Today’s quick post comes from the Sunday edition of the New York Tribune, January 25, 1914, which illustrated “Woman’s Varied Interests.” Besides housework, the featured interests included dancing, menus, and etiquette. Woo hoo!
Before she became a novelist, Emilie Loring had different writing goals. You may recognize some of the following as text that appeared later in her homemaking book, For the Comfort of the Family: A Vacation Experiment.
This Is the Prescription for Efficient Home Management Offered by Mrs. Victor J. Loring, of Cambridge, Mass., a New Writer on Home Economics
The cook left suddenly in a huff, company is coming, the groceries have not yet arrived and the telephone is out of order! If you are just a regular housekeeper faced with these cataclysms, you will curl up in a corner and weep or go about getting dinner in a dogged, determined fashion–though you hate it–all according to your temperament.
There is at least one woman however, who would do neither of these things. Such a situation would be play to her–a dramatic situation to be worked out–and she would extract interest and amusement from it. This is Mrs. Victor J. Loring, of Cambridge, Mass., who, now that her family of boys is grown, is not content to sit down and make patchwork quilts, but is writing her experiences into books on home economics.
Cultivate Dramatic Instinct
“The dramatic instinct is the most valuable possession a housekeeper can have,” said Mrs. Loring to a Tribune representative on a recent visit to New York. “If she is not gifted by nature with a strong sense of dramatic values, she should cultivate it and apply it to her daily work. It makes play of it. I know, because I’ve done it.
“Suppose the cook does get huffy; it’s a play of clashing temperaments, and you are so interested in working it out that you haven’t time to lose your temper.
“If you are faced with all kinds of complications in the household, you are the heroine of a play full of plot, but destined to be triumphant in the end, and you go to your tasks in that spirit. The dramatic situations that arise in housekeeping are many and various, and the housewife who has trained herself to recognize their value can never again call her work dull and monotonous.”
There are some household tasks which even Mrs. Loring cannot make into play, and one of these is dishwashing. “Do it as quickly as possible and get it over with,” is her advice. She has a suggestion for hastening the process, however, and that is to scald the dishes after they are washed and leave them to dry. This obviates the necessity for wiping them.
Let Boys Help, Too
Cooperation of the family is another necessity for happy housekeeping, according to Mrs. Loring, who continued:
“Housework can never be pleasant unless the worker has the sympathy of the family and their help. I see no reason why boys and men shouldn’t help with the evening meal’s dishes and other overtime tasks of the housewife, as well as feminine members of the household. When we go away for our summer vacation we all work together. Each boy does his allotted task, and in so far as possible, it is made the one most congenial to him. This does not mean that I shirk my part or that I think the boys ought to do the girls’ work. Every girl should be an efficient housekeeper. A man has as much right to expect that his wife be well equipped for her tasks as she has to demand an efficient business man in her husband.”
One of Mrs. Loring’s innovations in her household is a bulletin board hung in the hall where notices of interest to the various members of the family may be posted. Thus, a boy may write, “I have gone fishing; took some luncheon,” and no one will worry when he doesn’t return at the luncheon hour. It saves time and worry, she says, and is just another use of the dramatic instinct.
That could be fun. 🙂
Happy Landings update:
Advance review copies of Emilie Loring’s biography are on their way to me now. I’m excited to see them! These (and the pdf version) go to professional book reviewers in advance of the book’s release in March. If you would like to see Happy Landings: Emilie Loring’s Life, Writing, and Wisdom reviewed in your favorite book column, send me the contact information (email@example.com), and I will follow up.