Tag Archives: seaside resorts

Mrs Lucian’s Seaside Flirtation: 1906


Juggling With Matrimony,

W.J. Mobray

“It’s very wrong of me,” she said, “to let you put your arm around my waist in this disgraceful manner.”

“It’s little enough,” pleaded the man.

The girl looked doubtfully at the darkening sea. She was but a girl, despite the prefix to her name.

“My waist—or the concession?” she enquired.

The man dug a vicious heel into the yielding shingle.

“The concession,” he replied savagely. “Besides, who is there to see us in this solitude? Even the dusk has merged into the darkness.”

The girl knit her pretty brows in an effort of thought. Before them towered a great grey rock. On either hand lay a broad sweep of unoccupied shingle. Darkness enveloped them, and the possibility of discovery was proportionately small. But Mrs. Lucian had her scruples. Moreover, she inwardly marveled at the man’s audacity in thus totally disregarding the laws and commandments incidental to matrimony.

** ** **

“It is not a question of discovery,” she reproved. “Wrong is not right until it is found out, Mr. Searle.”

The man laughed, but there was little mirth in the laugh.

“Well,” he said defiantly, “we’re at the seaside anyhow. That fact carries with it a certain degree of license, as every one will admit.”

The girl leaned back, but the man’s arm never moved.

“Do you think Mr. Lucian would admit such a thing—in our case?” she inquired sweetly. “Besides, are you resolving sin into a mere question of geography?”

The man opened his eyes.

“Oh, come!” he protested. “That’s much too strong a term! And if you will insist on reminding me of—of your husband, Laura—well, all I can say is that he ought to be ashamed of himself for sending you down here alone, and never helping to give you a jolly good time!”

The girl smiled.

“I could write for him?” she suggested dreamily. “It would be so nice to see you two shake hands.”
Once more the offending heel crashed into the shingle.

“You needn’t trouble,” he said, gloomily. “I’m going back to town in the morning.”

The girl sat up.

“So soon!” she exclaimed. “I thought you had another week? I hope you’ve not had bad news, Mr. Searle?”

The man was silent. He did not quite know how to answer her.

“Would you care?” he asked suddenly. “Does it matter to you whether I go or stay?”

The girl leaned back again. There was an almost imperceptible tightening of the arm about her waist. Clearly she had not noticed it, for the man was not rebuked.

“Of course it matters,” she responded, with a charming assumption of innocent surprise. “We’ve been such good friends, Mr. Searle. I’m almost ashamed to confess it, but I’ve scarcely missed my husband since you and your friend met us on the pier ten days ago. You’ve been awfully kind, you know.”

The man frowned. He was beginning to fight anew the self-same battle that had been going on for days. He had always lost, and he had now determined on retreat. Yet, with an astonishing lack of generalship, he actually intended to notify the enemy as to his plans.

“Well,” he said, doggedly, “I’m going away because I’m a fool—that’s all! I never thought twice about any woman in my life till I met you. And now I’m on the rocks, like the rest of mankind, I shall never love any other woman. And you are out of reach. That’s why I must go.”

** ** **

The girl sighed sympathetically.

“Is it really so bad as that?” she murmured.

“Yes,” he said, “It’s as bad as that. This is our last evening, Laura.”

She sighed again.

“What a silly boy,” she said, “to fall in love with a married woman!”

The man bit his moustache savagely.

“You didn’t own to being married till we’d been out for three whole days together,” he reminded her. “The mischief was done then, and it was too late.”

The girl leaned towards him till her wavy brown hair caressed his cheek, and set his pulses beating. Yet it was only her way of apologizing. Some temperaments are so sensitively sympathetic that the diffusion of sweet consolation becomes an absolute necessity. But every strain has its breaking point. With a sudden movement he bent down and kissed her squarely on the lips. She uttered a little startled cry that was not too audible, and feebly struggled to release herself. But the next instant she was again still. It seemed so cruel to be unkind on this very last night of their sweet association. Yet she owed something to herself nevertheless.

** ** **

“What do you think my husband would say to such a proceeding?” she protested, breathlessly.

The reply was not audible. He felt relieved at this, and supplemented it with another.

“That’s his look-out!” he said, bluntly. “He shouldn’t be fool enough to make such a thing possible!”

He looked down suddenly. The girl was quietly laughing! Was she making a fool of him? The possibility sent a hot flush to his brow, and he was on the point of springing to his feet and tragically bidding her a long and reproachful farewell when he saw her do a curious thing. She deliberately withdrew the plain gold band that encircled the third finger of her left hand and tossed it in the sea. The action made him gasp. But the girl only laughed.

“I bought it on the way down,” she said. “It wasn’t worth much.”

The man stared at her in blank bewilderment.

“I—I don’t understand!” he blurted out.

The girl nodded.

“You see,” she said, “girls have a good deal to put up with when they come down alone to the seaside. Every man seems to think he has a right to accost them and take all kinds of liberties with them. So Dora and I hit on a plan to avoid this annoyance. We just bought wedding rings and posed as married women. It worked all right till we met you. Then, somehow, we wanted to hide it, but couldn’t. The fellows we had dismissed gave the game away, and we had to stick to the deception.”

There was a tacit confession in the speech which the man did not fail to observe. The encircling arm tightened again. And this time there could be no mistake about the action.

** ** **

“Then there isn’t any Mr. Lucien!” he cried, beginning to laugh in his turn.

The girl shook her head regretfully. It was now the man’s duty to offer consolation.

“Never mind!” he murmured, warming to his work. “We’ll soon remedy that misfortune.”

The process of consolation lasted for half an hour and was apparently conducted on the plan of Mendelssohn’s exquisite songs. Presently the man looked up.

“I wonder where Tom is!” he said, thoughtfully.

“Listening to Dora’s confession,” she replied, with the promptness of conviction. “Is he, too, returning to town to-morrow, Mr. Searle?”

The man resumed his former occupation.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he said. “But, I say, Laura, we must remember this rock. There’s not a soul in sight!”

And this they certainly did. As the sun dipped down into the sea, they turned up with astonishing regularity throughout the ensuing week. And when, a year later, they revisited the spot and found another couple there before them, they were in no way perturbed. For, though “Mr. Lucian” still remains as elusive as the renowned Mrs. ‘Arris, or that mythical hero of a modern ballad who was so pathetically implored to “come ‘ome,” and whose recent decease has evoked such universal rejoicing, he is now ably represented in the flesh by the husband of Laura Searle. And Tom and Dora think they cannot do better than follow so excellent an example.

The Pittsburgh [PA] Press 10 January 1906: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil suggests that there is quite enough  moral turpitude in this tale to go around: Shame on Laura for essentially “honey-trapping” Mr Searle into adulterous affection; and shame to Mr Searle for being the sort of man who did not mind taking advantage of the lax moral codes of sea-side resorts. One wishes them joy, but one is not sanguine about their future. We have already seen how husbands slipped the leash while wives and children disported themselves on the boardwalks. One fears a similar outcome after the honeymoon is over.

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.


How to Keep Cool: 1860-1902

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885 http://collections.lacma.org/node/172791

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885 http://collections.lacma.org/node/172791

The weather has been so beastly hot this week that Mrs Daffodil thought her readers would appreciate some cooling suggestions.

Here are a few sensible health hints for ladies at the seashore or in the country:

Read the latest books

Bathe early and often.

Seek cool, shady nooks

Throw fancy work away.

Wear lightest, lowest shoes.

Let hats be light and bonnets airy.

Eschew kid gloves and linen collars.

Dress in cambrics, lawns, and ginghams.

Be lavish with laundresses, fruit men and fans.

Let melons precede and berries follow, the breakfast.

Remember that seeming idleness is sometimes gain.

Order freshest fish and corn cake; never mind the heavy fritters.

Do not tell your hostess how sweet the butter and cream were at your last summer’s boarding house.

Omaha [NE] World Herald 17 August 1891: p. 3

A wealth of hints may be found for home, table, or garden:

The Canton girls buy their shoes two sizes too large, utilizing the vacant space as a refrigerator for packing ice around their feet. In this way they have become successful competitors of the Chicago Belles in their world-wide reputation for having considerable in the line of feet or understanding. [Chicago women were reputed to have the largest feet in America.] This is a novel way of keeping cool, however. The Canton [SD] Advocate 7 July 1887: p. 4


Great blocks of ice may be hollowed out with a hot flat-iron, and are useful on the summer table; in these glittering ice-wells are sunk crisp leaves of lettuce and scarlet tomatoes peeled; they are served from this inviting receptacle and over them is poured luscious dressing a la mayonnaise. Strawberries, cherries, or any kind of fruit look lovely held in a block of ice. Lobster or fish in mayonnaise may be served in the same manner.

Instead of the paper-flowers in which ices are frequently served, natural ones may be substituted. The inner petals are plucked from a fragrant rose, and pistachio or strawberry cream placed in the centre, the stem must be cut off just below the calyx, and the flower made to stand securely in a small, round pasteboard box, which is not perceptible; any other suitable flower may be substituted.

Godey’s Magazine, 1896

Much has been done of late by the use of ice-wrung cloths over the windows. A yard or two of blind calico, made ice cold by wrapping it around a block of ice for five minutes, is hung up over the open windows and the blinds let down behind it, so that the warm air from the street or from the garden may be cooled insidiously as it enters. Cool rooms are also possible if a sufficiency of ice is provided. Baskets of all shapes and sizes, lined with tin, make excellent receptacles and these, placed close to the table when reading or working, or used instead of a center piece of flowers where the dinner table is concerned, will do much to freshen the air. In the hall or passage a tub, furnished with a large block of ice, will last a whole day, and possibly longer, if placed on a square of blanketing, while, to economize, all the ice left in the house by evening may be collected and wrapped in bags of thick felt.”

Evening Star [Washington, DC] 23 August 1908: p. 41

A new Parisian invention is an iron water pipe, running up the sides of those trees In public gardens which require plentiful showers In summer. In this way a fountain can be turned over them at any moment.

Religio-philosophical Journal September 1866

Some authorities recommended alcoholic stimulants for summer refreshment:


From the receipt book of a Western member of Congress.

The following is said to make a pleasant beverage: Take one pint of whiskey, stir in one spoonful of whiskey; add one pint of whiskey and beat well with a spoon.

Take one gallon of water and let a servant carry it away beyond your reach; then put two spoonfuls of water in a tumbler, immediately throw it out and fill with whiskey. Flavor with whiskey to suit your taste.

When it is to be kept long in warm climates, add sufficient spirit to prevent souring.

The Alleghenian [Ebensburg, PA] 9 August 1860: p. 1

The other day a teacher in a Boston school showed a little girl a picture of a fan and asked her what it was. The little girl didn’t appear to know.

“What does your mother do to keep cool in hot weather? Asked the teacher.

“Drink beer,” was the prompt reply of the little girl.

New York [NY] Tribune 28 February 1889: p. 9

Mrs  Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Victorian and Edwardian newspapers were chock-a-block full of suggestions for how to keep cool in the summers before central air-conditioning. However, there were some who believed that “mind over matter” would serve as well as a block of ice and a fan.


Don’t walk too fast;

Don’t fume and fret;

Don’t vow ‘twill be

Much hotter yet;

Don’t eat too much;

Don’t drink at all

Of things composed

Of alcohol.

Don’t read about

The sunstruck folks;

Don’t read the old

Hot weather jokes;

Don’t work too hard;

Don’t try to see

The rising of

The mercury.

Don’t fan yourself;

Don’t think you’re hot;

Just cool off with

“I think I’m not.”

And, more than that,

Don’t read a rule

Beneath this head—

‘How to Keep Cool.”

Baltimore American.

Mexico Missouri Message 7 August 1902: 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.

Advertising Belles at the Summer Resorts: 1882

1882 2 ladies

A novel feature of the season at Saratoga and Long Branch, “says the same lady, “will be an advertising belle at each of those places. Two handsome girls of good form and top-lofty style have been hired for the purpose. They will be fashionably dressed, but their mission is not to display dry goods.

A dealer in hair, hair dyes, washes for the complexion and toilet articles of a beautifying sort employs them, and will pay their expenses. They will serve as models on which to exhibit the latest achievements in false hair and hair-dressing. Their faces will be carefully ‘made up’ with such preparations as he manufactures. The plan is a bold one, but entirely feasible. The hotel balls at Long Branch and Saratoga are open to all who come; and these two professional beauties are personally respectable, know how to dance gracefully, can talk well enough, and will certainly eclipse most of the amateur beauties. They will stay at first class hotels, lounge on the most thronged balconies, go to the horse races, and, in short, make themselves decently conspicuous in every possible way. There is a swindle in the matter, however, and I’ll tell you how. These two girls are beautiful when unadorned, and the ‘make-up ‘ of their faces with washes and pigments is not at all needed; nor is any particular kind of braid, frizzle, or switch requisite to make their heads bewitching. But many a plain woman will foolishly suppose that the same adornment will produce in her equal attractiveness, and in that error will lie the hair-dresser’s profit.  It depends on the newspapers to let the public know who and what his professional beauties are, and whom they advertise, but I won’t further his cause by giving his name. Both girls are tall, slender, delicately molded blondes, with the air of duchesses, and they come from east of Avenue A.”

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA]  2 July 1882

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “professional beauty” is a recognised figure of English society. One sees her photo-gravures in shop windows everywhere; striplings and married gentlemen sigh over them.  Whether she is an actress or a member of the nobility, it is her primary responsibility—and an arduous profession it is—to be lovely in all circumstances.  She may have delicately “puffed” a soap or a dressmaker, but she would not have been so bold as to tout waterfalls and chignons at summer resorts, particularly while obviously “painting.” They do these things very differently in the States.

Mrs Daffodil is not surprised to find that the gentleman had their own version of the professional beauty:

A Walking Advertisement.

A new profession has been introduced into the city during the past two years, which the majority of citizens know little about. All large prominent houses now hire professional dressers for the purpose of introducing new styles. You may have noticed often that some particular friend of yours who, as you well know, has no bank account, and does not seem to work, but yet dresses in the height of fashion, wearing every new style of hat, clothes, shoes or necktie that makes its appearance. Well, he is employed by some house to popularize new garments by wearing them and making them familiar to all dressers. He receives a salary and frequents all popular resorts; in fact, he lives off of his shape and looks, as only handsome and well-formed men are eligible to the new profession. Merchant Tailor in St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Daily Boomerang [Laramie, WY] 7 February 1890: p. 3


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.