A Sparkling Vintage Life

Margery Wilson (1896-1986), a silent-screen actress and director and author of advice books for women

Hmm, preserving civilization . . . could I choose a more ambitious topic for a Thursday morning, fellow Sparklers?

As you begin to incorporate tiny, vintage touches into your daily life, some people will question your seriousness or even your sanity. They will question your desire to preserve the finer points of civilized life when so many more serious problems in the world need our attention.

It’s my firm belief that far from being trivialities, the little comforts and small courtesies of a bygone age do much to ease conflict and facilitate good relationships. That’s why, in the face of naysayers, I will continue to pursue a Sparkling Vintage Life.

Along those lines, the following passage is taken from The Woman You Want to Be: Margery Wilson’s Complete Book of Charm, first published in 1928 and updated several times. My copy was printed in 1942, when women on the home front were struggling through World War II.   In this case it sounds like Miss Wilson’s wisdom applies as much to today’s unstable world  as it did back then.

by Margery Wilson

“In the coming years we shall need all the charm, aplomb and philosophy we can get. It will be the task of women to keep the world from despond, to keep the prettier gestures of good living going with meager materials. . . . Under the most trivial, be-curled, made-up and high-heeled female there burns a desire to be needed. All the talk of our softness and laziness will fall meaningless, blunted on the fact that close under the surface of the average woman is more strength of purpose (when it isn’t needed, it’s called stubbornness), fierce loyalty (no lioness can equal it), and capacity for comradeship than the modern man even suspects.

“In commending Clara Barton, one-time clerk in the Patent Office, who started the American Red Cross, [Abraham] Lincoln said of women in general, ‘If all that the poets have ever said or sung were gathered together to describe the women of America during the war, it could not do them justice.’

“WE WILL NOT FAIL IN ANY CRISIS TO COME. To the extent of our ability we will keep the torch of civilized home-life burning. We will create beauty with whatever materials are at hand. We will fan the embers of kindness in a brute-stricken world. We will hold high the gains of learning, decency. We will heal and hold to our hearts the wounded, the young, the needy. It is a great privilege to be a woman today.”

So there you have it, Sparklers. There’s no reason we can’t both work hard to change the world AND maintain the simple pleasures that make life worth living. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.