In honor of the hundredth post of the Sepia Saturday blog, I present another brief excerpt from my great-grandfather's diary, relating an event that happened one hundred years ago, in 1911.
One day [David’s wife] Lena got rattled and angry and grabbed a plate from the table and threw it at David. It was his quick dodge that saved him from getting hurt. The plate struck the kitchen door and broke into splinters. When she sat down in her chair facing David, with her bare arms akimbo in an aggressive posture, she asked, “Well what do you intend to say now?”
David said, “I hardly think you’ll ever learn to behave ladylike.”
My sister Julian says:
"This scene is almost identical to a scene my mother describes during her childhood, in which Helen [our grandmother, David and Lena’s daughter] grabbed a stack of plates from the nearby hutch and flung them to the floor. Apparently Art, my grandfather, had not taken her side in forcing their children to finish her carefully prepared oyster bisque. Learned behavior?
... My mother’s recollections of her grandfather are of [a] quiet, gentle, blameless man. Grandma Lena was always criticizing him, according to her. 'What do you know?' Lena would say at the dinner table. But ...David portrays himself as someone who is very much in control of the situation, i.e., Lena. Not vice versa.
...It’s interesting to think about the way a child (my mother) would have perceived a scene like the one above. Absent the 'ladylike' comment, David would have seemed quiet and blameless, right? Thus, the version of David we hear growing up."
Myself, I wonder if this plate-throwing thing was a product of its time, rather like "kids these days" adopt the behaviors they see on TV? Case in point:
Artwork from the book George McManus' Bringing Up Father