I swore I would not add to the current TOPIC. The ONE on all the networks, radio stations, podcasts, Facebook, tweety birds or newspapers. The subject is so popular it was on my personal bar of soap. Which I used before I touched my new laptop. It’s red! So here goes.
I collect books, OK? I have a lot of historical types and old weird stuff. Instead of being bored, I went to see what I had not read for a while. My two favorite books were just what I needed. Number one is “First Course in HOME MAKING,” by Maude Richman Calvert, printed by Turner E. Smith Company from 1927. When I saw it, it reminded me that my Mom, Arlene, was born in 1927. She passed away five years ago this week. She was all about home making. I came along to my Dad, Dick, and Mom, Arlene, about 1947. Those were interesting times.
The next book I pulled is, “The Book of Games and Parties,” edited by Theresa Hunt Wolcott, from 1920. History first: At that time, most people did not have radios in their homes. Folks would congregate at whichever of their friends had a radio. There were no Hallmark card shops, or Party Decorations R Us stores by Marvel Heroes. My Mom gave great parties and she had a copy of this book. People had to make decorations, games and invitations by hand. This book starts in January and has a different theme for each month with menu options, costume recommendations, and every little detail is handled. If a member of your crowd had a hand-cranked phonograph, you had records and music. If not, someone played the piano, which many families did have.
Now granted, I figured out who ever came up with this clever stuff, which included poetry to recite, must have been from Back East. The menu reads like this, “Serve lobster canape to start followed by blue oysters on the half shell.” OK, we have so not much fish in Iowa or New Mexico, and there is not a taco recipe in the entire book. But they did have other recipes if you were low on cash. For April Fool’s Day, they had sherbet upside down so the cone was a little dunce cap. Invitations were as follows if you are into hotcakes: “A jolly pancake party, we have planned with care, you’ll find a welcome hearty. We hope to see you there.” Each invitation was made handwritten with an ink pen dipped in an ink well. You used a blotter over the top in case you drip. No Amazon, but you did get to wear pajamas to this one.
They give directions for table decorations, place cards, instructions to play games, recite poetry, and lots of singing. And all without an MP3 player! For a (no kidding) Pussy Willow Party you need to see how many times you can use the word cat in other words. The answer is 22, from Catherine to Catastrophe. Beat that, Jeopardy! I can laugh at the work that this book represents, but I would never deny credit to those who thought up this wonderful, clean family fun. It is the best of creative ability we have cast aside for more expedient gratification.
On to book number two, on learning to make a home. The mission statement of this declares, “How many women do you know who have children and older people to support? No healthy, normal individual should depend upon her father, brother, or anyone else for support.” While this statement seems current now, it was shockingly truthful and provided a brand-new perspective at that time. Most women in 1927 did not work outside the home unless they were a nurse, teacher or secretary. And when they did marry, if they were one of the three, they quit to be a permanent home maker. This book’s first chapter is food, “Three Square Meals a Day.” It shows how to plan a budget, make clothes and household items like towels, and the importance of keeping a place clean and how to do it. All this is before vacuum cleaners and dryers or washing machines. This was a full-time job doing it all by hand. And lastly it covered how to tend to the sick. Reading this I realized there was no time in this book for television, computers, tablets, or skyping. No whining about not being fulfilled. It was about how to get the job done.
Roaring Mouse, happy to be with you. Stay safe. Out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at email@example.com