Band Boys Will Be Boys

While browsing through the September 14, 1916, edition of The Sheridan Advance, I came across this article detailing the misadventure of some local band boys, a Cadillac, and a tuba. The article painted such a vivid picture that, as I read, I couldn’t help but imagine myself at the scene, the mother of one of those good-hearted, reckless band boys. I shook my head, smoothed my imaginary apron, and breathed a sigh of relief that everyone landed unscathed. Well, except for the tuba. I suppose young Robert had some explaining to do about the tuba.


Harry Hotaling drove the Hotaling Cadillac automobile in the river just east of Sheridan Friday afternoon. The only damage to the car was a broken front wheel. Besides the driver the occupants of the car were Robert Bell, Ashley Hotaling, and Halbert Kibbe, all band boys. None were hurt. Bell’s large B flat tuba was badly mashed.

The boys were driving the pilot car for the booster delegation that was touring the county advertising the tabernacle meeting at Grant City. They were not driving very fast–just about the way the average driver comes along the good roads of Platte bottom, but the driver says he was not attending to business as he should have been. As he came within a few rods of the bridge he noticed a car already crossing. His foot brakes failed him and some of the car decorations were in the way of his levers and he could not get to them. Rather than drive his car into Garfield Calkins, who was on the bridge, he drove over the bank into the river. The bank at this place is at least twenty feet high and steep. Hotaling jumped as the car left the bank. Kibbe and Bell managed to fall into the river and young Hotaling rode the car to the bottom and then deliberately stood up and took a high dive into the soothing waters of Platte. This quieted his nerves some. When the car left the bank it was headed northwest across the river. About half way down the left hind wheel of the car struck the bank and turned the car straight across the river, and this perhaps saved the machine from upsetting.

Calkins brought the boys to town immediately and Beezley took teams and men and pulled the car to his shop. A car might make the same flop a thousand times and kill all the occupants each time. The boys were indeed lucky to escape with their lives. Most drivers would prefer a collision.

I really don’t know what I love the most about this article. The author spoke with regretful amusement as he told the tale with both patient allowance made for the boys’ sense of high drama, and relief that they were not injured. I also love how the boys freely admitted to all the doofus errors that led to the accident. The failure of the brakes, the decorations in the way of the levers, the TUBA? I can just imagine the atmosphere inside that car. Add four teenaged boys in high spirits, and I’m sure they weren’t ‘attending to business’ at all. I adore the way Harry Hotaling chose to fly off the bank rather than risk smashing up someone else’s car (called an automobile back then–cars were trains). And I love how Ashley Hotaling dove into the Platte after plunging down the bank of the river. Well, why not? Might as well. And I love how Mr. Beezley organized efforts to go pull the Cadillac out of the river, with teams of horses, no less. So much for that Caddy, Mr. Hotaling.

But most of all, I love that this story made the front page of The Sheridan Advance, right next to the announcement for the Booster Ladies Meeting and the Rickabaugh and Wilson Colt Show. I think Sheridan, Missouri, sounds like a most excellent small town. I wish I could have visited it back in 1916.


A Mother’s Day (in ads)

For this year’s Mother’s Day Moment, I thought I’d share two advertisments taken from the October 1916 edition of The Ladies’ Home Journal. I love the colors and artistry of the above ad for Naphtha soap, which I remember my grandma telling me about using. The ad admonishes women to “Save your energy for pleasanter things than washing clothes.”

P. and G.–The White Naphtha Soap really washes clothes while they soak.  You have for your other work the time you now spend with washboard and boiler. After the clothes are on the line, the best part of the day is before you to sew, read, shop, visit or romp with the children.

The next ad plays on the natural guilt all mothers seem to have over the consequences of not taking the best care possible of our children.

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to lay the guilt aside for the moment and go take a nap. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is Every Day

The fashions may change, but the relationship never will.

I saved this magazine especially for my Mother’s Day post, expecting to find amusing anecdotes highlighting the differences between how we mother today and how our great-grandmothers mothered a century ago. But curiously, blessedly, I couldn’t find much. When it comes to mothering our babies, not a lot has changed.  Oh, methods have changed. Medical care has changed. Nutrition has certainly changed. But, looking at the bigger picture, it seems that mothers pretty much want the same things for their children no matter on what year the fluttering calendar pages have come to rest.

I think we can agree that magazines speak to the social concerns and aspirations of the day. Even if the individual reader finds herself unable to live up to those aspirations (like I fail to live up to the standards of Martha Stewart Living), we can still learn what a good portion of the population was aiming for by reading the magazines of the time. And going by this magazine, I’ve realized that our sisters of the early 1900s were a lively, opinionated, caring group of mothers, who put their efforts in to raising their children and running their households to the best of their ability. Is that any different than what I do?

Just like any present-day parenting magazine, the March 1916 issue of The Mother’s Magazine contains articles ranging from broad social concerns to problems that crop up closer to home. Our 1916 mothers read articles on improving the school system and the National Baby Week movement, which aimed to educate parents across the country  toward more healthful infant care,ultimately reducing the yearly number of infant fatalities. They also read about more personal concerns, such as coping with interfering mothers-in law, reducing the work load around the house, baby’s hygiene and nutrition, care of a sick child, and the best general parenting methods. They found new recipes to try (a whole article on ways to prepare bacon!), articles on the current fashions, and many, many advertisements–all selling ways to bring up a superior child, improve their looks, boost their health, and make a little money on the side. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Some of it is beautifully written and spot-on applicable to my own mothering, making me forget that I am reading something vintage. Instead, I find myself reading with the intent of applying it to my own family. On page 65, I read:

The Sunshine, by Margaret Blaine

The child’s character in future years will reflect just as much sunshine and cheer as surrounded him from the earliest days. We recognize unthinkingly that the child is a reflection of his surroundings. The whining child lives with irritable people. The rude child is not treated courteously. We recognize the beloved child at once. Whatever of strength or weakness may be hidden in the child’s heart his manners and mannerisms, the habits that will make him attractive or the reverse, are the reflections of his surroundings. No child speaks a harsh word until he has heard one. No child lies, in the essential meaning of the term, if he is brought up in an atmosphere of kindness. And the beginning of this silent training is in the very beginning of his life. Love and truth must wrap the cradle. Firmness and self-control must be the mother’s while the babe yet sleeps in her arms.

On another page, I found myself laughing out-loud with Elna H. Wharton, when she writes:

When baby was tiresome or unmanageable he was my child; when he was cunning or unusually handsome, he was “John’s baby” or “my grandchild.” I came to discover that my mother-in-law’s devotion to our baby was purely selfish. She did for it what gave her personal gratification, and skipped nimbly out of the way of any of the hard, disagreeable tasks connected with his care. It wasn’t that I wanted her to do them; it was only that the sentimentality without real service finally got on my nerves.

Nothing out-of-date about that!

Of course there were some things here and there that  gave me pause. From the aforementioned bacon article, I give you a recipe for–wait for it–Calf’s Head with Bacon. They say bacon makes any dish good, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Calf’s Head with Bacon

Take half a calf’s head, remove the brain carefully, wash it in cold water, and put it in a basin of water with a little vinegar. Wash the calf’s head in salted water, then boil it in seasoned water or stock and cook till tender, together with a piece of lean bacon. Take up the head, drain, and serve with slices of boiled bacon. Serve with brain sauce.

Are you now wondering how to make ‘brain sauce’? Keep reading!

Brain Sauce

Drain the brain mentioned in the foregoing recipe, remove the skin, and put it in a saucepan with enough water to cover, adding one-fourth teaspoonful of salt. Boil up quickly and place in cold water, then drain again and chop it finely. Now add the chopped brain to one cupful of white sauce. Season to taste and serve.

Hmmmm… I think I’ll save that recipe for Father’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.