from the wreck.”

He drew from his ulster-pocket something done up in a piece of paper, and handed it to his wife. She opened the package, and saw that it contained what looked like a long piece of very highly polished ivory. Then her face softened, her lips trembled, and her eyes brimmed over with tears. “Forgive my unjust suspicions,” she exclaimed, as she threw herself once more into his arms. “The mute ham-bone tells me, far more strongly than any words of yours could, the story of the society reporter’s awful struggle for life.”

William kissed his young wife affectionately, and then sat down to the breakfast which she had prepared for him.

“I hope,” she said, cheerfully, as she took a dish of lobster-salad from the oven, where it had been warmed over, “that you will keep a sharp lookout for quail this week. It would be nice to have one or two for our Christmas dinner. Of course we can not afford corned-beef and cabbage like those rich people, whom you call by their first names, when you write about them in the Sunday papers; but I do hope we will not be obliged to put up with cakes and pastry and such wretched stuff.”

“Quail!” exclaimed her husband. “They are so scarce and shy this winter that we are obliged to take setter-dogs with us to the entertainments at which they are served. But I will do my best, darling.”

As soon as William had gone to bed, Susan took from its hiding place the present which she had prepared for her husband, and proceeded to sew it to the inside of his ulster as a Christmas surprise for him. She sighed to think that it was the best she could afford this year. It was a useful rather than an ornamental gift — a simple rubber pocket, made from a piece of an old mackintosh, and intended for William to carry soup in.

But Susan had a bright, hopeful spirit, and a smile soon smoothed the furrows from her face, as she murmured: “How nice it will be when William comes home with his new pocket filled with nice, warm, nourishing bouillon!” and then she glanced up from her work and saw that her daughter, little golden-haired Eva, had entered the room, and was looking at her out of her great truthful deep-blue eyes.

It was Christmas-eve, and, as Jacob Scaffold trudged through the frosty streets, the keen air brought a ruddy glow to his cheeks and tipped his nose with a brighter carmine than any that he used in the practice of his art. Entering the hall in which the ball of the Gilt-Edged Coterie was taking place, the proud old house and sign-painter quickly divested himself of his outer wraps and made his way to the committee-room.

Then, adorned with a huge badge and streamer, he strolled out to greet his friends, who were making merry on the polished floor of the ball-room. But, although the band played its most stirring measures and the lights gleamed on arms and necks of dazzling whiteness, old Jacob Scaffold sighed deeply as he seated himself in a rather obscure corner and allowed his eyes to roam about the room as if in search of some familiar face.

The fact was that the haughty, purse-proud old man was thinking of another Christmas-eve ten years before when his daughter Susan had danced at this same ball, the brightest, the prettiest, and the most sought-after girl on the floor.

“And to think,” said the old man to himself, “that with all the opportunities she had to make a good match, she should have taken up with that reporter in the shiny dress-suit! It’s five years since I’ve heard anything of her, but of late I’ve been thinking that maybe I was too harsh with her, and, perhaps…”

His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a servant who told him that some one desired to see him in the committee-room. On reaching that apartment he found a little girl of, perhaps, eight years of age, plainly clad and carrying a basket in her hand.

Fixing her eyes on Jacob Scaffold, she said:

“Please, sir, are you the chairman of the press committee?”

“I am,” replied the puzzled artist; “but who are you?”

“I am the reporter of the Sunday Guff. My papa has charge of the ‘What the Four Hundred are Doing’ column, but to-night he is obliged to attend a chromo-literary reception, where there will be nothing to eat but tea and cake. Papa has reported your balls and chowder excursions for the past five years, and we have always had ham for dessert for a week afterward. We had all been looking forward to your Christmas-eve ball, and when papa told us that he would have to go to the tea and cake place to-night, mamma felt so badly that I took papa’s ticket out of his pocket when he was asleep and came here myself. Papa has a thick ulster, full of nice big pockets, that he puts on when he goes out to report, but I have brought a basket.”

The child finished her simple and affecting narrative, and the members of the press committee looked at one another dumbfounded. Jacob Scaffold was the first to break the silence.

“And what is your name, little child?” he inquired.

” Eva Swallowtail,” she answered, as she turned a pair of trusting innocent blue eyes full upon him.

The old man grew pale and his lips trembled as he gathered his grandchild in his arms. The other members of the committee softly left the room, for they all knew the story of Susan Scaffold’s misalliance and her father’s bitter feelings toward her and her husband.

“What!” cried Jacob Scaffold, “my grandchild wanting bread! Come to me, little one, and we’ll see what can be done for you.”

And, putting on his heavy ulster, he took little Eva by the hand and led the way to the great thoroughfare, on which the stores were still open.

*******

It was a happy family party that sat down to dinner in William Swallowtail’s humble home that bright Christmas day, and well did the little ones enjoy the treat which their generous new-found grandparent provided for them. They began with a soup made of wine jelly, and ended with a delicious dessert of corned-beef sandwiches and large German pickles; and then, when they could eat no more, and not even a pork pie could tempt their appetites, Grandpa Scaffold told his daughter that he was willing to lift his son-in-law from the hard and degrading labor of writing society chronicles, and give him a chance to better himself with a whitewash brush. “And,” continued the old man, “if I see that he possesses true artistic talent, I will some day give him a chance at the side of a house.” — James L. Ford in Truth.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 2 January  1893

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil does so like a happy ending. Society reportage, with its emphasis on “Upper Ten-dom” tittle-tattle, bore an ambiguous reputation. On one hand, etiquette proclaimed that a lady’s name should never be mentioned in the press except at her birth, marriage, and death. On the other, social columns were highly popular, both with the participants in cotillions, balls, kettledrums, and receptions, and with the “little people,” who thrilled vicariously to descriptions of fancy-dress costumes, champagne suppers, and cotillion figures and favours.

At the time of the writing of this piece, society journalism was becoming the purview of female journalists. Mr William Swallowtail, was fortunate to be rescued by his father-in-law from the hard and degrading labour of writing society chronicles before he was rendered redundant by a lady reporter who would be paid half his wages.

Still, it is a bit disappointing not to have seen the rubber pocket deployed.

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.

Notes in the Turkeys: 1899

King Turkey 1873

NOTES IN THE TURKEYS.

“This Thanksgiving has been a lucrative one so far as my collection is concerned,” said the boss faddist.

“Which of your collections do you mean?” asked the amateur.

“Why my collection of notes and messages that are found in the turkeys sent down here from the New England states. Did you ever heard of  a Thanksgiving turkey coming to town from Vermont for instance, that didn’t contain tucked away inside against the white meat, either a pair of red mittens or blue yarn socks or a message directed to some ‘little waif?’ A bird without that sort of stuffing would be very rare. As I have just mentioned, most of the things are addressed to little waifs. You see up there in the some of those faraway farms where the best turkeys come from they seem to have an idea that all the grown-ups in New York are crooks; that all the children are waifs, and that Potter’s Field is the only cemetery. I discovered that when I began to make my collection of turkey notes four years ago, and tried to learn the cause. I think I have discovered it.

“About 25 or 30 years ago, when book agents were in their prime and chromos were accepted as works of art someone wrote a book and called it ‘Sunshine and Shadow of New York.’ The book agents did the rest, so far as the New England farmers were concerned. There wasn’t much sunshine in that book, but the shadows were lad on thick and black. There were pictures in it of Harry Hill’s dance hall and a lot of similar institutions, not to mention wood cuts of thieves’ dens, and several hundred pages of reading matter to the effect that there wasn’t anything else in the town except, of course, Potter’s Field. The book was strong on that particular graveyard. Well, the book agents had a gold mine it, and if you go through the New England farm districts today, especially far away from the big towns, you will find that ‘Sunshine and Shadow of New York’ still shares the honors of the centre table in nearly every Sunday room, with the family Bible, the history of the country and its leading men and ‘Pilgrims’ Progress.’ The children look at those pictures Sunday, and that’s where they get their impressions that the kids here are waifs.

“But to return to this year’s addition to my collection. Just as I had expected, most of the notes in the turkeys from Vermont had something to say about Dewey. Here’s a sample.

“To the poor little waif who has her Thanksgiving dinner off of this nice turkey: When Admiral Dewey came home he walked by our house one day and just then this very turkey got out of the barnyard and ran across the road in front of him and the admiral must have seen it. I didn’t want to have this one killed this year, but pa says a turkey’s a turkey even if times are good, so I’ll send this note.

“’Your Loving Little Friend’

“Most all of the Vermont notes said that the birds in which they were concealed had been named Dewey. In a bird from eastern Connecticut I found a pair of blue yarn knit stockings wrapped up in a paper, on which was the message, “Whoever gets them, may they keep her warm through the long winter.’ That bird was in a big lot that was just going to be sent off to a Broadway restaurant where the patrons never wear anything but open-work hosiery winter or summer. You see I got all my specimens at the markets before the turkeys are delivered to the consumers. I have explained the situation to half a dozen butchers, and they all let me search for the notes through every fresh batch of birds that comes in.

“From southwestern Rhode Island I got a good note in a turkey that had evidently been reared and killed on the outskirts of the prohibition town of Westerly. It said: ‘It is the earnest wish of the maiden lady who raised this turkey and now sends it on the way that the great city to which it is going may sometime stamp out the awful curse of rum, as we have here in our own peaceful little town.’  New York Sun.

Boston [MA] Daily Advertiser 6 December 1899: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The placing of notes by piece-workers in garments or with food-stuffs was, apparently a common practice. Mrs Daffodil has previously noted it in Cora’s Christmas Doll, and in this story with a happy ending:

Novel Marriage in Minnesota.

Miss Estella May Duncan, of Mazeppa, Minn., was married in splendid style at Bellchester, Minn., a few days ago to Mr. John F. O’Connell of Woonsocket, R.I. About a year ago Mr. O’Connell purchased a dozen eggs in a Woonsocket grocery store. One of them appeared quite light and out of curiosity he opened it, only to find a dainty little note penned in rhyme suggesting a correspondence with the writer providing the finder would enjoy a little literary discussion. Mr. O’Connell promptly responded in rhyme, and a correspondence ensued that led to a courtship and a happy marriage. At the wedding dinner given at the home of George Duncan, a brother of the bride, after the ceremony, there was a handsome wedding cake, surmounted by an immense hen’s egg, bronzed. During the banquet the groom told the story of the romance and repeated the poetry addressed to Miss Duncan when he found the egg in a grocery store and also the verses which he found in the egg containing a request that the finder correspond with the writer.
Denver [CO] Rocky Mountain News 24 November 1895: p. 21

Rather than “Sunshine and Shadow of New York,” possibly the note-collecting narrator meant this book, with its “spoiler-alert” title: Lights and Shadows of New York Life or The Sights and Sensations of The Great City. A Work Descriptive of the City of New York in All its Various Phases: With Full and Graphic Accounts of Its Splendors, and Wretchedness; its High and Low Life; Its Marble Palaces and Dark Dens; Its Attractions and Dangers; Its Rings and Frauds; Its Leading Men and Politicians; Its Adventurers; Its Charities; Its Mysteries, and Its Crimes, By James D. McCabe, author of “Paris By Sunlight and Gaslight,” History of the War Between Germany and France,” “Great Fortunes,” “The Great Republic,” Etc. Etc. Illustrated with Numerous Fine Engravings of Noted Places, Life, and Scenes in New York. By subscription only and not for sale in the book stores. Residents of any State desiring a copy should address the Publishers, and an Agent will call upon them. See page 863.

You may read the book and judge its impressions of New York for yourself at this link.

 

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.

Jack Horner Pies for Hallowe’en: 1909-1916

jack horner pie for halloween

A Halloween party without a Jack Horner surprise pie would be Hamlet with the Dane and Ophelia and even the ghost left out, so barren would the good old day be without this standby. Made of crape paper and holding little prizes and favors, this novelty is sure to be a success with children and grownups alike. In the pie illustrated each little witch with her bright white spotted dress and apron, red cardboard hat and tiny broom, is attached to a string at the end of which is a suitable favor. Weird red “devils” and ugly black cats are perched on the handle of the basket.

The Colfax [WA] Gazette 28 October 1910: p. 8

JACK HORNER PIES.

The Jack Horner pie is a favorite sort of decoration nowadays for all occasions, and as it serves both as a decoration and a receptacle for favors, it is especially valued by the hostess. It is most appropriate for the Halloween frolic.

One Jack Horner pie is simply huge golden pumpkin, made of crepe paper stretched over a wire frame. Inside the paper pumpkin there are little favors, fastened to ribbons. These ribbons are passed through slits in the pumpkin and at their other ends, one of which is placed at each plate, are tiny pumpkins.

A most beautiful Jack Horner pie for a girl’s party represents a pretty doll driving In a goose wagon drawn by black cats. The goose–which is no more than a pasteboard candy box–can be bought at a good candy store, and the black cats are the usual weird coal black little things, harnessed up with scarlet ribbons, which the dollie inside the wagon holds in her small hands. But as to this small lady, she is nothing but head and hands, for her ballooning skirt is meant only to cover the tissue paper bag containing the gifts. A very effective pie could be made of two flat pieces of cardboard cut out to represent a weird at of the Hallowe’en species and painted black. Fasten these each side of a narrow cardboard box, also painted black, and glue crimson paper around the inside of the box to serve as the pouch for the presents. Slit holes in the paper bag for ribbons to come through, and twist around the top lightly so that everything will come out easily.

A clock is a novel Jack Horner pie. It is a round box, of course, covered with yellow paper. On its big face are fastened figures representing the hours of black paper. Two black hands point to the witching figure for 12 o’clock. Hanging from the bottom. like so many pendulums, are ribbons’ which are to be pulled when time comes for the guests to get their gifts.

Still another “pie” is a basket of pumpkins. The basket is covered with yellow paper and in it are lots of little paper pumpkins. Each, of course, contains a gift and when gift time comes the basket is passed around.

Then there is the witch pie. This is a witch made of a doll’s head, with a capacious orange paper skirt and black paper shawl and cap. Under the skirt are the gifts, with yellow or black ribbons attached to them escaping from beneath the hem.

Evening Star [Washington DC] 27 October 1916: p. 16

The imposing centerpiece illustrated [at the head of this post] is a Jack Horner pie, filled with favors. These favors are hidden in the basket which forms the foundation for the “pie,” and ribbons, passing up through the piecrust of crepe paper are attached to the little witches which decorate the top of the pie. The big witch head in the center is added merely ass an ornament and may be presented ceremoniously to some particular guest. A fringe of snappy mottoes with brooms attached surrounds the basket and the handle is covered by witches’ brooms made of faggots in which roost hobgoblins, banshees and other terrifying creatures. Such a centerpiece, of course, would cost a substantial sum, but the same idea might be carried out with less expense, using one good-sized witch for a center and bringing the ribbons attached to the hidden favors over the edges of the basket where they form a fringe finished by little apples or yellow crepe paper pumpkins. The fagot brooms may be easily made form ordinary twigs and hobgoblins and black cats cut form paper may nestle in the branches.

The Topeka [KS] State Journal 30 October 1909: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Jack Horner pies were not just for Hallowe’en, but seemed to receive the most coverage at that time. Many and varied were the shapes and prizes.

Countless are the tiny trifles for 5 cents and less one can find in the stock of some stores and which make the nicest little souvenirs for child parties. One tray discloses little bundles made up of five toys each–a tiny wooden pail of bright apples, a black rake, a black cat, a green frog, a carrot, a cucumber or an onion. Garden vegetables seem to be eminently appropriate for Halloween and everywhere there are delightful candy boxes simulating them. They are all effective on the table, and every box may serve as a souvenir. The small vegetables are, of course, only of painted wood or of cotton, but children find them amusing when they haul them out of a Jack Horner pie.
The more novel the Jack Horner pie for Halloween the more amusing it will seem, so a good deal of personal ingenuity may be exercised. One pie turned out by a toy shop is made like a French doll, the dainty little lady carrying an immense bandbox of flowered paper, this, of course, holding the gifts. Another doll is set in a little cardboard wagon, six black cats, with scarlet leashes, drawing the trap. Behind the wagon fall the ribbons to be pulled, and when the critical moment comes the wagon will go to pieces like the one horse shay.
The Jack Horner pie for Halloween is also often hidden in the stomach of a big scarecrow, and there are balloon aeroplane and goose and owl pies, the gifts tucked away inside the hollow ornament, and covered with tissue paper, so that they jerk out without trouble. But the big paper pumpkin
makes the most effective pie of all for Halloween, and when it is turned out with highest art it may cost $10 in the shop.

The Pensacola [FL] Journal 24 October 1911: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil was explaining the Jack Horner pie to an American acquaintance unfamiliar with the idea, who wondered how the crusts were kept fresh until sold and how the crusts did not crumble when the ribbons were pulled.

 

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 Terror on the Street Car: 1889

Gee whiz don't I wish every day was the fourth

HE WAS A TERROR.

An Unruly Boy Who Run a Whole Car to Suit Himself.

About the middle of the car were a lady and a boy about live years of age, evidently mother and son, says the New York Sun. The train had scarcely moved out of the depot before the boy began to “cut up,” running up and down the aisle and making remarks to passengers. The mother called to him several times and finally said : “James, I certainly shall tell your father.”

“How can you when he’s run away and nobody knows where he is?’ replied the boy.

This settled the mother for a time, but when the boy sought to raise a window she leaned forward and said:

“James, I shall surely punish you.”

“If you do I’ll tell that a policeman arrested grandpa,” he retorted. She let him alone for another interval, but as he began to worry a bird in a cage, which one of the passengers was transporting, she sternly said :

“James, come here.”

“Not now.”

“Right off! You are a bad boy, and I shan’t let you come with me again.”

“Yes, you will.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Then I’ll tell that the reason papa ran away is because Mr. Davis came to our house so much.”

This prostrated the mother, and she began to read, and had nothing further to say, while the boy roamed up and down the car unchecked until he finally fell asleep on a vacant seat. He had one more shot in reserve, however. As he lay down he called out:

“Say, mamma, wake me up when we get to grandma’s. I want to hear her swear and take on because papa turned her out doors last summer!”

The Record-Union [Sacramento CA] 29 December 1889: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  As a well-known American entertainer once remarked, “Kids say the darndest things!”

One would observe with interest the future career of a child with such a capacity for blackmail. He would be spoilt for choice. He might become a master criminal, a ruthless captain of industry, or a politician.

Mrs Daffodil has written about the horrors of spoilt children in Enfants terribles of New York.

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.