Colorado College Tutt Library

Century Chest transcription 13

Colorado Springs
July 27, 1901

My dear Twenty-first Century Women

As I try to give you a pen and ink picture of today, I wonder if you will have made the days any longer or whether life will have become less complex. For we think we are very busy women and interested in a great variety of pursuits. Perhaps a sketchy record of one day will give you some idea of what I mean. I am sure some one else will have told you of our houses, our resources, and many of the conditions that go to make our homes comfortable and convenient. We usually breakfast from eight to nine thirty-fruit and some sort of cereal, such as cracked wheat, oatmeal or one of the many preparations of that nature, eggs in some form, tea or coffee, and griddle cakes either with or without syrup. Sometimes this is served on trays and sent to the bedroom, but generally the table is set in the dining room area and the family gathers there. A visit to the kitchen where the needs of the larder are disclosed, and the closets and refrigerators (large boxes with ice to hold the food) are inspected. By means of the telephone which is found in almost every house and shop much of the ordering is done. A trip down town to complete what has not been finished through the telephone and to attend to some business follows, and during this little expedition cheery greetings are exchanged and quite a bit of social life is [brought] with the morning walk. In winter we are warmly clothed and wear a skirt of some woolen material which escapes the ground by some three inches. A fur or heavy cloth coat, a close fitting little bonnet, or a hat with plumes or some soft trimming, and comfortable boots, with thick soles and low heels. White is the favorite color for summer-or a "shirt waist" of some wash material and a different kind of skirt. A little sailor hat is the style of the young girls and the same shape hat found spoken of before for older people, close fitting and worn without strings. On our return from this morning walk the mail for the day awaits us, when the letters are opened and answered.

At one o'clock luncheon is eaten, a meal of infinite variety. When there are children in the family it partakes more of the nature of dinner-as it is the principal meal of the little ones. It is always quickly over, and most of us try to secure at this time a little rest before the social work of the afternoon begins. Dinner from 6:30 to 7:30 and by 10:30 or 11 o'clock the day is over.

So much for the routine, but this gives you but little idea of all that goes to make up our lives. In this town as in all others, there are some who are given to mere pleasure seeking, and whose time is spent as it was so many years ago in seeking and telling "some new thing." But these are not the women of whom I wish to write. The real social atmosphere of Colorado Springs is very different. There is a large element, composed of bright, intelligent, philanthropic, public spirited, high minded and cultivated women, and these do much toward moulding public opinion and giving character to the town. They are always busy and their work continues from January to December.

The work for the winter begins about October 1st, and the various Women's Clubs meet fortnightly until April and May. The larger clubs belong to one central organization. Some of these clubs are for literary work, some for discussion-the Anne Hathaway Club for the study of Shakespeare, [B__] Clubs, the Tuesday Club, the Musical Club, and the Hereditary Patriotic organizations, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. After the annual meeting of these societies, a luncheon is served, or a tea follows the elections. These are the favorite modes of entertaining. At a luncheon sometimes the guests are numerous, and they are served while standing. It is then called a Buffet luncheon. At other times there are from eight to twelve present. The table is without a cloth-prettily embroidered round doilies are placed under each plate, and a centerpiece is used to match the set. Natural flowers are used and usually of some one colour, and the candies and cakes are of the same shade. The menu is not very elaborate. In winter, grapefruit, a [slice] of some orange is served first. In summer melon of the cantaloupe variety is used. Bouillon, a clear beef soup highly seasoned, poured into cups is then placed before each guest. This is followed by chops, or the breast of chicken, or prairie chicken, a wild bird, or turkey or small pieces of the tenderloin of beef, with a vegetable. Then a salad, and ice cream. The latter is sometimes moulded into fancy shapes, or with a half melon. A cup of black coffee is always handed after luncheon is over, bought in on a tray, with sugar and cream in silver jar and pitcher. The fashionable hour for luncheon is half past one o'clock, and the rest of the afternoon is generally spent in making visits.

"Afternoon tea" is a most popular way of entertaining. The hours in winter for this function are "from 4 to 6" and it is so stated on the cards of invitation. Special friends of the hostess are asked to help in receiving, and "to pour". The table in the dining room is set with a handsome silver tea service. At one end is placed the tea, with cups and saucers, and the tea is [ready] on the table, and served with cream and sugar, or with thin slices of lemon. At the opposite end, chocolate and coffee are found, and both places are occupied by friends of the hostess who consider it an honor to be asked "to pour". Small cakes, thin slices of bread and butter, daintily cut and spread with orange marmalade, or paté de foie gras, a rich French preparation of goose's liver, or lettuce with mayonnaise dressing (the cook books will explain that) and candies are all placed on the table. To make it more elaborate ices, a delicious concoction of fruit juices, frozen, are dispensed from a table in another room. Bonnets are always worn on these occasions, excepting by those assisting the hostess.

Formal dinners are very elegant affairs, with elaborately decorated tables and the ladies in full dress. They usually wear low-necked gowns. The menu is carefully selected with respect to viands and wines. The latter are sherry, white wines, champagne of French brands, and claret or burgundy, all of a much lighter quality than the port and Madeira of the Eighteenth Century. Two or three maids, neatly attired in black dresses, white aprons, and small white caps wait upon the table.

Several times a year, large balls are given, to which invitations are issued, or admission is by tickets, which are sold and the proceeds donated to charity. The latter are called "Charity Balls". These are the opportunities to wear the newest gowns, and fine jewels. They begin at 9:30 and last until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning for those who dance. The waltz, the galop, a sort of two step, and some square dances called [Lancers] are the favorite numbers on the programme.

You can easily see how full our days are of social duties, and yet I would not have you think that these make up the best part of our lives. Women are prominent in all charitable undertakings and are active workers in all matters pertaining to the public welfare of the city. They are on the Board of Associated Charities, the Humane Society-having for its objects the alleviation of the sufferings of animals and the protection of children. Their names are found on the Board of Directors of the Public Library, the Board of Control of the Coburn Library. They are especially interested in religious and church work. In every emergency the women of today come well to the rescue and respond energetically and with ability to every appeal for either material or moral assistance.

The best type of womanhood has been developed in this Western country. There is a spirit of kindliness, a desire to relieve suffering that is the result of a common burden of anxiety, for nearly all have come here in search of health either for themselves, or for some member of their family. The community of pain binds all together. Human nature is much the same in all ages-and yet I am proud to claim for us a high sense of duty and responsibility worthy of our Puritan ancestors.

The smart set has but little weight in the real life of Colorado Springs, though it is unfortunately at times much in evidence. There is too much reality in the circumstances surrounding us. This [pains], but does not sadden us.

Times will change, customs will alter, but some of the surroundings of this fair city will remain the same, and you will learn what we have found to be so true that it is impossible to become mean, narrow and selfish, with the illimitable plains on one side and the everlasting hills before us.

Human nature will grow up and out and so nearer to the perfect ideal of the Christ Jesus in the spirit of the 20th Century.

Elizabeth Cass Goddard

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