We have all heard the old adage, “Ladies don’t sweat, they glisten.” Well, the dog days of summer are upon us, and glistening has become routine. A handkerchief, that most basic of accessories, has long served the purpose of dabbing a dampened brow. But the full span of its historical significance bears examination.
While the history of carnival celebrations can be traced across the globe over many centuries, the modern-day carnival concept was truly a 19th century invention, originating at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Shortly thereafter, carnival companies began touring the nation, performing at county fairs and civic events. They lured in the crowds with their tantalizing advertisements for a variety show of wild animals, “freaks,” minstrel acts, magic tricks, thrilling acrobatic feats, and a curated collection of exotic curiosities.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside-
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown-
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
No doubt, summer is the most social season the year. It is a time for block parties with the neighbors, family vacations, camping trips, evenings spent in the company of friends on the back deck.
Door-step parties were a favorite summer pastime for the Victorians.
I was so cut-out for this. I remember calling dibs on my mother’s McCalls magazine, anxiously thumbing my way to Betsy McCall. Every month beginning in April, 1951, the adventures of the two dimensional pre-teen were shared with readers. Every little girl envied her wardrobe almost as much as her whirlwind adventures. Manual dexterity was required to extract her pretty clothes from the page with scissors. Almost every women’s periodical offered a paper doll, one of the earliest being Ladies’ Home Journal in which children would crayon the color. Celebrities were celebrated on paper, from Queen Victoria to movie stars. From Lettie Lane and Polly Pratt to Dolly Dingle, the cut-out friends would be stashed in shoeboxes for rainy day play. Printed paper doll sets were reserved for the affluent during the Victorian era when the colorful lithographic sets by Raphael Tuck and the McLoughlin Bros. were selling for a hefty fifteen cents.
It is official. The fireflies and frogs have announced the barefoot season. Even the Autumn lovers have succumbed to hammocks and wind chimes in wait of the eminent turn. The rhythmic hum of oscillating fans, lawn mowers, children’s clamor and gurgling fountains are the soundtrack of summer. Family potlucks and cookouts invite picnic hampers, nostalgic tablecloths and pieced quilts to sprawl upon the ground.
This is the nonchalant season when the living is easy. Relaxed conversation over icy lemonade on the porch swing and patriotic cupcakes with butter cream frosting, and trips to the organic market (wicker cart and grocery shopping bag and bicycle basket).
May your sunshiny days surprise your thirsty gardens with an occasional thunderstorm. Revel in the aromas and visions of the leisure season until that first cold snap induces sweater weather once again!