Propriety in 1913 Arizona

6 Apr

In my book “Elsie” the rules for teachers are explained. They were required to wear numerous petticoats (even in hot Arizona), they were not to keep company with men or “loiter” in ice-cream stores, they could not ride in a carriage or automobile with a man unless he was a father or brother, they had to be home by 8:00 p.m., etc., etc. At least in Elsie’s case, judging from her diary and letters, these rules were not always enforced.
Cornville had no ice-cream parlors but some of her activities seemed to push the bounds of turn-of-the-century propriety more than ice-cream parlor dates! The two teachers lived in a small one-room shack next to the Girdner family home. Though they could not attend dances, the teachers were permitted to have young men call on them in their shack. I loved what Elsie wrote about one evening at the shack. She was sleepy, and the young cowboy Fergy was calling on Marguerite. Elsie wrote to her mother: “In a house of one room one can’t go to bed when a man is calling.” Apparently there was no problem for her to take long horseback and buggy rides with these cowboys. (She sat on the banks of beautiful Oak Creek and read poetry to one young cowboy and then was astonished when he declared he loved her!)
After moving to Williams to teach, the rules did not prevent her from having an active social life. She went to dinner with young men and attended moving pictures with them. She took long hikes alone with a young man on Bill Williams Mountain. In her diary she often mentioned being out late, sometimes until 2:00 a.m.!
In the introduction to my book I wrote: “As a child I always thought of Elsie as prim and proper…and old.” The Wild West was maybe called “wild” because it introduced this prim and proper California college girl to a Western code of propriety. California was West of Arizona but certainly was not as “wild.”

April 6 and 7th I am going to make a “wild offer.” The E-book version of “Elsie” will be free on for those two days! I am hoping this will eventually expand to further e-book as well as print sales. So Friday and Saturday go to Amazon and “Elsie” should be free for 48 hours.
I will be doing a book singing in Prescott at Costco from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. next Saturday April 14th. I hope to visit some of our Arizona friends before we head for speaking in Utah and Nevada the following weekend.

3 Responses to “Propriety in 1913 Arizona”

  1. Leon M. Girdner April 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I appreciate your updates as they come along from time to time. The stories are close to my heart. I grew up on that ranch on Oak Creek and the shack where Elsie lived was still there when I moved on. My Aunt Eva was so special to me. We all loved her.

    I just took advantage of the e-book offer even though I have the book. Tank You


  2. Renee April 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Rats! I had a very busy Easter weekend and didn’t read this email until today so I missed that “freebie”. This will teach me to read my email right away. Ha. I hope to get this book for Mother’s Day or my birthday though – it is on my “wish list”.

  3. Carol A. June 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Thank you for your free ebook! I ran across it on those free days and snagged it! Just finished reading it and found this website posted in the back of the book. Enjoyed the book and snagged lots of free Amazon deals in the process. As Elsie mentioned the books she was reading, I looked them up. Many are part of public domain and have been converted to ebook format. LONG list of ebooks awaiting me on my iPad! Thank you!

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