Category Archives: History 1910-1930

Fashion Pirates: 1913-1914

Poiret lampshade dress Lepape 1913

One of M. Poiret’s sensational creations. Fashion plate by Georges Lepape, 1913 http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1039443/laquelle-handcoloured-illustration-georges-lepape/

Tricks of Fashion Thieves

DESIGN PIRATES AND THE WAY THEY WORK

“”Any person caught sketching or securing photographs of fashion models will be taken Into custody and the pictures confiscated.”

Such is the stringent order issued by M. Lepine, the Prefect of Police in Paris, in response to the bitter complaints of prominent French dressmakers, who find their latest designs being surreptitiously copied. Indeed, this piracy of fashions has of late become such a scandal that dressmakers in England and Paris are combining in their efforts to check the practices of those dressmakers who trade in stolen brains.

To quote the words of one dressmaker: “Some of the imitators are so clever that they are able without notes to reproduce the model to the final sleeve-button. This is so well known that some of the leading firms in London and Paris never exhibit their more exclusive models in the window or the showrooms. Nevertheless, by various subterfuges new designs are sometimes stolen and placed on the market before they are even shown in the windows of the firm which created them. In such cases we can only come to the conclusion that by bribery or other means someone has managed to obtain a drawing of the design from an employe.”

Spies from Foreign Countries.

Talking of tricks of fashion pirates, my informant went on to describe how frequently young men and women are sent over from France and Germany, presumably to learn their business, whereas they really act as spies and regularly forward to their employers on the Continent any new designs they may be able to secure.

One of the cutest dodges was that of a woman who one day drove up to a certain modiste famous for her original creations and ordered a dress. This was duly delivered and paid for; after which the lady called again and made another purchase, at the same intimating that she wished to see some entirely new designs for evening dresses, as she was about to go abroad. Impressed with her manner and appearance, a number of unique designs were sent to her hotel. After looking at these, she promised to call next day when she had finally decided on the dress she liked. She did not put in an appearance, and this particular firm of dressmakers were chagrined to find shortly afterward that their unique designs were being copied in detail by certain Parisian dressmakers. It afterward transpired that the lady in question was a fashion thief, who had hit upon this cute dodge to obtain designs.

Busy in May and June.

So jealously do dressmakers guard their new models that only those people with the highest credentials are allowed in the showrooms and at the private views. “We are particularly non our guard,” said my informant, “against experts from America and Germany. Many of them have a habit of coming over here, or visiting a house in Paris, about May or June, and whatever costumes for the following Winter can be secured in advance they promptly acquire, forward them to their headquarters, have them copied more or less badly, and sell them as the latest London and Paris creations. A new designed acquired in this way was at once reproduced by an American house, with the result that when a lady went to a well-known dressmaker in Paris and was shown the fashion for the Winter she exclaimed: “’Oh, no; these are not new. I have seen these styles in New York much cheaper.’”

The same complaints are made by the best milliners, who have to be constantly on the qui vive against the unwelcome attentions of people who are always on the lookout for unique and novel designs. “Of course,” said one milliner to the writer. “one must show hats in order to sell them; and it is easy enough for a smartly dressed lady artiste to mix with other women around the shop windows or int eh showrooms, make a mental picture of the hat and a rough sketch in the neighboring tea shop and come back afterward to compare the sketch with the original. And it is thus, to our chagrin, that a hat we are often selling for three and four guineas is copied and sold at shops in the suburbs at something like half the price.”

Pirating Lace Designs.

Even more serious is the manner in which lace designs are pirated, for not only do shopkeepers suffer, but the manufacturers find themselves losing thousands of dollars every year through unscrupulous tricks. The president of the Lace Finishers’ Association at Nottingham, England, recently mentioned that English designs are systematically betrayed to foreign competitors. Inquiries showed that while many draughtsmen were above suspicion and could be relied on to keep designs secret, others cared not how much damage they did to English manufacturers. Foreign manufacturers were sparing neither effort nor expense to obtain possession of the Nottingham patterns as soon as they were produced. One draughtsman boasted that he had sold four copies of original designs entrusted to him to four different countries. So great has the scandal become that the question of an international agreement on the subject is being seriously considered.

The Buffalo [NY] Enquirer 1 May 1913: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: On the eve of “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” Mrs Daffodil thought that a look at the scurvy tactics of fashion pirates might be of interest. The practice, of course, continues to-day in ever more bold, swashbuckling guises, leading to pirated films, the theft of embargoed novels, and clever, affordable copies of couture hand-bags. Mrs Daffodil does not condone the practice; merely notes that it is ubiquitous and that modern fashion pirates are more apt to be found by a Fashion Week cat-walk, than walking the plank.

M. Poiret was eager to see fashion pirates clapped in irons. With his usual flair for personal publicity, he railed against the plunderers of classic French fashion, while teasing of new and novel designs to come.

Paul Poiret, the fashionable dressmaker here, is on the warpath against fashionable pirates, declaring that unless something is done to stop the theft of styles there will be no great couturiers left In Paris.

“I have about succeeded,” he told the correspondent,” on forming a committee of the best known dressmakers in the city to study law how best to protect their interests. The committee is small purposely, only about seven houses being represented.

“Every new fashion a leading dressmaker evolves is seized upon so quickly that the originator is left wondering how it is done. The fashion is not only pirated, but the copies are often so badly executed that the public is disgusted. We shall oppose newspapers bringing out fashion supplements, and photographers from selling photographs taken at the races and at other places where styles are first seen. The fashion supplements aid the pirates materially since by their aid our latest exclusive creations are scattered throughout the world.

“There is now going on a campaign against the fashion as it is today. This is the result, not of our models, but of the quantities of bad imitations which I confess are really ridiculous. As I created the trouser-skirt it was lovely; as copied hideous. One designs a style today; in a fortnight it is copied everywhere and all left for me to do now is to create a new style.”

Santa Ana [CA] Register 23 July 1914: p. 4

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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A Crying Need for the Old-Maid Aunt: 1910

universal aunt banner

Universal Aunt duties http://www.universalaunts.co.uk/

CRYING NEED OF TIME IS FOR OLD MAID AUNT.

Here Is New Profession Open to Old Fashioned Women

By HELEN DARE

So many helpless puzzled bewildered women who are thrown upon their own resources, only to discover that they have none, write to me asking me, “What shall I do? What would you do if you were in my place?” that I am tempted to make a suggestion, or rather to put to them a question.

I would not venture to advise. That is too thankless a task, too oracular for a modest experimenter at life and as full of pointed dangers as a porcupine is of quills. And anyway, why stand at Market and Kearny with a basket of new persimmons when a hungry world is reaching for marshmallows?

However–

To the long and ever-increasing line of women forced out into the world to make their own way without any preparation for the tussle to the women who have been sheltered wives, dependent sisters, petted daughters occupied in meeting the varied demands of a home, I would like to put the question:

Why not be old maid aunts?

The crying need of the world today is for old maid aunts. Not the modem spinster relative who, what with physical culture, beauty culture, an independent income and a latch key, has become a modern species; but the genuine, old-fashioned old maid aunt who gave her usefulness and her faithful affection for a home and clothes, who made the desserts and did the mending, who remembered to bring the plants in and put the cat out, who stayed at home with the children when the rest of the family went to the theatre, and got them off to school on time with clean faces while mother caught up on her beauty sleep; who was always ready to see the inopportune caller and tactful enough to steer her away without offense; who sat up with the measles and remembered the overshoes and umbrellas; who helped with the lessons and the preserves, and never asked anything for herself except what was left over and of no use to anybody else anyhow.

That sort of old maid aunt is as extinct as the pterodactyl and as precious as a wishing stone.

Urgent Need for Her

And there is now a more urgent pressing need for her than there has ever been in the history of mankind.

Progress is accompanied by its own train of woes. A transition period like moving day is filled with discomforts and awaits readjustment. And womenfolk making the transit from pleasant leisurely dependence to busy independence are feeling the crumpled rose leaf in the bed they make for themselves.

In short, they are finding out that in pursuing fame fortune and a career they are strangely hampered by having to do for their own comfort the things that are done for men by women–by their dependent wives, mothers or sisters.

The professional man or the business man can marry a wife who will keep his house for him, take care of his money, consider his tastes in ordering dinner, send his clothes to the laundry, darn his socks, do his shopping, save his important papers from the ash can, pack his bag when he goes on a hurried journey, watch his colds, get his clothes back from the cleaner, and listen to his grievances sympathetically.

But who is there to do this for the professional or business woman?

She can hire a cook; she can hire a maid and even a housekeeper; but she can’t buy affectionate self-sacrificing attention and interest and forethought.

If she has dependent relatives, they are either too old or too young to give her this sort of comforting service, or they are too selfishly busy getting ready to make their own way at her expense. Sometimes she has a mother, but mothers, alas, don’t last forever. Sometimes she has a sister, a niece or a daughter, but these have a way of marrying or making careers for themselves–being modern.

So what can she do?

Professional Women Need Her

The woman doctor who must read up on her cases, attend her clinics, call on her patients, keep her office hours and get her meals and her rest, has no time to mend the rips in her gloves or the lace in her lingerie; she can’t watch for the seasonable things in market nor the latest mode in hats and skirts; she sees the silver turn black on her dressing table, her handkerchief and jabots go to the laundry and never come back; her silk petticoats go to ruin for want of a stitch, and the fruit season passes without getting her jams and jellies made.

So does the lawyer woman, the writer woman and artist, and the business woman: and what’s the joy of being a woman when things like that happen to you?

Think what a priceless treasure a kind, gentle, cultivated, accomplished, industrious, thoughtful, economical, professional old maid aunt, fat or slender, would be to a woman who has to put in sixteen hours a day, and all her thought on her work; who wants a home, and regular meals, occasional social contact with her kind, and clothes that won’t look as though they’d been grabbed from a bargain counter in passing. Think what she’d be to the business or professional woman who has little children–as some of them are weak enough to have! What a blessing– and how welcome to a share of the income–she’d be when she was getting them up for school in the morning and getting them safely to bed, sound in wind and limb at night!

You see, don’t you, the crying need for the old maid aunt–the pleasant, lucrative, lasting profession that’s open to her?

It’s an opportunity that the helpful, home-making woman with all the domestic virtues and none of the modern vices, can make the most of.

Consider it, my anxious inquiring sisters; consider it practically.

The San Francisco [CA] Chronicle 28 July 1910: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil, who has experience as a paid “companion” and has witnessed first-hand the treatment of governesses, maids, confidential secretaries, and companions, would object to the “pleasant and lucrative” appellation the author gives the profession of–Mrs Daffodil shudders at the offensive term–“old maid aunt.”  The author paints a rosy picture of a “genuine, old-fashioned old maid aunt who gave her usefulness and her faithful affection for a home and clothes, etc. etc. etc.,” but Mrs Daffodil can assure her readers that such selfless ladies are responsible for a good many undetected domestic poisonings.

Mrs Daffodil is tempted to write a sharp letter to the Times over the assumptions in this article: career women being “strangely hampered by having to do for their own comfort the things that are done for men by women–by their dependent wives, mothers or sisters.”  The assumption that those providing these services must be women and “old-fashioned” women at that.  Are there no agencies supplying appropriate gentlemen to ease the burden of the woman doctor, lawyer, or accountant?  Has no one heard of the gigolo? Surely a platonic version of that profession would prove much in demand.  One might even negotiate a semi-platonic arrangement, otherwise known as a Mariage de convenance. 

Mrs Daffodil’s blood also boiled at “the business or professional woman who has little children–as some of them are weak enough to have!”  Surely the little children’s father’s weakness is equally to be censured?

This article, written in 1910, anticipates not only the “Surplus Woman” problem of the Great War’s aftermath, but the foundation of Universal Aunts in 1921, whose motto was “Anything for Anyone at Any Time.” It is curious that there is no corresponding “Universal Uncles” franchise, although Mrs Daffodil is aware of a company in the States, which calls itself “Rent-a-Husband,” and provides strictly platonic home maintenance services.

 

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.

Jabber Jazz: 1921

 

flapper in motion 1920

JABBER JAZZ? IT’S LATEST IN DANCE FASHIONS

Trot and Talk, but Don’t Forget the Conversation.

Chicago, Aug. 7 Now for the jabber jazz. The latest thing in dances for this fall is called the “conversation walk.”

Girls may nibble the complexion off their lips but they will have to talk to dance the new step.

The new dance has been planned for the country by the American National Association of Dancing Masters and was described today by Miss Florence Reid, instructor of an exclusive dancing school here.

When the jazz band starts the dance will go like this:

You greet your partner and move slowly down the floor talking in time with the music.

“Nice weather we are having.”

“I’ll say it is.”

Next you balance forward and back fox trot to the northeast, switch to a one step and resume:

“This bobbed hair fad is the cutest yet.”

“Sure, it’s got me cuckoo.”

Then you fox trot again, any direction you want to, but don’t forget to keep up the talk.

Of course a good dancer will memorize a verse of bright remarks and use them on each dancing partner in turn. They’ll not know the difference unless you dance with the same person twice.

“I don’t think the new dances are nice” Miss Reid added after explaining the “conversation walk.”

“The couples dance—ah—so close, you know, and so slow. This ‘conversation walk’ demands more vocal skill than terpsichorean dexterity.

“The new toddle dance of the season will be named ‘Chicago.’ It will be one of the big hits. It eliminates the horrid ‘Frisco step,’ which some cabaret patrons now use. I like the new ‘Culture dance’ best. It eliminates the toddling in the fox trot.”

“Yes,” said Richard Kandler, owner of several dancing schools, “we must insist this winter on graceful dancing. The music, too, will be without the barbaric jazz. The swinging beauty of the old-time polka must return. It is a symptom of returning sanity after war hysteria.”

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, oh] 8 August 1921: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil believes that the fad was short-lived. After all, the entire purpose of ball-room dancing is to foster the illusion of intimacy, while eliminating actual conversation between the sexes.

The new dance had passionate advocates on both sides of the question:

But What If You Can’t Think of a Darn Thing to Say?

CHICAGO. Aug. 6. Well it’s here and what do you propose to do about it? It is the “jabber jazz” and it goes with bobbed hair and skirts to and above the knees and a scandalous lack of underwear.

The inventor of the new dance, if such contortions can be dignified by that title, calls it the “conversation walk” and it has some vehement backers among the dancing teachers. They argue that it eliminates the horrid “Frisco step,” which still is used by some cabaret patrons. It also takes the toddle out of the fox trot.

It may be said in defense of the “jabber-jazz” that it is less like a violent attack of St. Vitus’ dance than any recent movement. It lacks the spasmodic shudders and it is not essential that the dancers should be glued together.

Briefly, one greets one’s partner and they amble down the floor, talking all the time. Then they balance forward, fox trot a step or two, shift their gum to the other cheek, do a one-step tempo and resume the walk and conversation. It is all very well for those who have to indulge in such antics, but to old fashioned dancers of the waltz and redowa and schottische, the “jabber-jazz” looks like something the cat dragged in.

Pittsburgh [PA] Daily Post 7 August 1921: p. 6

If one wanted to look on the dance floor like something the cat dragged in, Mrs Daffodil can recommend the “Kitty Trot,” a dance sensation of 1919.

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 Banshee of Hillstock Road: 1914

THE BANSHEE OF HILLSTOCK ROAD.

Hillstock-road was about the last place in the world that a self-respecting banshee or other supernatural visitant might be expected to patronise. It was not even in Ireland, but in the North district of busy, smoky, up-to-date unromantic London.

Grendoran Villa, Hillstock-road, was rented by Mrs. O’Shea, an Irish lady of good means, and immense antiquity —as regarded family. Mrs. O’Shea was the widow of a general officer, as she took good care to inform her neighbours, upon whom she looked down with justifiable contempt as being principally composed of business people. None of the O’Sheas had soiled their hands with trade; but in Mrs. O’Shea’s native country there were those so ill-natured as to whisper that the late General O’Shea had found means to escape from his creditors by marrying the heiress of a wealthy Hibernian bacon merchant.

The household of Grendoran Villa consisted of the stately widow, an orphan niece, and two servants—one a confidential maid, who had lived with Miss Molly Dowd before her marriage to the aristocratic and impecunious Major O’Shea. Honor Carroll was a character in her way, but under a sharp manner and tongue hid a warm heart and much fidelity. She had served the Dowds from her youth, and was as careful to preserve her mistress’s status as was that lady herself. Until very recently, Honor had never disputed Mrs. O’Shea’s will, except by the grumbling which had become habitual with her; but now there was a difference of opinion between mistress and maid, and Honor held her own obstinately, for the happiness of Katherine O’Shea, whom the old woman idolised, was at stake. Katherine was not an O’Shea at all, but merely a Dowd, being the only child of Mrs. O’Shea’s brother; but on the death of her parents, her aunt had adopted her and given her the grander name. She was a typical Irish girl, sad and merry by turns, with a wholesome horror of restraint, and but little reverence for authority. She was pretty, with dark eyes and hair, small features, and a remarkably bright and clear complexion. The girl had no nonsense about her, and cordially detested her aunt’s snobbishness. She had a special reason for rebelling against the enforced gentility of her position, as it had led Mrs. O’Shea to refuse her consent to the proposal of Katherine’s lover—a young man in every way a suitable match for her, but to whom the General’s widow objected on the score that he and his people were “mere tradesfolk.”

Honor Carroll had taken the side of the young people, and uttered her protests with no uncertain voice, and her remarks were as thorns in Mrs. O’Shea’s side, for the home truths she advanced were incontrovertible.

It was a dull November afternoon, not by any means the sort of day one would select for an al fresco conversation; yet Katherine O’Shea and Henry Plavell were standing under the leafless elm trees at the end of the garden, and apparently perfectly unconscious of either cold or damp. Very frequently the young man paid these visits, safe from the observation of the mistress of the house. Honor, while scolding Katherine briskly for meeting her fiancé, secretly kept watch that Mrs. O’Shea did not come upon the scene unawares, and at the time of which we are speaking she was on duty.

The sound of the drawing-room bell warned her that Katherine would probably be asked for by her aunt; and the old servant trotted down to the lovers’ meeting-spot, and, without any preliminaries, began:

“Shure, an’ Miss Katherine, isn’t it a shame fur ye to be meandering down there wid Master Flavell, an’ ye know that the mistress is dead agin him comin’ at all?”

“Don’t be cross, Honor,” replied Katherine, with an unconcerned laugh. “If I am not to receive my visitors properly inside, I’ll take good care to enjoy myself out here.”

“It’s cowld enjoyment, I’m thinkin’,” muttered the old woman; “but in wid ye now, fur the drawin’-room bell’s rung, and the mistress is shure to be wantin’ ye.”

“I expect it’s you she is wanting, Honor,” remarked Henry Flavell. “Don’t you think Miss Katherine might stay out a little longer?”

“Bedad! I do not, Master Flavell,” answered Honor, sharply, “an’ it’s yerself ought to be above matin’ her on the sly.”

“Did you never meet anyone on the sly yourself, Honor?” laughed the young man.

“Ach! Go along wid ye,” grinned Honor, her eyes brightening up with some merry thought of her girlhood. “Better fur ye to persuade the mistress to let ye court Miss Katherine straight out. Och! Murder! Ay she isn’t at the winder! I towld ye how it would be.”

Henry Flavell dodged behind the tree in very undignified style, while Katherine and Honor walked towards the house.

Mrs. O’Shea never for a moment dreamt that Henry Flavell would dare enter her grounds after she had forbidden him the house; therefore, her suspicions were not roused, and she only scolded Honor for not having more sense than to be out that cold day without something over her head.

It was the evening of the same day, while Honor was helping her to get ready for bed, that Mrs. O’Shea began to hold forth upon the presumption of a person in “young Flavell’s position” attempting to pay his addresses to her niece.

“An’ a fine young man he is, whin all’s sed an’ done,” put in Honor, sturdily. “Faith! I see no great harm ay Miss Katherine an’ he made a match ay it.”

“How dare you, Honor!” exclaimed Mrs. O’Shea, with a withering look at her maid. “My niece shall marry as well as I did, or remain an O’Shea all her life.”

“An” herself no O’Shea at all, but Dennis Dowd’s daughter,” muttered Honor. “Arrah! marm, shure, why do ye be brakin’ Miss Katharine’s heart fur sich nonsense? Isn’t Mr. Flavell’s big warehouse twinty times grander nor the shop Miss Katherine’s father- God rest his sowl!—had?”

“Honor!” screamed Mrs. O’Shea. “If you ever dare to mention that shop, or let Miss Katherine know of it, I’ll send you back to Ballymorty. Have you no respect for me at all?”

“I’m not likin’ to see the young people crossed,” maintained Honor.

“They shall never marry while I draw breath.”

“The blessed virgin grant ye may repint,” was Honor’s pious reply.

Before her mistress could retort, a weird, wailing sound came borne on the still night, and died away like a plaintive cry. There was not a breath of wind, and Mrs. O’Shea turned pale and grasped the back of the chair, while Honor devoutly crossed herself and whispered:

“The holy saints be betune us an’ harm this night!”

“It’s like a banshee,” stammered Mrs. O’Shea, when she had recovered her voice. “There’s one in our family. It’s a warning.”

“I was afeered something id cum when ye was so hard on Miss Katherine,” said Honor, improving the occasion. “Ay yer tuk, marm; shure, nothing can kape the two from marrying.”

“I am only doing my duty,” remonstrated Mrs. O’Shea, faintly.

“We’ll see what comes ay sich duty,” sneered Honor.

“It must come three times,” remarked Mrs. O’Shea, referring to the banshee.

“Oh, divil doubt it! It’ll come,” was the servant’s comforting reply.

And sure enough, the following evening, about the same hour, the uncanny, unaccountable, prolonged wail came again; and Mrs. O’Shea, trembling and unnerved, accepted it as her summons. Honor Carroll, while admitting that it was the banshee, hazarded the remark that if approaching death were sent as a punishment for crossing the young people, speedy repentance on the part of Mrs. O’Shea might turn back the judgment.

Mrs. O’Shea was too fond of her present existence to care to change it, unless that was absolutely necessary; and she there and then made a solemn vow that if she were spared until the morrow, she would give her consent to the mesalliance in the hope of propitiating the banshee.

She did not sleep that night, but she lived through it; and to the great surprise and joy of Katherine and Henry Flavell, the old lady wrote a formal acceptance of the young man’s proposal,

It need not be explained that the supposed banshee was nothing more supernatural that the sound emitted by the new motor cab invested in by Mr. Flavell, senior.

Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, 19 August 1914: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Although she is not fond of dialect stories, Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously at that extraordinarily abrupt and unsatisfactory denouement in the worst tradition of the “and then I woke up” ghost story ending.  Mrs Daffodil, and, doubtless, the redoubtable Honor Carroll, would have been much happier if there had been a banshee. Mrs O’Shea would have been found dead in her bed and young Katherine would not only have been free to marry the man of her heart, but would have inherited the O’Shea fortune.  Even after years of respectable widowhood at Grendoran Villa, there should have been a substantial sum left from the labour of that wealthy Hibernian bacon merchant. Honor Carroll, after a period of luxuriant mourning, might have stayed on to help with the children or retired to Ireland with a generous legacy. As a bonus Henry Flavell would have been free from the plague of a snobbish mother-in-law.

That is what Mrs Daffodil calls a happy ending.

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.

Tips for the Summer Guest: 1920

Ten Commandments for the Summer Visitor.

By Dorothy Dix

The World’s Highest Paid Woman Writer

First: Never invite yourself to anybody’s house. When you desire to graft a hotel bill do not write to one friend that you yearn to behold her beauteous countenance, and the seraphic faces of her offspring or to another acquaintance that your doctor has recommended sea baths, or mountain air for you, and will it be convenient for her to have you come and make her a little visit. Bear in mind that the United States mails are still running and pen paralysis is a rare disease. Also that the telegraph and telephone perform their accustomed functions and that those who desire your presence will have no difficulty in making it known to you.

There are many pests that go up and down in the land seeking whom they may devour, but none is so pestiferous as the self-invited guest.

Second: When you go to make a visit go at the appointed hour and on the designated train. Also take with you a small amount of baggage. Nothing gives a hostess such a sinking of the heart as for a guest to arrive with a mountain of trunks that looks as if she had come to stay to the judgment day.

Third: Don’t take your angel child with you, or your Pomeranian, pup, or your cat, or your parrot, or any pet whatsoever. For the child that draws pictures with a pin on the best mahogany table, and plays cars on the Persian rugs, and spoils things at table, and the strange dog that howls by night, and the parrot that wakes sleepers at dawn by its screeching, cause a hostess to curse her who brought these afflictions upon her, and to write “Never again” against her in her visitors’ book

Fourth: If you are a food faddist, and have to live on any sort of diet, for heaven’s sake stay at home, or go to a hotel where you can pay for the trouble you make. It’s sheer brutality to inflict a bum stomach or unstrung nerves on your friends, and If, you have to live on stale bread and skimmed milk, or have everything kept quiet while you sleep of an afternoon, win the eternal gratitude of those who ask you to visit them by saying “no.”

Fifth: Play cricket. Be a sport. When you are in Rome do as the Romans do. Fall in with every plan that has been made for your amusement, and help push things along. If a picnic has been arranged, don’t say you loathe sitting on the ground and eating messy things with ants and bugs in them, and that you will stay at home and write letters while the others go. If your hostess is a golf fiend who lives on the links, golf with her. If she plays bridge, sit in the game no matter how weary it makes you, for an unadaptable guest is even as a bull in a china shop. It upsets everything and messes up the whole place.

**

Never forget that the only way that a guest can pay her way is by making herself as agreeable as she can. Therefore pull all your little parlor tricks and go thru your repertoire. And, above all, can the argument. If you differ with your hostess on politics and religion, and the proper length of skirts, and what is going to become of the youth of the present day, keep your views to yourself. Nobody’s ideal of an agreeable guest is one with whom they were fighting all the time.

Sixth: Put the soft pedal on your attainments and possessions, and swell the chorus in praise of all that your hostess does and has. Rave over her views. Take a real heart interest in her tomato plants. Let her descant to you by the hour about her Minnie and her Johnny. Pat her doggie on the back, and keep silent about your own.

It was to get a sympathetic audience and to show off before you that you were invited. You can get even with her when she comes to see you. Anyway, it’s the price one must pay for visiting in country places, for a country home seems to bring out the vanity in people as a hot poultice brings out the measles. Seventh: Always make your hostess feel that you are having the time of your life. Wear the smile that won’t come off, and whoop up the Glad-I-Am-Here stuff, and when you feel the smile beginning to crack and that there isn’t another cheer in your system, get a telegram that calls you suddenly away.

Eighth: Never be one of the crape hangers who sits and tells what a grand time she had last summer, when she visited the Milllonbucks and what a splendid limousine they had, and how many servants they kept. It makes a hostess think bitterly of her tin Lizzie and her one maid of all work, and wonder why she is putting herself out to entertain you.

Ninth: Never flirt with your hostess’ husband, nor her son, nor her brother. It’s against all the rules of the game. It’s hitting below the belt. Even a savage respects the bread he has eaten, and as long as you are under a woman’s roof, all of her possessions are sacred to her.

Tenth: Make short visits. That is the secret of being a popular and much sought after visitor. There are so many people we would like to have come, if we could be certain when they would go. Never extend a visit, no matter how much you are entreated to do so. After-climaxes always fall flat. Never forget that it is better to go while people weep to see you leave than it is to stay when they shed tears because you refuse to depart.

(Copyright. 1920, by the Wheeler Syndicate, Inc.)

The Topeka [KS] State Journal 25-26 July 1921: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Miss Dix, whose byline frequently contained the phrase, “The World’s Highest Paid Woman Writer,” had much to say about the summer visitor. One can only conclude that her immense wealth gave her entrée to a delightful selection of summer resorts and country houses and, consequently, to the summer parasites infesting these earthly paradises.

She adds two other Commandments to the ones above, in other syndicated articles:

Don’t sponge. Provide yourself with the things you are liable to need before you leave home. There are no other guests in the world so afflicting as the borrowers. Take along your own stationery and stamps, your own toilet articles and sewing things. There isn’t a hostess who hasn’t been driven wild by the insatiable demands of girl guests who had forgotten to bring along needles and thread, and scissors and writing paper, and stamps, and curling irons, and who could have kept a relay of servants on the run supplying them with the things they had to borrow. Nobody loves a dead beat.

Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously over this dictum. She flatters herself that she runs a well-regulated household. No guest at the Hall would ever be made to feel a “dead beat” if they forgot their sewing kit or curling iron. The maids would look askance at a guest who brought her own writing paper and stamps.  The guest rooms at the Hall, as well as the morning room, factor’s office, and library, are amply stocked with both.

Still, Miss Dix adds a final commandment that will warm the hearts of servants everywhere.

Don’t make any unnecessary trouble for the servants, and don’t withhold the tip from the maid to whose burdens you are adding. Keep your own room tidy. Hang up your clothes. Straighten up your dresser, and be not sparing of small change to faithful Mary who hooks you up, and obliging Eliza who presses out your chiffons. Chief among those who are never asked a second time are those nickel-nursing guests who keep the maids on a trot doing chores for them and who think they have sufficiently rewarded such service by handing out a few words of thanks and a dinky pocket handkerchief upon their departure. The servants determine the invitation list oftener than you think, so if you want to be a popular guest who is much sought after, be not one of those whose coming makes Hilda and Dinah threaten to give notice.

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 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.

 

 

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.