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Hoarding is not collection development

Good Things for Mother’s Day

Good Things for Mother’s Day
Casey
1952

Submitter: Yes, 1952 & it’s still on the shelves in 2012. My friend said that a senior librarian told her this hadn’t been weeded long ago because “there’s nothing to replace it.” Thank god there isn’t! From the Betty Crocker-esque checked cover and the graphic of the mother with a crown, high collar, and scepter…OMG. (Please see scans of front and back covers.)

Inside is much, much worse. Apparently, Miss Casey loved the idea of Mother’s Day “lively plays and dialogues, recitations, monologues, and exercises.” There’s a publisher’s note on costumes: “the publishers of this book do not handle the crepe paper suggested for the costumes described in various exercises and plays. It may, however, be obtained at the stores of practically all towns of ordinary size throughout the country.” Crepe paper? LOL

The “plays and exercises” themselves carry suggestions for what the cast should look like, and it’s 1950s sterotyping at its worst. There are several female parts that call for “Clessie/Eloise/etc., a plump girl with a pleasant face” (p. 170 is attached so you can see this example, plus the obvious ’50s classism- “good” Irish mothers, WASP mothers & their maids- OMG).

However, the scene that had me and the rest of the Systems department howling in laughter is p. 188 (also attached) – from “When Bunny Forgot”- a dialogue between Bunny (“a girl of eleven or twelve, is plump and pleasant-faced”) and Eloise (“who is about the same age, is slender and pretty and wears a becoming spring suit”): Bunny and Eloise get into a 1950s verbal catfight (look for the words “incapacitated” and “decapitated” in the first two paragraphs of dialogue on this page.

We went around all day yesterday using our best WASPy voices reading from Good Things for Mother’s Day. LOL It’s thankfully been withdrawn from the collection, but after regretfully throwing away a dreadful book of Leonard Nimoy’s 1970s poetry from the last time my friend and I weeded, we’re going to keep this one around for sheer horror and laughs.

Holly: Keep it at your reference desk as an example to patrons who ask why we weed.

12 Responses to Good Things for Mother’s Day

  • “Properties” for stage props? Was the author from 1910?

    Anyway, this is definitely one of the more hilariously bad weeds I’ve seen.

  • While you’re busy being snarky about this book, you might remember that most Americans didn’t have television sets at the time, so the spread of mass culture wasn’t quite so easy then. People entertained themselves and kids putting on plays was quite usual (crepe paper was about as fancy as celebration decorations got then, too). We weren’t quite so self-conscious about sentimentality then, either. I wouldn’t go back to the 50s for anything, but just remember that 60-70 years from now, whoever’s writing this blog then will be looking back at how you celebrate Mother’s Day and laughing their socks off…

  • @DB: Maybe they didn’t, but the fact that the book was possibly appropriate in 1950 doesn’t make it more useful in 2010s.

    Also, I just realized, that cover reminds me of “Queen for a Day”.

  • I couldn’t agree more on either point.

  • Where would someone have put on these plays, recitations, etc?

  • I think this book sounds awesome. Not a good library book, sure. I’d probably pick it up on the sale table though. The submitter’s commentary really makes me want to find something they like and then rip it apart just for the hell of it.

  • My friend once asked me, if I could go back in time to anywhere/anytime, where would I go? I told him I’d go to the 1950′s. He thought I was weird… but this stuff is classic! I can’t even imagine living in such a foreign place! Incredible!

  • Let’s see… Yes, I last used crepe paper in 1991 to make my son a fake top hat so he could be Abraham Lincoln for Halloween.

    I made all of his costumes until he was old enough to make his own. Not everyone believes in buying everything, even now. He’s now 32, and making costumes for his little one.

    This should probably be kept as an historic artifact of some sort.

  • I love the cover! With my youngest boy, the only way my wife could get him to stop arguing and just do what she said was to say “The Queen has spoken!” And for some reason, that would shut him up and he would do whatever it was he was supposed to do!

  • @Cheryl, in the living room, of course!

  • If I saw this at the library’s used book sale, I would probably fight somebody for it! It looks like it would be fun for some laughs.

    And to “Lurker”… we in the “theatre business” still use the word “properties” for “props,” it is not unusual.

  • @Cheryl (and Diana B, Speaking from experience, a play or skit like these would likely be performed at a special Mother’s Day program given by a church group or social club. There would likely be a dinner or tea involved and flowers or some such given as door prizes for such as the mother present with the most children, or the oldest and youngest mothers present, etc. There would usually be one or two musical offering and other entertainment.

    Having been a “performer” at a number of these during the early 50s (usually reciting a wretchedly sentimental poem), I know how much the organizers relied on books like this. By the same token, I agree that it’s time to retire the poor thing.