Category Archives: Frolics

The School of Hammocking: 1901

IN A HAMMOCK WITH THE SUMMER GIRL

A summer school of hammocking was opened in one of the large cities recently. It was a secret society school, conducted on the strictest lines of never tell, and all information regarding its whereabouts, its pupils, their residences, or the places where they, will spend the summer were to be kept secret.

The object of the school was the teaching of grace to the summer girl, who must spend part of her summer days in the hammock. The lessons embraced the getting in and the getting out of it, also the proper manner of sitting down and talking. How to lie down and sleep, how to recline and read, how to carry on an animated conversation without tipping out backward, how to talk, to flirt, to laugh and to rise from the hammock were all in the curriculum.

The teacher—for, though the aims of the school may seem trifling to the unambitious woman, they were taken in all seriousness by the pupils–was one of the most famous teachers of expression in this country. She teaches some of the most celebrated stage people in the world how to be graceful, and she instructs great speakers on the small arts of gesture. When not otherwise engaged she takes classes of women in the 400 and teaches them how to enter a drawing-room and depart therefrom. She shows them how to look at flowers, how to gaze upon works of art, how to receive a compliment with grace and without blushing, how to decline a verbal invitation well, in short, how to be a belle.

The hammock field is a new one to her, but, on being told that she would, by her instruction, fill a long felt want, she consented to give a dozen lessons in the art of entering a hammock to a select circle of young women. The schoolroom was a roof garden, and the hours for the lessons broad daylight with nothing overhead except the sun and a friendly canopy. At the end of twelve lessons the pupils were turned out graduated, with verbal diplomas. All were bound to perpetual secrecy and to know them this summer you must watch the hammock girls and observe which conduct themselves with most grace. Those who are faultless have doubtless been members of the summer school of hammocking.

hammock girl4 (2)

Belle of Summer

The hammock girl is the belle of summer. Old Sol beholds her by the first light of his yellowing rays, and Luna, when she retires behind the day clouds, looks back again to wish her a good night.

To spend the summer in a hammock is the ideal of the languid maid and the favorite dolce far niente of the July girl.

It is said that the hammock habit is the hardest of all to drop. Once formed it becomes almost an insidious disease, preying upon its victim, who cannot tear herself from its grasp of netting. The hammock is responsible for many an added pound, for many a wasted moment. It is the parent of flirtation and it is the scene of many a jolly summer hour.

The girl who can escape to the country for a month or two takes with her a hammock. But it is not she alone who indulges in such an article. The roof garden girl has discovered that it is mightily pleasant to swing in the net, up under the stars, and for her there are wonderfully built hammocks, supported by uprights that are warranted not to break, or allow the ropes to loosen at the critical moment.

Where lives there a man who has not swung a hammock? To climb a tree, knot a rope to a limb and climb down again is part of the programme of the man who goes away for a rest. The chances are that he will hang many a one and rehang several, for ropes shrink and break, slacken and untie and raise uncertainty generally.

The possibilities of picking one’s self up gracefully when the hammock rope breaks are not to be discussed. That is an emergency which must be met at the time. When the hammock falls there is no choice but to settle down in a heap and to roll over and get up with such God-given grace as may be vouchsafed at the moment.

hammock girl3 (2)

The Getting In

But it is with the chances of being graceful when the hammock is in normal position that this has to deal. It is claimed that the girl who can get into a hammock gracefully and there sit and enjoy a conversation without tipping backward or falling frontward, is entitled to a diploma of grace. Certainly she does well, for the hammock is not a rocking chair, nor an anchored seat. It tips and rolls, shunts and rocks, shifts and falls in unexpected spots and is not dependable as a medium of keeping one’s poise.

The girl who would seat herself in a hammock nicely cannot do so carelessly. Let her merely catch hold of the rope and seat herself and she will find herself landed upon the floor. Possibly she may go entirely over the hammock and seat herself on the other side of it, with her feet clawing the ropes and her hands wildly grasping nothing.

 

To seat yourself in the hammock correctly take hold of one side of the netting, bend slightly, and, with the other hand, draw the hammock in under you. This gives you a purchase upon it; you then seat yourself and find the seat in under you. The trick is twofold. It lies in resting the entire weight upon one foot, and, at the same time, pulling the seat of the hammock forward.

hammock girl2 (2)

To lie down in the hammock requires practice. One must not look as though laid out and one must not sink out of sight in the depths of the hammock. The head should rest upon a pillow at one end of the net and the feet should lie together in the other end. To accomplish this gracefully the body must lie slightly at diagonals with the netting, so that the feet just peep out at one side, the head at the other. This gives one more of an upright position and enables one to carry on a conversation while resting. The hammock robe is not often used. It hides the pretty summer gown. If used at all it is thrown across the foot of the hammock, but is rarely employed as a spread.

The Skirt Question

To keep the skirts in place is a difficult matter when planning to lie down. It is done by gently gathering up the side of the skirts with the hand and tucking them in the hammock as one lies down. The feet should be lifted very slowly and deliberately, with the skirts clinging around them, or the general pictorial effect will not be good.

hammock girl4 (2)

To sit and converse in a hammock affords a theatre for some of the most delightful poses. One of these brings out the true poetry of motion. The young woman who attempts it must seat herself gracefully, and then, with a side motion, turn herself a little. One hand must be extended to grasp the netting, while the other must rest in her lap. The pose is a very comfortable one and certainly pretty.

The summer girl who coquettes in a hammock is lost unless she be very skilful. She must have practiced the scenes before or she will not be a success. If she own a hammock that is supported by uprights, let her take it and swing it in front of a pier glass. With the mirror in front of her she can practice her poses.

The animated pose is the most difficult of all. She must seat herself and in some manner manage to change her poses as she talks. She must be as free as though in a tete-a-tete chair.

hammock girl 1 (2)

A coquettish pose, which gives an opportunity for the display of the pretty feet of the young woman, is that in which, with extended feet, she sits with both hands upon the netting and looks straight at you. To keep her poise both arms are stretched out at the side of, her, and both hands are twisted in the netting. Her feet are crossed and pressed forward so that the hammock is swinging. It is not a strictly conventional pose nor one that is in afford with the accepted poses of Delsarte or his followers, but it is effective.

To read picturesquely is quite difficult, until one has acquired the trick. It all depends upon the way one enters the hammock. The young woman who will seat herself in the middle of the hammock, a little toward one end, and who will lift her skirts with one hand, lifting her feet with them, will be sure of a safe deposit into the hammock. She must practice balancing a little in order to keep her head higher than her feet.

The self-taught hammock girl may be a success if she will practice assiduously, but it is far better to engage a friendly spectator who will look on and criticise and offer suggestions at the valuable moment.

AUGUSTA PRESCOTT.

The Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 26 May 1901: p. 38

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Obviously one needs the correct wardrobe for hammocking: the petticoats that froth beneath the simple summer frock; the pretty stockings and shoes for accidental exposure.

HAMMOCK DRESSES.

“Hammock” dresses, designed for elegant wear on sultry, lazy afternoon, are announced. They are made with long flowing Greek lines; they are steel-less, cushionless, half fitting, but graceful withal, having the look of untidy looseness, and are made of all the soft, pretty crepalines, challis, carmelites and also of China silk, foulard and surah. New York World.

The Salisbury [NC] Truth 12 June 1890: p. 7

Hammock frocks, fashioned from the softest of undressed mulls, delicate batiste and old, quainty-flowered muslins.

Buffalo [NY] Evening News 27 July 1896: p. 43

Mr Binks’s Safety Hammock tells of the perils of hammock customisation, while useful tips about “hammock frocks” are found in My Lady’s Hammock

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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The Purity League and the Sea Vamps: 1922

a group of rollicking sea vamps 1922

A rollicking group of sea vamps, 1922

“Protect Our Husbands from the Wiles of the ‘Sea Vamps’”

How the Purity League of Florida Has made the One-Piece Bathing Suit a Political Issue and Demands a Bathing Suit Inspector to Stop the Frolics on the Beaches.

The one-piece bathing suit has pushed its way into politics. In the next election for Mayor of St. Petersburg. Florida, the candidates will have to declare themselves without equivocation whether they are for or against the “Sea Vamps.”

It is a complicated situation. Florida is a Winter resort and the importance of the decision is a far-reaching one. The Purity League and the church element have looked on with increasing dismay at the frolicsome antics of the feminine charmers who frisk about the ocean beach in tight fitting bathing trunks without skirt, stocking or shoe.

But pleasure resorts are dependent for their business prosperity upon luring the tourists. If the news travels abroad that a bathing suit censor stalks the beach the Winter visitors, many of them, may not go to St. Petersburg Thus the hotels and rooming houses and restaurants and merchants will feel the effect of the bathing suit censor in their pocketbooks.

The question of suppressing the lures of the beguiling young ‘Sea Vamps” has become acute, because of the recent official action of the St. Petersburg Purity League. This earnest association of worthy citizens has served notice in writing upon the Mayor of St. Petersburg that the antics of the visitors on that Florida beach must be stopped.

Frank F. Pulver, the Mayor, happens to be a young man and a bachelor. When it became known that the Purity League demanded the appointment of a bathing suit inspector he was inclined to pigeonhole the letter from the league and with a few diplomatic phrases hoped to see the matter blow over.

But the newspapers printed the rather sharp demand of the Purity League and long lines of men formed at the Mayor’s office, offering their services as bathing suit inspectors. Young men and old men, tall men and short men, near-sighted men and men with acute vision, fat men and thin men, married men and bachelors offered to accept the proposed new office of bathing suit inspector without salary or fees or compensation of any kind. He was surprised at the public-spirited unselfishness of the men of the town.

Mayor Pulver, whose youthful portrait in white Winter flannels and straw hat is printed on this page, is regarded as a very eligible matrimonial catch. When he strolls on the beach many of the more attractive of the “Sea Vamps” have beguiled him with their most skillful wiles. They rather interest young Mayor Pulver.

But Mayor Pulver cannot overlook the political aspect of the situation. What would be the probable line-up of the voters of St. Petersburg on the sharply defined issue of “Sea Vamps” or bathing suit inspector?

Of course, the Purity League and the church element would be solidly behind the Mayor if he appointed a bathing suit censor. On the other hand, the younger voters among the women are, many of them, wearers of the one-piece bathing suits and they would vote against him. The young men could be counted on to vote against censorship and whispered warnings from many of the older and married men lead Mayor Pulver to think, that the bald-heads and gray beards would be likely to be against him on the one-piece bathing suit issue. And a large element of the business men would not like to risk the results of blue-law management of St. Petersburg’s beach.

So, to gain time, Mayor Pulver referred the letter of the Purity League to the city attorney, who is the Mayor’s official legal adviser, and thus then secured a legal opinion which lets Mayor Pulver out of this hole for the present.

Here Is the letter the Purity League sent Mayor Pulver:

Frank F. Pulver, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dear Sir.

The attention of this organization, the Purity League, has been called to the outrageous bathing suits being worn on the beaches around St. Petersburg. Abbreviated to an extreme, skirtless and sleeveless, young women in reckless abandon appear before young men and their elders in costumes that never would be tolerated in Christian communities.

Mr. Mayor Pulver, it is up to you to take some action on these bathing suits. You must compel the young ladies to wear stockings and skirts to their suits. You make them wear sleeves. As it is now permitted, these girls don’t care how they look on the beaches. They are half naked.

Further, this league will protect the married men in its membership from the wiles of the “Sea Vamps” even if it has to engage its own law enforcers. Members of the Purity League have gone on record in opposing the present costumes being worn on the bathing beaches, and it further urges you, Mr. Mayor Pulver, to do away with the suits named after a certain Annette Kellermann.

Give back to us the modest bathing suit and take away the shameless ones your police permit the young women of this community to wear before the men and our husbands.

Pressure is now being brought to bear with the State Legislature to compel restrictions on the abbreviations of bathing suits. We are also urging the appointment of a bathing suit inspector at all beaches.

(Signed) ST. PETERSBURG PURITY LEAGUE

By Hazel Milford Van Freedon, Secretary.

Mayor Pulver, as already said, forwarded the letter to the city attorney Mr. F. J. Mack, for advice as to the Mayor’s legal right to appoint a bathing suit inspector, and it was with a sigh of relief that the Mayor received in due time the following opinion from the legal adviser of the city, which allowed him to dodge the embarrassing issue for the present. Mr. Mack wrote as follows:

“Pursuant to your request for an opinion as to your authority to appoint a ‘ladies’ bathing suit inspector’ with authority to censor and prescribe the texture, dimensions and transparency of ladles’ bathing suits, as you have been requested to do by the Purity League.

“As a legal proposition, it is my opinion that you have no authority under the laws of Florida or the city charter to appoint such an inspector, or to confer any authority upon him.

“Under the ordinances of the city, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, and violators, upon conviction in the municipal court, can be punished.

“The married women of the Purity League who ask you to protect their husbands from the ‘wiles of the sea vamps’ can invoke the above mentioned ordinance, and if the court finds the wearing of bathing suits complained of comes within the scope of disorderly conduct or indecent exposure, the matter can thus be adjusted in court.

“It is my opinion that the members of the Police Department are not the best qualified to pass upon the sufficiency of ladies’ bathing suits, and therefore recommend that the sufficiency of said bathing suits be not tested in court until complaint is made in due form, by some of the women who are apprehensive of the consequences of ‘the wiles of the sea vamps.’

“Yours respectfully

“F. J. MACK.

“City Attorney.”

Backed up by the decision of the City Attorney, Mayor Pulver spread the disappointing news to the men of the town who had applied for the job of bathing suit inspector that there would be no such office created.

“Furthermore,” said Mayor Pulver, “I see no good reason for allowing the demand of the Purity League, even if it was within my power to appoint a censor for the bathing beach.

“I am not very familiar with water sports and, in fact, have seldom been on the beach here. But when I have been there I have never seen anything objectionable about the bathing suits worn by the girls of St. Petersburg, nor their behavior.

“It seems to me that we have as lovely girls here as can be found anywhere and just as modest maidens and I do not believe that they would wear insufficient clothing or vamp the males who go into the bay with them. I am strong for the girls. They can wear what they want to wear. They will do it anyhow, so what’s the use?

“The Purity League asked me to be its chairman but I declined and if there is anything done to require the bathers to wear stockings and long skirts and a lot of other clothing when they swim, the leaders of the League will have to take the cases into court.

“The human form is divine and judging from some of the bathers I have seen, a divinity shaped their ends for they certainly are well shaped.”

The young women who enjoy themselves on the bathing beach are indignant at the phrase “Sea Vamps,” which the Purity League has applied to them. They point out that the worthy women of the League, for the most part, belong to a generation which flourished before automobiles were invented or wireless telephones were used, or the “shimmy” had been discovered. They declare that those who complain of the bathing costumes of the girl of 1922 are out-of-date and ought to get into adjustment with modern times.

“Nowadays,” said, one of the “Sea Vamps,” “we do real hard athletic work in our water sports. Grandmother used to cover herself up from her toes to her chin and walk down and step timidly into the water and stand around for a while and then go out and call it sea bathing.

“Now things have changed. We go in for real athletic sports. We swim, dive, play water polo and all sorts of stunts and it can’t be done with skirts and pantalets and water-soaked bathing shoes. That is what the women of the League don’t seem to grasp.

“And another thing. Some of us come to Florida at the advice of our doctors to get all the sunshine we can get. The doctor advises a generous coat of tan. It’s healthy. And how are we going to get all browned up if we wear grandmother’s bathing suit?

“Of course things have changed. But that doesn’t mean that they have changed for the worst. There is nothing to get frightened about. When the taxicabs first began to appear on the streets some people were afraid to get into them. But we are all of us pretty well used to taxicabs now and nobody is shocked or frightened about them any more. The Purity League has got to get used to us girls wearing our brothers’ one-piece bathing suits just the same as they have had to get used to taxicabs.”

But the end is not yet. The Purity League feels that Mayor Pulver has evaded the issue. Miss Hazel Van Freedon, the secretary, believes if she was elected Mayor of St. Petersburg she would not dodge the issue, but would find a way to stop the vampish antics on the beach.

grandma's bathing suit purity league 1922

And another element has entered into the controversy. The Florida Art School, with Miss Edith Tabb Little at its head, has taken sides with the Mayor and declares there is nothing wrong with the one-piece bathing suit: it is cheap, shapely and artistic. The art school is chiefly horrified at. the threatening aspect of the return of grandmother’s style of bathing suit with skirts and pantalets visible beneath them. Upon esthetic grounds the art school is prepared to take the field and campaign against their sisters in the Purity League at the next election.

Meanwhile, as the Purity League announces, pressure is being brought to bear to put through a State law which will provide the authority which City Attorney Mack says the Mayor now lacks. After and when this law is passed by the Legislature the unfortunate Mayor of St. Petersburg will be forced out into the open for or against the frolicsome vamps of St. Petersburg’s famous beach.

The Washington [DC] Times 5 March 1922: p. 65

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well. Quite.

The Purity League obviously had strong feelings on this issue, as did many communities, who hired “beach censors” to make sure that their standards of modesty were being upheld. A laudable goal, some would say. However, “The St Petersburg Purity League” was, in fact, fabricated by Mayor Pulver and publicist John Lodwick to promote interest in St Petersburg tourism. Papers ran photo-gravures of Pulver posed on the beach while pretending to inspect one-piece bathing suits. No doubt there was a gratifyingly large influx of visitors who wished to see for themselves the ravages of the frolicsome Sea Vamp.

Mrs Daffodil has posted about this issue before in A Matter of Three Inches on a Bathing Suit and Mixed Bathing and the Fall of Empire.

 

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.

 

 

An Independence Day Toast: early 1800s

 

lady with firecrackes

A pleasant retort was that once given by Admiral Marsden many years ago at a dinner in Malta. It was given on the Fourth of July by him to the American officers on a man-of-war, and all the English officers in the harbor were guests. They were no better bred than many Englishmen of that day, for when the regular toast, “The day we celebrate,” was read, they set down their glasses untasted. The venerable host added, gently:

“The day, gentlemen, when England celebrates the coming of age of her eldest daughter.”

Every face cleared, and the toast was drunk with hearty cheers.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 1 July 1915

Mrs Daffodil wishes all residents of “England’s eldest daughter” a delightful holiday week-end and more presence of mind in the handling of pyrotechnics than the lady on the cover of Harper’s. Mrs Daffodil will be taking a brief holiday as the Family is off to The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a spot of tennis-viewing.

For images of vintage patriotic tableaux from Independence Day, 1918, please see Mrs Daffodil’s previous post.

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 Modest Proposal About English Wedding Presents: 1872

A representative specimen of English wedding gift horror http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23462/lot/212/

ENGLISH WEDDINGS, AND WEDDING PRESENTS.

It is a matter of unquestionable notoriety, that all marriages are made in heaven; and it is equally certain that the beautiful descriptions of them, which we read, must be due to celestial correspondents. Such choice of words, such felicity of arrangement, such grace of epithets, could not emanate from any inferior source; and the future historian will best gather from these chronicles the condition of the English language in our day, and the manners and customs of those who spoke it. We shall not, perhaps, be accused of unnecessary repetition, if we call attention to the subject.

The sun is shining, and peculiar interest is excited. The bridegroom is accompanied by his friend, who is officiating as groomsman, and who is qualified by frequent service for the efficient discharge of the multifarious duties which are attached to the position. At precisely thirteen minutes and a half past eleven they alight at the church, saluted by the acclamations of the crowd, the excitement of the bystanders, and the symphony of bells. When the door is opened, four and twenty perpetual curates and prebendaries, deans and archdeacons, begin to assist one another. The scene increases in interest, until the climax is reached, when the bride enters, leaning on somebody’s arm, and supported by her bridesmaids, supplied with jewelry by a neighboring firm, which thus has the good fortune to secure eight advertisements of its goods.

The religious ceremony is performed with peculiar solemnity, unbroken, save by the fidgeting of the groomsman; the benediction is pronounced, and on repairing to the vestry, the formalities of registration are gone through, — a part of the ceremony which is often described in language worthy of Burke. After this, the party repair again to a mansion or residence, where a sumptuous dejeuner is prepared, and numerous covers are laid; a mysterious but interesting process. It is here that English oratory is displayed to its best advantage; and graceful tributes are paid on all sides, characterized by good taste, by brevity, and fluency. The peer forgets his pomposity, and the fact that nobody listens to him elsewhere; the groomsman feels that the lightest part of his duties has come, and all regret the close of his remarks. At precisely four minutes past two the bride and bridegroom take leave of their friends, and seek the seclusion of a country-seat.

Meantime, the “friends” separate, and the correspondent is enabled to furnish those advertisements which all read with interest, if not with excitement. The enumeration of the presents and of the names, both of their eminent manufacturers and of their donors, fills columns, and affords invaluable opportunities for fine writing. The “members of the domestic household,” called sometimes by profane and illiterate people servants, contribute something difficult to carry, and impossible to pack.

It is interesting to know that the flowers were not the production of nature, but were expressly supplied for the occasion by the floral manufacturer; nor is the name of the pastry-cook wanting, who made the indigestible compound termed a “bride-cake.” A few years more, and we shall be told the incomes of the guests, their ages, and the construction of the ladies’ petticoats. It may be that publicity is thus ostentatiously given to the names of those who contribute towards the future menage of the happy couple, in order that the standard may be raised, and that the donor of a water-bottle may shrink from appearing in the same list with the donor of a diamond bracelet. That aim, however, has not yet been realized, and the list of objects is as varied, and as free from all connection with each other, as the words which make up a page of Johnson’s Dictionary.

The company is a medley one; sugar-basins and aneroids, an antique pair of bellows, the Zoological Gardens faithfully represented in ormolu, a musical-box, a sketch mounted as a fan, fifty travelling articles to make locomotion impossible, a basket of snowdrops, and nine addresses on vellum, congratulating the bridegroom on the examples he has to imitate and on the wisdom of his choice, quite unreadable from the magnificent flourishes with which the initial letters abound, and signed by the schoolmaster and schoolmistress in behalf of the scholars.

Were the bride and bridegroom endowed with ostrich-like digestions, they might find some use for these articles. As it is, they often prove the most unmitigated nuisance, a misery alike to him who gives and to him or her who receives. It occasionally happens that the announcement of an engagement, instead of recalling the fact that two people are perfectly certain of being happy for life, that the cares of this world are over for them, and that a beautiful account of their marriage will appear in the newspapers and enrich the literature of the country, only suggests the painful thought that a present must be given, and, in order to be given, must be bought.

To explain the grounds for this impression would be impossible; a slight relationship exists between the victim and one or other of the engaged pair, and the persons about to marry are going to live in London, possibly in a large house; it may be that the intending giver received at some former period a perfectly useless and now blackened object, too dirty to make its appearance again in the world of rubbish, and that he feels bound to reciprocate the attention. “Human nature,” says a great authoress, “is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person who either marries or dies is sure of being kindly spoken of.” Whatever may be the cause, the dilemma remains the same. Much mental agony is undergone, increasing as the interval before the marriage becomes shorter. Some prudent persons have a stock of objects always on hand, one of which they forward upon receipt of the intelligence; and thus they may have the good fortune to send the first of the fifteen inkstands which follow.

She who hesitates is lost; now helplessly bemoaning her condition, now peering uneasily into shop-windows, and finding that every thing costs seven pounds, when she is prepared to spend only four. Her sense of her unfortunate position daily grows in intensity, and she may next be seen sitting in a shop, with a choice selection in front of her, amongst which are a blotting-book covered with excrescences of brass like a portmanteau, a miniature helmet, two shepherdesses of modern Meissen, a silver-gilt machine for brushing away crumbs after breakfasting in bed, a gentleman in ormolu looking into a windwill about the same size as himself and of the same material, both containing cavities in their insides for matches, the discovery of which would occupy a lifetime. What a choice is here! The biggest fool of her acquaintance has just ordered the silver-gilt machine, which costs thirty pounds, so she takes the windwill with a sigh of relief, and sends it as a little object to remind her friend of the happy hours they have spent together.

Her friend sends in return a little note, assuring her that she will always value it, reflecting that it is a just requital for the ormolu porcupine stuffed with pins which she had presented on a previous occasion. But the donor and the windmill are not destined to lose sight of one another just yet.

It is bad enough to see the rubbish in the shop, but there is some excuse for the production of these costly and worthless trifles. What the dogs are in the East to the streets, the givers of modern wedding presents are to the trade, — the scavengers of refuse; what is too dirty, too useless, too ugly for other purposes, they absorb; but it is too hard to be called upon to look at it again when exposed to view in the drawing-room of the unfortunate girl whose future life is to be spent, or supposed to be spent, in its contemplation. There are entertainments of divers kinds and degrees of dullness; but the entertainment which is given for the display of the objects we have described is without an equal.

Neatly arranged upon the tables in symmetrical order lie these specimens of English taste, “several hundreds in number,” slips of paper being attached to them recording the names of the givers. Here the lady and the windmill meet once more, regretfully perhaps, for some kind friend announces that she only gave two pounds for the candlesticks opposite; another has picked up something for thirty shillings, which produces a sublime effect, and the name of the shop where similar objects can be procured is whispered in secret. There is a pleasing equality evinced in the display; her Grace and the housemaid think the same thing ” beautiful,” and probably spend the same amount of money upon the object of their admiration.

The custom of giving wedding presents, as it now exists, is a social tax which, though paid by every one, is only paid grudgingly and on compulsion. It represents neither affection nor interest, and is not productive of the smallest profit to any save the tradesmen whose wares are sold for the purpose. Its counterpart can only be found in the custom which existed a short time ago of giving leaving-books at Eton. The fashion was exactly analogous; little boys give them to big boys, to whom they always had been, and to whom they continued in after life, complete strangers, subscribing themselves their “sincere friends on their leaving Eton.” The head-master submitted to the custom at a smaller cost; wise in his generation, and being an elegant classic, he had published, or privately printed, a quarto edition of some Latin author, which, it is needless to say, nobody ever wanted, and no one ever bought. This peculiarly useless volume was exchanged for the sum of ten pounds, deposited in some corner of the room by the boy who was bidding good-by, whence it was generally supposed that the head-master ultimately took it. This pleasant mode of escaping the tax was, unfortunately, not open to those who paid for the leaving-books presented by their sons to their sincere friends, and who not unnaturally considered that the annual expenditure of fifteen or twenty pounds was hardly compensated by the possession of some scores of soiled copies bound in yellow calf.

What these books are to the library, wedding presents are to the ordinary furniture of a house. What is to be done with the windmill? Should the first opportunity be seized for getting rid of it, there is the risk that its donor will tenderly inquire after it. It cannot be given away after the lapse of six months; for its color is gone, and it looks as if it might have been present at Hilpah’s wedding to Shalum. The poor thing eventually finds a shelter and a home in some spare bedroom of a country house, where damp and dust hasten its decay. Sometimes it is destined to a harder fate. One swallow does not make a summer, and the gift of a wedding present does not insure the celebration of a marriage; the engagement may very possibly be broken off, and one of the consequences is the return of the windmill to its unhappy and original possessor, whose feelings on its re-appearance we forbear from commenting on.

If the State would include wedding presents among the assessed taxes, and fix a definite sum to be paid at the beginning of each year, great relief would be experienced; the government would, of course, realize a profit, and a large sum would still remain to be distributed as marriage portions. The present inequality would be remedied; for, as it is, those who never marry at all (and their number is daily increasing) receive no return for their original outlay; but on the institution of the tax this need no longer be the case. Single women, on attaining the age of forty-five, might, on condition of subscribing a declaration setting forth the extreme improbability of their marrying, and their aversion to that condition, receive the sum to which they would have been entitled on marriage. Widows, on the other hand, would get nothing under any circumstances, being exhorted to remain contented with the ormolu of the first marriage.

During the interval before the adoption of this plan we have but one remedy to propose. Surely the old shoes which are now so lavishly thrown away at the departure of the bride and bridegroom, are capable of conversion into some valuable substance; which cannot be predicated of wedding presents. Let, therefore, the next “groomsman ” set a bright example, and deserve well of society and the oppressed; as the carriage starts, let a shower of aneroids, barometers, bellows, candlesticks, vases, mosaics, and antiques, gracefully fall and flutter around it. Thus we feel sure that a “peculiar interest would be excited,” while the struggles of the crowd to possess objects which to their inexperienced eyes might seem capable of being exchanged for a shilling would give additional animation to the scene. The prevalence of this custom might be expected to modify to some extent the present fashion, the chief compensation for which must be found in the advantages which result from a study of the pages of the Court Journal.

Every Saturday 27 April 1872: p. 449-51

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil fears that she has nothing to add to these really excellent proposals, except to note that the shower might result in shards of broken Dresden china and glass in the streets. That would annoy the horses, but crossing-sweepers might be delighted with the added employment and tips.

It is a bore, but one may also exchange or sell the horrors.

As for the loss of wedding gifts to the ladies who remain unmarried, this “bachelor-girl’s” father and friends were thoughtful enough to make up the deficit: 

One of the great bugbears of spinsterhood has been demolished by a Minnesota woman. Though she had had many suitors, of course, she was still unwedded at thirty, and one day, as she was sending off a gift to a girl friend who was about to be married, she bewailed the fact that the bachelor-girl never got wedding-presents or a trousseau. Her father promised that she herself should not be slighted in this respect, whether she married or not, and a few weeks ago, when she accepted the offer of a business position and decided to take up her bachelor residence in Chicago, the old gentleman was as good as his word. He gave her a handsome check to buy a complete outfit of clothes, from shoes to bonnets, and many of her friends took up the idea and gave her useful and ornamental articles for her bachelor apartment. And now it is announced — whether it be through the aid of her fine feathers or not is not stated — she is to marry the president of the company that employs her.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] March 21, 1898

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 Electric Wedding: 1892

electric diadem

Electric diadem by M. Gustave Trouve, 1880s.

An Electrical Wedding.

One of the peculiarities of our American cousins seems to be a consuming desire for novelty in their weddings. Hence we read of their being married in balloons, and over the telegraph wires, and in other outlandish fashions. A dazzling function took place in Baltimore the other day in the shape of an electrical wedding,” which quite throws into the shade previous nuptial celebrations. The Baltimore Sun says that tiny incandescent lamps were concealed in the foliage of the screen, and glowed and disappeared irregularly like fireflies in among the trees. Electrical butterflies and birds perched among the leaves and flowers. Overhead was a crown of Chinese lanterns, each containing a sixteen-candle power lamp. The bridal arch of evergreen under which the newly married pair stood to receive their friends was provided with a row of electric lamps in red, white and blue. On top of the arch was perched an American eagle, and on the shield of pink velvet, which formed the keystone of the arch, was outlined in incandescent lights the figure of a heart, the initials of bride and bridegroom, and the date 1892. Two bronze statues stood guard at the entrance of the room, and their helmets went illuminated by incandescent lamps. This, however, was far from exhausting the catalogue of marvels. There was an ingenious arrangement suddenly set in motion, and a shower of rice and imitation snowflakes was discharged over the wedding party by means of two electric fan motors placed in the gallery overhead. As the guests entered the supper room there was a sudden outburst of electrical bells and musical entertainments. As the guests were seated there was a blaze of light, and at the completion of the first course the words Good Luck appeared over the heads of the newly-married couple, and an electric hair-pin, a gift to the bride, became incandescent and surrounded her head with a halo of light

Wine bottles were suddenly transformed into glowing candelabra, and the feast was one long continued series of electrical surprises. All this may suit the American taste. Quiet English people, however, find the wedding ceremony in itself sufficiently trying to the nerves without being stunned and bewildered afterwards by a constant succession of electrical surprises.”

Press, 29 December 1892: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The reception sounds exhausting: like getting married in a fun-house, with “surprises” popping out every time one turns around.  The bride is fortunate that no one threw a pitcher of water on her, thinking that her hair was on fire when the hair-pin lit up.

But the newspapers could not get enough of this novel wedding. Here are more illuminating details:

An Electrical Wedding.

The bride was Miss Jeanette Ries (now Mrs. Lewis S. Greensfelden), and the nuptial novelty was due to the enthusiasm of her brother, the electrician and inventor.

Electrician Ries was master of ceremonies. The marriage was at the house of the bride’s mother, Mrs. E. F. Ries, and, of course, there was no unseemly spectacular interruption of the solemn knot tying.

But no sooner had the company been comfortably seated at the banquet table than the room burst into a flood of light from numerous vari-colored incandescent electric lamps hidden among the decorations and suspended at various points above the heavily laden tables. The entrance of the bride and groom was welcomed by the automatic ringing of electric bells and the playing of electrical musical instruments.

trouve illuminated flowers

Electric flowers as designed by M. Gustave Trouve.

After the first course had been served the room was plunged into semi-darkness, when suddenly from among the floral decorations upon the table there glowed tiny electric lamps, lending an exquisite charm and attraction to the scene. Not only the flowers, but the interior of the translucent vases in which some of them were gathered scintillated with flashes of light. After a while a miniature electric lamp, which in some unexplained manner had attached itself to the bride’s hair, was seen to glow with dazzling brightness.

Mr. E. E. Ries gave a toast to the couple, wishing long life and an enjoyment of good things like those spread before them. He concluded with an injunction to be temperate in all things, at the same time touching an electric button, when two serpents slowly uncoiled themselves and issued from the wine bottle that stood before the bridal couple.

Cigars and coffee were served, and the cigars were lighted by an electric heater, while the coffee was boiled in full view of the company by an electric lighter. The speeches that were made were liberally applauded by an electric kettle drum placed under the table. It treated all with impartiality. As the company dispersed the electric current set off a novel pyrotechnic display, amid the crimson glare of which the festivities ended. Baltimore Sun.

Carlisle [PA] Evening Herald 27 May 1891: p. 3

The electric hair-pin reminds us of the creations of M. Gustave Trouve, who created electric jewels with pocket batteries, as well as ballet costumes, lit by tiny bulbs.

gustave trouve electric tiara

Although we find few other examples of electric weddings (a testimony, perhaps, to the sturdy common sense of most bridal couples) several years later, during the actual ceremony, electricity was once again employed in a singularly symbolic way to demonstrate the extinguishing of the bride’s identity. Peculiar it may have been; romantic is quite another question.

A peculiar and romantic episode occurred recently at a wedding ceremony in Cleveland. Above the bride’s head was an elaborate device, with her name in small electric lights. Above the groom appeared a similar decoration, save that it was his name that sparkled there. All through the ceremony the lights burned brilliantly, but at the words: “I pronounce you man and wife,” the bride’s name was “turned off.”

Omaha [NE] World Herald 10 November 1900: p. 11

 

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 Candle Wedding: 1904

1904 wedding 4 (2)

1904 bride and groom

A Candle Wedding

A True Story

By Grace Bristow

The day of the wedding dawned clear and radiant, but as the morning progressed, dark clouds began to send across the sky.

Mr Wentworth, the bride’s father, shook his head dubiously. “I don’t like the looks of that,” he whispered to his wife.’ “It’s too much as it was just before that great storm two years ago.”

Sure enough, it grew darker and darker. The bridesmaids rushed from their homes to condole with the bride. The groom wandered disconsolately through the rooms and discussed the situation with his best man. The servants went about closing doors and windows. Presently the rain came, not in gusts, but in one tremendous downpour. The bride fell to weeping, the mother was frantic; but at 6 o’clock the clouds broke and the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The bride emerged from her room, the bridesmaids rushed home to dress, the caterer and florist appeared, and all went merrily until nearly 7, when the servants started to light up the house and found that the storm had destroyed the electrical connections. There was gas in neither church nor house, and the few lamps were wickless and chimneyless, for in the novelty of having all the houses in town furnished with the new light, lamps had been put away on high shelves. What could be done? There never, never had been such a calamity at a wedding. Mrs Wentworth sobbed aloud as she considered the frightful outlook, and the bride sat in desperate silence in the darkness.

Suddenly an usher had a bright idea. “I can fix the church,” he exclaimed. “I know a big store where they took down their large hanging lamps only last week and stored them in the lumber room. We can get them and hang them from the chandeliers, pull the vines down a little and they will look all right.” Instantly he rushed off with the other men to carry out the plan. Then the bridesmaid had a thought equally brilliant.

“How many little glass lemonade cups have you? Only three dozen? Well, ask the caterer to send for about twenty dozen more and then somebody go down town and buy me heaps and heaps of tall wax candles.”

Nobody saw the connection between lemonade glasses and candles, but her orders were obeyed. When both articles were at hand she went into the yard, filled the cups with wet, brown earth, and taking asters with rather short stems stuck three or four into each cup and placed the candle in the middle. The flowers drooped over the edge and stood up around the tall candle prettily, while the cups looked like bronze, with the earth showing through the glass.

When dozens were ready, she put long regular rows across each mantel, behind the potted ferns already in place, grouped some on the piano, and on each bookcase. bracket and table in all the rooms. Everyone was anxious to see the effect, but she sternly prohibited any lighting, beyond what was actually necessary, till after the ceremony.

The men came home from the church and announced that it looked very well, but that it still needed a little more light. “Very well!” said the ingenious bridesmaid, “this shall be a candle wedding. We will put them in the chancel and organ loft and all of us girls will carry candles. It will be perfectly lovely!”

It was quickly done, for luckily the house was near the church, and when the wedding march pealed out and the white-robed girls came in, each bearing her lighted taper, the effect was so becoming, lovely and unique that a loud murmur of admiration came from all over the church, while the tableau at the altar was something no one who saw it could ever forget. But the house was a vision of beauty, too. Guests who had seen ballrooms in Europe exclaimed that there never had been anything there so beautiful as this. And when the bride went up to put on her traveling dress, she hugged her bridesmaids ecstatically.

“No girl ever had such a pretty wedding,” she exclaimed. “Everybody says the church was lovely and the house a perfect dream. I would not have had electric light for the world! And you see my wedding did go off without a mishap after all, so there!”

Good Housekeeping, Vol. 39, October 1904: p. 500-501

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It all sounds perfectly lovely, and the bride’s friends are to be congratulated on their resourcefulness. However, Mrs Daffodil is just grateful that there was no tragic sequel. The church undoubtedly contained a large amount of wood   and 1904 gowns were of featherweight lawn and silk that would go up in smoke at the merely touch of flame.

Still, there have been an unusual number of storms this spring, so this idea may prove useful in an emergency.  To-days brides could duplicate the “look” with the new electric candles, some of which have flickering “flames.”

 

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.

How I Made My Husband Happy This Summer: 1912

 

how I made my husband happy

How I Made My Husband Happy This Summer

By MARION FAIRFAX (Mrs. [Tully] Marshall)

(Author and Playright [sic])

If you want to keep your husband happy in hot weather, give him those things to eat and drink that he likes, and that are good for him. You note the saving clause, “that are good for him.” If he like meats, let him have few of them and seldom, for however he clamors for them they are not good for him in hot weather. Don’t let him eat meat oftener than once a day, better two or three times a week. Meat heats the blood and fires the temper. If necessary for his welfare substitute for the things he likes the things that are good for him. But if you can combine them so much the better. You will have averted the day of wrath.

Husband will expect his alcoholic beverages in Summer as well as Winter, though he himself knows they add to the discomfort of hot weather. Wean him away from them by cooling drinks containing little or no alcohol. My husband I keep in good humor by serving on the veranda or in the dining room, according to our convenience, the following:

On a warm day this is delectable:

CUCUMBER LEMONADE.

Four lemons.

Four tablespoonfuls of sugar.

One cucumber.

Slice the cucumber lengthwise, keeping the rind on it. Rub these slices inside the pitcher, as an Italian cook rubs a dish with garlic before placing vegetables in it. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the pitcher. Stir the sugar into the juice and pour in chilled, not ice, water to taste. The addition of the cucumber flavor adds distinctly to the deliciousness of the drink. If husband insists, add a dash of claret.

For a quaffing on a hot day this is incomparable.

Four lemons.

One pint of claret.

One teacupful sugar.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar as I before described. Add the claret and ice freely, and make strong or weak as desired.

mixing the mint julep

One of the most complete pictures of masculine good humor I ever saw was that of my father, a Southerner, making a mint julep. Perhaps you do not know that there are two schools of mint julep makers in the South, and that there are rival claims as fiercely contested as the seats of the 92 in the recent convention. One school contends that the mint should be spread over the top of the glass that the drinker may enjoy the full fragrance of the mint. The other school heatedly maintains that the mint should be crushed in the bottom of the glass, where it is mixed with the sugar and increases the pungent flavor of the drink, sacrificing the pleasures of the nose to those of the stomach. My father was an ardent follower of the crush school. He taught me to make the mint juleps in the way with which I regale Mr. Marshall, the one true way my father would say.

THE MINT JULEP.

One-half tumbler crushed ice.

One tablespoonful of sugar.

One large bunch of mint fresh from its bed

Crush the mint with the ice and sugar. Add the spirits to taste. Then fill the glass with the rest of the mint and ice.

I always keep a quantity of cold tea on hand in my Summer home. Cold tea is the best foundation for all the fruit punches. This can be easily prepared.

One large cup of mixed tea.

Juice of a large fresh lime.

One pound brown sugar.

One quart sherry.

Boil the lime juice and sugar together to form a syrup, flavoring them with a spoonful of any favorite preserves from your pantry. Remove from the stove. Pour in sherry and chopped ice.

If Mr. Marshall shows any warm weather testiness, he is quickly appeased by a pear salad.

PEAR SALAD.

I cut three large, ripe pears into narrow, lengthwise strips, sprinkle over them a dash of rum and serve with French dressing.

It is green corn time, and to me green corn is the backbone of the Summer edible season. Corn only has a really corny flavor if you have the water boiling on the stove when we go out to pull the ears. We bring them in and, leaving the husks on, shred the ear as well as we can of its silk tassels. The corn is thrust into the boiling water. The corn silk is spread over the top of the water. This keeps in the steam and none of the flavor of the corn is lost by evaporation. Literally it returns unto itself.

Two desserts are my husband’s summer favorites.

Into these I introduced fruit variants according to the season.

CHERRY PUDDING.

One egg.

One cup of milk.

Two cups of flour.

Two teaspoonfuls baking powder.

One cupful of cherries.

Beat the egg into the cup of milk. Mix with the flour the baking powder. Stir all these into a batter and add a pinch of salt. Stir in the cupful of cherries that have been pitted and well dredged with flour. This keeps them from sticking to the bottom of the pudding. Place it in a cooking mold and put into the fireless cooker with a hot dish above and below. Then go away to a picnic if you like. You can be gone for four hours and when you come home the pudding is done.

The St Louis [MO] Star and Times 1 September 1912: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  While some readers may wish to try these receipts at home on their spouses, Mrs Daffodil will here issue a firm disclaimer that she takes no responsibility for ensuing injuries or divorces.

It is axiomatic, of course, that the husband must be kept in a constant state of good humour for the peace of the household and that it is the wife’s duty to ensure that he is happy.

[Brief pause for derisive laughter and/or outrage.]

It is true that some spouses (of both sexes) desire nothing more than the comfort and well-being of their opposite number. This policy, if voluntarily adopted, may lead to a happy and united home.

However, Mrs Daffodil is sceptical that the authoress really grasps her subject.  Not only does she treat her lord and master as a kind of “husband-baby*” who does not know what is good for him, she seems to have a positively archaic notion of diet and health: “Meat heats the blood and fires the temper” would seem not out of place in the scheme of Galenic medicine or at King Henry VIII’s court.  (Although it occurs to Mrs Daffodil that this capricious, meat-loving, claret-swilling husband has much in common with that irascible monarch.)

And, even as a working author, she is expected to serve up cooling drinks on the veranda in an immaculately pressed summer frock, as if she had done nothing else but pluck mint the entire day,  making soothing conversation to placate the over-heated husband, who only longs for a steak and a glass of something drinkable. In the illustration at the head of this article, he looks conspicuously inebriated. No doubt he insisted on extra claret.

Mrs Daffodil does not like to suggest that the authoress was writing a work of fiction, but a character in a novel who became wroth when denied meat and alcoholic stimulants, yet was easily appeased by a pear salad, would be declared by a majority of readers to be utterly implausible.  If, in fact, he was so appeased, either he had already had a substantial luncheon at his club, or a good deal of rum must have been surreptitiously applied to those pears, perhaps via a concealed flask.

Mrs Daffodil wonders how the author, one of the most distinguished playwrights in the United States and a woman who would a few years later start her own successful film production company, could write such perfect rot, but perhaps she was merely telling her audience what she thought they wanted to hear. Or the heat and the dash of claret may have gone to her head.

*The phrase is that of novelist Rosie M. Banks, a creation of P.G. Wodehouse.

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.