Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pleasant Hours of Amusement and Entertainment (1902)

I lo-o-o-ove Open Library. Know what I love to learn about on the online free ebook provider of my starry little dreams? Parties. PARTIES. And what I learned today? Victorian age people lo-o-o-ve to party. With almost as much occasion-specific, costume-dress gusto as yours truly.

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While searching under the word "entertainment", I found this book by Nelle Mustain. From THE TITLE PAGE, things are getting real:

"Pleasant Hours of Amusement-- Embracing Nine Books in One Volume-- the whole comprising a charming collection of games, sports for health and beauty, instructive amusements and miscellaneous for both young and old, for the home, the church, and the school"

Authoress Mustain (above), who is not to be flexed with in matters of entertainment or the perfect Gibson girl roll (could there be some ever popular 'rats' involved in this particular instance of hairdressing? I do believe there could), provides you and me with about a million suggestions for themed parties and what do when you throw one.

Let's look at some of the highlights from her detailed accounts of successful parties and party tricks:

1) "Hunt the Whistle"
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This reminds me of the old Boy Scouts trick about "snipe hunting", as it depends on the object of the trick being unfamiliar with the trick itself. You KNOW this would be me at a party. And let's just hope the gentleman in the long coat is as good a sport as I would try to be when the whistle is discovered attached to his tails! How do you like the be-knickerbockered youth's expression of "Thiiiiis is going to be a good one...."?

2) "A Northland Social"
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I really like the decorative suggestion to freeze grasses and leaves in alum and water, but had no idea what alum was until I googled it and found this question-and-answer, "What is alum and will it make someone's mouth shrink, like in the cartoons?". Good question! Good answer! I was afraid you'd have to cannibalize an old chemistry kit to get the desired results, but it's apparently available in the spice aisle of your local grocers. Go fig! Go freeze!

3) "A Kodak Meet"
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Wouldn't this be a fun event for the amateur photographers in your life? It would be neat to have a digital photo printer on hand, in this our modern age, for instant gratification as to the latter portion of the evening's events. I'm craaazy about the idea of photobooths at events, and this would be like having dozens of hired photographing hands ON hand as both talent and guest!

4) "A Japanese Social"
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Did you know top-spinning was the principal game of the Japanese? I don't know if it's all that serious, but I'll tell you, I was more convinced when I found out that there's a Spinning Top Museum dedicated to the traditional spinning top toy, called a koma, in central Japan. Do you have a kimono or two, hanging all on its lonesome as a special occasion dressing gown, à la Tallulah Bankhead?

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(I couldn't find a photo of her in a kimono, weirdly enough, because doesn't she sound like the perfect example? I did, however find this photo of Bankhead in a headdress, via this very interesting website on Native American fashion. Enjoyyyy....)






5) "A Broken Heart Social"
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I am occasionally frustrated with the post-middle-school insistence of most people that Valentine's Day is a "couples only" or "single people who hate Valentine's Day only" event. Do you remember how much fun early Valentine's Day dances were at school, whether or not you had a date? This year, Matthew's band played an "Anti-Valentine's Day" showcase at Mercy Lounge, which captured a lot of the fun of old time Valentine's Day dances, but without the paper hearts and doilies and bright red Hi-C punch for which my heart pines (remind me to tell you sometime about Bab's insanely idiosyncratic, and very, very wonderful V-Day presents to me this year). Maybe next year! I'm so inspired by the hilariously sweet fortunes you fish for in the above described "Broken Hearts" social...the best is probably still the first one though. "You'll marry a girl whose hair is red/ And often and often you'll wish you were dead". Turn of the century and Edwardian humor is so dark and dry! Fits me like a glove.

Some other assorted images I kind of loved from the book:



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Can the one of the "wandering musicians" be my album cover?

If you're interested, you can read the WHOLE BOOK (all nine volumes, in one volume!) at my beloved Open Library, or even download the book in pdf form, for future reference! Which of the above parties would you most like to be invited to? Any tips and tricks from the most tops themed parties you've ever pulled off? Tell!

Til next time.

3 comments:

  1. lol Northland Social. Looks like my kind of party! ;)

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  2. I want a gypsy social, er....Italian Wandering Musician Social; swarthy and musical - my people!! The Japanese Church Social looks pretty fun too. I'm getting out my kimono right now!

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  3. that hunt the whistle game seems so mean! and how hard would it be to sneak up and blow the whistle without them noticing? haha! i think my favorite of these might be the ice ball. where can i rent a little kid dressed like jack frost?

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