Friday, October 31, 2014

A Tale of Two Militant Suffragettes - Crossing Paths in Montreal 1913


If  I put out a little cash on Ancestry UK, I may get to see another image of Caroline Kenney, the semi-suffragette who I feature in my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey - about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

Caroline was a sister of Militant Suffragette Annie Kenney.

Apparently, the registry says she is coming to Canada in 1912 to 'visit' her sister.  I don't know if the registry is available online, but a portrait certainly is.

True enough. Older sister Sarah Nell Kenney Randolph Clarke lived in Montreal with her husband. They'd immigrated to Canada in 1908. He was a newspaperman.

But Caroline did more than visit, newspaper items reveal. She promoted woman suffrage, alone and with the Equal Suffrage League.

But she couldn't exactly write that on the form. Premier Borden had banned the suffragettes from coming to Canada a month before.


Beautiful and feisty Barbara Wylie.


The UK Ancestry site says they have a portrait relating to her 1912 passage on the Virginian (of the Allan Line) and her 1930 border crossing. The Virginian originated in Liverpool and went to Quebec City than Montreal.


I guess someone has added the portrait to her travel documents. It's likely the same portrait I have.
But I will see.

So, if Caroline came to Montreal any time before November, 1912,  (the Seaway closed on November 26) she likely crossed paths with Barbara Wylie, another suffragette who was in Canada. (For all I know, they both stayed at the Clarke's in Verdun (or St. Lambert).


Wylie arrived in Montreal in late September and stayed at least until early November, because on November 4 she gave a speech at the YMCA sponsored by the Montreal Council of Women.

I put this speech in Furies Cross the Mersey. It almost started a small riot.

Wylie had come on the Empress of Ireland. I can't find a record of her crossing on Ancestry UK. Too bad, I would like to see the reason she put for coming to Canada.

Her visit had been trumpeted loudly in Votes for Women, the magazine of the Women's Social and Political Union.

Her arrival in Montreal got a lot of press,too. Silly press, indeed.

But Miss Wylie was feted by the local society women, whereas Caroline Kenney was not.

Caroline is not mentioned once in that organization's minutes from the era, whereas Miss Wylie's visit is showcased in the minutes and the 1912 Annual Report.

The Equal Suffrage League in Montreal was a rogue suffrage association. All the leading lights in the Montreal movement belonged to the Montreal Suffrage Association, which was an offshoot of the Montreal Council of Women.



A strange strike out in the minutes of the Executive of the Montreal Suffrage Association, May 1913. Were they for or against the British militants? I've written a book about them, and I still am not sure and that's because they weren't sure themselves.

 I know from newspaper accounts that Caroline Kenney  gave speeches in Montreal in February and March 1913 on her own and then worked with the Equal Suffrage League from the summer to December 1913. Newspaper reports referred to her  as a 'resident' of Montreal.

Her first speech was too militant apparently and did not sit well with the citizens of Montreal. (I have no account of it, but this is mentioned in an account of her next, less explosive, speech to the Jewish Community.)


Here's the clipping about Wylie's visit kept by Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, who also figures in Furies Cross the Mersey.

 I have but a remnant of the original clipping left. It has crumbled to bits in the 10 years since I found it in a trunk along with many other such clippings and about 300 family letters from the 1910 era in Canada.

 In the report, it claims that Montreal pressmen almost missed Miss Wylie, because they were expecting a battle-ax to de-train and instead were met with a beautiful young woman.

The pro-suffragette narrative pretty well always fell along those lines. What pretty women! Who would have guessed? The anti-suffragette narrative painted the women as demons and terrorists and most commonly as hysterical or very very silly.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Confusing the Suffragettes with Bees


This is a capture of a 'scene' from A Soul on Fire, by Frances Fenwick Williams, published in 1915.

It's a dinner table scene taking place in sophisticated English Montreal circles. Frances Fenwick Williams was Press Secretary of the Montreal Suffrage Association in 1915. So, she knew of what she spoke, perhaps exaggerating a tad :)

When I first read this paragraph, I assumed that FW was using the names Christina Bankhurst and Windholme Churchham for Pankhurst and Churchill out of fear of being sued or something.

How could anyone not know the name of Winston Churchill?

But this is 1915 and clearly Fenwick Williams is mocking the ignorance of people with a pronounced opinion on Woman Suffrage.

I imagine that in that era, Pankhurst's name was more recognizable by the Anglo Man and Woman on the Street than Winston Churchill's. Pankhurst gave a speech in Montreal in December, 1911 at Windsor Hall. It is a pivotal moment in my story Furies Cross the Mersey, available on Kindle.

Much in the way most Montrealers today won't recognize the name Ed Milliband, even in the age of Internet. (I hope I spelled that correctly...:)

Now, Winston Churchill had spoken in Montreal, too, in 1901, also at Windsor Hall. He was lecturing about the Boer War and promoting himself to the world.

The reporters said 'Sir Randolph's son has a way with words' or something to that effect.

Cartoon mocking Borden's ban of suffragettes in 1912


In 1912, Prime Minister Borden of Canada visited London to discuss NAVY issues and was accosted by three British Suffragettes, including Miss Barbara Wylie, who demanded votes for Canadian women.

Soon, the suffragettes were banned from entering Canada, branded as undesirables. They came anyway. Read Furies Cross the Mersey.

It is likely this ban was invoked because Borden had invited Prime Minister Asquith and Churchill to Canada.

Churchill was afraid of the suffragettes, in large part because they were going to take away his champagne..



 Clipping saved by my husband's great Aunt Edie about the February 1913 Montreal Suffrage Exhibit that was all about happy families.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fictional Courtship, Real Life Courtship: A Comparison using Austen, Gaskell and Me

Threshold Girl: A Real Life Period Piece (School Marms and Suffragettes Book 1)


My ebook Threshold Girl chronicles the story of Flora Nicholson’s time at Macdonald Teachers College in 1911/12.

It is based on real letters. (The cover shows Marion Nicholson sipping tea in her white dress on the lawn of her Richmond, Quebec home, Tighsolas.)
 


Marion's family, from Richmond, Quebec, was going through a hard time, financially, in that period, so there’s quite a dramatic story arc to the book.

In fact, Flora MUST pass her Model School Course at Macdonald because her family is counting on her future salary as a teacher on the Montreal Board. 500 a year!

My novellette also recounts the true story of the roller-coaster courtship between her older sister, Marion, my husband’s grandmother, and a certain Mr. Blair, from Three Rivers, Que.

Then I have added a bit of fiction, in the form of a story of a local French girl, Miss Gouin and the textile mills at Magog, nearby. 

Workers at Dominion Textile in Montreal and Magog went on strike in 1912 over a forced reduction in salary. The 1911 Census shows that EVERY employee at the company worked 60 hours a week, the legal limit. Yes, sure.

When I concocted this Threshold Girl plot back in 2010, I didn’t realize that there was another quite famous novel with a similar plot, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

My novel could have been similarly entitled Two Solitudes (for that matter) but that title is taken. :)

I’d never seen the mini-series from 2004, or the earlier one from the 70’s, and I hadn’t read Elizabeth Gaskell’s book.

Well, last week I did watch the 2004 miniseries on Netflix and liked it. Very much. I was amused to find that the plot and style of the production was very much in the vein of the ultra-popular 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

Same brooding hero; same feisty heroine.

Can’t blame anyone for copying such a successful formula. 

I read on the Internet that Elizabeth Gaskell purposely copied Austen’s P and P, in order to get her social welfare theme about the working conditions at the English textile mills out into the public eye.

In North and South, she also gives the owner’s point of view, too.

Curious, after all these years, I downloaded a free copy of North and South off Amazon.ca and began to read it to see how much it resembled P and P.

Anyway, this is a long pre-amble to my main point.

Clearly this soap-opera formula (touched on by Austen in her novel and exaggerated by the 1995 TV Production, for P and P is really a comedy of manners and not a soaper) works - and works well.
It certainly works for me.

But let me compare the love story arc of North and South with the love story arc of Threshold Girl, based on a genuine romance from the 1910 era.

In the famous works: Feisty girl meets brooding hero. He is immediately attracted to her, physically, at least, but she is repelled by his manners. 

Later on the hero asks for the girl’s hand in marriage and she turns him down, delivering him a humiliating blow.  Eventually, he wins her respect and she then falls in love with him.

The Nicholson Women in their 'fashionable' white dresses, which they washed and ironed themselves. In the later North and South, the heroine is shown prancing around her Northern Industrial Town in a similar white dress. Seems strange to me. It would have gotten filthy.

In my real life story, Marion, a feisty 'modern' woman, indeed, is formally introduced to a certain Mr. Blair in May, 1911.

He may or may not fall for her immediately. Mr. Blair is seeing another woman, tho. (Marion doesn’t know this.) He blows off this woman  (who appears in the care of her mother)in September saying in a letter “I have always thought of us as just good friends.”

He starts paying a lot of attention to Marion, a hard-working city teacher, leading her sisters to refer to him in letters as “Romeo” or “Hugh, dear.”

He endears himself to Marion’s sister Edith, catching up to her as she walks to church one day.

Mr. Blair takes Marion out of her awful rooming house to fun places like the Orpheum, a Vaudeville House, giving her much relief, especially since she has more worries than her 50 ‘very bad children.’ 

Her brother, Herb, who has moved out West, has left his debts behind and she is often called upon to help her parents out financially. She is also paying ½ of her sister, Flora’s, board at Macdonald.

In April 1912, Marion has a party at her rooming house, inviting two gentlemen, a Mr. Swan and a Mr. Blair, but neither comes, which makes her very mad. (Edith writes about this in a letter home to her mother. Edith also has a teaching job in the city.)

In August, 1912, Marion and Edith visit their cousin Henry in Boston. There’s another man there, a Chester Coy, who some family members are trying to persuade Marion to like. “Chester is the man, these days,” she jokingly writes in a letter to her sister.

Marion is of mixed mind about Mr. Blair. “Sometimes I like him, sometimes I hate him, but I’d hardly know what to do without him,” she writes to her Mom. (Sounds promising!)

Mr. Blair writes Marion while she is in Boston, a long silly letter.

In September, 1912 Marion secures her own flat to live in, with her sister, her cousin and one other woman, all teachers. This is quite scandalous for the era.

Mr. Blair is over often. (Even more scandalous.) Hapless Chester visits from Boston, once.

Mr. Blair tries to help Marion at her new place with fixing the stoves and changing windows, but she does not often let him. (So her Mom says.)

Marion’s mother writes her husband who is away on the railway. “I must tell you, this young man is very anxious to see you.”

The father and Mr. Blair meet at Christmas, but something negative happens. (Marion later mentions in a letter to her dad: "I had a nice letter from Hughie, but not the bad Hughie you had in the cards at Christmas."

Marion sends Mr. Blair a present for Christmas, in the mail. A teddy bear. He writes to thank her, saying his gift to her must have been 'lost in the mail.' He does not say what it was. (This is that letter, likely.)

Things are worked out as Mr. Blair gets engaged to Marion in May, 1913.

He writes a formal letter to her father, asking for her hand, in June, 1913.

Sister Edith, in a July letter, tells her Mom “I wish Father would give his consent, Marion wants to know whether to quit her job and Hugh, naturally, is anxious to find a house.”

Norman, the father writes Marion a long, neat letter soon after, saying he doesn’t know what to answer, as he is dead broke.

(Asking for consent is about money, a dowry apparently.)

Hugh’s father writes his son a nice friendly letter a little while later, alluding to some papers he is sending him, but never mentions the engagement, marriage or Marion.

A marriage contract is drawn up giving Marion the furniture if her husband leaves her and NOTHING if she leaves her husband. (A very sad document.) Alas, he left her - in 1927, by dying. She had four kids and no money, but she did have a profession. She went back to work as a teacher and rose to be President of the Teachers Union in Quebec.

Marion and Hugh get married in October, 1913 at Tighsolas, their house in Richmond.
The in-laws do not attend the wedding.


Norman spends 6 dollars on a wedding cake.

I found many a wedding invitation with the Nicholson Letters, but none for Marion's 1913 marriage. This one is for cousin Marion's (Mae) 1914 marriage. I suspect that they didn't have the money to send out formal invitations.


Read Not Bonne Over Here, the Nicholson letters from WWI, to see how Marion and Blair got along in their first years of marriage.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Testament of Youth and more about Old BBC Mini Series



The Sikh guards at Changi. My grandmother had a wrestling match with one during a rather funny incident.  She was all of 5 foot.

I listened to a BBC Radio Four Great Lives a while back, about Vera Brittain and then took the plunge and bought the DVD of Testament of  Youth off Amazon.co.uk.

It is from 1979 and stars Cheryl Campbell.

I watched the first two episodes with interest, since I'm a huge fan of 'period pieces' and I understand a movie version of Testament of Youth was recently previewed at the BFI London Film Festival starring Dominic West and Emily Watson and Alicia Viklander as Vera Brittain. I think Gemma Atherton was originally slated to play VB, which would have made her the headliner, I guess. Then it was Saoirse Ronan.

I loved the book Testament of Youth when I first read it, just a few years ago. I think I was looking up a Nella Last book and it came up as 'something I might like.' The Amazon Gods were correct!

I hadn't seen the mini series when it played in North American around 1980. I was too busy looking for work. I guess.!

Testament of Youth, the miniseries, got great reviews I can see from the newspaper archives, but frankly this mini-series has not gone down in history as anything special. It's certainly not a Brideshead Revisited or a Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice. (So making a movie is likely worthwhile.)

I can see why. The production is a bit bleak. (Well, very bleak. It's about WWI and terrible loss.)  No Upstairs or Downstairs, just Middle Stairs.

So, this Testament of Youth is  not a costume drama (as the middle class didn't wear interesting clothing)  and the set decor is very true to what was, which means it was heavy and shaded.

I guess if they ever make a mini series of my  Threshold Girl or Furies Cross the Mersey they will have the same problem :)

As it happens, Vera Brittain was born in 1895, the same year as my grandmother, Dorothy Forster Nixon. I've written about my granny on this blog and at Looking for Mrs. Peel that I turned into an Amazon Kindle ebook.

The BBC made an excellent mini-series about that bit of history called TENKO.

My grandmother moved to Malaya in about 1920 and became the Secretary of the Kuala Lumpur Book Club. (I'm currently putting together a YouTube documentary about that.)

She was interned at Changi and was tortured in the Double Tenth Incident, but she didn't write a book, unlike the other women who were tortured, so is not remembered.

I see the Wikipedia entry for the Double Tenth Incident speaks only of Elizabeth Choy. Choy, being Chinese, was indeed tortured in the way the men were tortured, hands-on, physically, but being imprisoned, humiliated, threatened daily with death, being put in solitary and starved to an inch of your life, and being forced to watch others being tortured, well... that's what my grandmother endured. And that's torture.

No, my grandmother didn't write a book, but she did scribble a few notes which I used when writing my play.

Anyway, like Vera Brittain and so many other women, she worked as a VAD, but not during the first WW, but during the Second, in Singapore after the fall. That too is described in my play.

There were many women doctors at Changi Internment Camp, six I think, who became leaders of the camp. I suspect this was because the women who became doctors during WWI couldn't get jobs in Britain and so moved the colonies.

Having these doctors at the camp was a boon, health-wise, especially for the babies and newborns,  but my grandmother was resentful of their special status. She makes that clear in her memoirs.



A Changi Quilt taken from the Australian War Memorial website. Ethel Mulvany, a Canadian Red Cross Rep at Changi, was responsible for getting the first Quilting Bees going. My grandmother speaks of Mulvany in her memoirs, although she spells it Mulvaney.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

North and South: Armitage and Stewart

Caroline Kenney, sister of famed suffragette Annie Kenney, who came to Montreal to try to start a suffrage movement in 1913 and got nowhere.


At a gathering of the girlfriends a week or so ago, one woman, a really, really well-read girl, was discussing a 19th century writer she'd recently discovered. I can't remember the name. She had been gobsmacked by the minor writer's prose.

Somehow this led to a discussion of Elizabeth Gaskell because, I think, the other writer was also an Elizabeth.. and to a discussion of North and South.

I said I though North and South was about the American Civil War. She said, "No, it is about North and South England."

Well, she was right...

There is another Civil War mini series called the North and the South, but this book is indeed about England.

I have just been writing a book about the Montreal Suffrage Movement, where Caroline Kenney, the sister of militant Annie Kenney, visits Montreal in 1913. The Kenney children all worked in the textile mills... so I was interested.

I found North and South on Netflix and it is good, a copy of Pride and Prejudice in style and form. The lead actor is very Darcy-Firth like.

Interestingly, I found that North and South had been dramatized by the BBC in 1975 and the male lead was a certain Patrick Stewart.

I found this version on YouTube and whipped through it, only to see this certain Patrick Stewart who was very good in it.

In fact, he was more realistic, more crude and rustic than the more recent actor. The male lead in the recent version, Richard Armitage, is so Darcy- like it is hard to believe him when he laments that his lady love will not want a man like him.

Anyway, it is too bad that this 1975 version of North and South was not so good.

And it is not because of the year it was produced; many BBC classics stand up very well to time. I just saw I Claudius again and it still is great.

I just saw Tenko and it is great. And I just saw Shoulder to Shoulder about the British Suffragettes and it is very very good.

It is too bad, because maybe this Patrick Stewart guy would have become famous if the 1975 North and South series had been a lot better.

Anyway, I have downloaded a free Kindle version of North and South.

Furies Cross the Mersey: A Story of 1912 (School Marms and Suffragettes Book 6)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Georgette Heyer and Frances Fenwick Williams


 Frances Fenwick Williams, Canadian novelist, wrote stories for this review and the like.
 She was the daughter of a stock market executive in Montreal, a few years married by 1913, but estranged from her husband who lived in New York City in a private club most of his life.


It's that time of year when the days get shorter and so does my patience. I'm antsy. I don't know what to do with myself.

I've found solace in some iffy literature, Georgette Heyer My brother gave me a couple of her novels.

I admit, I have more than a few Man Booker long-listers on my Kindle, all  half read - and I know why. These books take work to read.

And I don't particularly like reading long books on a Kindle, obviously.

But this Georgette Heyer book is a fun, easy read, perfect for the digital medium.

 (Reading on a Kindle often reminds me of a scene from Star Trek the Next Generation, where Picard is reading a book from a little screen. Way back when, I recall thinking "This is so cool."

Moreover, this Heyer novel reminds me of another book I have on my Kindle, downloaded off Archive.org... A Soul on Fire by one Frances Fenwick Williams, a Canadian.

 Novelist Fenwick Williams lived in an apartment in Montreal. Here's her name listed in the membership log of the Montreal Suffrage Assocation. She was Press Secretary for a while.

The novel is from 1915, is set in Montreal, and has a suffrage theme. I downloaded it because Frances Fenwick Williams is a character in my own ebook about Montreal in the 1912 era, Furies Cross the Mersey.

I didn't finish A Soul on Fire, either. It isn't really readable by today's standards and the typography is simple haywire.

But Fenwick Williams' style is a lot like Georgette Heyer's.

 What FFW doesn't do is keep the narrative moving along - and her characters aren't that interesting, although she very much wants them to be.

One of Fenwick Williams' male characters is based on Sir Andrew MacPhail, esteemed McGill Professor who liked to deconstruct the minds of the suffragettes for the edification of of high-brow male peers.

This fictional character has written a book called "Women Explained."

Very funny.  (She apparently told him this to his face.)

 A review of A Soul on Fire


I can say that Fenwick Williams, at her best, is funnier than Heyer, or wittier, in a nastyish way.  And Heyer is certainly witty from what I've seen so far.

 FFW  might have become a more famous writer has she been allowed to spread her wings as a humourist. I'm guessing she knew Stephen Leacock, the famed Canadian humourist and McGill Prof,  personally.

Fenwick Williams was active in the Montreal Suffrage Movement and she used her experiences to good advantage. A Soul on Fire contains a dinner table conversation about the British Suffragettes where someone accuses Emmeline Pankhurst of  trying to kidnap Winston Churchill's kids but they don't get his name right.

Anyway, from my first taste of Georgette Heyer, this appears to be her strength, keeping you reading, although I'm no expert.

I must ask my brother.

 Frances Fenwick Williams philosophizing about being an ugly girl.. Was she. There is one portrait of her in an archive somewhere.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Billion Dollar Toy








In 1911, Edith Nicholson of Richmond Quebec took a 92 mile car trip to the city, taking about 6 hours with a two hours stop for lunch. I wrote about it in Threshold Girl.


When they get to Montreal, they drive around some more. Edith loves the smooth roads! She took a lot of car rides that summer with the Skinners, the dentist's family next door. The other next door neighbours, the Montgomery's, also owned an auto. Mr. Montgomery bought his first one 1n 1909 (against his wife's wishes) and got a brand new one in 1911, for which he built a garage. And so do the Hills, the prosperous relations  living on ritzy College Street.

I have her sister Marion's diary from 1907, when she is a first year teacher in Sherbrooke, at home for the summer. Guess what? No car rides. Ice cream socials, croquet, reading in a hammock, going to the mail, ah, and church, sometimes twice a day.... all very boring. She says so herself  "I hate this quiet."  NO CAR RIDES.

A lot had changed in just four little years.

 Trip taken in June 1911 by auto..6 hours and a bit, Richmond to Montreal.. with a stop for lunch



In 1910, Rube Borough wrote an article for Technical World Magazine titled Our Billion Dollar Toy.

Upon the industrial battlefield of America where the Captains of Big Business struggle for control of the means of commercial exploitation a new rival for honors has forced his way to eminence. Born but yesterday, he has nevertheless attained the proportions and powers of a giant and he strides among the dominant figures of the day with the confident hauteur of a world conqueror. Who is this newcomer in the ranks of the nation's capitalists? He is the maker and seller of a toy - of the most popular toy of the ages. With a hand of magic he devised that modern sensation and wonder, the automobile, and he proclaimed its merits so effectively that he has swept the nation into a frenzy of buying. So great has been the success attending his efforts that if he should be able during 1910 to meet the demand already made upon him for his product he can truthfully boast a volume business near to a quarter of a billion dollars. As it looks now, his probable production for the coming twelve months, according to conservative estimate, will reach a total value of around $160,000,000. And for his entire output, if he lives up to his reputation, he will get CASH…..

The automobile business for the past two years can be no more accurately described than as a scramble for cars on the part of the agents and the general public…The eagerness of middle class and upper class America to actually possess this newly invented plaything gave the manufacturers the whip hand and being in the position, they made the terms. Back of this quick-sweeping, nation-wide hysteria, there is a reason. Aside from the undeniable appeal that the self-propelled vehicle per se makes to the popular mind, we are confronted with the appeal of social prestige which its ownership from the beginning implied. For a number of years our comfortable classes have been deluged with magazine fiction whose main function has seemed to be the establishing of a wide-spread conviction of the intimate relation of spark plug and carburetors to the lives of our social patterns - the idle rich. Our most fetching romances have made excellent free propaganda for the automobile - the hero's trail of progress has been marked by the smell of gasoline.

 Marion Nicholson with Montgomery's, her Richmond neighbours, car shopping in Montreal on Atwater Street, where the Forum got built.

Our periodicals, monthly and weekly, have not only been most liberal in the exploitation, gratis, of the social desirableness of the motor car, in their voluntary efforts to make this plaything stand before our provincial culture as a symbol, par excellence, of the leisure class, but, today, in pay of the millionaire manufacturer, they are spreading over the country a volume of straight-forward, hard-hitting advertising unprecedented in the industrial world. The biggest share goes to the muckrakers: It seems like an irony of Fate that this latest galaxy of stars in Millionairedom, the motor car manufacturers, should be compelled to seek for their most efficient agents of publicity a group of periodicals that have gained their tremendous influence by hostile criticism of the system that has created these millionaires…

This is a big country, a rich one, but let us remember that this wealth is unevenly distributed. At the beginning of last decade it was estimated that some 30,000 of our citizens, held title to over one half of our total resources. And in the last twenty years the process of wealth centralization has gone unchecked: the big fortunes have enormously increased in size while the smaller middle class holdings have decreased. What does all this mean? It means just this, that the consumptive capacity of our average citizen is far less than our spread eagle orators would have us believe. Coming back specifically to our subject, it means that our people cannot long continue to absorb 150,000 to 175,000 motor cars in a single year, as they will during 1910. If some tradesman in the Middle West whom I talked to are to be believed, "People are mortgaging their homes in order to buy motorcars. "The automobile, " said a piano salesman, " is our stiffest competitor we have in our dealings with farmers. Usually the woman of the house wants a piano for the benefit of the children, but the man too often holds out for a car."