Category Archives: History 1910-1930

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Her Fourth Husband: 1910

 

widow jones suits me button

HER FOURTH.

By M. Quad.

Copyright, 1910, by Associated Literary Press.]

“What in tarnation is this about your marrying Jim Carter yesterday?” said Henry Doty to Eunice Smith.

“We were married,” was the reply.

“But I was going to marry you myself!”

“I never knew it. You never said anything about it.”

“And you won’t get a divorce from Jim?”

“Of course not.”

“By gum, Eunice, this is using a man mighty mean! I was jest taking time to think things over, and you go off and marry. It’s a mean trick on a feller!”

“Oh, there are other girls.”

“But I don’t want ’em. I want you, and I’m going to stay single till my chance comes.”

It came in about a year. James Carter was assisting a neighbor to load saw logs when one of them broke loose and rolled over him, and he was no more. Henry Doty didn’t rejoice, but he was on hand at the funeral. He oversaw things for the widow for three or four days and then returned to his job. As he held her hand and bade her goodby he said:

“Eunice, there was something I wanted to say to you, but it slipped my mind. Mebbe I’ll think of it next time I come.”

The widow returned to her parents, and the hired man made her a call three or four times a week, but he never talked love. He simply thought love when he was alone. They’d get married when the year was up, and when they got to the Falls they’d put up at the best house and hang the expense. Fourteen months had passed, and Henry was thinking of tying a string around his thumb to make him remember to ask Eunice that question when he was suddenly told that she had married a wire fence man who was working in the neighborhood. He greased his boots and combed his hair and went over to the house to say: “Eunice, If you’ve gone and done it again I can never forgive you! You knew I was calculating to marry you myself.”

“But you never said anything about it,” she retorted.

“But I was getting ready to.”

“If you’d only said”—

“Oh, well, I’ll have to stand it, I suppose. Mebbe it’s all for the best. Mebbe the living will be cheaper by that time. I’m going to keep right on jest as I am till I get you.”

Mr. Davis, the second husband, was fat and rugged and seemed good for forty years more of life, but one can never tell about those things. He was made a very happy man by the marriage and continued in the wire fence business to make others happy. After eight months had gone by he was putting up a fence for a farmer one day when a thunderstorm came up. Mr. Davis had his hands on the wire when the electric fluid found it and shocked him to death. Queerly enough, Henry Doty was driving past in a wagon at the time and was the messenger to announce the sad news to the double widow. He realized that it was no time to speak of a bridal trip then and held his peace.

Once more the widow came back to the old home, and things went on as before. Henry returned to the habit of dropping in frequently, and he only waited for the days to pass until he could ask the question always uppermost in his mind. One evening he presented himself with a string twisted around his thumb, but when the widow called his attention to it he couldn’t remember what he had made sure not to forget. Now and then the farmer for whom he labored and who knew his thoughts would jog him with:

“Henry, the time is passing along, and the widow may step off again any day.”

“But I don’t hear of anybody being after her.”

“You don’t always hear about such things. Widows step right off without much courting.”

“Yes, I must speak to Eunice. I was a-thinking this afternoon I would.”

But he didn’t. He just let things drift on, and one Sunday evening he dropped in just after she had married the rural mall carrier on that route.

Henry was indignant and desperate.

“Why didn’t you say something!” he demanded of the bride.

“Why didn’t you?”

“Say, this is throwing a good man down powerful hard. This is the third time I’ve lost you!”

“But you’ve never said you wanted me. You don’t expect a woman to pop the question, do you?”

“All right, Eunice—all right. I can wait. Bound to get you and make a trip if I wait long enough.”

“It was just eleven months to a day that as the carrier came to a narrow place in the highway he encountered a load of hay. In trying to pass it his cart was upset, and when it was righted he was found with a broken neck. Henry Doty was coming up with a freshly killed hog in his wagon, and as soon as he ascertained what had happened he chucked the hog out of the wagon and drove back three miles with the horses on a dead run. Eunice happened to be at the gate when he  drove up, and he called to her:

“Eunice, get a pencil and write it down that I’m here on the spot.”

“But for why?”

“And that I ask you to marry me when the year is up.”

“Why. Henry, what can you mean!”

“And that we take in Niagara Falls and all of Buffalo on our wedding trip and that we love each other till death do us part”

And it was said that the fourth husband was the happiest of all.

The Hot Springs [SD] Weekly Star 10 March 1910: p. 9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The lady must have possessed considerable property or personal fascinations to “step off” as often as she did. Mrs Daffodil is not sure that someone as dilatory as Mr Doty is a wise spousal choice, but Eunice née Smith cannot say she was not warned.  She seemed to enjoy a variety of husbands and was happy enough to take her chances that the reticent fellow would never Speak his Love.

 

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.

La Fête du Muguet: 1912

faberge lily of the valley

A spray of lily of the valley in pearl, nephrite and diamonds, c. 1900, by Faberge. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21517/lot/93/

[In Paris] the palm of popularity must be given to the lily of the valley—the muguet des bois.

What the forget-me-not is to the German Gretchen, the muguet des bois (the wild lily of the valley) is to the Paris grisette, and thus it has been for untold generations. The first of May is known as the Fête du Muguet, and on that day, not only is it traditional for children to make presents of bunches of wild lilies of the valley to their elder brothers and sisters—the flower seems to be dedicated to youth—but in the streets surrounding the opera-house, where all the big dressmakers are, you will see at luncheon-hour troops of the young girl apprentices wearing bunches of muguet in their simple bodices. The muguet brings luck, and it appeals more than any other flower to the humble little Parisienne’s sense of poetry, this delicate spike with its double row of little milk-white bells, its broad tapering leaf, and its peculiarly evocative scent. No doubt she feels that in a sense it reflects herself. Is not her life just such another ringing of the changes on a chime of little silver bells, whose flash and tinkle last for the brief space of a spring season? She has the same native wildness, and simple unconscious elegance. To start forth on a bright Sunday morning for one of the woods near Paris, and pick muguet, is her ideal of a holiday excursion.

“En cherchant du muguet,
Du muguet dans la clairière;
En cherchant du muguet,
Du muguet d-a-ans l-a-a f-ô-r-e-t!”

[In search of the lily of the valley,

the lily in the clearing,

in search of the lily of the valley,

the lily of the valley in the forest!]

she sings, and on her way back she pets her lilies of the valley as if they were human beings: “Oh, the beautiful muguet, how sweetly it smells!” Elaborate are her plans for disposing of it. One large bouquet will remain in her room for at least a week, reminding her every moment of the delightful day she has spent. A few sprays will be given to the concierge, or janitor, whose good graces are to be cultivated; while the remainder will go to grand maman, who will not fail to be tearfully reminded thereby of her own sylvan excursions in search of muguet in those far-off days when there were hardly any railways, and it was half a day’s journey to the woods at Meudon.

According to the herbalists, the petals of the lily of the valley contain a toxic substance, which, like digitalis, has a directly stimulating effect upon the heart. Perhaps this may account, by some subtle process of sentimental telepathy or suggestion, for the charm which the muguet so potently exercises over the heart of those essentially Parisian little beings, all made up of nerves, gaiety, and emotions, the midinette of the dress-making atelier, and the grisette of the Latin Quarter. The street-cry, “Fleurissez-vous, mesdames: voila le muguet!” (Beflower yourselves, ladies: behold the lily of the valley!), followed by, “Du muguet! Achetez du muguet! Du bon muguet parfume!” (Lilies of the valley! Buy the lilies of the valley! Fine scented lilies of the valley!), is one of the oldest in Paris. The muguet harvest is as much a godsend to the pariahs of the Paris pavement as is the hop-picking in Kent to the submerged tenth of the London East End. The May morning has hardly dawned before a procession of ragged, footsore tramps comes streaming into the city from the neighbouring woods, loaded with muguet. On May Day waggon-loads of muguet arrive by train. The flowers are picked when they are still in the earliest bud, for the little Parisian lady likes to see them open out under her own eyes, and so have the illusion that their lives are linked with hers. In some of the great forests round Paris it is forbidden to pick the muguet on pain of a fine; for the pheasants are laying at this season, and to steal the eggs on the pretence of looking for lilies of the valley is a common trick with the villagers.

 Sensations of Paris, Rowland Strong, 1912: pp. 233-236

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-day is May Day and instead of the cliches about May Queens and the famously bad weather of the holiday, Mrs Daffodil thought she would post instead about the French holiday of La Fête du Muguet, the feast of the lily of the valley. This is said to have had its origins with the Valois King Charles IX when he was presented with a bunch of lilies in 1561 as a porte-bonheur. Charmed, he began giving the ladies of the court lilies on 1 May.  Mrs Daffodil suggests that lilies of the valley brought  the King himself scant luck: his reign was marred by the French Wars of Religion and the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

 

In the language of flowers, lilies of the valley mean love, luck, and the return of happiness. They are a favourite of Royal brides: Queen Victoria, Grace Kelly and Catherine Middleton all carried bouquets of lily of the valley.

Despite its name, the lily of the valley is actually a member of the Asparagaceae family. However, you would not dare to enjoy the flower, blanched, with hollandaise sauce. Lilies of the valley are extraordinarily toxic if ingested. This fact may explain the curious Devonshire superstition that it is unlucky to plant a bed of lilies of the valley; the person doing so is likely to die within the next twelve months.

Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers a very happy and clement May Day.

 

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.

 

Hints for Earth Day Economies: 1859-1903

Although Monday was, Mrs Daffodil is reliably informed,  “Earth Day,” a time to take stock of how we use the resources of the planet, there is never a bad day to reflect on consumption and its consequences. There has been a societal move against “fast fashion” and a resurgence of “Make Do and Mend.”  Mrs Daffodil will, therefore, “recycle” several posts on the subject of domestic economy in dress, on the clever makers-over of tired garments, and the second-hand clothing trade.

One would go far before one would discover a more ingenious clan than these Southern Ohio ladies and their cunning tricks of skillful fingers.

Although this lady, who traded in second-hand silks and this gentleman, who prospered in left-over laundry, are an inspiration to all of us.

Some clever gentlemen took a leaf from the ladies’ domestic economy books and learned to update and repair their wardrobes.

A fascinating tour of a 19th-century “recycling” firm and an examination of the “rag trade.”

The second-hand trade was a boon to actresses, and the buying, selling, and hiring of costly gowns worn by the Four Hundred, was a practice well-known to the upper echelons of Society.

The second-hand clothing trade extended even unto royalty, as we see in this peep at Queen Victoria’s stockings.

One of Mrs Daffodil’s heroines is this resourceful lady, who set herself up as a “Dress Doctor,” long before Hollywood costumer Edith Head co-opted that title.

Of course, selling one’s evening dresses involve some unwitting “recycling,” as this lady found to her dismay:

Not long ago (write “X and Z” in the Globe) a lady in dealing with the proprietress of a second-hand clothing business, sold to her several evening dresses, which were perfectly fresh and good, but which she could not wear again, as her friends knew them too well. They had probably been worn three times each. The second-hand wardrobe lady remarked, by the way, that all her purchases were for the colonies. Seems odd, does it not? But to return. A few days after the gowns were sold their original owner missed a very pretty old-fashioned diamond clasp, and, inquiring of her maid, discovered to her tribulation that it was in one of the evening dresses she had sold. “Sewn firm on the left shoulder, my lady,” quoth the maid. She proceeded diplomatically to work, sent the maid to the shop, and, in consequence of her operations there, became again the possessor of her discarded gown at exactly seven times the price she had sold it for. The diamond clasp was still in it, its safety being due to proximity to a mass of crystal trimming which formed an epaulette, the clasp having been added with a view to making the whole mass look “good.”

Otago Witness 9 February 1893: p. 42

 

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.

Easter Bonnets Through Time: 1922

Easter BOnnets Through Time Miss 1862

1862 Bonnet https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/98105?&searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&deptids=62%7c8&ft=bonnet&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=17

Easter Bonnets Through Time Miss 1872

Easter Bonnets Thorugh Time Miss 1882

Easter Bonnets Through Time Miss 1892

Easter Bonnets Through Time Miss 1902

Easter Bonnets Through Time Miss 1912

Easter BOnnets Through Time Miss 1922

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The article showcasing Easter Bonnets Through Time is headed:

“FUNNY WHAT A DIFFERENCE A FEW YEARS MAKE” IN EASTER BONNETS and comes from the Muncie [IN] Evening Press 14 April 1922: p. 16.

It is rather amusing how quickly the precise silhouettes of historical garments fade from memory. Several of these suggest the approximate “18th-century” costumes worn by ladies at Martha Washington teas. “Miss 1862” suggests Miss Lillian Gish in a period silent film. While some of these hats are not bad and may actually be antique specimens, there is also the whimsical idea that any big hat with a feather is Victorian.

Mrs Daffodil hopes all of her readers who celebrate Easter or Spring are possessed of delightfully becoming bonnets!

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 Eggshell Party: 1915

kelchchicken

The “surprise” in the Kelch Hen egg, by Faberge, 1898 https://faberge-eggs.info/en/kelch_hen_egg_1898.html

FOR A PARTY FULL OF FANCY GIVE A “SPRING OPENING”

The fun of this pretty, fanciful entertainment begins with the opening of the invitations. These are written on yellow tissue-paper and are enclosed in eggshells which have been carefully broken and then glued into place again. Those who wish to do so could send them via Uncle Sam’s mail, packed carefully in the tiny hatboxes which come for place cards at ten cents each. On the other hand, ordinary jewelers’ boxes will serve the purpose just as well. On the box write “Spring Opening. Please open at once,” and on the egg-shell “Important Despatch to Be Opened Immediately” or anything of the kind which conveys the same idea. A simpler method which some hostess may prefer is to write the message about the party on egg-shells which have simply been blown, as this saves preparing the notes, etc., but it is very cunning, if you have time for it, to make the opening as complicated as possible to emphasize the idea. Jewelers’ yellow cotton is pretty for packing egg-shells in the boxes.

How To Decorate

For the decorations, convert the parlor into a picnic scene with features suggesting early Spring. Get real blossoming boughs if possible, with buds just opened or about to open, and bank the walls and fireplaces, etc., with these. Make tissue-paper substitutes if the real blooms are not out in time, or secure them from the favor shops or the Japanese store. In the forks of the boughs tie wee ducklings and Easter chicks made of raw cotton or of plaster or wax, and under the thickets thus formed have nests containing Easter eggs.

In baskets trimmed to represent Easter nests pass around egg-shells that have been broken and refilled with tiny favors. Afterward the shells are either gilded and silvered or they are closed again with strips of gilt or silver paper. The gilt ones are placed in one basket, the silver ones in another, and after the girls have drawn the gilt and the men the silver, there is a general “opening.” The pair whose emblems or tiny favors match are partners. Among the many things which can be selected of a size to pack into egg-shells are wee flags, tiny whistles, paper flowers, raw cotton chicks or birdies, peanut owls, and candy eggs.

The crepe paper headwear which form the favors in one dance could be brought upon the scene in a huge hatbox elaborately sealed and decorated with Spring blossoms, chicks, etc.

Another Opening

Where it is not desired to arrange the affair as a dance, another plan equally appropriate can be found. First of all, have an egg search for egg-shells which have been hidden all around the room. These eggs can be gilded and silvered as described for the dance and can be used as a plan to find partners by matching the contents; or each can contain a question about eggs, which questions go to make up a series forming an interesting contest. Whatever the contents of the eggs to be opened, it is pretty to have them arranged in nests made of baskets filled with straw.

In the case of the contest each on opening his egg-shell might find not only a question about eggs written on a numbered slip of tissue-paper, but also a funny emblem which will give him, when matched up around the room, a partner to assist in working out the egg puzzle. Give all cards and pencils decorated with designs of chicks issuing from egg-shells (that is, give each couple such a card with pencil attached between them) and pass the question slips from hand to hand. The pair who work out most answers correctly could win as prizes cardboard eggs filled with candy.

Another prize suggestion is a potted tulip plant with buds ready to open, or a large (exaggerated size) crepe paper lily or tulip bud might be presented, which, when opened, is found to contain a stickpin or a little bottle of perfume.

The Mary Dawson Game Book: A Manual of Original Games and Guessing Contests, Mary Dawson, 1916

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  All this talk of egg-shells and tiny favours and matching up with partners is very dainty and, no doubt, decorous. Mrs Daffodil would suggest another egg-themed entertainment to generate a wholesome and hearty spirit of camaraderie between the sexes.

HOUSE FOOTBALL

This is a novelty in amusements, and does not possess the element of danger of the real article. All of the furniture must be moved against the wall or out of the room. An egg with its contents emptied is set upon the floor. Two gilded posts at each end of the room mark the goals. The ladies and gentlemen are divided into equal sides; they go down on their knees, each trying to blow the egg shell past the goal of their antagonists. The game is new, but the position somewhat fatiguing.

Godey’s Lady’s Book June 1897

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.