What Are People Doing?

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Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Arrangements are now being made whereby members of the Seattle Tennis Club may keep their canoes at the canoe house,” and, “The Fortnightly Study Club met with Mrs. Robert Brinkley for a luncheon that developed into a delightful all-afternoon visit.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day. Let’s look back, fondly, at the May 12, 1923 Town Crier as they wax poetic about mothers. Truth is, they sort of throw the mothers of 1923 under the bus!

“Tomorrow, the second Sunday in May, is set aside for the annual observance of ‘Mother’s Day.’ Today will find the florist shops raided by sons and daughters bent on paying formal tribute to their mothers if the latter are within reach, or, otherwise, obeying instruction seen on every hand this week and telegraphing flowers ‘to any part of the world.’

It’s a beautiful thought. Every mother appreciates it. But if there is the tiniest sense of humor left in her system she will smile to herself perhaps a bit sadly at the mother she is and the one they think she is. No one may say a word against her precious mother but when it comes to one’s self – that’s quite another matter. She knows she is not the belle of the Mother’s Day party. Far from it. But outwardly she never lets on – she must keep faith with the tribe and not let them down.

Long ago when mothers reached the venerable age of forty, they took to caps and chimney corners. Nowadays caps have given way to cigarettes and mothers, or many of them, smoke like chimneys. Powder, rouge, eyebrow pencil, and lip stick, are not beyond the ken of the modern mother. She keeps up with her daughters and can give and take on an equality with her sons. It may have its perils but this is certain: They tell her things that the sons and daughters of fifty years ago would never have dreamed of mentioning to a parent.

She may not be so revered as was her mother, but she may be confident that she is as deeply loved by her children. She may not be so wise as the mother of that period, but nine chances out of ten she knows more about human nature and its divagations. She is clearer-eyed. She needs to be. Training children is the most important business in the world and if she neglects it she is quite aware that it is not her ignorance but her indolence that is the cause.

A mother of today needs to be alert if she would keep in spiritual touch with her children and when she shares all knowledge with them as they grow to man- and woman-hood and tries faithfully to guide them, then there can be no tribute too great paid her. But, let her not vaunt herself and let her not be unduly puffed up. A humble heart and contrite spirit would be more in keeping with the realities in the case. When all’s said and done there must be many derelict mothers to be held accountable for the army of derelict children and grown-ups. Modern or ancient the command of ‘line upon line and precept upon precept’ still holds good. There is no short cut for mothers. Those who instituted ‘Mother’s Day’ must have understood that and tried in their dear bungling way to express their heart full of tender sympathy.”

You modern mothers, you, those of you who smoke like chimneys and those that do not, those with humble hearts and those with proud hearts—have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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