The title of this article intrigued me. I could not imagine what American farm women could know about Japanese kimonos! So I did a search for “1920s kimonos” and I found this picture. Kimono means “robe.” Now I get it!
No matter how many children you may have or how much housework you may have to do, do not let yourself fall into the kimono habit. It may sound exaggerated but it is nevertheless true that this one habit alone has broken up happy homes. Once let it get its clutch on a woman and she loses all proper pride in her appearance. It is difficult sometimes to look neat and trim and it is perilously easy to slip on a kimono.
If Father gets out of bed “the wrong way” and the fire will not burn and the son of the family mislays something or other and upsets everything hunting for it, it is certainly hard for Mother or Daughter to resist just a kimono. Even in such an awful state of affairs as this, it will take scarcely a moment longer to slip into one of those convenient house dresses that one can buy very inexpensively almost anywhere. They look neat and trim—some of them are even “fetching.” Every woman and every girl owes it to herself to be neat and attractive looking at the breakfast table.
Which will make a husband or son or brother the more devoted: to carry about with him all day the image of you eating the morning meal in a slouchy kimono with your hair carelessly twisted up “any old way,” or the recollection of the same you neatly dressed and looking as fresh and sweet as the morning itself? I do not think it would take the average man very long to decide which picture he would prefer. It is all very well to quote the old saying about the way to a man’s heart lying through his stomach —far be it from me to declare its fallacy! —but experience (my own as well as other people’s) has taught me that if a woman wishes to keep a man attentive, she must please his eye as well as his stomach. It is not always the busiest woman, by any means, who is addicted to the kimono habit. For we all know that the hardest worked people somehow seem to find time for neatness and order.
Not very long ago, my aunt gave me a dollar to spend anyway I wished. I went to the city to spend the afternoon and I also spent my dollar. I paid a quarter to see a movie, a quarter for a new magazine and because my best girl friend had one and because I wanted one like her, I bought a harmonica for fifty-five cents. Then I bought a nickel’s worth of candy to eat on my way home. I didn’t have a very good time either, for the movie wasn’t as good as I expected it to be and my best hat got wet!
When school time came, Mother asked me how many dresses I had that were good enough to wear. She said, “Well, you ought to have at least one more gingham dress but I cannot spare the money now.”
It was then that I began to wish I had saved my dollar for here is what I could have bought with it.
Three yards 33-inch gingham—75 cents One spool of thread—5 cents Three skeins embroidery floss—10 cents
One Farmer’s Wife pattern—10 cents
This is how I spent my dollar and how I could have spent it had I been wiser at the time.
Note: Lelia was living with her widowed mother when she wrote this story. A year later she married Ray R. Figg and together they raised a family in their home state of Indiana. Hopefully, she shared this lesson with her children, all girls–Evelyn, Rosemary, Wilma and Shirley. Lelia died a widow in 1994, at the age of 88.
It is very seldom I go to the city to trade, so when I do I always have a list of things I must have and a list I would like to have if I have enough money left. The last time I was in trading I had bought all my necessary things and was wondering what I would like best to get for Mother as it was near her birthday. A little girl and boy came into the department store and were looking around when I heard the little girl ask the clerk the price of a book. It was $1.98 and the children had only a dollar. So I asked them why they wished that book in particular and the boy said that they had seen their mother look at it the day before when she was in there and it was her birthday that day so they thought it would be nice to give it to her.
I gave them my dollar to pay for the book. I hope their mother is pleased, as my mother had to do with a box of handkerchiefs. Let’s hope she was pleased enough to make up for the way I felt not being able to give my mother more! I’ve often wondered since, was it foolish of me or not?
Whenever I am tempted to put pretty things away and not use them I think of a neighbor I had. She was fine to visit with over the garden fence or in my home, but it was no joy to go into her home. It was beautiful–but the polished floors were covered first with new rugs and then with old rugs and where there wasn’t any “rug” there were heavy papers, so you couldn’t possibly mark the floor. The chairs were all covered so they wouldn’t get dusty or scratched. She never used her best dishes for fear they would get nicked or broken. Her beautiful linens were laid away, so they wouldn’t wear out. Children were not welcome in the house, as they might leave a mark or fingerprint on something.
One day Mary died of heart failure.
Within a year Joe was married again. All the old rugs and coverings disappeared, the costly china is used everyday and on wash days the most beautiful linens hang on the line. Four healthy, sturdy boys have come to bless the home.
As we see them learning to swim, having water fights or sailing boats in the bathtub, sliding down the banisters or playing train with the furniture, we wonder, “What would Mary say if she could see all this?”
We are thoroughly convinced that we, ourselves, shall use and enjoy all our pretty things and not save them for wife number two.