Mrs. Jarr Lays Plans for a Safe and Sane Fourth.
Does She Succeed? Poor Woman! Just Listen Now
By Roy L. McCardell.
“I really ought not to open this till to-morrow,” said Mrs. Jarr, as with reluctant hands she started to undo the package that had aroused so much interest upon its arrival, per c.o.d. delivery, at the Jarr domicile.
“But you said you would, maw! You said you would!” chorused the little Jarrs.
“Well, as its near dinner time, I suppose I might as well,” said Mrs. Jarr. “I only know this: That is that it is a good idea. And if we had done it before it would have been much better for all concerned. For it really is terrible the way the children get burned and injured by those dreadful fireworks on the Fourth of July, and that is why I heartily agree with Miss Ann Teak of ‘The Modern Mothers,’ in her advocacy of a Safe and Sane Fourth, and the substitution of objects symbolic of freedom and patriotism for dangerous explosives.”
“But, maw, ain’t we gonna have any firecrackers?” whined the little boy. “I never burned myself except with sizzors and they didn’t hurt.”
“May Rangle has got a whole lot of fire trackers,” said the little Jarr girl. “I’m doin’ over to her house and we are doin’ to tie ‘em on the tat’s tail.”
“Emma!” cried Mrs. Jarr reprovingly.
“I agree with the children,” said Mr. Jarr, “Not with hurting or scaring of the poor cat, of course; yet I think that it’s a lot of mollycoddles who would deprive the children of making a little harmless racket on the Fourth. Safe and Sane Fourth! Huh, I think it’s a tame and timid one without firecrackers!”
“Now, there you go! Inciting the children to all sorts of dreadful things!” remarked Mrs. Jarr plaintively. “It’s no wonder I have a hard time inculcating refinement in these innocent little lambs! Miss Ann Teak told me of an orphan child on the east side who said he would rather have ice cream any day than firecrackers.”
By this time Mrs. Jarr had the strings off the package and the box open, disclosing a mass of gayly colored paper objects. She contented herself with giving Master Jarr a reproving look for his heretical observations and began placing the colored paper things on the table.
They were napkin holders in the shape of firecrackers, the napkins being rice paper ones in the semblance of American flags. There were also scalloped streamers of red, white and blue, which Mrs. Jarr proceeded to drape from the chandelier over the dining room table.
“There!” she said, as she fastened them up. ‘See how beautiful and patriotic these pretty but harmless things make the table for a Fourth of July dinner! Your Aunt Emma, after whom you are named” (here she was addressing the little girl), “always has her table decorated so prettily that it gives one an appetite to see it. It is true that she never has anything much to eat, but one forgets that. On Washington’s Birthday she has little hatchets and cherries, and Thanksgiving Day she has little toy paper turkeys and paper pumpkins and witches’ hats and you forget how slim the meal is.”
“Aw, is this all, maw?” inquired the boy, regarding the table decorations with disdain. “Ain’t we gonna have any fireworks to-morrow?”
“You can have some torpedoes, which are not dangerous, and some of those sparklers, that look so pretty and do not do any damage,” replied Mrs. Jarr. “But you won’t have a single thing if you are not a good boy and say you are grateful to mamma for getting these pretties. And here are fans with pictures on them showing ‘The Spirit of ‘76’ and the “Signing of the Declaration of Independence,” she added.
“Aw, you can’t make any noise with a fan! Who wants a fan!” cried Young Hopeful, and he screwed up his face in an energetic endeavor to cry.
“I like de fans, div ‘em ta ME, mamma!” cried the little girl. “Anyway I can shoot off Mary Rangle’s fire crackers to-morrow.”
“Now, Willie, if you say one word more you shan’t have any supper and you shan’t have any ice cream to-morrow and you shall never be permitted to go to the moving pictures,” cried Mrs. Jarr, warningly. “We are going to have a Safe and Sane Fourth in this house without any injuries and without any danger of fires!”
But she spoke too soon. The napkin holders looked so greatly like cannon fire crackers that Master Jarr had touched a lighted match to the imitation fuse. It flared up and caught the paper streams from the chandelier and the next minute there was a blaze.
Mr. Jarr got the fire out with such minor personal damage as burned eyelashes and scorched hands. It is likely that the unsafe and insane Fourth will transpire, as usual, to-morrow at the Jarr’s.
The Evening World [New York NY] 3 July 1911: p. 8
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The unheeded plea for a “Safe and Sane Fourth” went out every year. Dire casualties from fireworks mounted yearly, despite desperate diversions by hostesses who entertained their “Independence Party” guests at daintily decorated tables:
The house was beautifully decorated with crimson rambler roses, blue larkspurs, and white flowers, large eagles of crepe paper, flags, and national colors. After a short program of patriotic songs and humorous readings, the hostess passed pencils and papers with the words “Independence Day,” from which we were to make as many words as possible. After this we were given a paper flag with stripes on, but with the place for stars left blank; around the two parlors were tacked up on the wall pictures of well-known people, actors, authors, and political leaders. We guessed these “stars” and wrote their names in the blank spaces.
The next event was the luncheon, served at small tables. Place cards were hand-painted miniature Uncle Sams, and blue and white china and cut glass were used. Each plate contained pressed chicken and a peanut butter sandwich, both cut in star shape, potato salad on a lettuce leaf, a beet pickle, cheese straws, and a spray of blue flowers. At the end of this course each lady was presented with what appeared to be a four-inch firecracker, but upon unwrapping, it was found to contain a short comical story. Woman’s Home Companion 1913: p. 99
Mrs Daffodil concedes that pretty paper decorations and comical firecrackers would undoubtedly lack the pyrotechnic panache enjoyed by Mr and Master Jarr.
Still, one would not wish to be May Rangle’s cat.
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.