Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1921

She Had a Question, 1921

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 10, 2009

A huge cake, dying your blouse using crepe paper, the joys of mutton tallow, and teaching children (and their fathers) good table manners. The “Girl Query” section of the Young Woman’s Journal to your rescue!


“Beatrice.” – A well-bred girl will not allow a young man to take undue privileges or liberties with her, or consent to automobile rides or afternoons alone with him far out in the country, even though they be betrothed. If a young girl is coy and careful of her affections, showing due self-respect, the young man’s admiration and love is only enhanced for her, and her happiness after marriage is doubly assured.


“G.F.” – Cannot locate the recipe first mentioned but the following is very good: One pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and raisins. Ten eggs, one-half pound each of currants, citron peel, sliced fine, and walnuts or pecans. One-half cup molasses, juice and grated rind of one lemon; one level teaspoonful each of mace, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. One teaspoonful of cream of tartar, one-half teaspoon soda.

Cream butter and sugar; beat whites and eggs separately until light and spongy; sift with the flour the cream of tartar, add yolks to butter and sugar; gradually stir in one-half of flour; put soda in a tiny bit of hot water, dissolve, stir in other half of flour, whites of eggs, lemon juice and rind; lastly spices, fruits, and nuts. Fruit should be rolled in flour before adding. Bake in moderate oven four and one-half hours. Grease pans well before putting in, and cover bottom of pan with brown paper also greased.


“Angeline.” – We have no reason to believe the report to be true. It is immaterial both you and me, let us think of something better. The “sight-seeing” cars are run by a local company and are not affiliated with any particular church.


“Hulda.” – There is no reason why you cannot develop into a bright, sweet, ambitious, attractive girl. Cosmetics, creams, and lotions are not the essentials to health and beauty.


“Maiza.” – The passage of scripture to which you refer is very plain and self-explanatory. The numbers mentioned are immaterial.


Is it proper for a girl to applaud at the conclusion of a dance? – Violet.

There is nothing really improper, but it is rather more usual to let your partner do the applauding, unless you dance well together, and an especially interesting number has been given.


“Olivia.” – To prepare mutton tallow, be sure that it is the best mutton tallow. Put in an iron vessel over a slow fire, and allow to melt; when all melted strain through a cheesecloth and allow to cool. When it reaches the congealing point, beat it up with an egg beater until very light; add a few drops of perfume or bay rum; pour into small jars and set away in cool place. Keep on the toilet stand near the soap a dish of oatmeal or corn meal, and rub it freely on the hands, after washing. This will cleanse and soften the skin. Use a small portion of the mutton tallow at night, rubbing it well into the skin.


“Viola.” – Fifteen minutes before the specified hour is the proper time to respond to a dinner or luncheon invitation.


“Arlie.” – Notwithstanding the superstitious prophecy that Saturday was “no day to marry” many young people have thrown that superstition aside and made Saturday quite a popular day. To receive greetings from your friends before taking the late train on your wedding trip, the ceremony ought not to be later than 7:30 p.m. Of course, we advise our girls to be married in the Temple.


“Madge.” – If your waist is faded in spots why not change the color entirely. Simply immerse scraps of crepe paper in water until the desired shade is produced. Remove paper and dip the blouse up and down in the water until it reaches the proper color. This can be removed at any time by washing in the ordinary manner, and another color can be applied.


“Mabelle.” – You will not be very successful in reforming the young man after marriage, because the habits and mannerisms you dislike now, will in all probability be intensified after marriage. If he has “so many habits” you dislike, and his family “are at times unbearable,” think long and seriously before becoming engaged, or marrying the young man in question. Remember dear, you are marrying his family in him, and if the atmosphere of his home and yours, is “so different” of course you will clash after marriage. Perhaps what you think is love, is merely infatuation. Have you thought of the fact that the man you marry is to be your companion, and occupy the same house, and sit at the same table, for 365 days out of every year? That he is to be the father of your children? You are rather young, so consider well before deciding.


“Mamie.” – Touch the brown spots on your face with peroxide of hydrogen once daily for three successive days. This will bleach, if not entirely remove them.


“Mrs. A.K.” – You are quite right, children should be taught table manners, beginning when very young, thus avoiding much embarrassment when strangers are present, and as example is better than precept, the father and mother ought to be extremely careful and cautious as to their manners. Napkins should be placed on the table and used by every member of the family. To avoid much laundry, paper napkins could be substituted, and they can be bought very cheaply, for ordinary everyday use. The manner of one at table is an index to good breeding. Soup should always be supped noiselessly, taken from the side of spoon, and blowing the soup is quite inexcusable and absolutely needless. If the spoon be dipped in the farthest side of the plate, then the side going to the mouth will be cool. Insist on your husband and children making use of the bread and butter plate, thus avoiding crumbs on the table and floor, and perhaps a grease spot on the carpet. The whole slice of bread should not be buttered at once, but small bits be broken off and buttered one at a time as needed. The knife should never be put in the mouth, the fork only being used to convey solid food, and it is not correct to cut up all one’s meat before beginning to eat, else one may eat too fast. There is much to be said about table manners, and space being limited, if you will send stamped envelope, I will mail you further information. Or, you can get “Dame Curtsey Book of Etiquette” for fifty cents at Deseret Book Store, Salt Lake City. A book on etiquette is quite essential in every home.


What is the proper condiment to serve with beef? With mutton or lamb, and pork? – Housewife.

With roast beef the mustard flavor is excellent, therefore get out your mustard pickles. For pot roast or plain boiled beef, horse radish goes better, so a white sauce with horseradish flavor is very good. For beef loaf or chopped beef, some form of tomato sauce, relish or pickle is the proper thing. For mutton and lamb dishes, mint is generally liked, plain mint sauce or mint jelly. Currant jelly is also used with roast lamb. For pork, apple sauce has long been a favorite. An apple or quince jelly is liked by many persons instead. There is nothing goes better with ham than currant jelly, though most people call for mustard or mustard pickle.


“Ann M.” – (1) Technically speaking an absolute fast is for one to abstain from both food and drink, and it is generally accepted in our Church that one should take neither food nor drink when fasting on “fast day.” (2) When the Psalmody was compiled, a committee of five: Geo. Careless, Ebenezer Beesley, Joseph J. Daynes, Evan Stephens, and Thomas C. Griggs – was chosen by the Church authorities to attend to this work. Many of the songs in the book are the compositions of these five men, consequently they gave the names to their own compositions. Those selected for the book that had no titles, were given such by those song leaders. Note the title page and the preface to the book.


“Winona.” – Celery, small pickles, and olives are finger foods, cut cheese is also taken with the fingers, or the knife. (2) You and a girl friend accepted an invitation for refreshments in a drug store, from a young man. Surely you would not fail to thank him for the hospitality. Thanks are always in order for courtesies received.


“Bernice.” – A strong solution of epsom salts has been known to remove scars. It should be patted on the scar several times per day. Or, wet the tips of the fingers in olive oil or oxide of Zinc ointment, and place in center of scar and rub outward. Scar will disappear.


“Cynthia.” – That stupid, tired feeling which you experience daily after dinner, points to trouble with diet. Perhaps it is the kind of food you eat, or the quantity, or perhaps the way you eat it, or it may arise from a combination of the three. Buttermilk is recommended by a French chemist as helping to remove the “clinkers” or mineral matter, which forms an ingredient in most of our foods, and after combustion is left in our systems to incrust or stiffen different parts of the body, and to make imperfect many of the vital processes. When drinking a quart of buttermilk each day, reduce the amount of food taken.



  1. We have no reason to believe the report to be true. It is immaterial both you and me, let us think of something better. The “sight-seeing” cars are run by a local company and are not affiliated with any particular church.

    Hmm. Church-run sight-seeing cars? I’d like to know more details.

    Comment by Justin — September 10, 2009 @ 7:50 am

  2. The sightseeing cars were run by private individuals and companies (“Seeing Salt Lake” was one such), and specialized in sensational and spurious commentary. I’m guessing that “Angeline” had taken a tour, or been questioned by someone who had, and wrote to ask “Is it true that Amelia Folsom was Brigham Young’s favorite wife?” or something like that. This is one of those cases where I’d really like to know the question and not just Catherine’s answer!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  3. That recipe for pound cake sounds delicious. I’ll have to try it one of these holidays when there are additional mouths to help it disappear.

    Regarding tallow, they’re still cooking over an open fire in 1921? And wouldn’t the application mean going to bed smelling like a Carribean drunkard?

    My favorite, though, is the advice to Mabelle about getting engaged.

    Comment by Clark — September 10, 2009 @ 8:20 am

  4. I just posted the cake recipe on Recipezaar as “Keepa Fruit Cake.” It takes awhile to run through their review process and post on the site, but when it posts, I will comment again with a link to the recipe.

    I’ve certainly made more complicated recipes, but as I was typing it up, I was struck by how much work it would take to cream the butter and whip the egg whites and do all that mixing back in the days before electric mixers.

    Comment by Researcher — September 10, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  5. Clark must have more experience with Carribean drunkards than I do! :) (The slow fire she refers to could refer to an indoor wood or coal stove, though — my grandmother was still using such a wood stove in my memory in the ‘early 60s, in Spring City, Utah.)

    I can feel my pitching arm developing muscle just thinking about beat all that batter by hand, Researcher. And it’s fun to know we now have an official fruit cake!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  6. One of the things I love about these answers is how deftly the author goes from the superficial to the profound, but with no apparent contradiction. In one paragraph we have instructions for clapping after a dance or how to remove “brown spots” on the skin, and then, bam, we get a morsel of wisdom about beauty (“Cosmetics, creams, and lotions are not the essentials to health and beauty”) or a wonderful saying about marriage (“Remember dear, you are marrying his family in him”).

    Love it. Thanks.

    Comment by Hunter — September 10, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  7. I like that, too, Hunter. It’s as though she treats every question with respect, because she knows it matters to the girl who wrote in, regardless of how [un]important the question may be on the cosmic scale. Maybe that’s why they kept asking questions for so long.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  8. The recipe for Keepa Fruit Cake posted already.

    As suspected, it is a very rich cake. (If you couldn’t tell by the pound of butter!)

    I’m not sure why it changed “citron” to “citrus” and I may have been a bit low on number of servings, since it estimates one serving as 180 grams (rather a large serving of cake) with 639 calories, 32 grams of fat and 52 grams of sugar.

    Also, when I was typing it in, I googled “moderate oven” and the usual conversion is 350°F (180°C) but, thanks to Clark’s mention of pound cake, I looked at an old-fashioned recipe for pound cake which suggests cooking at 300°F for an hour and a half.

    Comment by Researcher — September 10, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  9. How fun! Thanks, Researcher!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  10. That stupid, tired feeling which Cynthia experiences daily after dinner [which I believe we now called lunch] sounds very familar. Although I’ve not hear the word stupid used that way before.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — September 10, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  11. I love these answers, but like Ardis, it would be great if we had some of the questions. Was Ann M. complaining because the five musicians had so many of their own compositions in the hymnal? What prompted Viola to ask about the correct time to respond to an invitation? And did I read that answer right that you didn’t need to respond until fifteen minutes before the specified time? For all of the new frugality standard today, the ability to change the color of our shirts every day by the use of crepe paper water should be taught in every Relief Society and Young Women.

    Comment by Maurine — September 10, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  12. Bruce, you just need to take a quart of buttermilk a day — no more stupid feeling!

    Maurine, I’m guessing that Catherine means that when you’ve already accepted a dinner invitation that says “Dinner will be served at 6:00,” you’re expected to show up at the door at a quarter to six — not that that’s the first instant your poor hostess has a clue whether you’re coming or not. But I’m only guessing … the past is a very strange place …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  13. But, what about that stupid, tired feeling that strikes at almost any hour of the day or night? What’s the cure? Turning back the clock a few decades?

    Speaking of turning that clock back, am I the only one who read Mabelle’s name and had to fight off competing visions of the telephone company and “Michelle”?

    About the “Pound” cake–I know why it’s called that, but it sounds like it’d weigh a ton. Don’t toss it at a duck.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 10, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  14. Don’t toss it at a duck.

    If you do, he’d better.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 10, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  15. Also, when I was typing it in, I googled “moderate oven” and the usual conversion is 350°F (180°C) but, thanks to Clark’s mention of pound cake, I looked at an old-fashioned recipe for pound cake which suggests cooking at 300°F for an hour and a half.

    Yay. You answered my questions.

    I’m still choking on the notion of consuming a quart of buttermilk a day. Blech.

    I’m tempted to try the crepe paper idea, just for kicks.

    Comment by m&m — September 12, 2009 @ 12:39 am

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