Category Archives: Sport

Spoopendyke and the Bathing Suit: 1880

1877 men's bathing suit

A COMPLICATED GARMENT.

“My dear,” observed Mr. Spoopendyke, looking up from his paper, “I think I would be greatly benefited this Summer by sea baths. Bathing in the surf is an excellent tonic, and if you will make me up a suit, and one for yourself, if you like, we’ll go down often and take a dip in the waves.”

“The very thing,” smiled Mrs. Spoopendyke, “you certainly need something to tone you up, and there’s nothing like salt water. I think I’ll make mine of blue flannel, and, let me see, yours ought to be, red, my dear.”

“I don’t think you caught the exact drift of my remark,” retorted Mr. Spoopendyke; “I didn’t say I was going into the opera business, or that I was going to hire out to some country village as a conflagration. My plan was to go in swimming, Mrs. Spoopendyke, to go in swimming, and not grow up with the country as a cremation furnace. You can make yours of blue if you want it, but you can’t make mine of red, that’s all.”

“There’s a pretty shade of yellow flannel–”

“Most indubitably, Mrs. Spoopendyke, but if you think I’m going to masquerade around Manhattan Beach in the capacity of a ham, you haven’t yet seized my idea. I don’t apprehend that I shall benefit by the waters any more by going around looking like a Santa Cruz rum barrel. What I want is a bathing suit, and If you can’t got one up without making me look like Fulton street car I’ll go and buy something to suit me.”

“Would you want it all in one piece, or do you want pants and blouse?”

“I want a suit easy to get in and out of. I’m not particular about following the fashion. Make up something neat, plain and substantial, but don’t stick any fancy colors into it. I want it modest and serviceable.”

Mrs. Spoopendyke made up the suit, under the guidance of a lady friend, whose aunt had told her how it should be constructed. It was in one piece, and when completed was rather a startling garment.

“’I’ll try it on, to-night,” said Mr. Spoopendyke, eyeing it askance when it was handed him.

Before retiring Mr. Spoopendyke examined the suit, and then began to get into it.

“Why didn’t you make some legs to it?  What d’ye want to make it all arms for?” he inquired, struggling around to see why it didn’t come up behind. “You’ve got it on sideways,” exclaimed Mrs. Spoopendyke. “You’ve got one leg into the sleeve.”

“I’ve got to get it on sideways. There ain’t any top to it. Don’t you know enough to put the arms up where they belong?  What d’ye think I am, anyhow? A star fish? Where does this leg go?”

“Right in there. That’s the place for that leg.”

“Then where’s the leg that goes in this hole?”

“Why, the other leg.”

“The measly thing’s all legs. Who’d you make this thing for, me? What d’ye take me for, a centipede? Who else is going to get in here with me? I want somebody else. I ain’t twins. I can’t fill this business up. What d’ye call it, anyway, a family machine?”

“Those other places ain’t legs; they’re sleeves.”

“What are they doing down there? Why ain’t they up here where they belong? What are they there for, snow shoes? S’pose I’m going to stand on my head to get my arms in those holes?”

‘I don’t think you’ve got it on right,” suggested Mrs. Spoopendyke. “It looks twisted.”

“That’s the way you told me. You said, ‘put this leg here and that one there,’ and there they are. Now, where does the rest of me go?”

“I made it according to the pattern,” sighed Mrs. Spoopendyke.

“Then it’s all right, and it’s me that’s twisted,” sneered Mr. Spoopendyke. “I’ll have my arms and legs altered. All I want is to have my legs jammed in the small of my back and my arms stuck in my hips; then it’ll fit. What did you take for a pattern, a crab? Where’d you find the lobster you made this thing from? S’pose I’m going into the water on all fours? I told you I wanted a bathing suit, didn’t I?  Did I say anything about a chair cover?”

“I think if you take it off and try it on over again, it’ll work,” reasoned Mrs. Spoopendyke,

“Oh! of course. I’ve only got to humor the gastod thing. That’s all it wants,” and Mr. Spoopendyke wrenched it off with a growl.

“Now pull it on,” said Mrs. Spoopondyke.

Mr. Spoopendyke went at it again, and reversed the original order of disposing his limbs.

“Suit you now?” he howled. “That the way you meant it to go? What’s these things flopping around here?”

“Those are the legs, I’m afraid,” said Mrs. Spoopendyke, dejectedly.

“What are they doing up here? I see; oh! I see, this is supposed to represent me making a dive. When I get this on, I’m going head first. Where’s the balance? Where’s the rest? Give me the suit that represents me head up,” and Mr, Spoopendyke danced around the room in fury.

“Just turn it over, my dear,” said Mrs. Spoopendyke, “and you are all right.”

“How’m I going to turn it over?” yelled Mr. Spoopendyke. “S’pose I’m going to carry around a steam boiler to turn me over when I want the other end of this thing up? S’pose I’m going to hire a man to go around with a griddle spoon and turn me over like a flapjack, just to please this dod gasted bathing suit? D’ye think I work on pivots?”

“Just take it off and put it on the other way,” urged Mrs. Spoopendyke, who began to see her way clear.

Mr. Spoopendyke kicked the structure up to the ceiling, and plunged into it once more. This time it came out all right, and as he buttoned it up and surveyed himself in the glass the clouds passed away and he smiled. “I like it,” he remarked, “the color suits me and I think you have done very well, my dear; only,” and he frowned slightly, “I wish you would mark the arms and legs so I can distinguish one from the other, or some day I will present the startling spectacle of a respectable elderly gentleman hopping around the beach up side down. That’s all.”

The Brooklyn [NY] Daily Eagle 27 June 1880: p. 2

swimsuits 1882

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have met the irascible Mr Spoopendyke before, as he complained of the masquerade costume the much-tried Mrs Spoopendyke had selected for him. Back in the day his vile abuse passed for humourous domestic banter. If Mrs Daffodil were Mrs Spoopendyke, she would have sewed a number of lead weights into the seams and hems of the bathing costume she had so kindly constructed and would have encouraged the lout to eat a hearty lunch and then take a nice long swim, far far from shore.

 

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

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

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The Girl and the Motor Boat: 1904

white rubber motor boating costumes 1904

These motor-boat costumes of white-rubber sheeting are the latest fad

THE GIRL AND THE MOTOR BOAT

Grace Margaret Gould

Truly the whole world of outdoor sports these modern days is possessed by charming femininity. The pleasure-loving American girl of the summer of 1904 has again emphasized this fact by adopting for her very own motor boating, the newest sport of the moment.

Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.

Perhaps that is one reason why the summer girl is showing such a keen interest in the sport.

Then, there are other reasons, and good reasons, too, why motor boating especially appeals to the witching summer girl. To look attractive first and forever is one of the axioms of her life, and motor boating affords her an opportunity not only to enjoy herself, but, what is far more important, look well at the same time.

Motoring ashore invariably means dusty roads, and dusty roads demand disfiguring face masks and hats and coats purposely designed to protect the hair and the gown from dirt.

In motor boating the absence of all dust and dirt make it possible for the motor girl to throw aside her ugly looking face mask and to wear clothes which are not solely designed as dust protectors.

motor boat cap with curtain 1904

Of course, this does not mean that the motor girl arrays herself, when off for an afternoon jaunt on the water, as if she were dressing for a garden party fete. Laces and chiffons are not adapted for motor boat wear. But, in a neat little motor boat protected by canvas awning, she can wear jaunty looking caps and smart looking coats and skirts. If her boat has an uncommon rate of speed, and she goes in for racing more than for pleasure, then, of course, she must dress to protect herself from the wind, and, oftentimes, the water. However, the waterproof and the windproof caps purposely designed for the motor boat girl are actually things of artistic beauty in comparison with the head paraphernalia which this same girl has been accustomed to wear to protect her face and head from dust and dirt when speeding along the road in her motor car.

Then incidentally, here is a reason which may have something to do with endearing the sport of motor boating to the summer girl. Anyone who has tried knows that courtship in a motor car is difficult—but courtship in a motor boat is positively inevitable, especially when the neat little craft has been made with just room enough for two

In motor boating one is relieved of the ever present fear of collision, and the man who steers the wheel is not compelled to give his undivided attention to the task. He can guide the motor boat and entertain the girl at the same time.

Now, of course, the motor boat girl appreciates after her first outing on the water that she received just twice as much attention as if she had been motoring ashore. Hence she determined that her motor boat costumes shall do their part, and a big part at that, in making her attractive.

The summer girl is pretty apt to look her loveliest, to say nothing of the most youthful, dressed in white. The motor boat girl, knowing this, conceived the idea at once of having a white costume. It took considerable thinking to decide what material to have it made of, for it couldn’t be filmy nor of such a fabric that the splashing of the water would ruin it, but at last she decided upon white rubber sheeting, which in every way proved satisfactory. She had it made in skirt and coat style, and it proved the jauntiest sort of a costume imaginable, to say nothing of its being appropriate in every way for the sport for which it was designed. The skirt was plain and made instep length, and the coat was a little box garment hanging full and straight back and front. Scarlet corduroy was used to trim the cuffs and collar. To wear with this suit she had made purposely a white rubber sheeting cap. French garments of rubber sheeting in this coat and skirt style in many different colors are among the recent Saks importations from Paris.

Coat and skirt costumes of rubberized taffeta are also the very smart thing for motor boating. The skirts are short, and many of them trimmed with stitched silk bands, while the coats are either in Norfolk or box shape. The sleeves are cut rather full, but are provided with an inside windcuff, which is worn under the regular sleeve and gathered close to the wrist with a narrow elastic These rubberized taffeta costumes come in many dashing, as well as sedate, colors. They are made up in scarlet silk with just a touch of soft black kid in the way of a trimming accessory. And they also come in the champagne shade, in oyster white, and in a faint pink coral tint.

A pink rubberized taffeta costume for motor boating sounds somewhat audacious, does it not? But combined with brown kid it was less daring than one would suppose. The kid in this specially imported French model was of a dark shade of brown, and was used for the big buttons, the cuffs, and collar, and as a piping for both the skirt and the coat. With the silk rubber costume come very smart-looking toques, made of the same material. The silk for the hat is laid in folds and is then shaped so that it is becoming to the individual wearer. Generally, a shirred rosette or a plain rosette with an odd button in the center acts as the only trimming.

motor boating windy day hat 1904

Long coats of rough woven pongee are also used by the motor boat girl. And many of them are made in the quaintest of styles, with full skirts and long drooping shoulders. With these coats the headgear worn is always suited to the special occasion. And right here let me mention the adjustable hoods of pongee which are the most convenient things to have on hand when the weather suddenly changes. They are made very full and can be buttoned on to a hat or cap. They protect the entire back of the head, and then tie in front in an effective bow. These hoods which come in a variety of colors are another French idea which Saks seized upon.

Many times the summer girl will use the motor boat purely as a vehicle of conveyance, and on these occasions she frequently wears a very much befrilled frock. To protect her evening gown aboard a motor boat, many lightweight rubber coats have been designed, made with generously full skirts and sleeves. There are also silk rubber capes to wear if it happens that it is the waist only that needs special protection. These capes are made three-quarter length and in military style, with just a touch of gold about them. After the hop is over, and when the trip home to one’s hotel or cottage is to be taken in a motor boat, the auto lady’s rubber shirt is a convenient wrap to slip on over the gown. This garment, which is nowhere near as negligee in appearance as its name implies, is sometimes made of rubberized taffeta or of raw pongee. It has a standing collar and yoke of elastic, and its only opening is at the neck. To wear over décolleté gowns this auto shirt is quite the best thing in the way of a wrap.

motor boating pongee hoot 1904

If the home trip is a long one, a rubber tissue veil is also very convenient to own. It takes the place with the modern belle of the lace scarf, which the more lackadaisical society girl of thirty years or more ago wore over her hair. This rubber tissue veil is as light as a feather and is plaited on to a ribbon band. The ribbon is tied about the head, fastened under the coiffure in the back. Many of these rubber tissue veils are made so long that they form a shoulder cape buttoning at the throat in front. It is only when the dance is over that these rubber tissue veils are at all practical to wear, as of course they are apt to disarrange an elaborately dressed coiffure. On the other hand, they are an invaluable preventive to neuralgia when worn on the homeward trip if that trip happens to be across the water in a motor boat.

Motor July 1904: pp. 28, 56

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil, who has summered on various bodies of water, would disagree that “Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.”  The roar of the engines, the shrieks of boaters in an intoxicated state either water-ski-ing or falling overboard, and the wasp-like hum of the so-called “Jet-skis” all contrive to make a day on the water a perfect hell for man and beast.

And Mrs Daffodil shudders at the insouciance of believing that no one collides in a motor-boat and that the man who steers the wheel can both guide the motor boat and “entertain the girl” at the same time. It is true that one has more hands free when not engaged with a sailing boat’s rigging, but it is not pleasant to shout endearments over the engine’s noise and if one is enjoying a day on the water with a lady who is not one’s spouse, running out of gas may result in a bad sun-burn and a date in the divorce courts. On the whole, the old-fashioned sailing boat is much safer option.

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 Major Muses on Lawn-tennis Costume: 1881

I have been playing at lawn tennis with a young lady (writes Major Walter Wingfield, the inventor of that splendid game—to whom the thanks of the community at large are decidedly due) and I have vanquished her. She is younger and quicker than I am, and lawn tennis requires these qualifications, not great strength or vast endurance; so a woman can play as well as a man—this one did. How then, did I win? Listen, and I will tell you a secret. I won the game simply because I was dressed for lawn tennis, and she was not. Now why should this be? When she goes out riding she puts on a riding habit. When she goes to bathe she puts on a bathing dress. Why, therefore, when she plays lawn tennis does she not put on a lawn tennis costume?

Thus I mused; and then, as I leaned back in my easy-chair, I think what sort of dress she might wear, and a vision of a fair form, clad in a tunic of white flannel, with a roll collar, a kerchief of cherry silk tied round her throat, the loose ends showing from under the white collar, a skirt of eighteen inches long, a cherry-coloured band round her waist, and a pair of continuations of white flannel (such as men wear, only looser) floats through my brain. It seems a sensible dress and a modest dress, that should shock no one. Yet I know women are critical about each other’s dress. What will they say to such a startling innovation as this?  I am nervous even about making the suggestion, and hopeless about it ever being carried out.

Be that as it may, still if any club will start such a uniform, the lady members will reap the greatest comfort and benefit, and compete with all others on the most advantageous terms.

After such a dress I have hardly patience to name others, but a Norfolk jacket, with a kilt reaching half-way down to between the knee and the ankle, and with a Tam-o’-Shanter cap on the head, would not be bad; neither would a vivandiere’s dress, or a Turkish costume, with pyjamas, and a top skirt down to the knees, be unsuitable. A jersey is a comfortable garment, but I don’t know how to finish it off below. Will Lady Harberton turn her attention to this matter? She will never have a better chance of introducing her divided skirt than as a lawn tennis dress.

At this moment I am roused from my reveries by the butler, who himself does me the honour to valet me, bringing in my bath and my dress clothes. I ask him to wait a moment whilst I roll up all the clothes I have been playing in—a set of flannels, lawn tennis shoes, socks, cap, and my belt strapped round—and desire him to kindly take them down to the weighing machine in the hall, and weigh them. In a few minutes he returned with the weight written down on a piece of paper. I at once scribbled a note to my late opponent:

“Dear Miss C.—I have beaten you most unfairly. The clothes I was playing in only weigh five pounds and a quarter. What do yours weigh? Will you kindly let your maid weigh them—everything you had on—and let me know?

“Yours, W. W.”

The butler begins to think I am not quite sane, but off he goes with the letter, and, when I come down to dinner, I am informed that it has been most conscientiously done, and that it weighs ten pounds and three-quarters. I saw the bundle, it was a big one; but of course I was not allowed to investigate its sacred contents. The dress was a tweed tailor’s-made costume.

It follows that my thirteen stone of flesh, bone, and muscle has only to carry five pounds and a quarter, while her nine stone is hampered with ten pounds and three-quarters.

If to-morrow she were to play the best man in this house, dressed as I have suggested, and if he were handicapped by having a railway rug strapped round his waist, tied in at his knees, and pinned up coquettishly behind, I should be prepared to lay any wager that she would win.

The Theatre, A monthly review and magazine Vol. 1 1 August 1881: pp 117-19

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It seems to Mrs Daffodil that the Major is entirely too fascinated by day-dreams of  fair forms flitting about the grassy courts in white-and-cherry. His note to the young lady—”everything you had on—borders on the impertinent, tipping possibly into the risque, especially when he is not allowed to investigate the “sacred contents.” Mrs Daffodil feels as though he needs to be chastised in the manner of an over-inquisitive hound: “Down, Sir! Down, I say!”

But it was ever thus. From “beach censors” measuring bathing-costume skirts to the committee of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, who accused American tennis player “Gussie” Moran of bringing “vulgarity and sin into tennis” for her lace-edged under-knickers, the gentlemen always seem to have an opinion about sports costume for ladies.

Still, we must give Major Walter Clopton Wingfield some credit for “insider knowledge.” He was, after all, the founder of the modern game of lawn tennis and the author of two books on the subject.  Here we see that gentleman pictured in his own, rather dashing tennis costume, weighing somewhere in the neighbourhood of five pounds and a quarter.

Walter Clopton Wingfield inventor of lawn tennis

 

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.

Advice to Young Skaters: 1874

 

Advice to Young Skaters.

Never try to skate in two directions at once.

Eat a few apples for refreshment’s sake, while skating, and be sure to throw the cores on the ice for fast skaters to break their shins on.

There is no law to prevent a beginner from sitting down whenever he is so inclined.

Skate over all the small boys at once. Knock ‘em down. It makes great fun, and they like it.

If you skate into a hole in the ice take it coolly. Think how you would feel if the water were boiling hot.

If your skates are too slippery buy a new pair. Keep buying new pairs until you find a pair that is not slippery.

In sitting down do it gradually. Don’t be too sudden; you may break the ice.

When you fall headlong, examine the straps of your skates very carefully before you get up. That will make everybody think you fell because your skate was loose.

Wear a heavy overcoat or cloak until you get thoroughly warmed up, then throw it off, and let the wind cool you. This will insure you a fine cold!

After you get so you can skate tolerably well, skate three or four hours—skate frantically—skate till you can’t stand.

The Spirit of Democracy [Woodsfield OH] 10 February 1874: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Inexperienced skaters might also take advantage of the useful

SAFETY SKATING FRAME. FOR BEGINNERS.

Our readers can see the proportions in the cut. The bottom of the runners being slightly curved, the frame is easily turned in any direction. The ends of the runners being turned up, enables the frame to pass over any reasonable impediment, thus saving it from stopping, and being thrown over forwards; the long tails would not allow it to be pulled over backwards. The skater’s hands being placed on the hand rail, between its supports, prevents her from upsetting the frame sideways.

Godey’s Lady’s Book December 1863

skating frame

Advice on skating abounded, such as How to be Decorative While Ice-Skating and what NOT to do on the ice–A Swell Party on Ice.  Mrs Daffodil’s soundest advice is to stay indoors where you may spread oil-cloth on the parlour floor and slide about to your heart’s content, with no danger of frost-bite or pneumonia from an icy plunge. There a simple tug at the bell brings a convenient tray of tea, cocoa, and biscuits, something that cannot be said for frozen ponds, which are generally not equipped with servants’ bells.

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 Phantom Huntsman: 1890s?

Sargent, John Singer; Lord Ribblesdale; The National Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/lord-ribblesdale-114725. Shown in hunting costume. He was Master of the Buckhounds from 1892-95.

The Phantom Huntsman

When I was about nine years of age, I went to live with my grandfather on a farm near the little town of Yarm, on the banks of the river Tees. One day he happened to be short-handed. He had an order for a ton of potatoes to be delivered in Yarm on that day. He loaded the cart and sent me off to deliver them in the afternoon. It was a November afternoon, therefore, it turned dark early.

I delivered the potatoes and set off home later than I expected, in the dark. I knew the old horse knew every inch of the road, and, being a lonely road and practically deserted, I gave the horse his head and laid down in the bottom of the cart on the empty sacks. I got along all right until I landed at a part of the road which led between two plantations, one at each side. I still had about two miles to go, as we lived four miles from the town, when I was startled to hear what I thought was the rustle of a saddle and the tread of a horse on the frosty road. Being lonely and nervous, I jumped up to see what was coming, delighted to think I was going to have company.

To my utter surprise, I saw a horseman riding alongside me on a beautiful bay horse. He was dressed in a red coat, white riding breeches, huntsman’s hat, and everything complete. I grabbed my reins to pull off and make way for him, but he kept to the grass at the side of the road.

I said, “Good evening, sir.”

He didn’t speak, but only lifted his whip to his cap in response. I was delighted, as I loved to see the huntsmen and the hounds, although I was surprised to see this one. I knew perfectly well that there was no meet in the immediate district on that day, or my grandfather would certainly have attended it, as he never missed a run when possible to get there.

I said to the gentleman, “Where did the hounds meet to-day, sir?”

He only looked down on me and smiled. I had then got as far as the gate leading into the fields off the main road to the farm. I got out and opened the gate and let my horse and cart pass through, then still held the gate for the huntsman to pass, as he was standing waiting.

Instead of coming through the gate, to my great surprise, he suddenly vanished.

I was terribly afraid as I could not make out where he had gone or how he had gone. I let the gate go and jumped into the cart, and made the old horse go as fast as he could for home. Although I had no idea of ghosts then, I landed home scared to death. I rushed into the house and scared my grandfather and grandmother as well. When I got pulled round I related to them what had happened.

Then my grandfather said he wouldn’t have let me go if he had thought about it. He said there had been a follower of the hunt killed in those woods two or three seasons before and that he had haunted the woods during the hunting season ever since. My grandfather himself had been present on the very day the accident happened and he said my description of the gentleman tallied exactly with the one who was killed. He had no doubt I had seen and even spoken to the ghost that others had seen riding at night about those woods. He mentioned the incident at the next hunt meet and it was generally accepted that I had seen the ghost.

Curiously enough, my grandfather had the misfortune to be killed himself with a horse and lorry sometime after my experience. Whether it had any bearing upon the after trouble that befell me I can’t say, but this goes to prove that there are ghosts. As the saying goes, seeing is believing.

True Ghost Stories Told by “Daily News” Readers, S. Louis Giraud, 1927: p. 77-78

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a vanished world is reflected in the young man’s eagerness to “make way” for the gentleman, the aristocratic ghost’s touching of its cap with its whip, the ghost waiting, with the expectation that the boy would open the gate for him and his horse. Even in death, the social distinctions were maintained by the phantom huntsman and his witness.

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 Great Grampus Bath-house Tragedy: 1875

The Sad Result of Using Patent Bathing Houses.

New Orleans Picayune.

A harrowing story comes to us from one of our sea side watering places. Old Mr. Grampus was in Paris last spring, and he brought home with him one of Baptiste’s patent bath houses. It was made of vulcanized silk with steel ribs, and it shut and opened by a spring. Open it had the appearance of a beautiful blue and buff striped pavilion, octagonal in shape, and covering a superficial area of some ninety or a hundred square feet. Shut up, it looked like a huge Brobdignagian umbrella, though, being very light, Mr. Grampus could carry it to the beach as easy as he did his camp stool. The Grampuses were very proud of this bath-house. They used to take it down to the most crowded point on the sands and flaunt it in the faces of their rivals. It afforded to Mrs. Grampus and the Miss Grampuses a satisfaction more ecstatic than they had ever known before to emerge from this gorgeous edifice just as those odious Millers came sneaking out of their dingy old wooden huts under the cliff. The crowd gazed at them with envy and admiration, while they either pitied or ignored the Millers. Baptiste’s patent bath-house was an object of respectful amazement to the whole caravansary, and the Grampuses came in for no little social eminence and superiority in consequence.

This sort of thing went on smoothly for a fortnight or so, until the Millers and the Joneses and the Snagsbys were absolutely on the point of leaving Jolimer for sheer mortification. And perhaps they would have gone the very next day, but for the singular adventure which little Blinker had with his donkey. It was about 11 o’clock; the beach had been crowed for an hour or more, and as usual the centre of attraction and of interest was the Grampus bath-house. They had lately embellished this beautiful structure with a pair of golden horns [antlers] and a silk centennial flag, and in the eyes of the unhappy Millers it looked more insolent and gaudy and overwhelming than ever. The Grampus ladies had been inside for a quarter of an hour or so, and the spectators conjectured, rightly as it afterward transpired, that they were almost ready for the surf, when all of a sudden little Blinkers was seen descending one of the winding paths astride a particularly contumacious and evil-minded donkey. His agonized cries and expostulations attracted attention, and in less than a minute every eye, except those of the doomed and unsuspecting Grampuses, was riveted on Blinkers. Here he came, his donkey churning away at the bit, and buck-jumping like a mustang, and be miserable, frantic and helpless with terror. Blinkers stuck, though, and the donkey lunged away down the path like something mad, without shaking off the stricken wretch who rode him.

There were a few Ravelian acrobatics, a wild lurch, and then Blinkers and the donkey went kerslap again the Grampuses’ patent bath-house! One complicated shriek shot through the air, a flutter and a rattling as of machinery, and the next instant Blinkers was dashed upon the sand in a crumpled heap, and a haggard and affrighted donkey with his ears pinned back and his tail between his legs, was seen hustling down the beach like some panic-stricken meteor. And then the great Grampus pavilion with a creak and a snap, suddenly shut itself up into umbrella shape, and waddled hysterically toward the surf on a pair of elephantine legs—identified by a spectator as the legs of the Mrs. Grampus—suggesting the idea, with its towering outline and its antlers and its flag, for some gigantic species of horned giraffe which had just taken the blue ribbon at the fair.

And that was the end of the great Grampus bath-house tragedy. Old mother Grampus pranced about the beach awhile with the patent bath house sitting on her head like a long but emaciated extinguisher, and the two Miss Grampuses who had escaped the collapse rushed frantically into the surf, with a good deal less bathing dress than they would have had if Blinkers and his donkey had given them a little more time. Next day the family departed before the rest of the world had wakened, and the Millers and the Joneses, and the Snagsbys are having their own way. Now, if this narrative should reach the eye of any family using Baptiste’s patent portable bath-house, we trust they will take warning, and never afterward trust to its protection until it has been enclosed in a serviceable picket fence.

Fort Wayne [IN] Weekly Sentinel 18 August 1875: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Truly, a useful warning about bathing-pavilion hubris, which we all should take to heart. How are the Vulcanized fallen!  Mrs Daffodil has sought casually, but in vain for the inventor. Considering his role in submerging persons in water, he must have been called “Jean Baptiste.”

Mrs Daffodil has previously written about a bathing machine as the scene of scandal, as well as the ideal bath-house, which will, indeed make one the envy of one’s friends, if not one’s maid.

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

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

 

A Dangerous Pair of Stockings: 1883

A Dangerous Pair of Stockings

A man at Albert Lea, Minn., had the worst time explaining a telegram to his wife. He is a sporting man, who does a good deal of fishing and hunting, and he had a pair of rubber wading stockings which he wore when hunting marshes. A friend of his wanted a pair of them, and he promised to send to New York and get them. The two men were great friends, and the man who had been promised the wading-stockings, and who lived at North Branch, got ready to go hunting last fall, and wanted them, so he telegraphed to his Albert Lea friend, as follows:

“Send my stockings at once, as I need them bad. YOUR BLONDE DARLING.”

The dispatch came to the man’s residence, and his wife opened it, and her hair stood right up straight. When the innocent husband came home she put on a refrigerator expression, and handed him a pair of her own old stockings, done up in a paper, and told him he better send them to his blonde darling at North Branch. He was taken all of a heap, and asked her what she meant, and said he had no blonde darling at North Branch or any other branch; and after he had said he did not know a woman any-where, and never thought of supplying stockings to anybody but his wife, she handed him the telegram. He scratched his head, blushed, and then she thought she had him, but finally he laughed right out loud, and went to his room, where he keeps his guns and things, and brought out the new pair of rubber wading stockings, that he had bought for his friend, each of which would hold a bushel of wheat, and handed them to his wife, and asked her how she thought they would look on a blonde darling. Then he told her they were for his sporting friend, of a male persuasion, and she asked his pardon, but insisted that the telegram had a bad look on the face of it, and was enough to scare any wife out of her wits and stockings. The wading stockings were expressed to the friend with a letter, telling him to be mighty careful in future how he telegraphed.

New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette [Concord, NH] 25 January 1883: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil must  take the wife’s side: the telegram certainly did have a “bad look” to it and one cannot blame her for being upset.  For all she knew, it could have been a genuine instance of a stocking mis-communication which would inevitably lead to a domestic tragedy. One is relieved that this was not another and hopes that the “blonde darling” ceased his “kidding” in future.

Mrs Daffodil is reminded of a wag who, as a “joke,” sent out half a dozen telegrams to random acquaintances, reading: “All is discovered. Fly at once!”  The men decamped and were never seen again. In the wrong hands, telegraphy is a dangerous weapon.

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.