Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘bed’

Provision for Sleep and Peace

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

everyone is overstimulatedWell, after many weeks I’m finally all moved into my little house, and am enjoying it quite a bit. Now that everything is nearly unpacked, here’s a little something from one of my home economics books regarding the need for a place to rest, relax, and sleep comfortably. I’m certain I’ve found it.

1947: Provision for Sleep and Peace

We spend long hours in bed and should arise rested, refreshed, and ready for the work and play of the day. We drop down in our favorite easy chair for a moment, and the charm and restfulness of the orderly quiet room seem to restore something within us essential to satisfying living. The need for privacy is deep-seated in each of us. We need time by ourselves to think things through, to sort our impressions, and to reflect on our beliefs. In earlier years, when our population was largely rural, people found privacy in the woods and fields, as well as in their homes. Now, every moment of the day has potential contact with many people. Automobiles, telephones, and radios seem to eliminate distance, as artificial light has shortened the night. The result is that everyone is overstimulated. If we are to have opportunity for serenity and poise, the home must provide for us times and places for the enjoyment of the quiet that allows one to think, to read, to relax, and to plan. The rest that will rebuild one for the stress of the next day must be assured.

Source: Justin Rust. Today’s Home Living. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1947.
~ pp. 143-44 ~

Miss Abigail’s (timeless) Holiday Gift Ideas, Vol. I

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Something a little different for the holidays ~ with the help of my books, I’ve come up with some fabulous gift ideas for the whole family. I don’t want you all to panic in these last hours of perfect-present hunting.

You’ll notice that the pictures are from the books (a variety of decades are represented here) but of course the captions are my own brilliant creation. Begin the tour with a quick click on the header below. Enjoy!

This lovely hat would be a welcome gift for mothers everywhere.

hat for mummy

If father is tired of carrying the family around, you might consider chipping in for a new car, a motorcycle, or perhaps a simple go cart ~ anything to ease his back pain.

put me down please

Any son who aspires to be like the talented Pat Boone would just love a musical instrument.

Pat serenades the ladies

If sis has bought into this recent “long pants” craze, she probably could use some new undies.

Forget Beanie Babies! Kids of all ages will love these alternative collectibles.

yum yum gimmee some

Here’s another idea for the young ones ~ boots!
With a little imagination, children can enjoy hours of fun.

ooooh! boots!

And lastly, a gift that can be enjoyed by all ~ the bed hammock.

this looks fun
Hat Source: Various. Every Woman’s Encyclopedia. London, England: n.p., ca. 1912.
~ p. 5261 ~
Man Carrying Child Source: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed: Health Hints for the Home. New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1898.
~ p. 23 ~
Guitar Source: Boone, Pat. ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty: Pat talks to Teenagers. Engelwood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1958.
~ p. 104 ~
Underwear Source: Tolman, Ruth. Charm and Poise for Getting Ahead. Bronx, NY: Milady Publishing Corporation, 1969.
~ p. 148 ~
Vegetable Doll Source: Matthews, Mary Lockwood. Elementary Home Economics. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company,1925.
~ p. 209 ~
Boots Source: Jefferis, Prof. B. G. The Household Guide, or Domestic Cyclopedia. Atlanta, Ga.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1902.
~ p. 394 ~

Bed Hammock Source: Jefferis, Prof. B. G. The Household Guide, or Domestic Cyclopedia. Atlanta, Ga.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1902.
~ p. 203 ~

Eating, Sleeping, and Speaking ~ Simple Precautions

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

never dine in excitementI’ve got a bad sore throat. While recovering on the couch today, I browsed through the “Temperment and Health” section of Home and Health and Home Economics, written in 1880 by C. H. Fowler and W. H. De Puy. These tips may not help me this week, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll help someone out there! That’s what it’s all about! Helping people!

Disclaimer: This advice is very, very, very, very old and may not be medically sound in this modern age. Please consult your doctor if you are not feeling well. Do not, I repeat, do not, use Miss Abigail for anything other than a good laugh. Thank you.

1880: Eating, Sleeping, and Speaking ~ Simple Precautions

Never eat hurriedly, because it causes indigestion.

Never dine in excitement, because the blood is called to the brain which ought to aid digestion.

Never swallow food without thorough chewing, because it brings on dyspepsia.

Never eat when you do not want it, because when you shall want you cannot eat.

Never sleep with your mouth open, because the air breathed with carbonic acid disturbs the mucous membranes.

Never go to rest without washing the hands and face, because more dirt accumulates on the skin in the day than in the night, and is re-absorbed during the night.

Never begin a journey until breakfast is eaten.

After speaking, singing, or preaching in a warm room in winter, do not leave it immediately. In leaving, close the mouth, put on the gloves, wrap up the neck, and put on a cloak or overcoat before passing out of the door. The neglect of these simple precautions has laid many a good and useful man into a premature grave.

Never speak under a hoarseness, especially if it requires an effort, or painful feeling.

Source: Fowler, C. H. and W. H. De Puy. Home and Health and Home Economics. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1880.
~ p. 257 ~

Pleasures of a Single Bed

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

plenty of pillows and your best nightgownThis selection comes from Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman, written by Marjorie Hillis. I think I need to do a bit more reading about the “extra woman,” don’t you agree?

1936: Pleasures of a Single Bed

It is probably true that most people have more fun in bed than anywhere else, and we are not being vulgar. Even going to bed alone can be alluring. There are many times, in fact, when it’s by far the most alluring way to go.

Whether you agree with this or not, you have to go to bed at least once every twenty-four hours, and you will have to keep right on going as long as you live. If you read the statistics, you will find that you spend such a large proportion of your life lying down that it scarcely seems worth the trouble to get up at all. All of which makes it pretty obvious that you might as well make an art of going to bed.

We are all for as much glamour as possible in the bedroom. The single bedroom, as well as the double one. If even the most respectable spinsters would regard their bedrooms as places where anything might happen, the resulting effects would be extremely beneficial.

You may have a small bedroom, or a not very elegant one, but you must have a bed. Make it as good a bed as you can possibly afford. Make it, also, as beautiful as possible. If you can’t go in for a modern mirrored bed, or an old mahogany four-poster, or a good reproduction of some other type ~ then take the bed you have and have the head and foot cut off and a really charming cover made to fit it. With plenty of pillows and your best nightgown, you can be as seductive in this as in any other.

The chief other properties for a successful bedroom scene are a bedside table with a good light for reading, a clock, and a telephone within reach. And it’s not a bad idea to have the dressing-table mirror, or some other mirror, hanging directly opposite the foot of the bed, so that you can see yourself when you sit up. This is sometimes depressing, but it acts as a prompter when you feel yourself slipping.

Every woman should work out her own special ritual to be performed religiously every night before getting into bed. And every night does not except those nights when you are dead-tired. Even then, at least a few good strokes with a hair-brush stiff enough to start up circulation, a bit of cuticle oil and a lotion on the hands, cleansing cream and whatever other cream does the most for your face, are just as important as brushing your teeth. On nights when you’re home and not so tired, give yourself all the other little personal touches that you need. This is particularly advisable if you don’t want to keep on going to bed alone for the rest of your life, but you’d better do it, anyway. . . .

If all this sounds a little dreary, think of the things that you, all alone, don’t have to do. You don’t have to turn out your light when you want to read, because somebody else wants to sleep. You don’t have to have the light on when you want to sleep, because somebody else wants to read. You don’t have to get up in the night to fix somebody else’s hot-water bottle, or lie awake listening to snores, or be vivacious when you’re tired, or cheerful when you’re blue, or sympathetic when you’re bored. You probably have your bathroom all to yourself, too, which is unquestionably one of Life’s Great Blessings. You don’t have to wait till someone finishes shaving, when you are all set for a cold-cream session. You have no one complaining about your pet bottles, no one to drop wet towels on the floor, no one occupying the bathtub when you have just time to take a shower. From dusk until dawn, you can do exactly as you please, which, after all, is a pretty good allotment in this world where a lot of conforming is expected of everyone.

Source: Hillis, Marjorie. Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1936.
~ pp. 81-83, 87-88 ~

How to Invite Somebody to Bed

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Shall we oscitate in our palang?This selection is from a gift to the collection from a charming friend of mine who is otherwise known as the “king of the nap.” This fabulous book is titled Bed Manners, and Better Bed Manners. The cover claims that the book will tell you “how to bring sunshine into your nights,” and proclaims to have “many devilish illustrations.” Too bad you can’t see them all.

1946: How to Invite Somebody to Bed

You “date yourself” far more by what you say than by the way you look. The use of worn-out language (especially slanguage) is fatal to the best efforts of your barber and tailor, your gymnasium instructor, and all the others who try to make you seem youthful and sprightly. And if you’re a lady ~ why, you may spend your allowance ten times over at the modiste’s and the beauty parlor, and still be recognized for a grandmother if you use a grandmother’s wise-cracks.

If you say: “Let us retire!” you date from the 1870s.

If you say: “Let’s hit the hay!” you date from the 1880s.

If you say: “How about pounding your ear?” or speak of your bed as “the feathers,” you are using slang of nearly as ancient vintage. To speak of going to bed as “flopping” is also not very new. In fact there is nothing safer and more modern to say than “Let’s go to bed.”

But people do get tired of saying this over and over again, especially if they have to say it several times every evening, before good results are attained. Comical bishops in English novels usually vary it by making up a phrase such as “Let’s all go to Bedfordshire!” But this also is old.

To be thought young and dashing you need a wholly new piece of slang. It is always piquant to make it up yourself, and not depend on seeing it in the newspaper, or overhearing it at a party. Here is the way to proceed:

It was funny to call a bed “the hay” for a few years after the mattress was stuffed with hay. But your mattress is now stuffed with selected South American horsehair, full of correctly tempered hourglass springs, and magically insulated with fleecy felt. If you don’t believe us, cut it open. Or read the advertisement of that mattress.

You would surprise and perhaps charm almost anybody, even your husband, if instead of saying “Let’s hit the hay!” you said: “Let’s hit the selected South American horsehair, full of correctly tempered hour-glass springs, etc., etc.” But maybe this is too long to learn by heart ~ and it certainly won’t sound funny twice.

What you need, to refresh your way of speaking, are some good, reliable words that mean “bed.” A short list includes bunk, berth, pallet, crib, cot, shakedown, lit (French) and palang(Hindu). Then you want a few good words that mean “lie down,” “yawn,” “snore,” “take a rest,” and so forth. You might trust the dictionary, but never trust a dictionary too far. Or you will find yourself saying to some startled person, who never went to school in Boston, something that he or she won’t understand.

Only if your wife was a Boston girl can you say:

“I am somniferous. Are you statuvolvent? Shall we oscitate in our palang?”

It is really simpler to say: “Let’s go to bed.”

Source: Hopton, Ralph Y. and Anne Balliol. Bed Manners and Better Bed Manners. New York: Arden Book Company, 1934.

~ pp. 53-55 ~