Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flowering of Womanhood

My 1906 Ladies' Home Journal Girl.


Yesterday, I watched the final 4 or 5 episodes of series 3 of Upstairs Downstairs.

I can see why that year the series won the Emmy for best Drama.

The stories are more polished than in the first two years.

It's so weird. 4o years later, I'm discovering this famous television series, after having spent 5 years researching the 1908-1913 period from a Canadian point of view.

Perhaps had I been familiar with the series, and already known about the era of Model T's and suffragettes, I wouldn't have been as interested in researching the background to the Nicholson Family letters...

As it was, I knew nothing about the era and started from scratch and then waited until I was well-informed to watch this series that is ALL about 1908-1913 and makes a effort to be historically correct. In fact, these 3rd series episodes are a bit weighed down by efforts to teach history. Lord Bellamy's speeches, anyway.

But the fashions are spot on. The series didn't spend much on sets, but it made up for it in fashion. I will certainly go back over the series and take a closer look at Lady Bellamy's hats, etc.

Anyway, I've reached a point in my draft of Flo in the City, where I want to expound on the Presbyterian thing. Light in Dark Places... That's the 1910 book or "Sex Manual" that was so popular in Canada.

I inlcluded the Gertrude Atherton "Threshold Girl" quote in the book, where she describes 'teenage' girls as being confused by the sex drive and their female role... which is good, but I have to put it in context by describing the Presbyterian mindset. I want to do this fairly and honestly.

Oddly, I recently framed a 1906 Ladies Home Journal Cover and mounted it on the mantle and as I look at it I think: "That picture captures something of what I want to say."

At first glance the viewer gets the sense that the girl on the cover is a pretty Puritan, what with herperfect posture, her book held at just the right distance from her face. (I open Flo in the City with Flora studying in a reed rocker, with her feet up on the chair.) But the girl on the cover glancing at the viewer.. hmm. and that bonnet! At second glance it is very sensual. Isn't it?

This was not uncommon for covers of the Ladies' Home Journal. I found another, which I posted on my Tighsolas website, at http://www.tighsolas.ca/ that is very suggestive. I think, anyway.

Or maybe a braid is just a braid and a bonnet is just a bonnet. But it can't be denied: on Magazine covers of the time, young women are either gazing at blooms or wearing hats that look like blooms.

Anyway, must get to it. I am writing a story about 1910 'teachers' - how to make it 'sexy'..hmm. Marion's story is easier, as she is 'courting' and she broke a lot of rules. I have already decided to have her see the snake wrestling man in Dominion Park..