Nog är det irriterande när en lapp klistras över en illustration — i synnerhet när det är en läcker illustration, och det är bokens enda illustration.
Caroline French Benton, skrev en hel del böcker — alla tycks handla om huslig ekonomi och närbesläktade ämnen.
Den här boken, om hur man klarar sitt matkonto på en dollar om dagen (1 dollar 1918 motsvarar 15,40 dollar i dagens penningvärde) — är skriven som en berättelse.
"We will put down just what Dick and I spend—about a dollar a day; you can feed a maid or a sister on that, too, so I am sure it is enough."
Mrs. Thornes lillasyster Dolly, ska gifta sig, men dessförinnan tillbringar hon ett år hos sin äldre syster för att lära sig att sköta ett hushåll.
Boken håller en lätt ton, och jag kan tänka mig att den är riktad till giftasvuxna unga kvinnor. Jag tycker det är intressant att läsa hur man tänkte kring tjänstefolk, mat och hushållsbestyr för i det närmaste hundra år sedan. Än så länge har jag inte hunnit längre än att systrarna i stora drag kommer fram till en minimikalkyl för det unga hushållet.
Dolly added in silence for a moment, and then read:
Rent and Fuel 480
"Or, say $1,200; that, subtracted from what I hope will be our income, $1,800, leaves $600 for Incidentals."
"And that is very much like a skeleton in the closet. Incidentals, my dear Dolly, are the very worst foe of all young housekeepers. I wish I could impress upon you from the very first to watch that column. It must cover everything we have not put down, and the name of them is Legion. Doctor's bills, dentist's bills, church, books, magazines, car-fares,
entertaining, pocket money of every sort, gas bills,—unless you can get those out of your table allowance, as possibly you can, and perhaps you can not,—and vacations, and amusements, and two things that ought to come first of all, and you must never, never forget or treat lightly—life insurance and the savings bank account."
Jag bläddrar framåt i boken och ser att ingenting lämnas åt slumpen, här diskuteras hemtextilier, stapelvaror och hur man ska var klädd när man lagar mat.:
"Well, while you are thinking about it I will just occupy the time with asking some questions. One of them is this: do you always look as neat and trim when you do your work, or is this costume a sort of stage-dress for my benefit?"
"My dear, I can proudly say I always look just as I do now, and I'll tell you why. When I first had to do my own work, years ago, I put on a short skirt and shirt-waist, with an apron over all; that, I supposed, was just the proper thing. Then I rolled up my sleeves, took off my stock or collar, and hung it on a nail in the kitchen, and did my dishes or cooked. When the door-bell rang I put on my collar and unrolled my sleeves and took off my apron, and answered it. It was not long before I discovered that my sleeves were perpetually mussed, and I had temporarily lost my self-respect by dispensing with a collar. Then, too, in spite of all I could do, the dish-water would sometimes splash over and the lower part of my dress would get greasy. I spoiled two good tailor-skirts that way. And worst of all, when Dick came home, all I could do by way of dressing to meet him was to put on another fresh shirt-waist and a clean apron, because I knew that after dinner I should wash the dishes. The consequence was that I never wore my pretty frocks at all, and my husband knew me only as a cook; sometimes a cook who sat with him in the parlor, but a cook, nevertheless, and one who did not change her dress after the dishes were done for the night, and so had to run when callers came for the evening.
"After a few weeks of that sort of thing I made up my mind it would never do. I must be a 'lady help,' even though there was no one to help but Dick. So I changed my plans of work and got some especial gowns, and I have kept to a sort of uniform like this ever since, to my infinite satisfaction. If you look me over carefully you may discover the points I had in mind when I planned it."
Dolly looked. "I see," she said, slowly. "Elbow sleeves, to keep from rolling them up; and a little square Dutch neck just below the collar line, so you won't have to wear a collar; and a short, full skirt, just off the floor; and the color, my dear,—and here you show your feminine vanity,—a most becoming blue!"
"I hope so," said Mary, not at all abashed. "I like to have becoming clothes, even in the kitchen. But you did not say a word of the material; all my working things are ginghams or some sort of wash goods. Then they are all in one piece, and trimmed with plain bias bands edged with a fold of white, or some similar contrivance. I put an apron on when I do kitchen work and try and keep the dresses clean as long as I can, and when they are soiled put them right in the tub, and they take no time to do up. And, by the way, they are not all this pretty color. I have still more serviceable ones of dark navy blue, and others of striped gray and white, like a nurse's dress; but I am thankful to say they are all pretty and all becoming, and far neater in every way than my shirt-waist and skirt used to be."
"Do you wear the same thing summer and winter?"
"No; in summer I have thin things, lawns and dimities and organdies, but they are all made like this. Even my dress-up summer things are apt to be, too, because I like the fashion and it never 'goes out,' as other fashions do."
"But you don't wear this uniform at dinner. At least you change every afternoon now to a more or less dress-up frock. Is that for my benefit? Do you wear these gowns when you are alone?""No, never. I always put on a fresh and pretty gown after my lunch dishes are put away and my dinner all ready but heating it up or doing the last necessary cooking. Then I spend the afternoon like a lady of leisure. At dinner-time I put a mammoth long-sleeved apron on and go out in the kitchen and finish up as I am; I take off my apron before the dinner is served, too. If I have to carry out plates and wait, as of course I do when we are alone, then I have a really pretty little white apron I slip on; but I will look as nice as I can at my own dinner-table."
Intressant att lära sig att kjolen som nästan når till golvet är kort!
and a short, full skirt, just off the floor;
Det sista samtalet får mig att tänka på Mrs. G. (som jag talat om tidigare), frun i huset i den familj jag bodde hos i Kanada. Hon bytte alltid om innan maken kom hem från arbetet. Råkade han komma tidigare än vanligt, blev hon alldeles ifrån sig och sade något i stil med: "Kära nå'n, Mr. G. är hemma, jag måste skynda mig att byta, för han tycker inte om att se mig i långbyxor."