I Suppose We Are Paupers

So yesterday was the Super Bowl, and I was amazed to see that not only was the arena packed, but there were crowds outside in the bone-chilling weather watching the action on large screens. Goes to show just how fanatical fans can be. Didn’t look like Laura in her red suit was suffering up in her primo seating box, though.

These past weeks have been god-awful, weather-wise (I know, there are still those who insist climate change is a myth, but really…). Made me think of this passage from Ruth’s diary about the “chilly ones” dealing with the little coal grate in their hotel room. Can you image there being coal fires in hotels these days?? I think not.

“Paris, October 25, 1907

“Too much sightseeing for Sister Anne. “Everything went to the bad at once, leg, head and ‘tummence.’” Spent day in bed until 5:00 p.m. No one went out. Millinery, dressmaking and general sewing was the order of the day. We had a pathetic little fire in our grate, and during the morning the following piece of poetry was composed by the chilly ones:

“Waiting, fondly waiting, while the fire just meanders along.
And we find ourselves half-freezing
As around the grate we throng.
Waiting, fondly waiting, for the coals to get red hot,
And I’m afraid we’ll keep on waiting
Until this world is not.

“Heard of the big panic in Wall Street, and I suppose we are paupers, but what care we as long as we have a few American Express checks left?”

By way of explanation, “Sister Anne” was not a saint but a personage of the time who was noted thusly: “By nature she was quick and lively and easily moved to great sympathy by the sight of the sufferings of others.” In contemporary terms, I can only guess Ruth used “Sister Anne” to mean she suffered from Too Much Information or was over-stimmed. In her diary she’s always rattling off huge lists of things they’d go to see, and, “Then we had lunch.”

And I just love the sentiment expressed regarding the Wall Street Panic of 1907 (Wikipedia it) and how little effect this bit of disastrous news has on her. Makes me think of the girls blithely enjoying those Cokes that, thanks to the euro being at $1.60 and their peace-making dad, were $8-9 apiece. “I suppose we are paupers, but what care we . . . ?”


About Holly J. Pierce

You thought vacationing with small children was hard? Try traveling with your two daughters in their 20's, yet be glad that you have your peace-mongering husband along. Put it all together with your own laser vision of an epic journey and you have the basis for my book. Will I ever see it published? Will those self-published volumes ever move out of the garage? We'll see, won't we.
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2 Responses to I Suppose We Are Paupers

  1. Nancy Johnson says:

    Oh my, this must be genetic! It was good to hear this about sister Anne. Gary has been trying to train me to be more ruthless, but now I know there is a foundation for this behavior!
    “easily moved to great sympathy by the sight of the sufferings of others”
    By the way, where does the term ruthless come from?

  2. Actually, my dictionary says the definition for “ruth” is “compassion or pity for another.” it also has to do with “sorrow or misery for one’s own misdeeds or flaws,” which leads to “rue.” It didn’t say anything about its origins, but I assumed it had to do with Ruth in the Bible.

    In Wikipedia, it tells about how in the Bible Ruth’s husband dies, and her mother-in-law tells her she can go back to her family, but Ruth says, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” And so on and so on. So Ruth had compassion for her mother-in-law, who had lost her only other son at the same time. There we go.

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