Guest Post: A Cheerful Print Frock and Emilie Loring

We first met Heide in When the Best Stories are Both New and Old.  I’m so happy she agreed to write us a full post.  Enjoy!
nostalgic-dress-1
The first Emilie Loring book I read was Bright Skies. I don’t really remember why I picked up that book in the little school library [My cousin and I were helping my aunt (the librarian) do end of year inventory], perhaps I had heard her name before, perhaps I just liked the cover of the book. From the moment I starting reading I was hooked! I couldn’t wait to get home and check my local library! At the next library sale I was thrilled to find a collection of Emilie Loring books, but I only bought about five (Why oh why?!?).
Several years later when life was upside down and all was craziness, my sister came home from another library sale with her backpack stuffed with Emilie Loring! I was in heaven! Most of our books were packed away at that point and there wasn’t really space for much, but my Emilie Loring collection stayed in a stack by my bed on the floor. Over the next several months I read through them all, escaping to another world for a few hours. When reading through the books again this summer, I realized I had no recollection of ever reading several of the books and was excited to re-discover them!
nostalgic-bodiceWhile I read, I love envisioning what it would have been like to live during the time a book was written. I recently finished reading Fair Tomorrow and when I came across a brightly patterned cotton dress in an antique store, I thought of Pamela,
“The sun brought out curious red-gold glints in Pamela’s black hair, roughed the magnolia tints of her face and arms. A green rubber apron protected the front of her gay, sleeveless print frock as she vigorously applied a brush to the lavishly lathered dog who shivered violently in the galvanized iron tub set on a lawn, freshly, velvety, springily green.” ~ Fair Tomorrow
nostalgic-fabricHow could I resist that cheerful pink dot print?  Fair Tomorrow was published in 1931, right about the time this dress was sewn up.
nostalgic-dress-2Even though the print is still vibrantly pretty, this dress has certainly seen a lot of wear. In several places it has been mended and the side seams were taken in to re-size it at some point.
mended-dress
“At home she changed her green crepe to a simple print in which to prepare dinner, she frowned at the sleeve. Thin at the elbow?” ~ Fair Tomorrow
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In Fair Tomorrow, Pamela Leigh sets out to open her own business “serving meals for profit.” In a time when there wasn’t a fast food place around every corner and restaurants were only in cities, enterprising women opened their homes to travelers and provided meals for a small fee.
“Of course you can earn money at home. Think up something different for people to eat and your fortune’s made, Pam.” ~ Fair Tomorrow
I found this fascinating article in a 1930 Farmer’s Wife magazine giving ladies tips on starting their own business. Perhaps Pamela Leigh read an article like this that started her on her way.
ford-roadster
I love this part where Pamela and her brother Terry curiously watch the arrival of some of their first customers.
Spoon in hand Pamela tiptoed forward. Whispered in turn: “What are they like?” “Man and girl. Classy roadster. Black with wide brilliant red stripes, stainless steel wheels, red morocco upholstery. It’s a bird! She’s little and blonde, swanky fur coat. He is big and strong.” ~ Fair Tomorrow
Reading an Emilie Loring is like talking to an old friend. She writes about so many of the everyday joys we all love; like homemaking, family, cooking and baking, fashion, nature, gardening, and pets; all woven into a mysterious plot peppered with encouragement and a cheery attitude.
There are so many things I love about Emilie Loring. The old fashioned vintage-ness charms me (and reminds me of another favorite vintage author Grace Livingston Hill); the sense of humor she gives her characters; the characters themselves- from the dashing hero, to the courageous heroine, to the “local color” characters; all are very human and very enjoyable. Emilie always gave her characters high morals; they are ready to fight for what is right. Even though they faced personal trials, they would “smile” through and do the right thing.
The mirrored eyes which gazed steadily back were the velvety richness of black pansies as Pamela answered her own question. “I hate being patient. I want to get behind and push. Grandmother Leigh used to say: ‘Never pray for patience Pamela, pray for courage to keep on keeping on. to march stright up to the firing line.’ I must crash through the barriers which lack of money conjures in front of me whichever way I turn.” She wrinkled her nose at her reflection. “You won’t do much crashing if you waste time thinking about your troubles, woman!” ~ Fair Tomorrow
I have very high standards for my favorite author list and Emilie meets them all!
fabric-envelope
If you’re like me and can’t get enough vintage fabrics and nostalgia, visit Heide’s blog, Apron History: A journey through time… with aprons

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Cheerful Print Frock and Emilie Loring

    1. And we’ve had fun reading it! I have a photo of one of Emilie’s flapper-era dresses, and your post has given me the idea for a post of my own. One idea so often leads to another.

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