Monday, November 29, 2010


I came across the article below a day or two ago. I had just received the magazine in the mail (I am a collector of Farmer's Wife magazines) and was struck when I noticed that the issue was 100 years, and one month old (October 1910.) Just a few hours before, I had been looking at a Christmas flier from a local store. There I saw advertised a hot dog cooker. For those of you who have not seen this new, and I believe ridiculous invention, I will describe it. It appeared to be about the size of a large toaster, with hot dogs and buns sticking out of the top as you would see bread sticking out of the top of a toaster. It "only" costs $17.99! What a bargain!! As you will see in the following article, our buying habits have changed much in the last 100 years. I will leave it for you to decide if it has been an improvement or not.

"A finicky public has become accustomed to buying all kinds of food products put up in tasty, neat packages. All kinds of grocery store products now go to the consumer in attractive cartons or packages where formerly they were bought in bulk. This is, of course, an expensive way to buy, for the consumer has to pay for the extra trimmings, but if we are to get the high price we must observe the demand.

In years gone by, butter was sold by the jar, or dished out by the grocer in wooden parchment saucers. Nowadays the high-priced butter comes in neat cartons stamped with the producer's name, the butter itself being wrapped in parchment paper. In city stores, butter so handled often brings five to ten cents per pound more than the same quality of butter sold in jars.

Housewives who pride themselves on superior butter, might well take a suggestion along this line; namely, giving the public what it wants. First, get a mould that will make just a pound brick of butter. Then secure parchment paper and wrap each brick after wetting the paper in cold water. Then if you want to go still farther, get pasteboard cartons holding a pound brick, and on the carton let it be known the kind of butter you are selling and the name of the maker. The whole outfit will cost but two or three dollars, but it will all come back in a month or two.

If you are in shape to make first-class butter and want to sell it for a good price, try this suggestion. Your grocer will be glad to have your consignment so he can sell it out by the pound without handling it. The consumer will be glad to get it without having people handle or muss over it. The first thing you know, you will have quite a reputation for the quality of your product and will have trouble in supplying the demand. If the public is willing to pay for attentions of this kind, you can well afford to go to the extra trouble. Successful salesmen today are those who anticipate and supply the demands of the market."

Friday, November 26, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 8; by Mabel Hester Green

May 23, 1929

I'm preparing for finals.

Pray for me.

School will soon be over. But my, how I hate leaving the Hall and the friends I've made there. Sarah and Elizabeth Pentree are going to visit me this summer, though. I can scarcely wait for that.

I love this old school, with all its work.

Father and Mother are coming for Commencement exercises—going to drive up since it's cheaper and they can take me back with them. Janet

May 31, 1929

Enclosed find clipping. I'm too overwhelmed to write.
(From the Student Reporter)

“Miss Janet Ellsworth, of Frankfort, has been awarded the Mary Welch Randolph prize given annually to the freshman woman of this college who has shown the most initiative, originality, and womanliness during her year on the campus.

“Miss Ellsworth, the winner of the award, has maintained a good scholastic record, was captain of the coed freshman basketball team, has paid the greater part of her expenses for the year by work done while in school, and is popular on the campus because of her true womanliness.

“The prize will be presented at Commencement exercises.”--Janet.

June 5, 1929
Dearest Mart:

I'm so happy.

Commencement is over. We go home tomorrow. But the reason I am happy is that Father is proud of me.

And Mart, he says that next year he is going to send me to school and pay all of my expenses that he can, and that if I want to join a sorority I may!

I'm going to keep my place at the bookstore, but I'm glad that I won't be responsible for earning every penny I spend next year. I'm glad, too, that Father feels encouraged over his financial affairs. While it will be hard going for some time yet, he seems to feel that the worst pinch is over.

Well, working has many, many disadvantages, but I don't believe this year has hurt me any. I wouldn't recommend it as a general practice for all girls. I happen to have good health, quite a little pep and ambition, and have always been a fairly good student. That helps a lot. But I'll sure take a good rest and get caught up on sleep when I get home. Mother says I'm as thin as a rail.

I guess sororities do have some use for girls who work. Anyway, I've pledged Chi Theta and will live in the house next fall.

Tonight Elizabeth, Sarah, and I are going for a last walk through the campus by moonlight and then it's “Goodby, dear college, until September.” Love,--Janet.

The end...

Monday, November 22, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 7; Mabel Hester Green, 1929

Western Union Telegram:
Miss Martha Ellsworth,
South Bend, Indiana.
Made grades, even math.

February 11, 1929
Dearest Mart:
Thank you so much for the $50 for my fees. It was both a surprise and a relief. You certainly are the dearest sister anyone ever had. Janet.
P.S. I did make the team.--J.

February 21, 1929
Dearest Mart:

Mr. Ferber has employed me as a stenographer in the bookstore!
I have given up my waitress job. No need to worry quite so much over money now. The new position means work and will take lots of time--but it means steady work with a chance of promotion. Of course, it doesn't make me rich but it's a big lift.
Congratulate me.

Miss Pentree has thawed out to a certain extent. I think we may get to be friends some day. Some of the girls always will be snobbish toward me, I fear, but I find I really have more friends than I ever expected after waiting tables a semester.--Janet.

March 18, 1929

I haven't written for a long time, have I?
I've been a busy girl. Midterms are near again. They will not be the horrible bugbear they were to me last semester. I've studied more regularly.

Jim is as faithful as ever, but I don't seem to rate a lot of dates--big men on the campus.

I have my little group of girl friends but not the many that some of the girls have. You remember I promised Father not to join a sorority this year. That was a waste of words. A girl who works hasn't a show with sorority girls. Outside of Miss Pentree and one or two others, no organized girls pay any attention to me.

I'm resigned, though I do love the fluff and flutter of social life.

Don't tell, but I always walk rapidly past shop windows.

Wearily yours, Janet

April 16, 1929
Dearest Mart:

Please burn that pessimistic letter I wrote yesterday. Just when I was pining away for spring clothes, Father and Mother sent me a new hat and dress--a birthday present they said. The dress was a made-over freshened up with a little new material but it's pretty, and stylish, and no one need ever know what its past has been. How do Father and Mother manage when money is so scarce at home?

I am going to a party tonight to celebrate the acquisition of new finery.

Excitedly, Janet.

May 1, 1929
Mart Dearest:

Mr. Ferber has promoted me and raised my pay.

Gee, I'm glad. I sure have been working hard at that store. We've begun ordering Commencement invitations and filling seniors in caps and gowns. I'm worn out every night before I begin on my lessons. And term reports due and no time to get them written in decent style. Oh me, oh my! Such is collitch life for the working "goil."

Friday, November 19, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 6; by Mabel Hester Green; 1929

November 24, 1928

I'm discouraged tonight.

Smoke-ups (What does that mean, I wonder? LA)came out today. I got five hours in math. I never could understand old math anyway.

The smoke-up has done one good thing for me though, it has shown me I had another friend.

Martha Ellis, one of the quieter, sensible girls, came to the room to tell me not to feel too blue about math. The old dear is majoring in the stuff and has promised to help me with it. She is sure she can pull me through.

I'll have to study harder from now on. No more lengthy letters from yours truly until she fools Prof. Wade. Janet

Dear Mart:

I have discovered a new method of making money. Miss Douglas recommended me to the Ferbers (who run the bookstore) as a refined, dependable girl to stay with their children at nights!

Occasionally I am called over to stay with the youngsters while their parents are away on business or pleasure. The children usually go to sleep, as all good children should, giving me a chance to study. My financial status is quite satisfactory.

Father and Mother sent me a Christmas box with a few new clothes--enough to last until spring, if I'm careful. Mother picked them out, of course. Two of the darlingest dresses. I'm very elated. I was getting quite threadbare.--Janet

Miss Ellsworth:

In reply to yours of the 6th I would say that, indeed, I'm not becoming a grind.

I work hard for me, but I have my activities book which came with paying my fees and which takes me to games and concerts.

Jim, the faithful old dear, hasn't cut me like most of the frat men did, and takes me to a show or dance once in a while when I have an evening that I can spare. We girls have our good times in our rooms.

Then we are playing ball in gym. Rah! Rah! Rah! for me. I think I'll make the team.

I don't have time to do lots of things the other girls do, though. Some time I'd like to come to college for a year without working. As it is I'm rushed to death from morning to night and think I'm lucky if I have an evening or so off a week. But one can't have everything.

Finals are week after next. You won't hear from me for some time. Janet

Monday, November 15, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 5; by Mabel Hester Green, 1929

From Laurie: Please note that this story was written and published before the Great Depression. It seems that some farmers had a hard time of it, depression or not. It is a good reminder that honest hard work should not be looked down upon.

November 1, 1928

I've had to come to it! Picture to yourself your fastidious little Janet tripping into the great dining-room with a huge tray of soup bowls. Even if we were raised on a farm we never had much practice in waiting tables. But, my dear, I haven't dripped coffee down anyone's neck yet.

By the way, things must be getting desperate at home. Something Mother wrote gave away the fact that she's let her hired girl go. Poor Mother! I wish I hadn't written those letters begging for money. I'll not ask for any more, though. From now on, I've got to go it on my own, no matter how hard it is.

Well, working is just like I said. Miss Pentree sniffed and Isabell looks the other way when I pass her in the hallway,--the little snob! But Miss Douglas, the chaperon I just adore, partly made up for it. She shook hands after the first meal and said, "Bravo, Janet. I knew you were a brick. We're glad you decided to stay in school."

Of course, Sarah stands by me. She's a dear. I'm learning to appreciate her so much that I can forget the mannish clothes.

If the girls would still be my friends I think I would be happy in spite of everything.--Janet

P.S. Waiting tables only pays my board. I still must rack my brain for more work. Thank goodness, I'm pretty well supplied with clothes. I wanted a new coat, but I can wear the one Father bought for me last winter.

November 6, 1928

I have found the plan! I'm going to be sandwich man for the Hall.

You know I always loved to make fancy little things for picnics and lunches. Brother always had me pack his picnic basket because I could make such appetizing sandwiches.

Here's the scheme. Just before we go to bed at night every one gets just starved. At that psychological moment I appear in the hallway laden with a basket of dainty sandwiches, big red apples, and candy (I make part of the candy in my chafing dish and part I buy in the bulk.)

Listens well, doesn't it? And best of all, it works! I've been mobbed every night this week. It will more than pay my room rent. I love to do it, too. I must make some sandwiches now. Janet

November 11, 1928
My Dear Preacheress:

So you are still worried about my studies?

I am, too.

Your sermon has sunk deep in my heart. I must study. Midterms are next week.--Janet

Friday, November 12, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 4; by Mabel Hester Green, 1929

Dear Mart:

Father answered my special at last.

But, my dear, he never sent me a penny. Just explained how matters stood at home financially and suggested some different kinds of work I might find to do.

Then he wrote, "You must learn, Janet, not to consider the opinion of those people who look down on honest work. I'm sure you will find friends who will admire you for any plucky endeavor. If you find, though, that college life as a working girl is unendurable Father and Mother will welcome you back to the farm. But they expect their little daughter to make good."

After that I simply can't go home. But, oh, I do mind, Mart. Miss Elizabeth Pentree will sniff and her roommate cut me dead. And I won't be popular and get to go places any more. The fellows won't have any use for a poor girl who hasn't any nice clothes.

I'm convinced now that Father simply cannot help me any and I've given up all hope of that. Mart, could you--would you help your little sister in this emergency? You never had to worry about money when you were here, did you?

I'll study hard and amount to something and I'll pay your money back. Don't you think you could loan me enough for this year or at least, enough to finish this semester on?--Anxiously, Janet.

October 18, 1928

My Dear Unselfish Sister:

You don't know what a blow your letter was to me.

So you have been saving your money to help at home, and going without things yourself to do it, I'll venture. You poor girl!

And here I've been having a lovely time and begging for more money. I've spent $100 in less than a month.

Sis, I'm going to turn over a new leaf. I'll start out this very afternoon looking for work. Your repentant, Janet.

October 25, 1928

Dear Sis:

I'm at my wit's end.

I have applied for all kinds of jobs but I guess I'm a failure. I can't find any--that is, any decent ones. I just can't do housework or waiting tables.

For the life of me I don't see why I can't work in the registrar's office, but when I applied I was told that they took only experienced upperclassmen.

Then I went to about twenty offices trying to get secretarial positions but it seems that work requires training and experience, too.

At one place I got a tryout as a stenographer but after the snort that man gave when he saw the letter I typed for him, I resolved never to apply to anyone else for such a position. Still I couldn't blame him. I haven't any speed yet and I make the most queer mistakes.

Sarah says we will need a new waitress at the Hall at the end of the week. But, Sis, I never can do that. It would just ruin me socially.

The positions in the bookstore, library, and stores downtown are filled.

Do you have any ideas? I'm about to give up in despair and pack my trunk for home.--Janet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 3; by Mabel Hester Green; 1929

Memorial Hall
October 26, 1928

Dearest Mart:

The shops in this town are simply marvelous!

I can't walk past them without stopping to gaze wistfully. Sis, I do love pretty clothes.

You know what is coming!

Yes, I did. I might as well confess that I yielded to temptation.

It was a little striped flannel and only cost $15 and then I bought a little felt hat to match. All the girls have felt hats and I really need a school bonnet. Now--scold away!

You asked whether I was getting acquainted or not. I know our next door neighbors now. There is Miss Elizabeth Pentree, a Chi Theta pledge, whose fair, thin-nosed, blue-blooded ancestors came over on the Mayflower. She is quite friendly to me, but I saw her turn up her dainty nose a trifle when she was introduced to Sarah. (Sarah is waiting tables at the Hall.) I can see now the supercilious toss of the head of Miss Pentree will give me if I start working. I hope Father does send me some money soon.

Isabell Bonham, Miss Pentree's roommate, is a little doll with loads of fluffy-duffy clothes. I think her slang and lipstick rather grate on Miss Pentree's nerves.

I love school, Sis, but I'm worried about finances. Why do you suppose Father doesn't send me some money? Mother's last letter said that he had sold some wheat. I wrote that the $100 was almost gone--Janet.

Memorial Hall
October 10, 1928

Ma Cherie:

Bonjour. Comment vous portez-vous? See how fast I'm learning French?

You seemed worried in your last letter about my grades. You think I'm going to too many dances, don't you, old dear? And you think I should be conservative with the remains of my $100 and start looking for a position.

Well, we only go to college once and I'm having such lovely times!

And, listen--deep, dark secret--the $100 is almost gone. It won't be long now.

I sent Father a special last night explaining that I didn't want to work unless I just had to because all the girls would look down on me. And besides, I don't know any kind of work to do. Yours in anxiety.--Janet

October 12, 1928

Dear Mart:

The $100 is going fast. I haven't heard from Father.--Janet

October 14, 1928

Dearest Sis:

It's gone!!!--Janet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 2; by Mabel Hester Green, 1929

The other advice he gave me doesn't worry me either--that was that I had better not join a sorority this year, even if I was asked. I want to get acquainted first, anyway. Then I'll know which one I want. I am rather thrilled over my two rush dates, a tea tomorrow afternoon and dance that night.

I'm just a tiny bit homesick tonight, though, in spite of all the thrills. I went over the place for a last goodby look before Father drove me to the station. I'll miss it loads. I can just imagine the family sitting down to supper just about this time and the breeze coming in at the window and the frogs croaking down in the pasture. Don't forget to write to your little sister.---Janet

Memorial Hall, September 26, 1928
Dearest Mart:

I have gone to classes two days.
Registration was a pain, but the rest of the red tape wasn't so bad. I had to write out the family history and pedigree and take an all-over test to find out whether I could spell and whether I had flat feet. Since then we've been left in peace.

I'm taking mathematics, French, English composition, and typewriting--and, oh, yes, gym.

Mathematics scares me. Prof. Wade is a cross looking little man. He sure does assign lessons, too. We have twenty--think of it--twenty problems to work for tomorrow.

We are to write an autobiography for English composition. I'd like to read the story of Miss Osborne's life. (She's the teacher.) I'll bet it's been exciting. She has red hair and she may make things exciting for us.

Oh, and I do wish you could see ze leetle French professor with his leetle moustache. I keep my eyes on my book in that class. I would explode with laughter if I looked up at him.

The typewriting teacher is sweet. If I work real hard at my typing maybe I can get a job in about a month. Fees and first month's room and board made quite a hole in my bank account.

But I think Father can help me later. It's only a matter of time.---Janet

Monday, November 1, 2010

JANET MAKES HER OWN WAY; part 1; by Mabel Hester Green, 1929

Memorial Hall, Collegetown, Indiana, September 18, 1928

Dearest Sister Martha:

At last I've left the farm behind me and I'm off to college! I'm just thrilled to a peanut.

When the conductor shouted "Collegetown" my heart went flutter, flutter, and I grabbed my traveling bag, and my hat box and the flowers dear old Bob gave me, and my purse and the box of candy Roy thrust on me at the last minute, and squeezed down the aisle.

The conductor smiled at my bundles. Some of the students crowding behind me smiled, too I don't see why. I'm sure I looked quite sophisticated and collegiate in my new gray suit and new hat. (The sweetest little red hat, Mart, that mother got for me the day we drove in to Frankfort after you went back to work.)

Well, the minute I stepped off the train I was swamped by taxi drivers--but I needn't go into detail--you were through it all many times yourself the four years you were here.

When we reached the new Memorial Hall I was shown my room on the second floor. And, oh, Sis, the Hall is the most beautiful place. It was completed just last fall so the furniture and floors are new and shining. It has fireplaces and cozy little corners downstairs and the dearest little rooms. I have a dozen ideas for making ours look both elegant and comfy.

You notice I said ours, for I have a roommate. Miss Ellsworth, may I present Miss Sarah Jones? Now, you are properly introduced.

Miss Jones is not so good-looking, Mart, and wears very mannish clothes. She tells me that she intends to study Latin and work her way through school.

And mention of work makes me think of something else. Father had quite a serious talk with me about finances before I left home. He has had some bad luck. Mother wrote you about his losing so many hogs from the cholera, didn't she? And his wheat didn't thrash out as well as he expected--and he hadn't expected much either. So what with low prices and everything he had to renew that note Mother has for so long been hoping that they could get paid off this fall. He said he hated it, but that if I wanted to come to school I would have to pay my own bills. He thinks it will be good training for me, too, because I spent so much in high school.

Why, Mart, I never had many clothes while I was in high school. For graduation even, I had only four dresses and Alma Marie had five.

Father said he thought making my own expenses would teach me the value of money. Of course I had my heart set on going to college so I agreed to pay my bills if it was necessary.

All the clothes I needed to start with Father bought and he gave me $100 to last until I found some work to do. He is such an old dear. When he gets in a cheerful humor again and sells some more corn he'll relent and send me all the money I need. A hundred will last a long time so I'm not going to worry about a job. If worst comes to worst you would help me out.