This book was published to celebrate the Vassar Cooperative Bookstore’s 20th anniversary, and was given as a gift to the Cooperative’s 2,000 members who lived all over the world and shared in the shop’s profits.
Alumna, Marion Bacon had founded the store in 1923, “with some second-hand furniture and lots of enthusiasm,” as noted in the May 1943 Vassar Chronicle. On its first day, they sold 60 books and The Vassar Quarterly commented about the shop, “It shows an insidious cordiality to charge accounts.”
It sounds like a wonderful place–one that exists because one energetic person has an idea and makes it work.
Bacon was counted among the College’s historians and also compiled and published Life at Vassar, Seventy Five Years in Pictures. She lived with her cousin, Julia Bacon who served as the “schedule-fixer” and was a well-known campus fixture.
I love this book. I found it at a used book sale and carefully wrapped it in a library plastic dust jacket. But I could never bring myself to actually write in it. Somehow, my life and housekeeping didn’t feel worthy of its neat pages and implication of an ordered life. I love an ordered life.
I also love it, because even with mostly blank pages the book captures a moment. You’re a well-educated, intelligent young woman who’s job–your business–will be housekeeping. Power dressing will be a frilly apron and your record-keeping will include household linen, seed orders, and shopping triumphs. (I have those, but I don’t write them down.)
Everyone needs to keep records and there are pages to record personal loans, mortgages, income: dividends and income: compensation. But there are particulars that make this of its time. The woman is responsible for keeping the family clothing sizes, birthdays, and medical records. Well, maybe not so much has changed? Except now, there’s an app for that.
One thing that has changed is wartime. The publishing date was delayed due to paper shortages and WW2 makes its presence felt in the book itself. Those seed records were for planting a Victory Garden, and there are pages for ration books, canning, and fuel consumption.
(Not writing in this book may have turned out to be a good thing. This one looks to be a first edition with an unclipped price on the dust jacket–worth more than the later, used versions I found online. But I need to get with an entrepreneur who can reprint this charmer, with only the most minimal updates.)