Merry Christmas from Marjorie!

Christmas shopping's almost done.
Now it's time for lots of fun!
But first,remember why we're here
To celebrate this time of year.
The Baby in the manger stall,
The King who came to save us all. 

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, from my decade to yours,

The Christmas Robe: A Roaring Twenties Short Story

Well, whaddya know? A Christmas short story starring ME! It's set in the 1920s at Chicago's Marshall Field & Co. at Christmastime...what could be better?

I hear "The Christmas Robe" is available on Amazon (although why I don't know, because it has absolutely nothing to do with the world's longest fact, there's no river in it at all...), but you can obtain a copy FREE from the author's website.

I hope you enjoy this story about the time I coveted something special for Christmas, and wound up with a gift that was better than I could imagine.

Gotta run . . . big sale on bay rum, and I still need gifts for Pop and Charlie!



Oh, snap!

Sometimes I don't think I'll ever understand twenty-first-century technology. Would you believe that my author uses her telephone to take photographs? This enables her to sneak snapshots of me when I've just woken up and haven't even had time to comb my hair.

I mean, honestly. Was this really necessary?
(She seems to think it's funny. Well, har-de-har-har.)

A telephone that takes photographs, indeed. What's next...a radio that transmits motion pictures? That'll be the day . . .

Now, here in 1920s, THIS is a camera.

I received one from my parents as a Christmas gift one year. What was your first camera? 

Hope you're enjoying a very merry Christmas season, out there in the future!



What I Wore: Fashion Plate Edition

Louise Brooks. (source:
I stumbled across this enlightening post from Marie Claire. It's a list of 18 stylish ladies of my era, the 1920s. Go have a look at them and then come back and tell me which one you like the best.

Clara Bow. (source:
Style-wise, you're most likely to find me wearing a skirt-and-sweater combo like Clara Bow's, and I am also a big fan of the cloche hat like Doris Hill is wearing. My roommate, Dot, resembles Louise Brooks up top there, lucky girl. Whenever I need to look more glamorous than normal, I borrow an ensemble from Dot, except for that one time when I "borrowed" an expensive gown from Field's for a special event and disaster ensued. Jennifer is putting that incident in our forthcoming novel, because apparently she doesn't believe in maintaining a character's dignity. 
Doris Hill and her cloche. (source:

Speaking of the novel, she just turned the second round of edits in to the publisher. I keep telling her that if she'd write the story perfectly the first time, it wouldn't need any edits. She doesn't seem to find my advice helpful and in fact seemed a little put out by it. Talk about your thin skin! Geez Louise.

What do you think about the fashions of my era?


What I Wore: Football Edition

Here in the 1920s, we like football almost as much as you do. It's a fresh, new sport that's fun to watch, whether it's the Chicago Bears or the original "Monsters of the Midway," the University of Chicago Maroons (a team which, I understand, no longer exists in your era).

The Fashion Encyclopedia says, "Attending sporting events was a popular leisure time practice during the 1920s. Fashion-conscious spectators dressed in attire appropriate for a variety of sports events. Often fashion was dictated by the weather. For instance, male and female college students who attended autumn and early winter football games wore bulky raccoon fur coats or heavy tan-colored camel hair and woolen polo coats belted at the waist or with a partial belt at the back. Women's sportswear was becoming more masculine. By the late 1920s college-aged women wore tailored woolen tweed suits with knee-length skirts and loose-fitting slacks to collegiate sports events."

I think "masculine" might be going a bit too far, but I have borrowed a few ideas from my brother Charlie's closet, including tweed, sturdy leather shoes, and felt hats. I do, however, draw the line at wearing slacks, at least in Kerryville. In a big city like Chicago I might get way with something that daring, but I'd rather not chance it.

In the 1920s, both women and men like to wear raccoon coats to football games. I'd like one that
looked like the picture on the right (which is actually opossum), but they're too expensive for my budget. Sure would keep the chill off in the stands at Soldier Field, where the wind whips off Lake Michigan!

Did you know that the Chicago Bears (and professional football in general) got its start during my era? In 1920, Mr. George Halas founded a team called the Decatur Staleys. In 1922 they were renamed the Chicago Bears. The nice man over at the Chicago Bears website told me this: "The first major signing took place in 1925 when the Bears signed Red Grange to a contract. Halas then took Grange and the Bears on a coast-to-coast barnstorming tour in which the club played 16 games in nine weeks. The first game of that stretch was played before 36,000 at the team's home site, Wrigley Field."

Wrigley Field, of course, is now where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. The Bears' Soldier Field was built in 1924 (although the first game played there did not involve the Bears, but was a college game between Notre Dame and Northwestern). Originally called the Grant Park Municipal Stadium, it was soon renamed to honor the men who fought in the Great War. In the 1920s we think Soldier Field is very grand, like a Greek temple with its columns and porticos, but I see you 21st-century people done something with it that makes it look like a bathtub toy.
My Soldier Field
Your Soldier Field

Until next time,


My love life, such as it is

Richard, looking a little less buttoned-up than usual.
A few people have asked rather impertinent questions about the state of my love life. So here it is: I'm engaged to Richard, a handsome doctor whom my stepmother adores, because when he and I get married, her notch in the status hierarchy of our small hometown will be secured. 

What's Richard like? Well, he's kind. Generous. Faithful. Prosperous. Toss in thrifty, brave, and clean and he’d make the perfect Boy Scout. Perfect husband and father material.

I've only met his parents once--a starched-linen affair in an atmosphere as chilly as the ice cubes clinking in the silver pitcher. It was not an experience I am eager to repeat, although of course I will embrace them as my parents-in-law once Richard and I tie the knot.

I must confess to finding a certain other man attractive. But he is rumored to be a bootlegger, and Girls Like Me don't give a second glance to bootleggers. Well, maybe a second glance, but certainly not a third! And absolutely not a fourth!

What do you think, dear readers? Am I doing the right thing by marrying Richard, or cooking my own goose?



The Skin You're In

I visited a 21st-century hairstylist the other day to have my bob trimmed. It took me a while to find one, as I was looking for a "beauty parlor" with a trained "beauty operator" or "hairdresser" but apparently no one calls them that anymore. "Stylist" is the preferred term now. It's so interesting to me how language changes over time!

Anyway, I finally bagged my quarry, as it were, and while she combed and clipped, I leafed through a current fashion magazine. I hardly know where to start in my commentary on modern fashions, and believe me, I'll have more to say about this later, but I'll start with skin.

Gracious! Never in my life have I seen so many skincare preparations advertised. Cleansers, toners, exfoliators, clarifiers, moisturizers, emulsifiers, serums, eye creams, filler-inners, plumper-uppers . . . honestly, a girl could spend her entire wage on nothing but potions to fix what's wrong with her face!

Not that we are without beauty preparations here in the 1920s. Far from it! Pond's Cold Cream is a favorite of mine. Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein are both going strong. But we don't have nearly the selection that you 2015 girls do.

My grandma swore that a clear complexion could be obtained by washing one's face with the first snow that fell in April. In Illinois, April snow is a common sight. I don't know what our dear sisters in the South and other hot places do about this. No doubt they have their own special secrets--orchid blossom tonic or some such--that are off limits to us northerners. And maybe "October snow" applies to those of you in the southern hemisphere. But I'm wandering off topic.

Grandma also said that a "good constitution"--by which she meant good digestion--led to a clear, soft, velvety complexion. Here's what a beauty adviser in 1925* had to say about skincare from the inside out. (Sounds a lot like my grandma's advice!)

"The bad complexion can almost invariably be traced to poor digestion and its attendant evils--constipation, sluggish circulation, or torpid liver due to lack of sufficient outdoor exercise. . . . As a first aid in clearing the skin, it is necessary that you eat only such foods as agree with you and are easily digested, and that you get as much healthful outdoor exercise as is possible. Restore the digestive organs to their natural functioning and correct the sluggish circulation by the proper amount of exercise, the best form of which is a brisk walk, with arms swinging freely, head erect, chest thrown out, and breathing deeply. . . . There is nothing else which will so quickly bring back the natural color to the face insofar as it can be done by stimulating the circulation, or that will give so keen an appetite for wholesome food, thereby correcting digestive ills. 

"Drink plenty of water. A good plan is to drink a glass of water the first thing upon arising in the morning. Drink part of a glassful with your breakfast, but not while eating your food. At least two good sized full glasses of water should be drunk during the forenoon. During the afternoon it is advisable to drink three or more glassfuls and perhaps three during the evening and just before retiring. This may seem an usual amount of water to drink daily, but your system needs it to keep properly flushed and prevent the accumulation of toxic poisons.

"As regards the matter of food, only a few general instructions are necessary. Briefly stated, they are to avoid an overindulgence in sweets, rich pastries, etc. Eat meat sparingly, avoiding fat meats. Cultivate a liking for vegetables and make them the principal part of your diet, especially green vegetables such as string beans, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and combinations of these in salads. Eat sparingly of potatoes and white bread. Drink milk and eat plenty of eggs. After your complexion has been completely cleared of all its sallowness and other disfigurements, you may, of course return to a more normal indulgence in the foods above mentioned. As long as you do not over-indulge and keep up a reasonable amount of outdoor exercise, no harm will result."

(*from "The Famous Book of Beauty Secrets," published by the Women's Home and Personal Library Service of the Chicago Mailorder Company, 1925)

So there you have it! Beware the torpid liver! Exercise, water, proper diet--much cheaper than a $90 face cream, no?

How do you keep your complexion smooth and velvety?

Marshall Field & Me

Here in the 1920s, I am thrilled to work at Marshall Field & Company, one of the leading department stores in the country. In my day, company literature said, ""Field's,' as it is intimately called by all Chicagoans and, indeed, by its thousands of friends and customers outside of Chicago, occupies a unique position in the life of the city. It has grown up with Chicago and is universally looked upon as something more than a store--rather a civic institution . . ., shown with pride as one of the chief show places of the city."

Working here makes it a lot easier to sneak over to The Store for Men and spy on . . . oh, wait, never mind that part. Let's just say I was over the moon to be hired, even though they put me in Ladies' Nightwear. I was hoping for Books so I would have something good to read when things got slow. But things seldom slow down at Field's. The motto is "Give the lady what she wants," and you'd better believe they keep us hopping.

People don't always realize the skill that goes into being a sales clerk. During my training it was emphasized that we have to be speedy and accurate at figures, able to talk nicely to perfect strangers and especially the not-so-perfect ones, and we have to hold our temper and use neat handwriting to fill out the order slips. We have to know the merchandise backward and forward and upside-down.We have to stand all day and not complain that our feet hurt. We're not supposed to chew gum or carry on conversations with other clerks while customers are waiting. We're not supposed to say things like, "Did you glimpse the swell dame that was just here? You'd think she owned the whole joint. All she bought was a yard of ribbon." Well, my stars, who would ever say something like that? A lot of this seems like plain common sense to me, but Marshall Field makes double-sure we know it.

To my friends in the British Isles (excuse me--United Kingdom--that term is still new here in the 1920s), did you know that Harry Selfridge of your Selfridge's store spent his early career learning the ropes at Field's? That all happened before my time, but someone in this century made a television series about it. (I'm still trying to make sense out of television. So you keep a moving picture screen right in your house, with sound and color pictures, that is operated by sitting several feet away and pressing buttons on a small rectangular box? Whoever dreamed up such a thing? I must admit, when I start watching a television on a visit to your century, it's hard to pull myself away, though I still prefer getting dressed up in nice clothes and going to the Orpheum, and then out for a soda afterward. At home I prefer listening to stories on the radio and forming the pictures in my head. Can people still do that in your century--form the pictures in their heads?)

The last time I was in Chicago, I tried to visit Marshall Field and see if any of my old coworkers were still working there. Then it occurred to me that all of them would be well over a hundred years old by now. Field's employees are loyal but not that loyal, to still be on the job at age 126. Anyway, the building was still there, but the sign on the door said "Macy's." Surely that's a mistake, because Macy's is in New York City, and even though I'm sure it's a perfectly nice department store, it's no match for Marshall Field.

We're going to have a book!

Have you heard the news? We've caught ourselves a publisher! Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas will be publishing our book sometime in 2016. The title "You're the Cream in My Coffee" is still tentative, but I hope they stick with it because I've grown quite fond of it. 

Anyway, you call follow its progress on Jennifer's site. She'll need to do most of the work on it, since I, of course, am busy with other things, like working at Marshall Field and stalking that adorable manager in the Store for Men.

Have you ever thought about what a funny name Jennifer is? In the 1920s, it didn't even appear on the list of the most popular baby names in America, although I understand it was a more familiar name in the U.K. There were some "Jennys," but that was often a nickname for "Jane," the way "Sally" was a nickname for "Sarah" and "Molly" was a nickname for "Mary".

In the 1940s an actress named Jennifer Jones rose to stardom, but her real name wasn't Jennifer, it was Phyllis. Anyway, I suppose that's when American parents started getting it into their heads that this was an appropriate name to give a baby, and a unique name at that. By the 1970s, it was the opposite of unique--it was the most popular baby name for girls. And now its popularity has waned again. 

I don't know why there aren't more Marjories these days. I think it's a delightful name! I understand it means "pearl," which is funny because a  character in another novel that Jennifer is writing is named Pearl. But I'm not supposed to talk about that, so keep it under your hat! You didn't hear it from me.

Toodle-oo for now,


Taking Tea

I understand from my travels around the century that "Tea Party" has taken on a new connotation of late--some sort of political meaning. Here in the 1920s we had the Teapot Dome scandal. But I gather your 21st-century Tea Party movement is something quite different from that.

Today, I want to talk about the genuine tea party . . . the kind held in the afternoon, , where you actually drink tea and spoil your supper with scrumptious, pretty, sugary delights. And if you discuss politics there, heaven help you. Eyebrows will be raised in your direction and people will whisper behind their fans, if they have them, or their hands, if they don't.

Believe me, I know all about whispering. I once attended a dismal tea party hosted by the local hospital auxiliary, to which I was invited as the "bride-elect" (a.k.a. fiancee) of Doctor Richard Brownlee. I felt like a bug on a specimen slide under a microscope. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say, most parties are heaps more fun than that one. (Details, if you must have then, are to be found in Jennifer's forthcoming book.)

Here are some tips on throwing a great tea party:

*Invite enough people . . . but not too many. Take a good look at the room where you're going to hold the party. If you invite too few guests for a large room, they'll look and feel lost. But too many guests crowded into a small room--what we call a "crush" here in 1925--can be equally uncomfortable. If the size of your guest list fights against the size of your room, either adjust the list or find a different room. Or hold it outdoors, if the weather's fine. Garden parties are quite the thing!

*Decide whether you want to invite both gentlemen and ladies, or only ladies (a party with only men is called a "stag" party and is not the subject of this post, although information abounds, if you're inclined toward such a thing). In my era, tea parties were often ladies-only events, since the ladies were free in the afternoons while the men were at work. But in your era, everybody works, so a date and time that's convenient for the ladies will most likely work for the men as well.

*If you include the men, decide if you want your tea party to include dancing. If so, consider hiring musicians. If musicians are beyond your budget, a gramophone works almost as well.

*There's no better decoration that flowers--lots and lots of them, according to the season. A potted palm or two can't hurt.

*Your menu includes tea, of course (iced tea in hot weather is nice), with sugar, milk, and lemon available, and possibly a fruit punch or other alternative for non-tea-drinkers, plus
as many cakes, breads, sandwiches, muffins, and what-have-you that you can conjure up. Everything should be cut up small, to be easily held in one hand. Supply plenty of plates and napkins, knives for spreading, and small forks, especially if you're serving anything gooey or sticky.

*Your party can be so small that it's just you and a few close friends sitting around a table. At a larger tea, though, you'll serve the refreshments from a long table. You can ask a close friend to stand by the teapot or punch bowl and do the pouring. According to Emily Post, being asked to pour is a great honor. She writes, "The ladies who 'pour' are always especially invited beforehand and always wear afternoon dresses, with hats, of course, as distinguished from the street clothes of other guests. As soon as a hostess decides to give a tea, she selects two friends for this duty who are, in her opinion, decorative in appearance and also who (this is very important) can be counted on for gracious manners to everyone and under all circumstances."

 *What to wear? Why, your prettiest afternoon frock, of course. Here are some examples:


Books on the beach--a lovely combination

Usually Chicago broils in the summertime (although I understand you're having a cooler-than-normal summer in 2015. Here in the 1920s, believe me, it's broiling.) I love relaxing with a good book, but it's too stifling to sit at home in the two-flat, especially since Dot and I have the upstairs apartment. Heat rises, dontcha know. So I love to take a good book or two (or five) to the beach.

The above picture could be me, if you replaced "Sanibel Library" with "Oak Street Beach, Chicago." And if you darkened the woman's hair a little bit. And my bathing costume is blue with white dots, not green. Green makes me look a little jaundiced. But otherwise it's like looking in a mirror.

In the summer of 1925, I'm reading The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter--you might know her better for writing A Girl of the Limberlost, which made a splash several years ago.

I'm also reading Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. Back home in Kerryville, some folks got annoyed with Mr. Lewis a few years back for making fun of small-town life in his book Main Street. I tried to tell then that Gopher Prairie is a fictional town and has nothing whatsoever to do with Kerryville, but they don't believe me. You know how people are. Anyway, Arrowsmith is about a medical doctor. My author Jennifer asked me to warn you not to confuse Arrowsmith with Aerosmith, which apparently means something else entirely in your century.

I love reading on the beach, but the dear folks at the Chicago Public Library might not appreciate sand falling from the pages of their books. We just won't mention it to them, will we?

What are you reading this summer?