the seams, with the comforting remark
Work and play in properly combined doses never killed anybody yet; but the number of people who have been driven to sanitariums by puttering is untold.
Sara Sylvester authored many such pieces in this journal (this volume anyway). Were her pieces syndicated? Was she Mrs Tim Kaylor?
Full transcription of “The Woman Who Putters” follows.
- Said Clara Barton, “I either rest or play. I don’t putter.” What a pity more women are not that way. Work and play in properly combined doses never killed anybody yet; but the number of people who have been driven to sanitariums by puttering is untold. We will say that the woman has decided to make herself a new shirt waist. She buys some goods, runs home and cuts out the blouse, and then begins to puiter. Perhaps stripes are more fashionable than checks—and wouldn’t it have been better to have bought a Gibson pattern — and isn’t embroidery more of a fad than lace edging? She gets it half sewed, and then rips the seams, with the comforting remark that by so doing she assures herself of living to wear it out.
- When she gets through she’s a wreck, and has done enough sewing to make a waist and a half, and darn a few stockings into the bargain. If she had only decided once for all, and stuck to her own decision, the work would have seemed like play, and a lot of puttering would have been saved.
- Next day she thinks she will rearrange the parlor. By a simple scheme of measurement she might ascertain that the bookcase would not go into the recess by the chimneypiece, and that the desk was altogether too wide for the space between the windows, but she prefers to putter. So she lugs furniture until her back is lame, and probably smashes a few pieces of bric-a-brac, by neglecting to remove them from tables and shelves before dragging the latter over the carpet.
- When she has puttered away her day, and worn her temper into frizzles, she has the satisfaction of hearing her husband say the room doesn’t look homelike a bit, and he knows he shall stumble over the taboret unless she puts it where it used to be, in the corner near the wall.
- People putter over letter writing, over embroidered doylies — which they start in a primrose design, and then try to turn into forget-me-nots-over menus, to the distraction of the cook, over invitation lists, until they don’t know themselves who have been asked and who haven’t, and rather suspect that the important guests have been left out entirely, while the unimportant have received two cards each. They putter over their faces, in an endeavor to attain beauty, starting the cold cream treatment one night, switching off on to massage the next, and going over to a belief in the steaming process the week after. If they do, by any miracle, improve after this, they don’t know what to credit with the gain.
- And how they do putter when they are ill! Doctor’s medicine at six; something out of a bottle from the drug store at 6.30; the result of a neighbor’s recommendation fifteen minutes after, and what Aunt Sarah took when she had another disease, a little further along in the evening. In such cases as this, one medicine usually destroys any effect of another, and if the patient does improve, the constitution is responsible.
- They putter over even more important things — the education of the children, who are snaked from one school to another, who start to become lawyers one term, and are fixed upon as incipient clergymen in the next. We hear a vast deal about the need of rest cures for women, and of “the pace that kills.” I believe in lots of cases it isn’t the pace half so much as the puttering.