Pansy’s Most Frequent Character

13 Mar

As a fan of Pansy’s books you may have noticed that Isabella’s characters frequently show up in different stories.

Eagle-eyed readers with good memories often spot them. For example, Brewster is a surname that appears in several of her books:

Her Mother’s Bible
Only Ten Cents
Aunt Hannah and Martha and John
Living a Story
Circulating Decimals

That’s a lot of Brewsters!

“Girl with Dog” by John White Alexander.

But the character that appeared most often in Isabella’s books wasn’t a Brewster at all; in fact, it wasn’t even a person!

The character Isabella wrote about most often was Bose the dog.

Sidney Martin’s Christmas (1879)

Bose first came to life in this short story when he interrupted a group of children singing Christmas carols in their neighborhood:

Just at that very point they stopped every voice, and little Gretchen, the youngest of the group, gave a little squeal that did not belong to the carol. It was plain that something had frightened them. Sidney crossed over to them. Just inside of the gate had appeared old Bose, the great house dog, and he was not a lover of their music, to judge by the low growls with which he greeted it.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Sidney, coming promptly into view. “I know old Bose and he knows me. He is an ill-mannered scamp, but he won’t hurt you so long as I am around. You sing away and I will stand guard.”

“Newfoundland” by Carl Reichert.

Christie’s Christmas (1884)

In this novel, Christie meets Bose when she’s trying to do a good deed, and comes upon an enormous dog that literally knocks her off her feet:

Bow, wow, wow! Here was a fellow who disputed the way with her, and came suddenly towards her, as if the least that he should think of doing was to swallow her at once.

Now it happened that Christie, unusually brave about most things, was dreadfully afraid of a dog.

She gave a pitiful little shriek, and the next thing she knew, she was picking herself out of the meanest looking mud hole she had seen in her trip. The dog had retired to a safe distance, and with his head hung down, and his silly little tail between his legs, was receiving a lecture from a woman with a frowzy head, and sleeves rolled up at the elbow, who appeared in the door of the little house.

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself!” she said, shaking her head. “A decent dog you are to be cutting up such tricks! Come along, child; what do you want? There’s no kind of need of your being afraid of that there dog. There ain’t a bigger coward in all Kansas than he is.”

Spun from Fact (1886)

In 1886 Bose made a brief appearance in Spun from Fact as a faithful dog mourning the loss of his young master, Frank:

I slipped out in the yard, and began to coax the old dog into a frolic. He got into a tremendous one at last, and bounded about me in such a ridiculous way that I laughed loud and long, and rolled on the grass in my glee. Just then I looked up on the piazza, and there stood my aunt! I bounded to my feet all in a glow of shame.

But she was smiling as pleasantly as I had ever seen her, although at that minute there were tears in her eyes, and she said, ‘Poor Bose will be grateful to you all day. He misses Frank very much. He used to frolic with him, you know. It is pleasant to hear a merry young voice again in the yard.’

A young girl and her Bernardiner.

Grandma’s Miracles; Stories Told at Six o’Clock in the Evening (1887)

In this book, Grandma Burton tells the story of Bose, a great, menacing beast who crossed her path when she was a child. She described how:

. . . a great white dog, that looked as ugly as his mistress, glared on me and growled. I was trembling so that I could hardly stand,

Just as I turned the corner by Mr. Willard’s place I heard a low growl, and there stood Bose eyeing me in a way to make my heart beat fast. I was dreadfully afraid of Bose, and with good reason: he had the name of being a very fierce dog; they kept him chained all day. I saw the chain around his neck then, but still I was afraid.

A 1913 calendar trade card, featuring two girls and a Newfoundland.

That terrifying dog with the chain around  his neck would later play a very important role in young Grandma Burton’s life.

Bose also made appearances in several short stories in The Pansy magazine.

Curiously, Isabella didn’t describe Bose in detail. In fact, Grandma’s Miracles is the only book that tells us his color (white).

A trade card from about 1900. Any guesses what this dog’s breed is supposed to be?

But we know Bose was a large dog, perhaps a shepherd, a collie, or even a mastiff, any of which are breeds known to be especially protective of children.

A Mastiff.

We also know that Bose often appeared menacing at first, only to show that underneath his barks and growls, he was a loyal friend with a heart of gold.

And that was true of many of Isabella’s human characters, too.

Have you ever known a great big dog that frightened little girls, as Bose did? Please tell us about it!


You can read more about the Isabella Alden books mentioned in this post by clicking on the book covers below:

    Image of the cover for Sidney Martin's Christmas

   

 

New Free Read: Living a Story

6 Mar

This month’s free read is a short story that first appeared in The Pansy magazine in 1893.

The story is about three school friends who pass a snowy afternoon by making up stories for each other. For two of the girls, the stories are simply fun diversions; but for Sarah Brewster, one of their stories strikes a little too close to home.

You can read “Living a Story” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device. Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

You Can Be a Nurse. Yes, You!

20 Feb

“Nurse” was a word that figured often in Isabella Alden’s novels, but not all her nurses were created equal.

In some of her stories, “nurse” was another term for a nanny—a woman who took care of young children.

Nurse and baby, about 1910.

That was the case for Miss Rebecca Meredith in Wanted, who hired herself out as a “nurse-girl” after she applied for the job listed in this newspaper ad:

Wanted—A young woman who has had experience with children, to take the entire care of a child three years of age. Call between the hours of four and six, at No. 1200 Carroll Avenue.”

In other novels, like The Older Brother, nurses were everyday people who knew what to do whenever illness struck, like Aunt Sarah:

Aunt Sarah proved herself a veritable angel of mercy. She was able to lay aside her brusqueness and her sarcasms, and become the skillful practical nurse, taking her turn and indeed more than her turn with the others, and compelling the anxious mother to take such rest as she needed.

Aunt Sarah and Rebecca Meredith developed their nursing skills through practical experience, and a history of caring for neighbors and family members who were ill.

But when Helen Betson’s father fell ill in Echoing and Re-echoing, the doctor insisted on securing the services of a “professional nurse,” which threw Helen into days of anxious waiting:

If she could have done a share of the nursing—but they had been forced to employ a professional nurse who shared the task with her mother, so that it was only now and then a little service that Helen was permitted to do; and she grew weary of the long waiting that seemed so purposeless.

In Isabella’s lifetime, it was common for physicians to train their own nurses, but they often found it difficult to find candidates who already possessed basic knowledge of human anatomy, nursing science, and mixing medicines.

A young nurse in the 1890s.

The best candidates were trained in a hospital setting, but hospital training programs had drawbracks:

Most programs had age limits that disqualified women who were middle-aged and older.

The coursework took years, and tuition was expensive at a time when there was no such thing as tuition assistance or student financial aid.

Portrait of a graduating class circa 1890.

The programs tended to attract only local students because the best teaching hospitals were in large American cities where the high cost of living proved a barrier to outsiders.

Fees charged by graduates of hospital programs meant their services were unaffordable for the majority of Americans, especially those in rural areas of the country, so nursing school graduates tended to live and practice in larger cities.

Four nurses at Samaritan Hospital, Sioux City, Iowa, about 1910.

The result: America had a great shortage of competent, trained registered nurses. Dr. Everett mentioned the problem in Isabella’s novel, Workers Together:

Professional nurses are good when you can get them. It is unfortunate that they are especially scarce just now. I have been on the look-out for one all the morning without success.

Graduates of Roots Memorial Hospital nursing program, Arkansas, about 1908.

A New Yorker named Cyrus Jones decided to do something about it. Because he lived very close to Chautauqua Institution, he was familiar with the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. The CLSC conducted first-class four-year college degree courses via correspondence. He was certain nurses could be trained using the same methods. He said:

There must be many thousands of bright, earnest women, young and old, who would be nurses if they could learn the profession without going to a hospital. Other branches of knowledge are taught by mail and learned at home. . . . Why not nursing?

An advertisement in Christian Nation magazine, 1915.

Mr. Jones launched the Chautauqua School of Nursing in 1900, and it was immediately successful. Over 200 students enrolled the first year.

Unlike other schools, Chautauqua School of Nursing did not have age limits, welcoming many women who were denied admission to other schools because of their age.

The administrative offices for the Chautauqua School of Nursing in Jamestown, New York.

Since the enrollment fee was only $75.00, women who intended to work as professional nurses knew they would soon earn back that cost because they would earn between $10.00 and $35.00 a week as a registered nurse after graduation.

A young woman’s nursing school graduation photo, undated.

But the highest enrollment came from students who lived in rural and isolated areas where conventional hospital training schools didn’t exist.

A 1913 newspaper ad.

Like the hospital-based schools, the Chautauqua School of Nursing bestowed upon its graduates its own pins, caps, and certificates.

A 1913 diploma (from Flickr).

In every respect, its graduates appeared to have the same training and cachet as graduates of hospital programs. The public couldn’t tell the difference.

From the Columbus Weekly Advocate (Columbus, Kansas), November 27, 1913.

They also employed a very unique marketing tactic: They advertised their students.

The school used their real students as models in their print ads in magazines and newspapers.

Print ad for Chautauqua School of Nursing, 1915.

And if a prospective student was unsure whether or not she should enroll in the course, she had only to write the school.

Three Chautauqua nursing graduates, 1910.

In return, the school would provide the prospective student with the name and address of the graduates closest to her, with an invitation to contact any one of them to get more information about the school, the teaching curriculum, and what graduates’ lives were like as professional nurses.

Chautauqua school advertisement, 1909.

By 1910 the school had bestowed diplomas upon 12,000 nursing students; the class of 1911 alone exceeded 3,000 enrollees.

In all respects, the school was a success. Because of the Chautauqua School of Nursing, hundreds of communities had a trained, reliable nurse for the first time . . .

. . . and thousands of women entered into a respected profession that helped their communities, and produced a steady income for themselves.

Click on a book cover to learn more about Isabella Alden’s novels mentioned in this post.

    

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

“A little message to remind you of a happy holiday.”

New Free Read: On Which Side Were They?

6 Feb

Not all of Isabella Alden’s stories had happy endings. This month’s free read is a short story Isabella wrote in 1893 when she was living in Washington, D.C. and very active in the Christian Endeavor Society. She deliberately left the ending of the story unresolved. Perhaps she was waiting to see how the real-life model for her story played out—or perhaps she wanted her readers to concentrate on the meat of her story, rather than on a happy ending. Either way, “On Which Side Were They?” is a thought-provoking story that’s as relevant today as it was the day it was first published.

You can read “On Which Side Were They?” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.    

The Honor of Your Presence

30 Jan

One day, when Isabella was a single young woman in her early twenties, she was chatting with three friends about a recent wedding they had all attended.

Their talk soon turned to the contrasts between what Isabella called “old times” and the present. She said:

“Weddings are among the few social events that do not change their customs much with the passing years; there is a sort of regular program that gets carried out as a matter of course. Don’t you think so?”

Isabella Alden later conceded that when she made that statement, she was rather ignorant about life and the havoc it can wreak upon a simple wedding ceremony.

Signing the Marriage Register, by James Charles (undated)

Her friends soon set her straight, telling her stories of their own weddings that did not go off as planned. One friend—whom Isabella identified only as Mrs. H.—told how she had orchestrated “a very swell wedding” with “all the flowers and furbelows planned in their fullness.”

The Wedding Morning, by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1892)

But all Mrs. H.’s plans were for naught. Instead of a grand church wedding with a reception after, she was married in a rush with as many members of the family as could be found at a moment’s notice. Instead of her wedding gown, she was married in the gingham dress she had put on in the afternoon, because there had been no time to change it.

Why the sudden rush? Because her intended husband, a soldier in the Union Army, “had appeared unexpectedly on the eight o’clock train, and he had to be back at the station again two miles away, for the midnight train, in order to join his regiment, for a hurry call to the front.”

A hand-colored photo of a Civil War soldier and his sweetheart.

Isabella never forgot Mrs. H.’s story. As a minister’s wife, Isabella must have attended hundreds of weddings over her lifetime, and observed for herself that there really was no “regular program” to follow when it came to weddings.

The Wedding, by Johann Hamza (undated)

Isabella’s own wedding was relatively simple. She married Gustavus “Ross” Alden in her home town. She spent the night before her wedding in her old bed in her family home. Her mother woke her on her wedding day with a tender kiss.

The Wedding Morning by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1892)

Isabella and Ross were married in the Presbyterian church she and her family had attended for decades. Afterward, the bridal party and guests returned to the house to celebrate the day with food and well wishes.

The Wedding Breakfast, by Frederick Daniel Hardy (1871)

As Isabella matured and gained more life experience, she did indeed learn that not all weddings were similar to her own. While many couples were married in a church as she was, quite a few were married by a justice of the peace in a civil ceremony.

The Civil Wedding, by Albert Anker (1887)

And while Isabella and Ross held their reception in her parents’ home, other couples chose more formal settings that could accommodate hundreds of invited guests.

A wedding party seated at the head table in the banquet hall at the Hotel Belleclaire, New York City, 1908.

In fact, Isabella probably read newspaper accounts of the most spectacular wedding America had ever seen when Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, married Nicholas Longworth III in Washington, D.C. Their wedding, which took place in February 1906, was the social event of the season. More than a thousand guests attended, while many thousands of spectators gathered outside the church, hoping for a glimpse of the bride. Alice wore a soft blue wedding dress instead of the traditional white. Later, she dramatically cut the wedding cake with a sword, borrowed from a military aide attending the reception, thereby sparking a tradition many military couples still follow today.

Alice Roosevelt in her wedding gown, 1906.

Much has changed since that day in the early 1860s when Isabella uttered those innocent words about weddings always staying the same. Do you wonder what she would think about the creative ceremonies that are so popular with couples today?

What’s the most unusual wedding you ever attended?

Have you ever attended a wedding where everything went wrong, like the wedding Mrs. H. described?

The Search by Grace Livingston Hill

16 Jan

Isabella’s niece Grace Livingston Hill kicked off 1919 on a high note.

That was the year Grace’s novel The Search was published as a serial in a popular Christian magazine. The first chapter appeared in the January 1, 1919 issue.

Here’s the announcement the magazine ran the month before to notify readers about the upcoming serial (click on the image to see a larger version).

Although it’s fun to discover Grace’s stories in early newspapers and magazines, it’s even better when they’re accompanied by illustrations by the leading artists of the day.

John Cameron’s eyes met those of Ruth Macdonald. (From chapter 1 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill.)

Artist William Charles McNulty (whose pieces are included in collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art) illustrated three scenes from The Search for the magazine.

“I’d like to have you for one of my friends.” (From Chapter 3 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill)

McNulty’s illustrations add a rich sense of time and place to the story, from the old-fashioned automobile Ruth drove, to the characters’ clothing, and the quiet place John found (in chapter 4) to read Ruth’s letter.

He tore the letter open and a faint whiff of violets floated out to him. (From chapter 4 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill)

Later that same year, The Search was published in book form by Lippincott, and was well received by Grace’s fans; but the magazine version remains special, because of its illustrations.

If you haven’t read The Search, you’re in luck! You can read the e-book for free on your tablet, phone, Kindle or computer!

Amazon.com offers the e-book book at no charge. Just click on the banner below to begin reading:

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A New Free Read: How it Happened

9 Jan

Originally published in 1875, this month’s Free Read is a charming story about children’s faith in Jesus and the power of prayer.

When Mr. Porter hires Stephen Turner to work as a delivery boy in his store, he doesn’t have high hopes for the boy’s success. All he can see are Stephen’s ragged clothes and sad expression.

But it isn’t long before Mr. Porter and his wife learn their first impressions were mistaken. And when they see their darling baby daughter fall immediately in love with Stephen, they welcome him into their home.

But not all good fortune lasts forever; and when tragedy threatens the Porters, it’s up to Stephen to help them in any way they can.

You can read How it Happened on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

Helen Lester

3 Jan

Isabella Alden’s first novel, Helen Lester, was published in 1865 when she was 24 years old.

The original book included a few illustrations. This one depicts the moment in the story when Helen’s older brother leads her to the Christ.

Helen Lester was a great success and launched Isabella’s writing career, but it almost wasn’t published!

You can read more about how Helen Lester came to be—-and read the book for free! Just click here.

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

Our final post of the year is a heartwarming (and nostalgic) reminder of Christmas morning one hundred years ago!

Christmas Morning, by W. C. Bauer (1880)

May you have a blessed, joy-filled holiday surrounded by all those you hold dear. Merry Christmas!

 

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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