A Sparkling Vintage Life

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sunday Serenade: Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

Here’s some old-school pipe organ to get your blood racing on this Easter morning. Crank the volume, and have a glorious Resurrection Sunday!


The traditional words are:

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Down to Business: Girl Friday

ann randall

Actress Ann Randall portrays a busy “girl Friday.” (Source: filmfanatic.org)

The term “girl Friday” was a variation on “man Friday,” which in turn came from the pages of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (full title: The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner. Whew.). In that story, “Friday” is a faithful servant and all-around-useful kind of guy–Crusoe’s right-hand man–so named because Crusoe met him on a Friday. So the term “girl Friday” came to be used to describe a female employee who performed myriad office tasks with brisk and cheerful efficiency (and maybe some non-office tasks as well. Picking up dry cleaning, anyone? Buying a birthday gift for the boss’s wife?).

In 1940, a screwball comedy called “His Girl Friday,” starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, was a big hit at the box office.

“The surest way to prove that you are fitted for a better job,” Eleanor Boykin advised would-be girl Fridays that same year,  “is to do the one you have exceptionally well. Those who feel superior to their work and so perform it half-heartedly cheat themselves as well as their employer. Can they expect to inspire confidence? It is good sportsmanship to give full measure in your work. It is a sign of intelligence, ambition, and good breeding to give better than full measure.

“Get acquainted with as many phases as possible of the business you are in. Try to obtain books which will give you a broader knowledge of business and of your particular field. There may be evening courses available to you; if so, you will do well to take advantage of them.

“Be on time for your work. Don’t try to earn the reputation of being the first out of the door at closing time. Take a pride in never missing a day from your work, if you can possibly help it. If you are asked to stay overtime, be cheerful about it, even though you are thinking, “Just my luck–today of all days!” Don’t chew gum or manicure your nails in the office. Never use office stamps for your own letters. Keep your desk tidy. Move about quietly, without stumbling over chairs, slamming doors, or ramming in desk or file drawers. Poise is one of the most prized of good business qualities.

“Finally, get some fun out of your job. This will happen if you whip up some enthusiasm for your work, find something to like in the people you work with, and earn a “Well done!” from your chief. Then, wish cash proof in your pocket that you are useful, you will have the “everything’s-going-my-way” feeling.”

The term “Girl Friday” fell out of favor as feminists objected to calling grown women “girls.” Apparently “woman Friday” just didn’t have the same ring.

Sunday Serenade: The Last Words of David

This moving anthem, composed by Randall Thompson in 1949, has the best shiver-inducing organ accompaniment! I just love it, and I’m excited that our local choir will be singing it at our June concert.

Randall Thompson (1899-1984) was an American composer who taught music at Harvard, among other places. He’s known especially for his choral music.

The words, based on 2 Samuel 23:3-4, are:

He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds;
as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Sounds like spring to me! This version is performed by the Rutgers University Choir. The video wouldn’t let me embed, but I hope you’ll click on it and enjoy it as much as I do.




Fashionable Friday: Do Slacks Make You a Slacker?

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Here’s a fresh take on ladies’ slacks from the unsinkable Veronica Dengel, circa 1943:

“Another item in “lounging” or sports clothes about which I have a decided opinion is slacks! On the right person, well fitted, and worn with suitable accessories, slacks can be attractive. The tall slender, or average slender girl, can wear them beautifully. Unfortunately, however, we generally see them on heavy hips and thighs, and as someone very cleverly remarked: ‘Their slacks take up all the slack!’ They are splendid for work in big industrial plants or for casual country wear. They have no place on town or city streets, or worn with a mink coat or silver fox jacket, Hollywood to the contrary! If you can and do want to wear slacks, be certain that they are accompanied by a cotton blouse or sweater or matching jacket; that your shoes are very flat-heeled leather ties or something similar. Of course yo will never wear either medium or high heels with slacks. And no jewelry!”

LOL! Although I’m a skirt-and-dress girl at heart, I find myself reaching for slacks again and again. How about you?


Retro Recipe Wednesday: Bettina’s Butterscotch Pie


A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband is the deliciously retro title of a book by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, first published in 1917, although my copy revised and updated copy dates from 1932. The book follows the first year of married life for fictional characters Bettina and Bob. In it I found this delicious-sounding recipe for Butterscotch Pie, which for some reason sounds especially appealing today. Use your favorite baked pie shell.


1 c. dark brown sugar
4 T. flour
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. milk
1 T. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
1 baked pie shell

Blend the sugar and flour. Then add the yolks, salt and milk. Cook in a double boiler until thick and creamy, stirring frequently. Add the butter and vanilla (and pecans if desired) and pour into the baked pie shell. Cover with meringue.


1 egg whites
4 T. sugar

Beat the whites until stiff, then add the sugar and beat until creamy. Roughly spread on the filling, and bake for ten minutes in a slow (325 degree) oven.

Reflections on an Evening Bag

2013-03-13 07.26.48I found this gorgeous beaded evening bag in a consignment shop in Geneva, Illinois. It’s a reproduction, but so au courant for the 1920s that I’m sure Marjorie would approve.

I very seldom get the opportunity to carry an evening bag, as I don’t go to many formal events. Indeed, in North Idaho there are not that many formal events to go to, period. It’s not unheard of to wear jeans to weddings, for example.

But even in the urban centers, there are fewer occasions to dress up and pull out all the stops. No longer is there any differentiation between day and evening clothes, between everyday workwear and “Sunday best.” I think that’s a huge loss.  I prefer some differentiation in clothing. I don’t want to go out to a nice restaurant in the same clothes I wear to weed the garden.

Casual clothing is supposed to be the “great equalizer.” If we’re all slobs, all the time, no one can tell us apart from each other. Maybe that’s the point.

I get weary of the tired excuse that nice clothing is “too expensive,” so we should all wear jeans and sweats to, say, church so no one feels bad or “less than.” Oh, please. Neat, respectable clothes, including (gasp!) skirts and dresses, are available at all price points, including WalMart and thrift shops. If you’re willing to dress nicely for a job interview or a client meeting, you should at least be willing to do as much for your Lord, IMO.

Interesting how a simple little evening bag has ruffled my feathers today. I’ll have to do some more thinking about formality of dress, and dressing appropriately for different activities, and why the topic presses my hot button.

What about you? Do you wear the same style of clothing from morning to night, seven days a week? What, if any, activities or occasions inspire you to bring out a special outfit? If you’re an “all jeans, all the time” sort of person, is it for comfort? Blending in? Practicality?

I’ll post more on this topic after I’ve had a chance to ponder it for a while. Meanwhile, I think I’ll hang my evening bag on the wall as a piece of wearable art! And maybe once in a while I’ll trot it out in public, just to shake people up.

Retro Recipe Wednesday: Lunchbox Hints for the Health-Conscious Worker

sandwichesVeronica Dengel has much to say to the urban working girl, c. 1940, in her treasure trove of vintage wisdom, Personality Unlimited. Here are some tips for the woman who carried her lunch to work in the era before microwaves and resealable sandwich bags. Even the refrigerator sounds new and different, since the author specifies that it’s an “electric refrigerator”–to distinguish it, I suppose, from the old-fashioned icebox.

“If your work requires you to carry lunch to the factory or office, a little advance preparation will make it possible to have a very appetizing and healthful meal which will in no way disturb your dietary plan. You might try freezing a can of tomato juice for twelve hours in the electric refrigerator. Then, in the morning, wrap it in wax paper and pack it with the luncheon. At noon it will have melted, but still will be cold and refreshing. On very cold days, a small-sized thermos bottle may be used for hot broth or soup while cold milk or  a hot beverage may be carried in another.

“A salad may be put in its container the night before and stored in the refrigerator until it is time to pack the lunch box. Sandwiches do not have to be stuffed with meat. Fresh chopped vegetables make perfect fillings and are far more healthful. Or you may prefer to eat bread and butter with your salad, always whole wheat, rye, graham, or enriched bread. Avoid denatured foods which have been robbed of their full nutrition values.

“Stalks of celery, carrot strips, radishes, and ripe olives can be packed and kept fresh if they are placed in a  waxed envelope. Wring out a napkin that has been soaked in ice water and fold it round the outside of envelope. Fresh or dried fruit is always the best choice for dessert.”

Bon appetit!

Sunday Serenade: Give Me That Old Time Religion

Don’t you hate it when ad jingles take over a completely innocent song? I confess, I can’t listen to “Give Me That Old Time Religion, It’s Good Enough for Me” without hearing “I Am Stuck On Band-Aids, ‘cuz Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”


Nonetheless, here’s a spirited clip from the 1941 movie Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper. Good movie about World War I soldier Alvin York. It won Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year, and Cooper took Best Actor.


Fashionable Friday: Too, Too Tulle

tulleI was browsing through a vintage style book when I ran across this choice paragraph about party clothes:

“You should always determine whether a party calls for an evening length skirt or for daytime clothes. Sunday night suppers often find women in long skirts but with covered arms and shoulders, the ever satisfying ‘dinner dress.’ Only when men are in dinner coats should the women’s shoulders be bare; and only when men wear full evening dress do women wear very formal evening clothes. Perhaps an exception to this is the tulle dress young girls wear whose escorts merely wear tuxedos. The older woman, of course, never wears tulle.” (from Personality Unlimited by Veronica Dengel, 1943)

Now, there’s much here to boggle the mind. Skirt lengths! Bare shoulders! Dinner coats! But the sentence that caught my attention was the last one, about older women never wearing tulle. Ever the rebel, I felt a sudden inexplicable yearning to wrap myself head to toe in tulle–if only I knew what it was.

I did some research. Tulle, it turns out, is that stiff netting, often in white or pastels, most often seen in bridal veils and tutus. Named for the French town of Tulle, where it originated, tulle was worn early on by dancers on the Paris stage, hence the strong association with ballerinas.

Memories came flooding back of the scratchy underslip of many a starched party dress of childhood, and the yearning to wrap myself in the stuff waned as quickly as it had come. Nonetheless, it has its uses. Not just for ballerinas anymore, tulle also makes fine netting for keeping deer and even insects from gnawing on plants. I know this because I used some in my garden last year. I’m assuming this was acceptable, as the plants were suitably young at the time.

I have not yet found out exactly why tulle is meant only for the young, or who decreed it so, but I found corroborating evidence that it is indeed true. “There is undoubtedly a distinction between misses’ styles and those designed for older women,” intoned the garment-industry journal American Cloak and Suit Review in 1914.  “The new evening gowns for young women and youthful debutantes this season are developed, to a marked degree, in tulle. The youthful properties of this sheer fabric are enhancing enough to the appearance of the average purchaser, . . . for tulle trimmed dancing frocks are decidedly popular at present and are fashioned upon chic and attractive new lines which, though simple, are as graceful and girlish as it is possible to imagine.” The article goes on to praise a gown offered at Bonwit Teller (remember them?) which had “a simple surplice bodice of black silk velvet, which crosses just above the girdle, revealing a deep V-shaped vest draped with white tulle. At the wide armholes are set in double ruffles of finely plaited tulle, which stands straight out in the most Parisian manner possible.”

Parisian though it may be, the itch factor makes me happy to leave tulle to the brides and ballerinas.  How about you?

Retro fashion advice: The older woman , of course, never wears tulle.” Tweet this.

Retro Recipe Wednesday: HAM-SEASONED PEAS

“Shelling Peas”
Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899)

During the Great Depression, food budgets were tight, and meat had to stretch a long way. In this 1930s-era dish, the ham plays a supporting role, not a starring one. It’s a great way to use up leftovers.

The ham-and-pea combination always makes me think of spring. I got to wondering why ham seems like a springtime meat, seen so often on Easter dinner tables. I learned that, traditionally, hogs were slaughtered in the fall. In pre-refrigeration days, any meat that wasn’t going to be eaten promptly had to be cured for storage. The curing process took several months, meaning the ham would be ready right about Eastertime. The green peas against the pink ham look very springlike to me.


1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup cooked ham, chopped
11/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
dash of salt (optional–the ham is pretty salty already)

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ham and onion. Cook and stir until onion is tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in peas, broth, dill, pepper, and salt if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until peas are tender.

Serves 4.

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