Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Highly Organized

Highly Organized

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 11, 2012

Here’s a kinder, gentler (albeit very much a ’50s) story of newlyweds, for readers who can’t stomach the current serial. I’ll give you something pleasant like this on the afternoons when the serial posts.

From the Relief Society Magazine, May 1955 –

Highly Organized

By Dorothy Boys Kilian

Jim Windon patted the inside pocket of his coat with happy anticipation as he strode up the front walk. By golly, he and Sally deserved this unexpected treat; the budget hadn’t allowed many frills lately.

Before he could get his key in the lock, young Mrs. Windon opened the door. Just looking at her, even after six months of marriage, Jim’s heart melted like ice cubes in hot water.

“Hi, lovely,” he said tenderly, pulling her to him. As he bent to kiss her, though, hew as stopped cold by that all-too-familiar look in her otherwise beautiful blue eyes.

“Couldn’t you possibly manage to get home sooner?’ Sally was asking reproachfully. “You know I always plan for six o’clock, and now the souffle’s all sunk in the middle!”

Jim groaned inwardly and then squared his jaw. “Let it sink,” he said, with determined gaiety. “We can pick up a bite somewhere on the way to the theater.”

“Theater?” Sally echoed.

“Honey, you may not realize it, but we’re about to have ourselves an evening.” Jim drew two tickets out of his coat pocket and waved them triumphantly in front of her. He felt his enthusiasm mounting again. “The boss had two complimentaries to the Playhouse for tonight, and when I stayed late to finish a report for him he slid them across the desk to me.”

“Oh, Jim, that would have been fun, but …” Sally hesitated.

“But what?” Jim braced himself.

“Well, I’d planned for us to go down to the stores …”

Jim stared at her. “You mean to say,” he spluttered, “that you’d pass up an evening on the town just to go shopping?”

“That’s what we’ve often done on Friday nights,” Sally said defensively. “When we have the car to carry things home in, and all.”

“But it doesn’t have to become an ironclad rule, does it,” Jim retorted, “when something like this comes up?”

“It is a shame,” Sally agreed. “But to top it all, I’ve arranged with that appliance man on Green Street to give us a demonstration of his automatic washer. You know, that model we’re interested in. I told him we’d be sure to stop in tonight.”

“He won’t mind when you call and explain,” Jim remonstrated. “He’ll have plenty of other customers, and besides, we can see him any old time.”

“That’s just it, we can’t … not together,” Sally insisted. “Friday’s the only night they’re open.”

Jim was silent for a moment. Then he said coldly, “So we’re not going to use the tickets?”

“Jim,” Sally wailed, “you’re not trying to understand.”

“There are some things I’ll never understand,” Jim said desperately. He had noticed right from the beginning that Sally was a highly organized little housekeeper. And now he was remembering the first time they’d had a real scene over it.

They had been married only a few weeks when he had found himself with an extra half-holiday. He had burst into the house Friday noon and found Sally washing windows in the living room.

“Surprise, surprise!” he had shouted, grabbing the sponge from her hand and whirling her around the room. “The boss said to take the afternoon off. Let’s pack a lunch and take a hike up the canyon.”

“Jim, how wonderful!” Sally trilled, gently retrieving the sponge which was dripping water all over the rug.

Then she looked at the window and frowned. “Oh, but we can’t,” she said sadly. “Just look at this mess. The curtains down and only one window clean so far.”

“Who cares?” Jim laughed. “It’s just perfect out for a walk – crisp and sunny. We might even find some leaves turned color up on the ridge.”

Sally’s eyes glowed briefly, but then she said, “No, it’s impossible. That rain yesterday left the windows all streaked. Think how queer it would look from the outside – one clear pane and all the rest a sight.”

“For Pete’s sake,” Jim burst out. “Isn’t an afternoon of fun together more important than the view of our place from the street?”

Sally shook her head. “Besides,” she went on, “I wouldn’t really enjoy the walk. I’d be thinking of how I’d planned to do that job today, and then ran out on it, before it was hardly started.”

“Ease up a little, can’t you, Sally?” Jim pleaded. “Time enough to get organized to the teeth when we have twins to feed and you have to get to some meeting on time.”

“Darling,” Sally protested, “I just can’t seem to help it. I don’t see how one can run a home all helter-skelter. I’m only trying to do my job right.” Her chin began to tremble.

Jim suddenly felt like a churlish bear. He put his arms around her. “Trouble is,” he said lightly, “casual living comes hard for you perhaps because you weren’t born in the West.”

“Maybe that’s it,” Sally managed a smile. “What a trial it must be for you native sons to put up with us ‘furriners.’”

“Oh, well, Illinois had its Lincoln,” Jim said generously. But as he stood by the window and stared out through it into the golden autumn sunshine, he felt trapped …

“Maybe we’d better eat,” Sally was saying uncertainly.

“Yes, of course.” Jim’s voice was frigid. “Let us sit down immediately to our well-planned meal. But first …” He stalked over to the desk, tore the theater tickets in two with a loud rip, and dropped the pieces into the wastebasket.

“Oh, Jim, now you’re angry again,” Sally sighed.

“Let’s cut out the dramatics. You said ‘eat’; all right, let’s eat.” Jim strode out to the dining alcove.

In frosty silence he sat down at the table; in abused silence Sally brought in the food, in miserable silence they pretended to eat.

As Sally came in with the apricot pudding, however, she had apparently decided on an attempt to defrost the atmosphere. “We had a letter from your mother today,” she said casually.

“That so? What’d she have to say?” Jim asked with cool politeness.

“Oh, this and that … Your father’s sister, Julia, must be a remarkable woman.”

“What’s she up to now?” Jim smiled a little in spite of himself.

“She’s going up to San Francisco tomorrow to attend some women’s club convention. She’s the official delegate from her district.”

“She will probably be coming through here, then,” Jim said. “Yes, she’s quite a woman, head of practically every organization in her town … Say!” His eyes suddenly came alive.

“What?” Sally asked, startled.

Jim pushed back his chair. “I’m going to phone her to see if she can’t stop off here a few hours between trains,” he said eagerly.

“Why on earth? I mean, of course, if you want to. But I never heard you speak of being so fond of her …” Sally floundered.

“I’m not, I mean, she really is wonderful. I definitely want you to meet her,” Jim called back enthusiastically from the telephone where he was already dialing long distance.

And so, at six o’clock the next evening, Jim was conducting Aunt Julia up the walk and into the house where Sally, in nervous eagerness, awaited them.

“How do you do, my dear?” Aunt Julia, her ample form perfectly turned out in a gray suit with fur neckpiece, gave Sally a smart peck on the cheek. “Oh, no, Jim,” she said over her shoulder. “Don’t set that bag down flat – it’ll curdle my lotions.”

“It was so nice of you to stop off,” Sally ventured politely.

“It did throw me several hours off schedule,” Aunt Julia admitted. “I wouldn’t have considered it at all except that Jim here was so flatteringly insistent.” She smirked fondly at her nephew.

“We’ll eat right away so you wont’ feel rushed about making the eight o’clock train,” Sally explained, as she saw the guest glance nervously at her watch and then at the dining table.

“Fine!” Aunt Julia boomed. “By the way, I wonder if I might have a cup of consomme. I always have some in the late afternoon, seems to help me digest my dinner.”

“How’s Uncle Rob?” Jim was asking as Sally came back into the room with the cup of consomme.

“Rob? Oh, he’s all right,” Aunt Julia answered vaguely. “He’s transferred himself into the sales division of the company – isn’t home much these days.”

“I think we’re ready to begin,” Sally broke in a while later, as she finished the dinner preparations. “We can eat our salad while the gravy’s heating.”

As she sat down at the table, Aunt Julia pushed her salad plate to one side. “I’ll save mine until the main course, if you don’t mind, my dear. I’m just so used to eating it that way. The busy life I lead, it seems more practical to get everything on the table at once.”

Conversation lagged, Aunt Julia very obviously concentrating on the job of fortifying her generous frame in the shortest time decently possible.

“Jim says you just about run your town,” Sally smiled determinedly as she served dessert. “How on earth do you find time for all your activities?”

“It’s just a matter of having a definite time for everything, and no nonsense about it,” Aunt Julia answered briskly. “And that reminds me, Jim.” She turned to her nephew. “I’ll want a cab for seven-fifteen; will you call one now?”

“Great guns, we’ll take you to the station,” Jim protested.

“No, a cab, if you please,” Aunt Julia said firmly. ‘You don’t want to run off leaving a table full of dirty dishes. Besides,” she added, half under her breath, “in a taxi, I’ll be sure of getting there in plenty of time.”

As the cab drove off a little while later, Jim shut the front door and said solemnly, “A very successful, highly organized woman.”

“No doubt of it,” Sally agreed grimly, sinking down on the davenport.

Jim cleared his throat. “Well, let’s do up the dishes,” he said briskly. “Very inefficient to leave them sitting there on the table.”

“Jimmy … come here.”

Jim’s heart missed a beat as Sally reached up and pulled him down beside her. He heard her sudden laughter, muffled in his coat.

She lifted up her head and smiled at him, the kind of smile which always made him feel a stab of pity for every other man in the world. “The way I feel now, I never want to do another organized thing the rest of my life,” she said fervently. “I won’t spoil your surprise, ever again. Other things can wait. You’ve certainly won this round, honey.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say you’d lost entirely,” Jim said kindly, as he tucked Sally’s head back under his coat. “After all, you taught me how to organize … for defense.”



  1. I can just see the exclamation “Curdle my lotions” passing into everyday use in my vocabulary…:-)

    Comment by Alison — January 12, 2012 @ 2:13 am

  2. even after six months of marriage

    …because six months is SUCH a long time…

    Comment by HokieKate — January 12, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  3. I can’t stand it when we run out of consomme.

    Comment by Matt — January 13, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  4. That’s why you — like Sally and Jim — keep a pot constantly warming on the back of the stove?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 13, 2012 @ 9:29 am

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