“Find Drama in Your Housework!”

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.


Find drama in your housework!

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.”

Emilie Loring’s bulletin board

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.

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.

Emilie Loring

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 (contact@pattibender.com), and I will follow up.

Happy Landings, everyone!

9 thoughts on ““Find Drama in Your Housework!”

    1. Thank you. I am so eager to have it read, especially by longtime readers like you. It will feel to me like sharing, as if we’d met and were spending the day talking about Emilie and her books.


  1. Aloha from Oregon! I enjoyed that way too much! I have the task of reorganizing my studio this week. I had piled a lot of things in there two months ago when my husband had an injury and I had to completely bedroom to accommodate a new bed. Then with caring for him until he improved, I neglected any kind of order in the studio and elsewhere really. I have assessed the situation and need a wall of shelving installed in the studio. That means true work outside of the usual daily tasks, which have become mundane. I want to get to the “good stuff”. You have made me smile and have a different viewpoint. Just the right amount of wit. I definitely feel the same way about dishes. But I did do something new there too. Last week my desired dishes went on sale for 30% off. I bought a few pieces for daily use. It is the California Fiesta ware dishes. Lots of bright happy colors. I bought the dark blue and the orange to start a set. ( they are still pricey). But I bought each color in the little snack bowl design. Little bowls just for a couple of cookies with my tea or a small bowl of haagendaz vanilla ice cream. It gives me a little joy when I use them . And it makes me smile when I handle them to wash. I’ve waited a long time to get them. I gave our family niritake China set to our girls and just kept a practical set for my husband and I. He likes the heavy antique railroad dining car pieces he uses so I wanted something special for me. He’s happy for me and encouraged me to just do it. Then the ad this week in the paper shows that the same dishes are on sale this week for 40% off. I guess I’ll have to choose a few more pieces for additional joy! Just the ones I will use often. So a collection of each color of the daily bowls we will use would be fun to start the day. Then have something to look forward to , the next time it goes on sale. So, sometimes even doing dishes can be interesting too. But I’ll have to look for the wit in all the other chores. Maybe not think of them as a chore, but Act I , Act 2, etc. Time for a change. I did buy a new floor steamer my cousin raved about, that should be fun. A new “toy” to play with. MY you have a good and happy week, thank you for sharing these gems, aloha pam

    Sent from my iPad


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    1. My Grandma Bender had Fiestaware dishes, and I still love them. I’m glad you are treating yourself to the treat of fun color!

      We are both caregiving these days, as my mom is now with me for the time being. It’s a privilege to have her here for the holidays and her 96th birthday in January–AND it’s quite a lot more to do each day. Maybe I’ll play music for myself in the morning, like an overture, before she wakes up and Act I begins. 🙂 Take care, and enjoy those happy bowls! Happy Landings!


      1. A friend once told me that it is a privilege to care for my husband as part of my sacred service. Some days are tough but if I remember that, it helps me to breathe better. I’ve been caring for him after a stroke for 22 years now. I had a lot of help along the way. And my creative work has kept me sane. Haha! I’m sure your grandmother would enjoy you reading to her. I always enjoy Chopin to expand my thinking. I have an old cassette tape that was titled Bathroom Baroque that I loved. I’m going to try to find it in my stash. You reminded me that I might enjoy it again. Look for the first sunshine of the day and think of positive things. It really helps. It’s begun to get gloomy here in the coast. But my geraniums are still blooming on the enclosed porch. I look at them before I start the coffee and it makes me smile. Enjoy your beautiful day with your grandmother and thank you for sharing with me your new journey. Savor every lovely moment. Aloha pam

        Sent from my iPhone


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  2. I like how Emilie applies her instinct for the dramatic and storytelling (a tradition in her family) to the mundane daily housework. It is true that housekeeping can be dull and is repetitive of course. A twist on having a positive attitude and making lemonade out of lemons, I suppose one could say. 🙂 thanks for sharing this. Good luck with the draft versions! Step by step you’ll get there.

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    1. I’m glad you mentioned her family. Finding drama–and humor–in a situation was second nature to the Bakers.
      The only task remaining for Happy Landings is the index, which we expect any day now. (It will be a big one–so much information!) Then off to the printer we go!


  3. I like the way Emilie sees housework which seems burdensome and tedious, yet she transforms it into an enjoyable activity and feeling in control. Having varied talents, one can cultivate them and see pleasure in housework. I am using my different skills to enjoy my day with reading being an important one. Thanks for sharing these ideas. Love and see you in Dec during our Wednesday meetings. Raqui

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