Tag Archives: humour

A Crazy Quilt Tragedy: 1911

Domestic Tragedy.

“Lobelia!” The voice of Mr. M’Swat was high-pitched and imperative, yet had a note of vague alarm in it.

“What is it, Billiger?”

“I can’t find my neckties.”

“Your neckties? They’re scattered all over the bureau.”

“I don’t mean the ties I wear every day. I mean the others.”

“What others?”

“The—the ones I’ve worn from time to time, you know, and put away, as good as new.”

“How should I know anything about them?”

“Do you mean to tell me, Lobelia, you don’t know anything about a a—box of neckties I have kept for years in this second drawer?”

“What a fuss you are making over a box of old rags! What do you want of it, anyway?”

“I want to put a few of these in it. You don’t know what you’re talking about, madam, when you call them a lot of old rags, either. I want to know where they are.”

“Well, you needn’t go to rummaging through any more of those drawers. You won’t find them there. I can tell you that.”

The wrath of Mr. M’Swat assumed a lurid, ghastly character.

“I think I have certain inalienable rights in this house, Lobelia Grubb M’Swat,” he said. “And among these is the right to keep my neckties in my own drawer, in my own dressing case, in my own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States and the statutes in such case made and”—

“You needn’t tell the neighbours about it. Before I’d make all that racket about a lot of old, worn-out neckties–”

“Who told you they were old and worn out? Didn’t you hear me say distinctly they were”—

“Now, you know, Billiger M’Swat, you haven’t worn one of those old ties for years and years. What’s the use”—

‘Then you do know something about them! I thought sol Why did you try to deceive me? Why did you tell me”—

“That’s right! Accuse your wife of lying!”

“Didn’t you tell me you knew nothing about them?”

“No, sir! I said nothing of the kind!”

“Lobelia! Wife of my bosom! Look me in the eye. Where are those neckties?”

“Wh-what do you want of them?” asked Mrs., M’Swat, rather feebly.

“I simply want to know what has become of them.”

She put her handkerchief to her eye. ”

“I–I th-think it’s just mean”—

“What’s mean?”

“Here I’ve slaved away day after day, making something nice”—

“Lobelia, where are those neckties?”

“Billiger, I have made them up into the loveliest crazy quilt”—

“A crazy quilt!” he yelled. “Thunder and Ben Franklin! Woman do you know what you have done!”

“lt was nothing but a lot of old”–

Mr. M’Swat became tragic.

“Mrs. M’Swat,” he exclaimed, in a deep bass voice. “I have been making a collection of artistic neckties for ten years. Some of them cost me over a dollar. None of them less than 50 cents. You have ruined a unique, unequalled, original 75dol. collection of ties”—

“Oh, Billiger, why didn’t you tell me?”

“To make a 4dol. crazy quilt! Why didn’t you tell me?”

Husbands and wives, why will ye hide things from each other?— Chicago Tribune.

North Otago [NZ] Times 8 April 1911: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The craze for “crazy patchwork” was a long-standing one and one perhaps responsible for more marital unhappiness than any number of Vamps. Mrs Daffodil has written of the patch-work “mania” and the terrible lengths ladies would go to for “samples” to make their quilts and of their depredations on the households’ wardrobe. It was a dark time…

Truth in Jest

The girl with soft grey eyes and rippling brown hair that walked all over your poor fluttering heart at the charity ball, has just finished a crazy quilt containing 1,064 piece sof neckties and hat linings, put together with 21,390 stitches. And her poor old father fastens on his suspenders with a long nail, a piece of twine, a sharp stick, and one regularly ordained button.

Southland Times 26 January 1886: p. 4

This squib suggests that the craze even changed fashions in men’s neckties:

The crazy quilt rage goes on in as intense a fashion as that of roller skating, and Lent has not subdued but rather emphasized the rush for “pieces” of the most gaudy hues. Men growl that their neckties are not safe, the dry goods houses are getting niggardly about samples, and gradually masculinity is arraying itself against another woman’s right. Have you noticed the tendency toward sobriety in color in men’s neckties? It is a growing one and only the result of a plot between men and brothers against women and sisters. And I don’t wonder at it. Neither will you, when you lose a brilliant-hued scarf for days and have almost forgotten it, when it suddenly appears to you in the form of a center piece in a crazy quilt. I have gone necktieless, suffered and cursed, and am therefore a rabid adherent of the new movement in neckties, even if it, in the end, leads us to black and sober solid colors. There are more ways of crossing a river beside jumping it. Therefore a change of style in mankind’s wear that will cripple the crazy quilt mania will be in the nature of an elevation of the dynamiter with his own mechanical can.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland OH] 25 March 1885: p. 4

 

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

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

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Mr Binks’s Safety Hammock: 1909

The Hammock Tissot

SAFETY HAMMOCK

MR. BINKS FOUND INVENTION SUCCESS.

But He Will Improve It When He Gets Well, At His Daughter’s Request.

Ellis Parker Butler.

Author of “Pigs is Pigs,” etc.

Randolph Binks of Betzville , is passionately fond of reclining in a hammock, but up to the present he has never reclined in one to any great extent. Mr. Binks is an excellent citizen, but is more rotund than any other man in this county, and when he reclines in a hammock so much of him rotunds upward that it overthrows the equilibrium, and the hammock quickly but gracefully turns over and drops Mr. Binks on the ground with a thud. Any man less passionately fond of reclining in a hammock would have given it up long ago, but Mr. Binks said in our hearing that he would be blamed if he would let any hammock in creation get the best of him. He says he has gently climbed into the hammock over 8,902 times, put his head back carefully, grasped the edges, and that each and every time the hammock has revolved half a revolution suddenly, and spilled him on the hard, hard ground. He says that at about the eight thousand nine hundred and third time he decided that be had been attacking the hammock too gently, and that it must be taken roughly, like the nettle, to be handled properly, so he stood back and made a leap, landing in the hammock. This was almost successful, except that the hammock acted like a springboard and, taking Mr. Binks, threw him six feet against the fence, head first, breaking three pickets. In his temporary anger Mr. Binks arose and kicked the hammock, which then grabbed him by the foot, yanked his other foot off the ground, and bumped him down on the back of his head.

When he became calm Mr. Binks went as far away from the hammock as he could get and sat down on the ground and studied it, and he came to the conclusion that what the hammock needed was a counter-weight. If there was a greater weight attached to the underneath of the hammock when Mr. Binks got into it, it could not turn over. He said he wondered that no one had ever before thought of putting a keel on a hammock, and he immediately began looking about for a good, heavy weight. The best thing he could find was an old millstone, and he built up a solid wall of loose brick underneath the hammock. On top of this he laid the millstone, and then he pressed the hammock smoothly against the millstone, and, warming two quarts of glue, he poured it into the hammock and went away to allow the glue to harden in peace.

That evening Adelia, Mr. Binks’s daughter, and her fiancé, young Wilfred Doppelgang, went quietly into the back yard to sit in the hammock and spoon. They sat.

About three hours later Adelia raised her head from Wilfred’s shoulder and said, “It don’t seem like you hug as hard as you used to. Wilfred!” She said this in a reproachful tone of voice, implying that perhaps Wilfred did not love her as of yore and Wilfred, who did love her as of yore, tried to take his arm from about her waist, and get a new strangle hold, but, alas! he could not! He could not get his arm loose for that hug. In the course of three hours the glue had hardened and the hug had become a permanent, guaranteed fast embrace. He had undoubtedly allowed his sleeve to repose a moment or more in the glue, and Wilfred’s sleeve and the back gores of Adelia’s shirt waist had become one and inseparable. This is desirable in a union of states, but it is not recommended for all purposes.

With consternation Wilfred then started to leave the hammock. So did Adelia. Instantly, without a moment’s hesitation, they did not leave. Reader, have you ever been glued to a large, round, sandy complected millstone? Have you ever seated yourself upon a millstone well buttered with glue, with the girl of your choice beside you, and then sat there until the glue hardened  and you became, as you might say, two souls with but a single thought? Wilfred and Adelia could not arise; they could not even sidestep. They were glued to the millstone, and the millstone was glued to the hammock, and the hammock was tied to two large trees, and the roots of the trees extended many, many feet into the soil. There was but one thing to do.

Cautiously leaning forward, Adelia and Wilfred began to remove the loose pile of brick from beneath the millstone, until all the bricks were gone. Then, wrapped arm in arm, they began to joggle the hammock. It  was a trying moment. Suddenly, as out of a clear sky, there was a sound of ripping, breaking, tearing, and then a thud. The millstone had fallen to earth, taking with it the central portion of the hammock. This left a large hole in the hammock. It also took with it— Pardon me, I should say it also left a large___ At any rate Wilfred and Adelia sped hastily toward the house.

Half an hour later Mr. Randolph Binks strolled home, and all was silence. As has been said, he is passionately fond of reclining in a hammock. He has since remarked to Uncle Ashdod Glute that his invention of a non-tipping hammock was a success.

Formerly, when he entered a hammock one thing always happened — the hammock reversed itself and threw him out. But now Randolph Binks walked up to his hammock and threw himself into it with confidence.

The hammock did not, Mr. Binks says, throw him out. Mr. Binks merely walked up to the hammock in the dark and threw himself into it. Mr. Binks says that in passing through the hole that had been torn in the hammock he thought very few things worthy of reproduction by the press. He says he merely passed through in a simple, unconventional way  and met the millstone quite informally, saluting it with the back of his head. He says it was a mere love tap—for the millstone.

Mr. Binks claims that his hammock was a success on three counts: First—The hammock did not turn over and drop Mr. Binks on the ground with a thud; he fell through. Second–The hammock did not drop him on the ground with a thud; he hit the millstone. Third—The hammock did not drop him with a thud: the noise was clean and sharp, like the iron rim of the millstone. Mr. Binks says he can think of only one improvement. Hereafter when he wishes to glue anything under a hammock he will choose a feather bed rather than a millstone.

(Copyright. 1909. by W.G. Chapman.)

New York [NY] Daily Tribune, 24 October 1909: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Hammocks, as we have seen, can be instruments of seduction, although in this case, the attractive qualities of the object were entirely the result of two quarts of well-warmed glue. While we can but admire Mr Binks’s “make-lemonade” spirit about the success of his invention, we urge him not to quit his usual day-time employment.

The malign disposition of the hammock was well-known, as this poem celebrates:

THE INIQUITY OF THE HAMMOCK.

Josh Wink, in Baltimore American.

Consider now the hammock, how it lurketh like a snare.

To grab the unsuspecting man and throw him in the air.

Yea, verily, the hammock hath a look of innocence, but it may take the strongest man and throw him to the fence.

The hammock hangeth to the trees with meek and humble look,

And tempteth foolish man until he cometh with a book.

And climbeth in and stretched out and openeth the page,

And then the wicked hammock getteth up its fiercest rage.

It turneth like a serpent, and it taketh such a clutch

Upon the feeble victim that he gaspeth very much.

It whirleth him about the air and swingeth him around, and when he opens his eyes again he’s slammed upon the ground.

O, surely, surely, this is so, yet over him the while

The hammock swayeth quietly and seemeth then to smile.

But yet again the man doth get within the hammock there, and thinketh he will read the book and banish all dull care.

And then again the hammock jumps before a page he’s read,

And ere he knoweth what is up he standeth on his head.

Yea, verily, and then again a hammock in the shade

Will cunningly exert itself and lure a foolish maid

To seek to rest within its folds, and when she sitteth in

The hammock, it will almost seem to wear a happy grin.

It seizeth on the maiden fair and chuckleth at her shriek;

She spraineth both her dainty wrists and moaneth “O, alas!”

And findeth that her hammock sways with truly pleasant gall,

And seemth to inquire of her “good sakes! Did some one fall?”

O, yes, my son, and on a time, when Cupid holds his sway,

And some enamored youth comes round to learn the happy day,

‘Tis then the hammock taketh them and in the air doth hump,

And giveth both their foolish heads a most terrific bump.

And slingeth them about the place until it getteth tired.

And when it wearieth at last across the yard they’re fired;

The man descendeth in a heap upon the garden walk;

The maid hath hairpins in her eyes and is too mad to talk;

And then the wicked hammock waits in most unholy glee

To hear the racket that it knows is very sure to be;

For when the maid regains her breath she riseth to her feet,

And voweth that the man himself is full of all deceit,

And that he pulled it down himself ad that she never more

Will see his face, and wisheth that he’d gone an hour before,

And that she’ll never, never, be his bonnie blushing bride,

And so he getteth to his feet and far away doth ride.

My son, beware the hammock when it swings itself aright.

For it can make the proudest man a truly humble sight.

The Ottawa Journal [Ontario Canada] 29 August 1901: p. 4

 

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

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

Do You Want That Raise?: 1911

This Grafter Took Our Course

Do You Want That Raise?

OUR GRAFT CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL WILL GET IT FOR YOU.

The world of graft is always looking for bad men.

Are YOU in on it? By studying daytimes YOU can raise your position from that of a porch-climber, or second-story man or pick-pocket, to a high position in society. The swell hotels and penitentiaries await YOU. We will prove our ability by cheating you. We can point to hundreds of cashiers in Canada who tried our methods. One student climbed from the position of street-car conductor, in which he knocked down fares, to that of the manager of the worst street railway system in the country through our aid.

DO IT NOW.

If you want to rise to a position where you can steal a thousand a week, clip off the coupon below and send it to us, with your choice marked. We will send you absolutely free full information about qualifying for any position. We furnish all text-books, and cheat our students by the installment plan, or any other they desire. Any honest and industrious thief can become an embezzler with a little study.

graft school coupon

Caricature, wit and humor of a nation in picture, song and story, 1911

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Plus ça change…

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 Temporary Editor: 1901

the-temporary-editor

The Temporary Editor

by Ellis Parker Butler [Author of “Pigs is Pigs.]

The editor of the Hartsock News lay flat on his back in bed, as crazy as a loon, and jabbering like a perpetual motion phonograph. He was only temporary crazy, the grippe having bowled him over. As a rule he was as sane as could be expected, considering that he had chosen Hartsock as a promising field for journalism. But today he was certainly flighty. No sane gentleman will look upon his mother as a spotted cow nor laugh joyously because she walks upright. Neither will he send his grandmother to get out the regular weekly edition of a newspaper. It is an evidence of temporary derangement.

When Granma Huff paused, panting, at the head of the stairs, and pushed open the door of the News office, Jimmie, the office boy, was sitting in the editorial chair studying his Sunday school lesson. The editor never spoke of Jimmie as the “devil,” although that is the customary title. He called him the “angel,” Jimmie was such a good boy. Goodness stood out on him like freckles. Every time he washed his hands and face he washed off enough goodness to supply a dozen boys, and he had signed so many temperance pledges that if he had started in to drink steadily for the balance of his life he would have wound up with some of the pledges still unbroken. Later in life he tried it. But he was a good boy. Granma Huff looked over the rims of her two pair of spectacles and smiled.

“Jimmie,” she said, “my gran’son’s sick, so I’ve come down to git out the News this week, and I want you to hurry ’round and help me all you can.”

“Yes’m,” said Jimmie, meekly.

“Well, now,” said Granma Huff, seating herself in the editorial chair and rubbing her knees with the palms of her hands, “I can’t move ’round much, bein’ as I’ve got the rheumatiz so bad, but I reckon you kin do most thet’s to be did. Gran’son says you’re a right good boy.”

“Yes’m,” said Jimmie, modestly.

“Kin you work the printin’ machine?” enquired Granma, nodding toward the old Washington press.

“Yes’m, I allus does,” said Jimmie.

“Well, then,” said Granma, “I guess you’d better go right on an’ print some papers. I reckon you know ’bout how many’s needed, don’t you?”

Jimmie explained that there were a few things to do first. There must be some news gathered, the forms made ready.

“Do tell!” exclaimed Granma, “I’sposed gran’son ‘ud hev all that ready. Ain’t you got any at all?”

“No’m,” said Jimmie.

“Well, I can’t fix the types, but I guess you know how,” she said, “an I can’t see to write, but you kin take down. First, say, gran’son’s sick with the grippe, but doc says he’ll git along all right soon’s the fever goes down some. Then say Marthy Clemen’s baby’s sick with the measles. I knowed Marthy’s ma before Marthy was born. Her an’ me come from York county, Pennsylvania, together.”

“How d’you spell Pennsylvany?”

“Pen-syl-va-ny,” spelled Granma. “Her ma an’ me was second cousins, she bein a Bell, an’ me a Murdock, an old man Murdock bein’ first cousin o’ Randy Bell. We come down the Ohio on a flat an up the Mississippi by steamer. But I told Marthy that child ‘ud get the measles ef she took it out to Joe Nayadley’s. Got that down?” “Yes’m,” said Jimmie. “Well, I don’t think o’ any more news just now, do you?” she queried.

“No’m,” said Jimmie.

“Will that be enough?” asked Granma.

“No’m, that ain’t more’n two sticks,” said Jimmie.

“Well, what does gran’son do when he hasn’t enough news to fill up?”

“He uses patent insides. This what comes in chunks from Chicago,” said Jimmie; “but we ain’t got none but what we’ve used. He was goin’ to order some when he was took sick.”

“We’ve got to use some over again,” said Granma, decidedly. “What is there?” “Sermons,” said Jimmie, grinning. “We ain’t got nothin’ but Talmage sermons, but we got lots o’ them.”

“Well, I don’t know nothin’ better for people than sermons,” said Granma. “I guess we’ll use them sermons. ‘Twon’t hurt nobody to read ’em over twice. Reckon you’ve got enough of ’em?”

“Yes’m,” said Jimmie.

“All right then, you go ahead an’ fix up the paper like you always do. Mebby you kin git some nice little boy to help. I’m goin’ home, my rheumatiz hurts me so, an I can’t do nothin’ more. Jist be sure to have the paper out on time.” Jimmie promised, and Granma went home. She had done her duty.

Jimmie did his. There were forty-two local and patent medicine advertisements that were always scattered through the reading. He knew this, and as the sermons were long and solid, he cut each sermon into small pieces, laying the electrotypes across the chair and sawing them into chunks with the office saw. Then he made up his forms, sticking in a piece of sermon, then a local, then another bit of sermon, then a patent medicine “ad,” then more sermon. He did not miss a department. He had “Local News,” “Country Correspondence,” “From Our Exchanges” and “A Little Nonsense,” each in its appointed place, but each composed of short reading advertisements and small sections of sermon. The sermons were rather mixed. In sawing them up he had failed to preserve their consecutive form. There were fifteen columns of disjointed sermon, sandwiched with “Perkins Plasters” and “Get Your Canned Tomatoes at Wray’s.” Jimmie persuaded Bob Hochstetler to help him run the press, and the paper came out on time. The editor was sleeping nicely when Jimmie delivered the News at the door. The editor was out of his fever. When he awoke Granma proudly handed him the News. As a rule, I have said, the editor was as sane as could be expected. He looked through the paper, and gasped. It was two days later before the two strong men who were called in to hold him in bed were permitted to release him. Then he thanked Granma, put on his clothes and went down to his office and discharged Jimmie three times. The third time he raised his wages.

The next week the editorial page contained the following notice, double-leaded, at the head of the first column:

“Ahead Again.”

“The News, always the foremost paper of the State, again outstripped its rivals last week by inaugurating a new and highly moral prize competition. As we never do things by half, we devoted our entire paper to this newest and most attractive feature. Scattered over pages one, four, five and eight were five complete sermons. To the party sending the first correct arrangement of all the sermons we will send the News free for five years; for any one sermon correctly arranged, the News for one year. Address: Sermon Editor, this office. Thus once more the News distances those reeking sheets, the Jimtown Blade and the Richmond Gust!”

Current Opinion, Volume 30, Edward Jewitt Wheeler, Frank Crane, editors, 1901

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: La Grippe was  believed to make some of its victims temporarily insane. The scrambled sermon contest is not as eccentric an idea as one might expect; the highly competitive newspapers of the past were always looking for novel prize contests to attract readership. “Talmage” was Dr Thomas DeWitt Talmage, one of the most popular divines and preachers in the United States. He ministered to the depraved people of New York with sermons attacking every species of vice, but when three successive “Tabernacles” burnt to the ground, he felt unappreciated. He abandoned New York to the Evil One, went on tour and wrote sermonizing articles and books. His oratory was colourful and full of striking imagery. Here is a particularly trenchant excerpt:

As to the physical ruin wrought by the dissipations of social life, there can be no doubt. What may we expect of people who work all day and dance all night? After awhile they will be thrown on society, nervous, exhausted imbeciles. These people who indulge in the suppers and the midnight revels and then go home in the cold unwrapped in limbs, will after awhile be found to have been written down in God’s eternal records as suicides, as much suicides as if they had taken their life with a pistol, or a knife, or strychnine.

How many people in America have stepped from the ballroom into the graveyard! Consumptions and swift neuralgias are close on their track. Amid many of the glittering scenes of social life in America, diseases stand right and left, and balance and chain. The breath of the sepulchre floats up through the perfume, and the froth of Death’s lip bubbles up in the champagne.

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 Commercial Adonis: 1893

A Travelling Salesman or "Drummer," 1904

A Travelling Salesman or “Drummer,” 1904

THE COMMECIAL ADONIS

Joys by the Way That Enliven the Drummer’s Life on the Road

Chicago News-Record

He was in the seat in front of me reading a yellow book that had been loaned to him by the train boy. He knew the train boy, and seemed to know most of the people at the stations. When the train stopped he would raise the window, push out his head and yell at the agent or operator. They would respond with hearty surprise and joyous profanity. It was at Pegasus, I believe, where the operator came out and shook hands through the window.

“Know any new stories, mac?” he asked.

“Say, I’ve got a bird, but it’s too long to tell now. I’m goin’ to the house to spend Sunday, but I make you some time next week. How’s the fairy?”

“She was askin’ for you at the house yesterday.”

“Get out!”

“I’m givin’ it to you straight.”

Then it was at Mount Carmel where he leaned out of the coach as we drew up to the squatty station and waved his hand at a white-aproned figure in a window of the occidental hotel across the street. She did not seem to recognize him until the train had started, and then her response was frantic. She shook a pillowcase at the retreating train and motioned for some one to come. Just as the view was shut by a red elevator I saw two capped heads hanging from the window.

At the second stop after that, while the man in front was getting deep into the chapters of his book, a girl with one of those flat, masculine hats, and a feather boa came tripping down the aisle. Her brown hair was lifted into defiant curls, and she chewed gum with serious vigor and a lateral motion of the jaw. She caught the eye of the traveling man, who immediately dropped his book and straightened up in the seat to make room for her.

Said he: “Hello, Min! Which way?”

“Why, hod-do-Mac? Why, I’m goin’ to Frankfort. How air ye, anyway?”

“Oh, so so; how are you comin’ on?”

“Oh, all right. Y’ain’t been to Flory for a long spell, have ye?”

“That’s right. Aw, I quit makin’ these whistling posts. They ain’t no business in my lien there. An’ say, that’s the bummest hotel old Sanders keeps I ever see.”

“That’s right.”

“Well, I should say so. Say, I had a kick comin’ six months before I quit puttin’ up there. Say, he had the freshest lot o’ dinin’ room girls I ever see. You knew Kate Mahaffy?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, say, Min, honestgawd, one day I seen her set a plate of soup down in front of that little feller that sells notions out o’ Terry Hut, an’ one of her hairpins dropped into the soup. He kicked like a steer, and what d’ye think? Kate up and says to his nibs: ‘Wire noodles to-day, mister; no extra charge.’ What d’ye think of that, eh?” Got her nerve with her?”

“That’s right,” responded Min, without relapsing her busy features.

When the train stopped at Frankfort, she flounced down the aisle, calling back, “S’long, Mac; take keer of yourself.”

“Good by, Min; you do the same.”

“Don’t get killed on the cars and spile your beauty,” she said to him after she had reached the platform, and he had again raised the window.

“Ha, ha! That’s right,” laughed Mac.

As the conductor came along for the tickets he gravely winked at the man in front. The brakeman went through with a red flag and he stopped to say something about a “bute.” The train boy, when he came for his book, grinned exceedingly, but failed to learn her name.

As the train came to a stop in the pretentious little city at the end of the run, I saw the man who had been sitting in front gather up two telescope grips and join a little woman in black, whom he kissed rapturously.

“Great Scott!” said I to the friendly brakeman, “he has one in every town.”

“No,” he replied, “that’s his wife.”

Dallas [TX] Morning News 10 January 1893: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a sprightly slice of Americana is this little account! One can only admire the drummer’s stamina and hope that he is never, like the travelling salesman in the smoking-room stories, caught with the farmer’s daughter.

The House on the Flood: 1829

 

Among the numerous things borne down the Medway by the late flood one article created some amusement. The men on board a barge near Maidstone saw at a distance a thatched tenement gaily sailing down the stream.

“Hallo,” cries one, “here comes a house to let. We may as well make a freehold of it.”

“Yes,” replies another, “and at all events the tenant will have no ground rent to pay, and its well supplied with water.”

“Ah,” says a third, “and what’s better, we shan’t have any window-tax to pay, for the d__l of a peep hole can I see in it.”

As the building approached, the men formed different opinions as to its use, one swearing it was a watch-box; another that it was some new-fangled machine going by steam; and the third, who had read “Gulliver’s Travels,” said that probably it was a baby-house from the land of Brobdingnag. At last it came in contact with the barge, and by the assistance of tackling, and some exertion, the little edifice was dragged on board. It had a door, but it was locked. They knocked, but there was no sound of any one within. A consultation was then held as to whether “breaking into the house in the day-time, no person being therein,” would be a felony on this occasion? It was proposed that it should be taken ashore as it was, in the expectation of seeing an advertisement of “Ten Guineas Reward. Stolen or Strayed, a House and Appurtenances;” &c. It was then suggested that it would be more honest for the finders to advertise it in the usual form: “Stopped a House, supposed to have strayed from the Owner, &C. &c.” However, at last it was agreed to take off a little of the thatch, to find whether the furniture was damaged. This operation was proceeded in, and in a few minutes the interior was exposed to view. A general shout of merriment ensued when it was discovered that the little freehold was nothing more than one of those conveniences which are generally placed in the most retired part of a garden, and frequently grace the borders of a river.

Maidstone Gazette.

Morning Journal [London, UK] 9 September 1829

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Despite the jocular tone of the boatmen, the hazards of those conveniences which frequently grace the borders of a river was well-known by the sanitary experts, for example Dr. R. Thorne Thorne, who in an 1867 report to the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, told of privies on the edge of the River Ter discharging their contents within feet of where villagers collected their drinking water. His description of sanitary nuisances during a typhoid outbreak in the village, is perhaps a trifle too pungent for this lax post-Koehler world.

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 Telephone Face: 1903

telephone face

The Telephone Face

“What’s the matter with that man?” said the Observer, repeating his friend’s interrogation, as they passed a pedestrian wearing a most prodigious frown. “Don’t you know what’s the matter with him? He’s got the telephone face.

“Never heard of it, eh? Well, that shows that your powers of perception are not particularly acute. The telephone face is no longer a physiognomical freak, but a prevalent expression among the several thousand unfortunate clerks and business men who find extensive use for the telephone necessary. It is a distinctive cast of features, too, which can readily be distinguished from any other by one who can read faces at all.

“The dyspeptic has a ‘face.’ His expression is fitful and disgruntled, but underlying it is a gleam of hope; the insolvent man, harassed by creditors, has another well-defined type of facial mold. It is haunted and worried, with a tinge of defiance in it; the owner of the ‘bicycle face’ has his features set in lines of deadly resolution; the ‘golf face’ displays fanatical enthusiasm and a puzzled look resulting from a struggle with the vocabulary of the game; the ‘poker face’ shows immobility and superstition; the ‘telegraph face,’ according to a well-known New York professor, is ‘vacant, stoic and unconcerned,’ but the ‘telephone face’ stands out among all of these in a class peculiar to itself. There are traces of a battle and defeat marked on it; the stamp of hope deferred and resignation, yet without that placidity which usually betokens the acceptance of an inevitable destiny. The brows are drawn together above the nose, and at times a murderous glint shows in the half-closed eyes of the possessor.

“The peculiar feature about the man with the ‘telephone face’ is, that he always believes the day will come when he will be able to get the right number and the right man without being told that the ‘line’s busy,’ ‘party does not reply,’ or ‘phone is out of order.’ He is like the man who always backs the wrong horse, the poet with an ‘Ode to Spring,’ or the honest man seeking a political job, continually defeated, but ever dreaming of ultimate success.

“I know of only one instance in which the dream was realized. A new girl had been installed in a telephone office without proper instructions— a most unprecedented case. A bookkeeper, grown gray in the service of a large mercantile house, picked up his receiver wearily. It rang the new girl’s bell, and like a flash, she said, ‘Hello.’ The bookkeeper gasped. ‘Is that you, Central?’ he asked huskily. ‘Yes,’ replied the unsophisticated maiden, pleasantly. ‘What number, please?’ The old man sat bolt upright and clutched the desk. ‘Give me purple six double-nine,’ he said, in quavering tones, and his weak form trembled as he spoke. Nimbly worked the fingers of the uninitiated telephone girl, as she struck a peg in the switchboard and quickly rang a bell. A voice at the other end responded promptly, and the bookkeeper wiped cold beads of perspiration from his brow before he answered. ‘Is this Jones & Company?’ he almost shrieked. ‘Yes,’ came the reply, full and clear, ‘this is Jones talking.’

“A dull thud followed, and, when the other clerks rushed in, they found the old man lying still and cold, his right hand still grasping the receiver of the telephone, which had fallen to the floor beside him, and a smile of the most transcendent happiness they had ever seen upon his faded lips.”

Said the Observer, Louis John Stellman, 1903

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This was at a time when telephone service was not as reliable as it might have been and “crossed wires” made it likely that the party to whom you wished to speak would never be reached. However, life for the telephonist was about to become even more worrying:

The televue is in town. This is a wonderful invention which permits the people conversing over the wire to see each others’ faces. There will soon come into existence now what may be called “the telephone face.” We have already the bicycle face and the motor car face. The telephone face will be of various kinds. There will be the ingenuous and regretful face, to suit the statement that “I am compelled to stay down town this evening—so sorry. Will dine at the club.” Then there will be the disappointed face to go with—“Oh, dear me, did you say Wednesday night. I have an engagement for that night,” and so on. There are times when one wishes to be unconstrained, facially, at the telephone, so to speak, and this device militates against such a condition. Evening Tribune [San Diego, CA] 4 July 1906: p. 2

Of course, today a new generation of telephonists is unconstrained, both facially and sometimes sartorially, in their sharing of images.

Mrs Daffodil previously wrote of “Motor-car Face.”

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.