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The Mark on the Mirror (Judy Bolton Mysteries, #15)
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#15: Mark on the Mirror > Chapter 1: The Mark on the Mirror

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William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Chapter 1: The Ghost of a Bird

As the story opens, Judy is bidding Peter good-bye for the day while he suggests going to a movie that evening. Judy reminds him that tonight is the bridal shower her friends are giving for her. Judy is excited and enthusiastic about opening all the gifts, but most of all about the idea that she’s soon to be Mrs. Peter Dobbs. Upon entering the house, Judy looks in the mirror hanging on the wall in Dr. Bolton’s reception room. She notes that it needs dusting.

The narrator then informs us that the shower is a double one for Judy and Lorraine. The wedding is to take place on June 24. Judy had chosen the date because it was a “romantic” one. She mentions St. John’s Eve in Ireland, which is actually June 23. (Here’s a link to information about St. John’s Eve)

We also learn that the wedding is to be a double one on the Farringdon-Pett lawn and that both Judy and Peter are a bit apprehensive about the splendor of it. Judy knows, though, that her family wants her as the only daughter to have a real wedding. She reflects that the shower is what’s unnecessary since she and Lorraine are the lucky ones. (Judy has a point about bridal showers. I know they are customary, but they really can place a financial burden on people. Not only does a guest have to worry about an appropriate wedding gift, but one has to spend for a shower gift also.)

Judy removes the mirror from the wall with the intention of cleaning it. She is startled by a noise on the porch, lays the mirror on the hall table and runs to investigate. To her horror, she finds that Blackberry has caught a baby bird, which dies within a few minutes. A voice interrupts her as she’s scolding Blackberry and she finds a group of children there including Carol Scott and Rosalie Brady. They have come for cookies that Mrs. Bolton baked. They ask Judy if they can bury the bird. Judy agrees, but tells them to have their cookies first.

Rosalie reveals to Judy that one of her new friends in the group has just moved in, that she lives with her mother who keeps moving to prevent her father from knowing where they live, but that the girl has secretly written to her father to tell him where they are.

Judy tells her mother that she’s going to clean the mirror. A brief conversation ensues which shows how much Judy has learned to appreciate her mother’s goodness and hard work, something she took for granted in the early part of the series. On the way to clean the mirror, Judy bumps into Horace. As Judy holds the mirror in her hands, she notes that the image of a bird has appeared in the dust. She states that it is the ghost of the bird that Blackberry killed and it has come back to haunt him.


message 2: by Debra (new) - added it

Debra Fawcett | 48 comments Really, how much housework can there be with just 2 (grown) children? Why do the Boltons need a full-time maid? I suppose to help with the laundry, perhaps. I know it was typical back in the day for even middle class families to pay for housemaids. Maybe--off-stage--Mrs. Bolton does a lot of club activities and volunteer work.


message 3: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 171 comments I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV. But I did love the shower and that gave me the basis of the Christmas gift exchange when I thought of it. Something simple/handmade or gently used that might meet someone's interests.


message 4: by Faye (new)

Faye Kisker | 257 comments Debra wrote: "Really, how much housework can there be with just 2 (grown) children? Why do the Boltons need a full-time maid? I suppose to help with the laundry, perhaps. I know it was typical back in the day fo..."
Being the wife of a doctor, Mrs Bolton probably was expected to participate in outside activities.
Also, the doctor's office was in their home so that was another place to clean every day. Housework also took a lot more time than it does now, especially laundry and almost everything had to be ironed. I doubt vacuums were as efficient as now. She probably cooked three meals a day every day. I think she probably could have done everything herself, but I think Dr Bolton would probably feel bad about all the work she was doing.
After all that though, I managed to bring up 4 kids and keep a clean house and do lots of laundry without a maid, and I am sure you all did too. But this book was published in 1942 and like you said many middle class families did have paid help.
Faye


William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Debra wrote: "Really, how much housework can there be with just 2 (grown) children? Why do the Boltons need a full-time maid? I suppose to help with the laundry, perhaps. I know it was typical back in the day fo..."

I like this question and also Faye's response about housework being more difficult during the 1940s (see discussion comments).

At some point during the 1980s, I remember my aunt telling me about how housework is difficult for each generation no matter which decade in which they lived. She cited two examples: her mother who raised her family during the 1930s/40s was not expected to even make the beds if it was laundry day. Doing laundry was so difficult that she only had that task and to make dinner.

In contrast, the homemakers of the 1980s had many labour saving devices, but they were expected to do everything each day: laundry, make beds, hoovering, and meals.

I felt my aunt had a valid point.

It is not surprising that even middle-class families had help during the 1940s. In Nancy Drew "The Ghost of Blackwood Hall" (1948) the Drews' laundress is mentioned for the first and only time. Of course, this young woman only helped Nancy on a case once! :-)

As Faye mentioned, Mrs. Bolton, as a physician's wife, likely had committee work and other community responsibilities. The Bolton maid, Stella, is mentioned in a few books; i.e., The Rainbow Riddle.


William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV. But I did love the shower and that gave me th..."

Does DV mean divorce?


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 516 comments William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV. But I did love the shower and t..."
Domestic Violence. This was pretty alarming to me as well given our more enlightened knowledge.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 516 comments Faye wrote: "Debra wrote: "Really, how much housework can there be with just 2 (grown) children? Why do the Boltons need a full-time maid? I suppose to help with the laundry, perhaps. I know it was typical back..."

good point Faye. (that housework probably took much longer due to the lack of labor-saving devices.)

What confused me was when Dr. Bolton was seeing his patients. At first, I thought dinner meant lunch. But then, they were all sitting down to the table and eating a roast. So it must be supper time. So does that mean Dr. Bolton saw his patients at night, after the evening meal? That seems weird to me.


Noellasue | 1 comments I was born in 1944 and while we were by no means rich, we weren't poor either.

My memories consist of when doing laundry, water had to be heated water on the stove to fill a tub. Clothes were agitated in an electric tub, but had to be sent through the "wringer" by hand and into a tub of clean water where the clothes were agitated by hand. They could be sent through the wringer again for the 2nd rinse and starch water, and through the wringer again before hanging on the line to dry. If there was no electricity, then women used scrub boards, and wrung everything out by hand before hanging them on the line. Then everything had to be ironed.

Because of dirt/gravel roads, the house had to be dusted every day.

There were no box mixes, meaning biscuits, breads, cakes and pies (including the crust) were made from scratch. Even candy was usually made from scratch.

Milk and cream came in bottles that were delivered at the door. I don't know if you could get pre-made butter or not, Mom and my Grandmother always made their own. Sometimes they made their own cottage cheese too.

People who lived on farms butchered their own animals - hogs, cows, chickens and then they hunted or fished for their meat. Everyone, whether rural or in town, had a garden that had to be maintained, plowed, tilled, planted, weeded, and watered. And dirt had to be turned over before winter and they'd start all over in the spring. Extra vegetables and fruit had to be canned - which meant peeling, shucking corn, stringing beans and whatever it is you do to get peas out of the pod. (Until World War II, women did not work outside the home. If they had a business such as beauty shop or sewing or baking for others or taking in laundry, they did it from home.)

There was no refrigeration, so people used ice boxes. The tray at the bottom had to be emptied a couple of times during the day and they had to make sure to keep the order of ice up to date. On very hot days, my parents would sometimes order an extra block of ice to set in front of a fan to cool a room for a bit.

Ice cream was homemade and had to be hand-cranked.

While there were no vacuums, there were manual sweepers for rugs and carpet. They looked like the floor attachment to a vacuum and had a roller that rolled across the rug to pick up lint and dirt. But every so often, the rug had to be rolled up, taken out to the clothesline and pounded to loosen the dust and dirt.

When they wanted to take a bath, they again heated water on a stove to pour into a tub. If they didn't have running water, it all had to be pumped from the well and carried into the house. I remember when my grandfather built his house in 1953, he was very proud that he had a pump inside the house at the kitchen sink. My Grandmother didn't have to carry the water in now.

And without running water, even in towns, many homes still had outhouses meaning that the chamber pots had to be cleaned. There were no disposable diapers, so if a family had babies, there was even more laundry.

A lot of homes didn't have electricity until the 1960s. Back in 1936 90% of rural homes still did not have electricity because the cost was prohibitive. By 1950 20% of the rural area still didn't have electricity. People were very excited when "Rural Electrification" came along.

Then there was wood to chop and bring in for the stove or coal that had to be brought up or in from the coal bin. Ashes had to be removed from the stove every day.

This part has nothing to do with labor, but families usually had only one car and one telephone. Because of my dad's job, we moved a lot, and there were times we didn't have a telephone. We had a TV from 1950-1953 then we moved to an area where there was no TV reception, so Dad sold the TV or traded it for a piano.

I realize that in large cities, housework may have been a bit less labor intensive, but these are a few things I remember from my childhood while growing up in a small town.

- Noella


William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Rebekah wrote: "William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV. But I did love ..."

Thanks for explaining the meaning of DV, Cindy. In light of domestic violence, the chapter reads even more frightening than perhaps Margaret had intended?


William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Noellasue wrote: "I was born in 1944 and while we were by no means rich, we weren't poor either.

My memories consist of when doing laundry, water had to be heated water on the stove to fill a tub. Clothes were agi..."


Great memories, Noella. I very much enjoyed reading them.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 516 comments Noellasue wrote: "I was born in 1944 and while we were by no means rich, we weren't poor either.

My memories consist of when doing laundry, water had to be heated water on the stove to fill a tub. Clothes were agi..."


Enjoyed reading your recollections, Noella! I'm glad i live now and not then!


message 13: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 86 comments Noella, your post is very interesting! Thanks for reminding me of how different life was, especially rural life.
Betsy


message 14: by Faye (new)

Faye Kisker | 257 comments I enjoyed reading your recollections, Noelle.

I have never lived in a house without electricity, a phone or a TV. I don't remember my mother ever having a wringer washer, but I vividly remember the washer we had in the later 1950's. I saw one like it in an antique mall a few years ago. I had my husband take a picture of it because I have never seen one anywhere else. I thought it was so much fun as a young child. It was white with blue trim. It had two separate tubs adjoining. My mother put the wash in the larger tub and then all the wet wash had to be lifted out of the washer and placed into the regular laundry tubs that most basements had. The rinse water was there. After several minutes of hand agitating the clothes and dunking them up and down, the heavy wet clothes were then placed in the smaller washing machine tub and spun out. Then the wash was all hung. I saw an old TV program that had the commercials intact from the late 50's. One was for an advanced Westinghouse front loading washer and dryer. The appliance store invited people to bring in a load of their dirty wash and get a demonstration of how the new appliances worked right in the appliance store.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I just love. It is one of those Anne Taintor things using or replicating the illustration style from the 50's,usually of women.Mine has a 1950's lady in a dress loading up her front loading washer. Her little daughter is next to her and says "Mommy, when I grow up, I want to stay home and not work just like you."

There have always been a few women who worked out of necessity, but they usually were not married.
Faye


message 15: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 171 comments William wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV...."

William wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I could think was DV...."

I'm sorry William. I am a social worker and I get so used to jargon that I don't always think others understand right away. I always see SOB in notes and it always catches me off guard- the way it is meant is short of breath but that is not the first meaning my mind jumps to


message 16: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 171 comments Noellasue wrote: "I was born in 1944 and while we were by no means rich, we weren't poor either.

My memories consist of when doing laundry, water had to be heated water on the stove to fill a tub. Clothes were agi..."


Wow! I cannot imagine my mother doing any of those things but I know she did early on. They moved a lot for my father's job and I know at one point she washed clothes in a river. But by the time I was born it was all modern conveniences. I know my gramma converted from a coal furnace and we had a milkman. You just put a note with what you wanted and paid at the end of the month


William Land (williamland) | 1085 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "William wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they were. All I cou..."

No problem about using jargon, Cindy. It's so easy to do when we are familiar with it.

SOB=shortness of breath. I, too, have another meaning for this; perhaps you share the same one with me? :-)


message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 171 comments William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "William wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "William wrote: "Cindy wrote: "I was horrified about the little girl whose mother was in hiding from the father and the girl wrote and told where they w..."

Haha William, I sure do!!!


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