Yesterday my friend KarmaCat calls me up to see if I was up for a bit of antiquing. Um, YES! Never am I one to give up shopping with a friend, especially if it’s to look at old or vintage stuff. I was in the car so fast, I think I left Kurt’s head spinning.
(For the record, I think he likes it when I leave him with the kids every so often. For one thing, the kids are with me all the time. I am sure they like having someone else to entertain them. And for another, he likes playing with the kids and being able to spoil them without me trying to spoil the fun. I don’t generally spoil the fun, but for example — he let the kids get some ice cream from the ice cream man last night, where I wouldn’t have done that, only because we still had cupcakes in the house.)
Once I got to KC’s place, we decided to get some food at Iggy’s down on Oakland Beach. It’s a Rhode Island institution, most famous for their doughboys and chowder. The interwebz tells me a Rhode Island doughboy is pizza dough dusted with sugar. We didn’t have any, so I can neither confirm nor deny this. And Wikipedia insists that a doughboy is just an outdated word for a soldier. Hmph.
Wikipedia, I am disappointed in you.
Anyhow, KC and I enjoyed a delicious lunch of clam cakes and chowdah. I had white chowdah (is there any other kind?! Well, Rhode Island specializes in clear chowder, and that’s pretty good too), while KC opted for red. I had to rib her about that for a while. What kind of self-respecting native New Englander eats Manhattan clam chowder?! Haha. Poor KC. But she took it in stride. She’s a good sport.
Once we had stuffed ourselves silly and enjoyed the sun, the salt air, and the amazing people-watching, we hied ourselves off to the north end of the state to visit one of the biggest antique stores she knows of. And it did not disappoint.
This place was enormous! If you’re not a regular customer at antique stores, you may not know that many of them are large stores that rent out small booths to many vendors. These vendors go out on eBay, comb garage sales, and frequent estate sales to get great deals they can resell in their booths. This one was no different. It was row after row after row of vendors’ booths, so many that it almost hurt my brain to think about how much stuff was in this store.
What I really loved about this store was the level of customer service. I picked up this amazing hat that would have felt at home at the Kentucky Derby, and before I could move on to the next booth, one of the workers tapped me and asked, “May I put that up front for you?” Every single time I had decided on an item, there she was to take my item to the front. It really helped keep my hands free for photographing.
I ultimately did not get the hat. Oh well.
But I did find a 1964 edition of The White House Cookbook by Janet Halliday Ervin. What’s great about it is it includes a section on “The Laws of Etiquette: The rules and habits of polite society circa 1887.”
The voice should never be loud, no gesticulation should accompany the speech, and the features should be under strict control. Nothing is more ill-bred than a half-opened mouth, a vacant stare, a wandering eye, or a smile ready to break into a laugh at any moment.
Oops. I laugh too often and too loudly, for one, and I noticed yesterday I was gesticulating wildly. I think it was my inner Cranston-ite coming to the fore.
Here’s some clothing advice for the heavier among us:
She should not wear a tailor-made suit fitting her figure closely. It brings out every pound of flesh for the benefit of the looker-on.
She should not wear a rosette at her belt.
She should not wear a lace or ribbon ruche about her neck, though the soft feather one is permissible if it have long ends.
She should not wear a short skirt.
She should not wear her hair low on her neck.
She should not wear a string of beads about her neck, rings in her ears, or, if her fingers are short and fat, many rings on them.
She should avoid high sleeves and loose gloves.
She should shun champagne.
She should hate ice cream.
Well, that last one is a little much. Everything in moderation, I always say — even ice cream. If one can’t have ice cream, why continue on?
The rest of the cookbook is devoted to recipes included in the first edition, published in 1887, plus favorite recipes of and biographies of every President’s wife or official hostess (there was at least one unmarried President). Not only that, but there is a section on “Prescriptions, Recipes, and Such for Health, Household, and Happiness, circa 1887.” At the very end of this section is a blurb from The Milwaukee Journal of 1963 speculating what the house of 2000 would have.
The electronic home of tomorrow with “automatic bacon and eggs” was predicted in a speech here… A household electronic center will, when fed instructions on magnetic tape:
Wake you up in the morning
Start the coffeemaker
Cook the bacon and eggs
Open the garage door and warm up the car
Do the laundry
Regulate the heat
Wash the dishes
Clean the house
Pay the milkman
Balance your checkbook
Complete your income tax forms
Um. Where is my electronic home?? Where is my flying car?? I’m feeling rather gypped.