Category Archives: News and Announcements

The Noble Revenge: 1868

child pine coffin

The Noble Revenge

The coffin was a plain one—a poor miserable pine coffin. No flowers on its top, no lining of the rose-white satin for the pale brow; no smooth ribbons about the coarse shroud. The brown hair was laid decently back, but there was no crimped cap, with its neat tie beneath the chin. The sufferer from cruel poverty smiled in her sleep; she had found bread, rest, and health.

“I want to see my mother,” sobbed a poor child, as the city undertaker screwed down the top.

“You can’t—get out of the way, boy, why don’t somebody take the brat?”

“Only let me see her one minute;” cried the hopeless, helpless orphan, clutching the side of the charity box, and as he gazed into the rough face anguishing tears streamed rapidly down the cheek, on which no childish bloom ever lingered. Oh! It was pitiful to hear him cry “Only once, only once, let me see my mother.”

Quickly and brutally the hard-hearted monster struck the boy away, so that he reeled from the blow. For a moment the boy stood panting with grief and rage, his blue eyes distended, his lips sprang apart, a fire glittering through his tears as he raised his puny arm, and with a most unchildish accent screamed, “When I’m a man I’ll kill you for that.”
There was a coffin and a heap of earth between the mother and the poor, forsaken child—a monument stronger than granite, built in his boy heart to the memory of the heartless deed.

* * *

The Court House was crowded to suffocation.

“Does any one appear as this man’s counsel? Asked the judge.

There was silence when he finished, until, with lips tightly pressed together, a look of strange intelligence blended with haughty reserve upon his features, a young man stepped forward with a firm tread and kindly eye, to plead of the erring and friendless. He was a stranger but from his first sentence there was a silence. The splendor of his genius entranced—convinced.

The man who could not find a friend was acquitted.

“May God bless you, I cannot.”

“I want no thanks,” replied the stranger with ice coldness.

“I—I believe you are unknown to me.”

“Man! I will refresh your memory. Twenty years ago you struck a broken-hearted boy away from his mother’s coffin. I was that poor boy.”

The man turned livid.

“Have you rescued me, then, to take away my life?”

“No. I have a sweeter revenge; I have saved the life of a man whose brutal deed has rankled in my breast for twenty years. Go! And remember the tears of a friendless child.”

The man bowed his head in shame and went from the presence of a magnanimity as grand to him as incomprehensible, and the noble young lawyer felt God’s smile in his soul forever after.

The Olathe [KS] Mirror 5 March 1868: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A pauper’s funeral was the final insult to the poor, who often went into debt–foolishly, said social reformers–to provide a decent burial for their loved ones. While undertakers were sometimes accused of exploiting the poor–quoting them a price for a funeral that was precisely the amount that the burial club had just paid out–they also waited years for payment that sometimes did not come.

One wonders what crime the city undertaker had committed to bring him within the shadow of the gallows. Mrs Daffodil suspects that he had a lucrative contract to provide subjects to the local medical school and, needing to fill his quota, he helped some clients  to join the Choir Invisible prematurely.

 

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

The School of Hammocking: 1901

IN A HAMMOCK WITH THE SUMMER GIRL

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

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

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

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

hammock girl4 (2)

Belle of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

hammock girl3 (2)

The Getting In

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

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

 

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

hammock girl2 (2)

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

The Skirt Question

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

hammock girl4 (2)

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

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

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

hammock girl 1 (2)

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

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

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

AUGUSTA PRESCOTT.

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

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

HAMMOCK DRESSES.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Candles: c. 1780s

wertmuller_marie_antoinette_and_children

Marie Antoinette walking with two of her children in the park of the Trianon, Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, 1785 Nationalmuseum Stockholm

Walking one day in the park of the Trianon, gay and exquisite, the queen came unexpectedly upon a rough-looking man, totally unknown to her. A woman of high and unbreakable courage, Queen of France and full of confidence in her charmed destiny, she was seized, nevertheless, with a sensation of inexplicable terror. The man was the brewer, Santerre. Later, at the time of her execution, he was in charge of the National Guard of the City of Paris. . . .

Madame Campan [the Queen’s friend and lady-in-waiting] related the following anecdote: “Four candles were placed upon the queen’s dressing- table; the first one went out of itself; I soon relighted it; the second, then the third also, went out. At this the queen, pressing my hand with a movement of alarm, said to me, ‘Misfortune makes one superstitious; if that fourth candle goes out, nothing can keep me from regarding it as an evil omen’; the fourth candle went out.

“Someone remarked to the queen that the four candles had probably been made in the same mould, and that a defect in the wick was naturally to be found at the same place, since they had gone out in the order in which they had been lighted. The queen would listen to nothing; and with that indefinable emotion which the bravest heart cannot always overcome in momentous hours, gave herself up to gloomy apprehensions.

La reine se couchait très-tard, ou plutôt cette infortunée princesse commençait à ne plus goûter de repos. Vers la fin de mai, un soir qu’elle était assise au milieu de la chambre, elle racontait plusieurs choses remarquables qui avaient eu lieu pendant le cours de la journée; quatre bougies étaient placées sur sa toilette; la première s’éteignit d’elle-même, je la rallumai : bientôt la seconde, puis la troisième, s’éteignirent aussi ; alors la reine, me serrant la main avec un mouvement d’effroi, me dit: “Le malheur peut rendre superstitieuse; si cette quatrième bougie s’éteint comme les autres, rien ne pourra m’empêcher de regarder cela comme un sinistre présage….” La quatrième bougie s’éteignit.

On fit observer à la reine que les quatre bougies avaient probablement été coulées dans le même moule, et qu’un défaut à la mèche s’était naturellement trouvé au même endroit, puisque les bougies s’étaient éteintes dans l’ordre où on les avait allumées.

Memoires sur la vie de Marie-Antoinette, Reine de France et de Navarre, Mme. Campan, 1886

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  On Bastille Day one’s thoughts often turn to the doomed Queen of France. Hindsight is, of course, keenly precise and there were many stories told in retrospect, of the omens presaging the fall of the Ancien Regime. We have previously read of the Queen’s terror at the mysterious prophecy of a cartomancer. One wonders a little wistfully what would have happened had the Royal family successfully made their way to safety at the fortress of Montmédy. Would the Revolution have failed or was their  rendezvous with Madame Guillotine written in the stars?

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 Uncanny Thing in Nottingham: 1910s

cowering from ghost Ghosts' Gloom a Novel

AN AUTHENTIC GHOST STORY

INCIDENT WHICH COMPLETELY ALTERED THE WRITER’S OUTLOOK

Henry C. Hall

At a dinner party at a friend’s house recently, the conversation turned to a subject on which, to my surprise, I was the only one present able to give first-hand information. The subject was that of ghosts, or spirits, and a general discussion developed. Not ghosts, or ghost stories, talked of in the usual flippant manner, but spirits from the other world, and whether they are visible at times on this earth. During the conversation, a lady remarked she had never yet met anyone who had actually seen a ghost. I was immediately an object of interest, when I quietly announced the fact that I had definitely seen one. As the details of my experience caused considerable astonishment, I have decided to write them down for the benefit of readers of Light.

The incident happened when I was a boy of 15 years of age. We lived in a large house at Nottingham, a very old house with fairly extensive grounds. As the actual house is occupied at this moment, I do not propose to reveal the exact address, as it might upset the present occupier to know it is haunted. But the house stands in what is known as the Sherwood Rise district, and to those who know Nottingham, this will give them an idea of its whereabouts.

It was a summer evening in July, and the day had been oppressively hot. The time was round about six o’clock, so that it was broad daylight. I had been in the garage with one of my brothers, where we had been amusing ourselves with shooting darts form a toy revolver. Presently, I left to go into the house, and crossed the yard with the toy revolver in my hand, still loaded with one of the harmless rubber darts. I made to enter the house by the back way for a short-cut, passing through a glass porch to the back door, which opened into a small square lobby. On this hot evening, the back door stood wide open; and, passing into the lobby, the kitchen door was on my left, and this was also wide open. Facing me on the far side of the lobby was a swing door that led into the front part of the house, and this door was closed. At this particular moment the kitchen was unoccupied, the maids being elsewhere in the front portion of the house.

I should mention here that the kitchen quarters were entirely isolated and cut off from the rest of the house when the swing door referred to was closed, so that the lobby, kitchen, scullery, and larder (each leading out of the other) being deserted, there was no human being on this side of the swing door besides myself. There was no back staircase or other means of communication from this part of the house, to the front. It is important to remember this.

Hanging on the far side of the kitchen wall, directly facing the kitchen door, was the kitchen clock, one of the old-fashioned type, with a large dial. When the kitchen door was open, it was an easy matter to glance at the time as you walked across the small lobby, and I did so on this occasion. Suddenly a bright idea entered my head. What a perfectly delightful target the clock face made for me with the loaded revolver in my hand. Now for a bullseye with my last shot. I would stand and take direct aim at the clock, through the open kitchen door. I took up my position, pointed the revolver, and prepared to take sight before pulling the trigger. During these few seconds there was dead silence. A great stillness seemed to pervade the place, a hushed deep calm, which I could almost feel. That kind of stillness which is inseparable from a house on a hot summer evening, when there is no life or movement; and save for the regular ticking of the clock, the silence was profound. It was at this precise moment that the great event happened.

With my finger still on the trigger, taking deliberate aim, I saw a ghost—a ghost in human shape—appear before my eyes. This unearthly apparition was that of a man, tall, and of medium build, enveloped from head to foot in a hooded long grey cloak or shroud. The substance of this uncanny thing appeared to be some kind of vapour, or thick smoke, partly transparent, but with a well-defined, clear-cut outline. It emerged slowly and stealthily from the interior of the kitchen, presenting a most eerie sight, and drifted noiselessly and warily along the floor, directly across my line of fire.

I was so utterly bewildered and dumbfounded, that I could not move, and stood and gasped in amazement. I gazed before me as if in a trance, completely stupefied. Suddenly my hand released its grasp of the revolver, which fell to the tiled floor with a crash. This breaking of the silence appeared to startle the ghost, for it turned its head in my direction, as if caught unawares, not knowing till then that I was there. We stood face to face for one awful second. Then hesitating, as if uncertain as to its next move, the ghost mysteriously glided back again, and withdrew from sight to where it had come from. It had completely vanished; the kitchen was empty. Where was I? Had I been asleep? Was it all a dream? No, I had not moved. There was the clock, there was the revolver on the floor, there was the daylight, and there was I, fully conscious of everything, so that it was all real and true.

Uttering a cry, I dashed through the swing door leading into the front hall, rushed up the front staircase, and stirred the whole household with shouts that I had seen a ghost. My mother and other members of the family came to know what the noise was about. By this time, I was in a very agitated and excited state caused by the shock, for I had experienced something beyond all belief and passed through a somewhat terrifying ordeal. Between my sobs I told of what had happened, and, gradually coming round, I gave them a more graphic account. They saw I was genuinely upset; and, while wanting to discredit my story, were anxious not to increase my distress by doing so. After a time, they went down to inspect the exact spot and make investigations, and try to prove to me there was nothing there. Of course there was not, and the kitchen, scullery, larder, and cellars, were all searched in vain to prove I was mistaken. There were no curtains, no draperies about, no shadows, no dark places; nothing in fact could be found to help the family in their argument. It was still daylight with the evening sun streaming through the windows.

 NOT MISTAKEN

I was not mistaken; there was nothing to be mistaken about, and the search was futile so far as I was concerned. What I had seen was as clear and definite as my own reflection in a mirror. My experience, however, was the sole topic of conversation for the rest of that night, and finally I went to bed, but could not sleep. I had seen something that was not of this world, and was worried to think I should never be able to explain it, never be able to make it real or believable to others. It had to be seen to be realised.

It was not long after all this happened that my father decided to sell the house, and we ultimately left it for another residence. And then it was that I was told something of which my own experience was a counterpart. It seemed that some two years previously, late one winter night, one of our maids had rushed from the kitchen, and through the same swing door, screaming she had seen a ghost, and went off into hysterics. Everyone had gone to bed except my father and mother, and they returned to the kitchen with the maid to prove the absurdity of her assertions. They declared such a suggestion was wholly preposterous, and so annoyed were they about it, that the maid was given notice to leave the following day and–leave the poor girl did, all for having seen a ghost! I had never been told of this incident, and it was not until after we had left the house that I heard of it. There is not the least doubt of course, it was the identical ghost that I saw two years later. And while my experience needs no support from outside sources–being beyond all doubt or dispute–the incident of the maid-servant doubly strengthens my story of the whole phenomenon.

And that is the end of my uncanny adventure, strictly true in every detail. I have seen a ghost just as definitely and assuredly as I write these lines. I can see it to-day as vividly as I did at the time; it is indelibly stamped upon my memory and consciousness. The experience became part of my conscious self or personality, and will remain part of it for all time.

And now for the sceptics, if any, and to answer possible queries of readers of this narrative. As a boy, I was perfectly normal in every way; I was mentally sound, I had no delusions, and had no foolish fads or fancies. I was certainly not imaginative, and had never even read a ghost story. To-day, as a man, I am a very normal sort of individual, plain and matter of fact, but a great and keen searcher after truth. Had it not been for the amazing occurrence just related, I am the type of person who would have laughed to scorn any idea of the possibility of seeing a ghost. But this incident completely altered my whole outlook from that day onwards, and at this juncture I am as certain and as matter-of-fact about this, as about anything that has been actually solid and substantial in my life.

In these days it is difficult to be certain about anything, but I am well convinced and satisfied beyond all doubt, about just three things. More than that, I am equally convinced about each. Those three things are:– (1) I have seen a ghost. (2) I am a living being. (3) I shall live again after death.

Light 14 July 1933: pp. 433-434

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil wishes she had a pound for every time she has heard of an hysterical servant being given notice after seeing a ghost. Still more does she wish that those servants sacked on such grounds could appeal their inequitable dismissals by bringing evidence to a labour tribunal that said premises were, in fact, haunted. Heavy damages would inevitably lie….

Mrs Daffodil has heard a story from that ghost-hunting person over at Haunted Ohio about a young woman who came home from school every day, only to be terrified by the heavy footsteps of a man walking upstairs and a “presence” looking into her room from the hall. She would flee the house in a panic, sometimes wedging herself between the screen door and the door, until her parents came home. When she grew up, she said something to her mother about the horror she had experienced. Her mother, who no longer lived in the house, said casually, “Oh, yes, we knew there was a ghost, but we didn’t want to tell you, so you wouldn’t be scared.”

After such a revelation, Mrs Daffodil would not have been surprised to hear of a matricide.

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.

Floral Sunshades: 1884

 

flower bedecked parasols 1895

Floral Sunshades.

Floral sunshades are, as we learn the latest innovation in flower fashion just now in Nice, where the ladies are using parasols composed entirely of natural flowers, so that their sunshades resemble nothing so much as gigantic bouquets stuck on sticks. The stalks of the flowers are woven together, so as to form a network of bloom, the inside being lined with silk. One parasol is made entirely of violets, with a bordering of jessamine; another of geraniums, white and red in rows, fringed with maiden-hair fern; another of pansies, and so on. When the flowers fade the parasol has to be made up again, generally at intervals of two days. We always thought our New York friends a little extravagant in their flower torture, nor could any one persuade us to admire the great massive crosses, anchors, wreaths and wedding- bells affected by some portions of American society: but even there they do not, I believe, expose their beautiful flowers on sunshades to wither and die. I hope that it is only some ladies, and those only a few, that degrade nature’s flower gifts in this way. A friend to whom I showed the above paragraph said she should as soon think of skewering a living dove or a lark in her bonnet as of abusing lovely flowers wholesale in the manner that I have just indicated.

The Clay Center [KS] Dispatch 31 July 1884: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Hall Head-Gardener, Mr McKew, would have a word or two to say about the fashionable abuse of flowers. It pains his soul to supply even cut flowers for the table and he would, no doubt, call the floral parasol a shocking waste and a sin against floriculture .

Still, the showiness and ephemeral quality of the floral parasol made it a popular fad:

FLOWER BEDECKED PARASOLS.

The coming season’s sunshades are bewildering in floral effects. One is of violet-colored chiffon, with wreath and nosegays of artificial violets. Big bows of violet ribbon ornament its stick at top and handle, and the graceful ruffle around its edge is gay with silver spangles. A nosegay of violets nestles in the knot of the ribbon on the handle and the whole is delicately scented with violet sachet.

Another new floral parasol, although more severe in style, is even more chic. It is trimmed with orchids, one huge cluster hanging from the bow at the top and a smaller one at the handle. The sunshade itself is of heavy cream-tinted silk, with mother-of-pearl handle. All the parasols this year are noticeable for their elegance and showiness. Every detail is most costly, and, in many instances, most

Perishable, as the fluffy and flowery effects so greatly in vogue are not meant for wear and tear. The good old-fashioned plain parasol, lasting a whole season through, is completely obliterated by this crowd of fragile and efflorescent novelties.

The Abbeville [SC] Press and Banner 3 April 1895: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil does not see the appeal in the floral novelty, although there will always be those who will follow a fad merely for the extravagance of the thing. The floral parasol lacks the tidiness one likes to see in fashion accessories. This fashion writer made a very apt comparison:

Some of the floral parasols have a peculiar effect when carried closed. These look as if the owner had been cutting for herself a large posy and fixed it on a stick, in the style of a May day posy of long ago. The impression is still further carried out when a florally trimmed hat to match is worn—as is often the case. The Ottawa [IL] Free Trader 4 August 1888: p. 7

The floral parasol did, however, finally find its niche as a wedding decoration.

floral parasol wedding decoration

A Rose Parasol Instead of the Usual Bridal Bell.

June with its roses affords many tempting opportunities to the floral decorator. For weddings—and June is the favorite month for weddings—no prettier idea could be devised than that of substituting for the hackneyed wedding bell a floral parasol under which the bride and bridegroom may stand during the ceremony or at the reception. The roses and smilax are mounted on a skeleton parasol frame. Pink or white roses are suitable, the garden rose or the hothouse variety being adapted to the purpose.

The Richmond [IN] Palladium and Sun-Telegram 27 July 1911: p. 8

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.

 

 

An Independence Day Toast: early 1800s

 

lady with firecrackes

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

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

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

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 1 July 1915

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

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

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

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