I can beat any cash girl at Childs’ now
November 9, 2019 1:37 AM   Subscribe

"I often wonder about the people whose names I find written in copies of old books I buy, but I rarely do anything more. But I was so impressed by G. E. Trevelyan’s Appius and Virginia when I reread it recently that I began to wonder who would have bought it. My copy — the U. S. edition published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in New York in 1933 — is signed, 'Elizabeth Seeber, 10 Mitchell Pl.'”
posted by Cezar Golescu (15 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I liked this so much. What an interesting sketch of a life evidently well lived
posted by putzface_dickman at 4:09 AM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

In an hour’s time it was all done and a cake besides, and they were as happy as boys. We let them all lick the dasher and hang around while things were being done, and one of them said, “Well, for one hour Sherman was wrong!

War is hell.
- William Tecumseh Sherman
posted by zamboni at 4:16 AM on November 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

I can beat any cash girl at Childs’ now

Childs Restaurants.
posted by zamboni at 4:35 AM on November 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

One film that's not on any list is the incredible Border. "Unlike anything I've ever seen," I thought after finishing it. Then I watched the trailer where those exact words appear. Extraordinary.
posted by dobbs at 5:51 AM on November 9, 2019

I wonder if the name Gertrude will ever come back into fashion. My father's mother, born in 1896, was a Gertrude.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:59 AM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m so glad to have read this! Especially the firsthand accounts from Elizabeth herself. History class would have been so much more compelling if it had provided perspectives like this.
posted by mantecol at 6:12 AM on November 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love this article.
We hear a lot about the banality of evil; people doing paperwork to further the misery of others. I want to hear more about the banality of good. Ms. Seeber didn't do anything that was especially beyond the reach of anyone else- she made cake, she decorated a house, she ran a cash register. She chose to do those things in the context of taking care of the people around her.
She chose to go to the front, and then every day she chose to get up in the morning and do the work.
I can't really picture myself changing my life enough to be a major labor organizer, or the leader of a movement. But I can imagine making curtains, and ice cream, and getting up early to make hot chocolate for 70 people.
I think there's a lot of value in celebrating people quietly doing the work to take care of the people around them. Tedious, banal good.
posted by Adridne at 6:42 AM on November 9, 2019 [24 favorites]

I was curious about the name hand written on the flyleaf of my recently purchased used copy of Peter DeVries' sad and moving "Blood of the Lamb". So I Googled it, and gulped, as the name was revealed to be that of an underworld figure, and frequently arrested porn purveyor from my city in the early 1960s. Well, he had good taste in fiction, I'll give him that much.
posted by Modest House at 7:34 AM on November 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Just in case you find a book with my near-unique name in it, and Google me, I'd like to go on record now with this. Even though we live in cities with the same name, we live in different states. I am not the man arrested in a Burger King parking lot when a drug deal went bad. I'm the other one.
posted by cccorlew at 7:51 AM on November 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

I love how Internet resources were used well: NYTimes archive is a treasure; copyright renewal records... Love the life storyline that could be deciphered. Read the piece aloud to my spouse-- charming-- thank you for the post.
posted by brewsterkahle at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think there's a lot of value in celebrating people quietly doing the work to take care of the people around them. Tedious, banal good

My granddad was a major resistance hero during WW2. He always said that the real heros were the quiet ladies who provided safety, rest and food to the saboteurs.
posted by mumimor at 1:08 PM on November 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

The most dramatic ownership signature I've got in my collection belongs to Theodosius Barton (various candidates, but from the date the book was published, most likely the Episcopalian clergyman), who sure wanted people to know that the book was his.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:11 PM on November 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was a delight to read.
posted by look busy at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2019

so we let them have the lower floor of our house and there 35 or 40 of them slept on the floor, with no blankets, but quite as cheerful as could be.

This really stuck in my mind, I've been thinking about it all day. Those boys were tougher than any AT through hiker, any Outward Bound instructor. They could spend the day in the rain, poop outside, cook outside, sleep anywhere and, on top of that, they could do it while being shelled and gassed and shot at.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:48 PM on November 9, 2019

I’m helping at the canteen here and visiting the hospital and taking lemonade to all the wards, and so forth. It’s rather wearing, but the patients do like to have us come. There are no women nurses, and while the care is excellent, men apparently do not care to get on quite without women. They are the very bravest chaps I’ve ever seen. They don’t want to hear a word about the “hero stuff,” so I just put on my freshest summer dress and white shoes, and smile and talk merrily when I have all I can do to keep the tears back.

She's a novel in herself!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:20 AM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

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