Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1909 (2nd set)

She Had a Question, 1909 (2nd set)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 13, 2009

A lot of mothers of young children seemed to need help this time, but never fear — we do have those perennial questions about relations between the sexes. Whatever do you suppose she’s going to say to the question about kissing?


I have a boy between fifteen and sixteen years of age, who is very awkward at all times, and sometimes positively rude both at home and in company. What can I do to correct his faults? – Aunt Laura.

Your boy is just at an age when much patience and tact is required on the part of the mother and sister. Many a boy has been tempted to leave home at this age, because of the frequent “don’ts” and “scoldings.” Be patient, kind, and forbearing with him, and correct his faults by continual warmth of love and an apparent forgetfulness of his awkward ways. Bye and bye your boy will change and his rudeness will turn to gentleness.


I am living in the country and am frequently troubled with felons on my fingers. Can you suggest something to give relief quickly? – Margaret.

When you first feel that prickling sensation which indicates a felon coming, dip the finger quickly ten or fifteen times in a cup of boiling water. Repeat this several times during the day. It will usually check the gathering. If, however, it goes on, use the following: Heat four spoonsful of vinegar and one spoonful of salt peter together until dissolved, then thicken with wheat bran, and apply as a poultice. Change often and in twenty-four hours it will draw to a head.


Is it proper for a young lady to ask a gentleman friend to escort her home from an informal evening gathering or meeting? – Grace.

Yes, it is quite proper, especially if the hour be late or you have far to go. But you should not ask a stranger or one of very short acquaintance to accompany you.


My little girl is disposed to stoop or become round shouldered. Can you suggest a simple cure? – Mary W.

Balancing or carrying light weights on the head, such as a book, with the shoulders thrown back, will do more to straighten a child disposed to stoop than any of the fancy appliances. Of course some children may have disease of the spine which will require skillful surgical treatment.


How can I use the bleached leaves, outside stalks and roots of celery to save them. – Mrs. M.

Some can be used to flavor soup or to make celery soup; but as you probably have an abundance at this time of year, wash the stalks and leaves well, scrape the roots and clean thoroughly, then spread on a clean tin and set in a warm oven. When perfectly dry, powder and pack in a glass jar to be used to flavor soups, sauces, etc.


How long should a young lady go with a young man before becoming engaged, and then how long after the engagement before marriage? – Violet.

Much depends on the age and circumstances of both. Of course parents should always be consulted about such matters. Young people should not be hasty in becoming engaged, as many times infatuation is mistaken for love, and what would satisfy a girl of eighteen would not be her ideal at twenty-three or twenty-four. Many divorces come because of too hasty marriages. Talk with your mother, my dear girl, and be willing to be guided by her advice.


My children are frequently troubled with tooth-ache, in the night time. Can you give me some remedy to ease the pain until a dentist can be consulted? – Anxious Mother.

Oil of cloves is the best remedy. If the tooth has a cavity, dip a very small piece of medicated cotton in the oil and put it in the cavity, using a tooth pick or small darning needle. If you have no oil of cloves, sometimes a strong solution of salt and vinegar, held in the mouth a few minutes will give relief. Or paregoric rubbed on the gums. Soaking the feet in hot water often eases the pain. I would advise you to always keep a small bottle of oil of cloves and some medicated cotton in the house, in case of emergency. The cotton is useful for so many purposes.

Do not get vexed or irritated with your children when they have the tooth-ache. Very often your warmth of love will ease the pain.


My boys often have trouble with rusty nails running in their feet. Please give me a remedy. – Mary S.

Apply turpentine immediately; after which bind on rancid bacon or tobacco which has been soaked in water or carbolized salve. If the member become swollen bathe frequently with hot water to which has been added a few drops of carbolic acid; or bathe with hot alcohol after which apply the bacon or tobacco. To heat alcohol put bottle containing alcohol in pan of hot water, or heat plate and pour alcohol on. never use near a fire as it ignites very quickly. Always keep carbolic acid fro reach of children.


Should a young girl ask a man to her home? – Lucille.

There would be no harm providing he is a proper person for you to associate with; however, it would be much better for the young man to ask if he could come to your home, rather than for you to invite him.


If “A Young Reader,” and “M.S.E.” will each send a self-addressed stamped envelope, they will receive personal answers.


Is an egg beaten up in a cup of new milk good for a year-old baby to drink? He likes it real well and would take two cups a day. What other food is good for him to eat? – Maud.

Do not give the egg and milk more than once a day, as two eggs per day would be too much of that solid food for so young a child. Bread and milk, boiled rice with milk, cream of wheat or graham mush, well cooked and given with milk; a small amount of stewed fruit or part of an orange are all good foods for him.

Milk is almost perfect food for a young child. Be sure that it is clean and unadulterated.


How old should a girl be before she keeps company with young men, and should a young man kiss a young lady before leaving her? – R.D.

It depends much on the development and capability of the girl, as also on her mother’s opinion. I think not before seventeen, and eighteen would be better. When you commence going with a young man you lose your girlishness in a way, and you are apt to become attached and want to marry before you are capable of assuming such duties. To question No. 2 – decidedly not.



  1. Love the last one…”decidedly not.

    Comment by Nate R — August 13, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  2. I’m surprised no mention of wearing shoes to stop nail punctures. I wonder how many of them got tetanus? It’s rather distressing to think of it.

    Comment by Tatiana — August 13, 2009 @ 7:40 am

  3. Yeah, the italics really add that little extra touch, don’t they? And Tatiana, your solution really does seem to be the more practical one, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 13, 2009 @ 7:40 am

  4. Shudder. The days before the tetanus shot. Another practical solution would be to pick up all those old nails and repair the fences so the nails didn’t keep popping out.

    And I had to look up the meaning of the word “felon.” “A purulent infection at the end of a finger or toe in the area surrounding the nail.” Blech. Dip in boiling water? Shudder. The days before antibiotics.

    Comment by Researcher — August 13, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  5. In was wondering about the felonious fingers. I assumed it meant something akin to what Researcher has revealed, but I reveled in the thought of the members of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang each grasping a phalange.

    On the foot front, it appears that the advice giver thinks young men are cattle. Imagine meeting your bishop while walking out of the drug store with a pack of cigs and convincing him that you are getting them to make a poultice for a puncture wound!

    Comment by Eric Boysen — August 13, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  6. BTW, can we get these writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries to use language we can understand? That is two posts in a row with words that I have had to look up.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — August 13, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  7. Stretch your mind, Eric, stretch your mind! :) The new words — “felonious pelf” — kind of go together, don’t they, in a pirates’ treasure scenario?

    We take so many things for granted, don’t we, Researcher, until something makes us imagine a world without them.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 13, 2009 @ 9:10 am

  8. I’ll admit, I had to look up felon as well. It’s nice to know that the questioner wasn’t worried about little criminals sprouting from her fingers. 😉

    I found the advice not to marry in haste to be quite refreshing. It’s too bad it isn’t reiterated now. I dated a guy for about a year and a half. After we had been dating for 3 months, people asked us when we were going to get married. They acted shocked when I told them that we hadn’t discussed it yet and that the question was premature. When we broke up, people told us that the reason it didn’t work out was because we didn’t get married right away. (Because, of course, two incompatible people suddenly become compatible when they say “I do”.)

    My first thought on the rusty nail question was shoes as well. I’m really grateful for tetanus shots.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — August 13, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  9. Yeah, the nail question made me think of tetanus, too, especially since she says “often”

    Likewise with the toothaches. Why not suggest brushing?

    Despite that, some advice seems to be timeless, like the warmth of a mother’s love being the best cure for hurts. Also, the age at which to start dating seems in line with Pres. Kimball’s standard, and the suggested age of marriage (implyng 22 is better than 18) seems surprisingly modern.

    Comment by Clark — August 13, 2009 @ 9:32 am

  10. Speaking of how the audience/language changes, the answers speak approvingly of a young lady asking a gentleman to escort her home/asking a man to her home. I kept thinking that the phrase “taking someone home” implies so much more in the year 2009 . . . ugh.

    One other thing: In response to the question about correcting stooped posture, it says carrying light weights on the head with the shoulders thrown back will do more to straighten a child disposed to stoop than any of “the fancy appliances.” The fancy appliances? What fancy appliances?! I can only imagine . . .

    Comment by Hunter — August 13, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  11. Here’s an article and photograph of one such appliance, from 1910, no less.

    Warning: The photo might not be suitable for some workplaces.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 13, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  12. A pair of shoes for summertime play may have been beyond the means of many families in that day. (I vaguely remember Dean Rusk, Secretary of State in the Kennedy and Johnson adminstrations, saying something about not having worn shoes until high school, and being proud of it.)

    And I’m pretty sure that “felon” appeared in one of James Herriott’s books–although there it afflicted animals, not humans.

    As for treating felons with boiling water–I suppose that’s a step up from boiling oil, but it’s probably still a violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 13, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  13. Mark B.: Shoes didn’t save my 7-year old foot from being punctured through by a rusty nail. Then again, not jumping around in that big pile of old lumber in that vacant lot might have been a better solution.

    Ardis: Thanks for looking up a “fancy appliance.” And thanks for the warning – will check it out a little later.

    Comment by Hunter — August 13, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  14. Of course this is the same era that was selling people on white bread because of course bleached bread was healthier for people than that evil brown bread.

    In fact when I read that ad all I could think was that they were playing up the racial purity thing in an era of social Darwinism.

    Comment by JonW — August 13, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  15. I actually already knew the word “felon,” because I was troubled with them (infected hangnails) greatly in childhood, and an older lady in our ward would often stop me and warn me that if I didn’t soak those felons in hot water, I would see a streak of red run up my arm that was blood poisoning!

    Comment by Coffinberry — August 13, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  16. I first read the word “felon” when I edited my 2nd great-grandmother’s Winter Quarters journals. One time she wrote about having a felon on her finger, and I had to look it up in an old dictionary.

    Comment by Maurine — August 13, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

  17. I chased down James Herriott at Google Books, and found this (from the story, “Early Days in Darrowby”):

    Back in the sitting room, I told him about Bart Sharpe. ‘Something about boring out a cow that was going on three cylinders. He talked about her ewer and felon – I didn’t quite get it.’

    Farnon laughed. ‘I think I can explain. He wants a Hudson’s operation doing on a blocked teat. Ewer is the udder and felon the local term for mastitis.’

    So, another different ailment that goes by the same name.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 14, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  18. But related in that it’s a localized infection, right?

    I wonder if Mormonspeak sounds as foreign to outsiders sometimes as the Darrowby dialect sounded to Herriott?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 14, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  19. And fingers are shaped more or less like a cow’s teats. (I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for a place to put that line!)

    During my recent stay in Yorkshire, I was able to avoid the common tourist error of looking for Darrowby. No such place exists–Herriott made it up. But the natives in Yorkshire talk almost as funny as their neighbors to the north.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 14, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  20. I tried to find Darrowby on Google earth. I finally realized it did not exist. But I looked up the other towns he mentions, which are real, and I found the actual place he lived. I think I also found it on a travel brochure. I have since forgotten the name so you can look it up too!

    Comment by Joyce in Oregon — August 18, 2009 @ 6:43 pm