How a Housewife in 1919 Lived in the Summer

How a Housewife in 1919 Lived in the Summer

The specifics are a little different in 2023, but on the whole, things haven’t changed a lot in the past 100+ years. We still prefer lighter, fresher meals cooked outside in hot weather. There’s an abundance of garden produce that we need to preserve. End-of-summer sales are a good time to stock up and in spite of air conditioning, we need to air out our homes. I think we can all appreciate the reminder of the original author to “dispense with the unnecessary!

Meal Planning

Make a change in your table to meet hot weather conditions. More fruit, more fresh vegetables, more fish, more salads. Less meat, less cake, and fewer heavy puddings. An ideal summer lunch for grown-ups is composed of three components. An adequate and well-balanced salad with sandwiches or rolls, fresh berries or fruit, and a cool drink, for which use fruit juices freely. You will find that even your masculines will occasionally hail with delight a substantial ice-cold salad–flaked fish, fresh peas, string-beans, diced potato, surrounded by crisp lettuce and dressed with French, mayonnaise, or boiled dressing–instead of the conventional hot meal.


Many of June’s duties are equally imperative in July. Woolen garments hanging in closets should be shaken and aired at intervals during the entire summer. Sweaters, mufflers, golf hose and all such accessories worn only occasionally, should receive this occasional inspection. [I examine my golf hose more frequently, however. One can’t be too careful when it comes to one’s golf hose…] I do not approve of the plan, adopted by some, of airing the house in the early morning and then shutting all doors and windows during the heat of the day. The air is cool, but dead. Rather, keep windows and doors on the street and dusty sides closed. Close the blinds on the sunny side, turning swivels so that the breeze may enter the house.

the leisure of an unwearied self after “kitch”ing outside

Slowing Down

Sew and “kitch” out of doors whenever you can! Neglect your house all your conscience will allow! Systematically plan to dispense with all unnecessary labor, and liberally construe the adjective “unnecessary.” In hot weather much of our cooking is unnecessary and much of our ironing is unnecessary. Too much elaboration in the making of children’s–and also grown ups’–summer clothes is unnecessary. Choose the “better part,” which is an unruffled temper, calm nerves, and a sense of leisure for present enjoyment for yourself and family. Give of your true self, unwearied to husband, children, and friends.

Gardening and Preserving

Conserve the surplus berries. Sweets concocted from the products of the July garden are canned currant, gooseberry, and raspberry, and jams and conserves, either separately or in combination. Try currant and raspberry, equal parts, either canned with a moderate amount of sugar to taste. Or, make into a jam with their weight of sugar. Take a housewifely pride in having a well-filled preserve and canned-vegetable closet and get as good a start as possible in July. Try vegetable combinations–diced carrots mixed with peas and processed are delicious; string beans and carrots are good and very attractive.

Linen Care

A new set of sheets, four pillowcases, and six towels each year. This was the old rule given to young housekeepers in order to “keep the stock good.” Midwinter and midsummer are the times to make such replenishments. Unfold all napkins, when purchased in advance of need, and roll over a pasteboard tube. Otherwise the sharp creases in the linen wear through, even when laid away. Fold napkins in common use sometimes in threes or fours to equalize wear, as they always break first in the folds. Cotton dress goods are also marked down at this time. Purchase now if you make some of your small people’s clothes.

For another post on summer in the old days, click here.

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