Be a Real Vamp; 1924

The modern definition of a vamp is a woman who is “striking, exotic, or overtly glamorous” and who is “usually a heartless, man-eating seductress.” Oh, my! Such an interesting phrase to describe the ideal farmer’s wife!  

Have you a little vamp in your home? Now don’t look so shocked because, I’m going to say something worse than that. You should have one. You should be one!

When you have done the weekly wash and scrubbed the cellar and the porches, besides your daily dozen (which includes the dishes, cooking, sweeping, chickens, beds and–Oh! Why mention them? You know what all I mean, and sometimes it seems more like a daily thousand than a daily dozen) and you have had baking, and perhaps churning too, thrown in for the day and you are tired but you still have a half hour before you need to start supper. Don’t change the papers on the pantry shelves. I know they need it but you are so much nicer than any pantry shelf you ever saw. Let them go and give that attention to yourself instead.

Wash face, shoulders, arms and feet (of course, a complete bath would be better if you have time.) Cold cream your face and then lie down and relax for three minutes or five or more. Depends on how much time you have. I mean relax completely. Not a tense muscle in your whole body. Not a solitary wrinkle in your face. Chase that pucker out of your forehead and rela

This period over, put on your white shoes and stockings, wipe the surplus cream off your face and put on some powder, fix your hair prettily and top all with a clean dress. Nothing fussy.  A blue percale bungalow apron will be just fine.

Now look in the glass. Did the pantry shelves with clean paper ever look prettier than you do? No. They did not. Now we’ll get supper.

My! How John watches you. Really good to look at. Had almost forgotten how pretty you were. Supper tastes so much better too and although you were so tired an hour ago you feel rested now. And it has a soothing effect on John’s tired body to see someone pretty and cheerful opposite him instead of a tired, bedraggled old farm woman.

The woman in the home is the real home-maker and the morale of that home is raised or lowered just so many points by her daily appearance and her outlook on life and its problems.

Finally John says, “Why are you all dolled up tonight?” And when you tell him, “Oh! Just for you,” don’t be surprised if he doesn’t take you in his arms and pet you a little because he probably won’t. He might, of course, but more likely he’ll reach for his pipe and say, “Golly! I hope that rain holds off till I get the West Forty done. I stepped right along today.” Don’t feel slighted because he takes more interest in the Forty and what he is doing than he does in you. He noticed you, didn’t he? And, way down inside he feels flattered because you did it for him. He’s just a child grown up and he is as susceptible to flattery as any child. Tell him, “Yes, I noticed that you were working pretty steady.” Doesn’t make any difference whether you really noticed it or not. You know he was. Take an interest in his accomplishments. More flattery. And a vamp never overlooks the possibilities of flattery. Never carry it so far as to sound insincere. Just be interested.

If he jollies you or teases, don’t fail to jolly back. Flirt with him. Vamp him. If you don’t, somebody else will. And men like water, traffic and other things too numerous to mention, follow the line of least resistance. Make it easier for him to be with his cheerful pal, his chum, his wife, than to be away from her.

Through your comradeship and the resulting wholesome atmosphere of your home, your family will gain a prestige in the community that nothing else, not even wealth, can give. The result will be well worth your effort. Start now.

Rest Where You Are, 1925

With the exception of one aspect, I have truly loved my 40+ years of being a housewife. What is my one exception? The following old saying states it best: “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s (housewife’s) work is never done.” Since my home is my workplace, my many duties are always in plain sight staring at me, begging to be done! Although I knew that I needed a change of perspective rather than a change of job, I was never able to grasp a solution to my problem until now. A teenage girl from Nebraska, born more than a century ago provided me with the answer.

I am a high school girl and know the meaning of hard work. My mother is an invalid and I have five brothers and sisters and so have housework and school work both to do.

I want to tell you of some magic words I found. Maybe you will not think they are magic if you read them casually. I don’t know who wrote the verses but I do wish every harassed house mother and others who are overworked, might try their potency. Read them slowly with the idea of getting their full meaning. There is something almost mysterious about the way they fit each hard day.

“When spurred by tasks unceasing or undone,
You would seek rest afar

And cannot, though repose by rightly won,
Rest where you are.

“Neglect the needless, sanctify the rest,
Move without stress or jar,

With quiet of a spirit self-possessed,
Rest where you are.

“Not in event, restriction or release,
Not in scenes near or far

But in ourselves are restlessness or peace,
Rest where you are!

“Tasks, unceasing or undone,” which spur you unmercifully on–isn’t that sometimes true of housework? If you cannot be spared for a vacation, why “rest where you are!” I know it can be done.

“Neglect the needless” and half of your load is lifted. “Sanctify the rest.” After all is there any office on God’s green earth so well worth filling as that of caring for your home?

“Move without stress or jar,” in other words, take your time and do not worry. Now say the rest slowly. It is magic!

I may be little but I have found the magic within which makes me bigger than the biggest day’s work that ever comes my way.

Her Own Prince Charming; 1920’s

More than 90 years ago, Alice Robinson from Ohio, won first prize in a contest where she was asked to describe her “Prince Charming.” 

“If you had asked me not too long ago, I would have said that he had to be tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But he has come and our little home is being built. Just after the New Year, the most wonderful honeymoon that ever happened (to us) will be in progress.

My real Prince is as little like my dreams as anything could be. His light hair and blue eyes (which are always shining with kindness and merriment) are more wonderful to me than I ever dreamed anything could be. I dreamed of a rich man who could furnish me with a magnificent home. My merry farmer lad is giving me a tiny bungalow with everything modern and convenient, if you please, which no one would call magnificent, but everyone would say was adorable; they couldn’t help it. And in it with Christ’s help and blessing, we shall be happy, forever and ever because I know I am getting the world’s truest and best. And ‘he’ says he is satisfied.”

The following is a simple plan for a garden wedding. What a lovely and unstressed way to marry Prince Charming!

My cousin is going to be married early this summer and we are planning for the happy event together. Neither of us have any sisters so we are real chums even though she is a little older. They have a large shady lawn with pretty flower beds and bushes on it and she has chosen this pretty place instead of the church or house for the place of the wedding. My mother has given us permission to take over our piano and I am to play for them. My brother has a lovely voice and he is going to sing several pretty songs that cousin has already chosen. We are going to decorate the lawn with rugs and benches and the prettiest pillows we can borrow from our friends. Brother will make an altar near the piano. We shall borrow the large candles and candlesticks from the church so that in the evening the lawn will be lit up and that is when it will show it’s splendor. The altar and piano we shall decorate with wild flowers. The ceremony will be before dinner and the reception held under the shady oak trees out on the lawn. We shall make everyone present feel that my cousin’s outdoor wedding was a happy and successful affair.

 

In Love With Her Life, 1915

It is dusk. The children and I have just come in from the corral, where I milked seven cows. I am so in love with life that I find a day very short to hold its allotted joys.

First, I awoke a little earlier than usual this morning and lay thinking over the “had-to-be-dones.” It is baking day; but that is a glad-to-be as well as the other, because I love to experiment outside of the cookbooks. At half-past five I arose and by half-past six had breakfast on the table and my bread set. By eight o’clock we had breakfasted and I had the seven cows milked. How I love my gentle cows! What an inspiration their calm patience is! And I love to get out at that hour. At this altitude the mornings are always chilly but by eight it is pleasant. At half-past eight I had the three larger children dressed and at breakfast, while I ran the milk through the separator. While the children finished, I went again to the barnyard, where I fed my little chicks and turkeys and looked after the rest.

I have two rows of flowers between the barnyard and the house, so I stopped a few minutes to smell the sweet-peas, to admire the gorgeous colors of the poppies, and to pull a few weeds. By ten I had Baby bathed and all his little wants attended to, the breakfast dishes and the milk things washed, my bread in the oven and my dinner started. So I sat down to churn and to read while I churned. I use an old-fashioned dash churn, therefore I have an excuse for sitting down. I am glad of it, for I can read then.

By twelve I have my sweet golden butter printed, have heard my daughter’s lessons and have dinner ready. By half-past one we have had dinner and I have the kitchen in order and we all lie down for a rest. At two I begin making the beds, by three the whole house is straightened, so I have two hours for myself. I read a little story for the kiddies and then send them all to play while I read a little. I write a couple of letters and then go out to hoe and pull weeds a while.

I cook most of my supper while I cook dinner so I can prepare supper in a few minutes. So I feed my biddies, and the children gather the eggs, until we hear the men coming in from the field. By seven o’clock we have had supper, and Baby is put to bed. Daughter helps me put the kitchen to rights.

Then comes the goodest part of the day. We go to milk. Daughter and Son sit in the wagon out of harm’s way and I milk. We all enjoy the beauties of the sunset, the beautiful colors, the crisp little mountain breeze. By nine the kiddies have had their bath and are in bed. Daddy-man is playing the phonograph so they can go to sleep.

At ten o’clock my day will be finished. I shall finish this paper and read a little with Daddy-man and then it will be my bed-time. As I finish I see I have left out many little joys. I have kissed little hands to make hurts well perhaps a dozen times. I matched some colors and cut some blocks for Daughter’s patchwork quilt; I made a finger-stall for the hired man. I have answered the ‘phone a few times and–Now if some university can help me to make my days more elastic so that they can encompass all my joys comfortably, I shall be glad. There’s so much I want to do but–Good-night!