Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

Out of the game! And yet if they have fortified themselves for a time of physical weakness, they may look beyond the rush of business which they can no longer guide, into the East of a serene old age, and say with the poet, “Grow old along with me, The best is yet to be." The New Profession of Matrimony should train for this

"Growing Old Together"

,

Of one thing we can all be sure: if we do not die young, we shall grow old. Growing
old means for most of us that the young will push us out of our places; that we will no
longer be able to support ourselves. The traditional "rainy day” comes on apace;
we have been taught that “into each life some rain must fall,” and we spoil many
days of sunshine worrying about the day when the sun may fail. But should we ?
Should the married couple especially skimp and abridge their youth and their chil-
dren's to save money against that day-lose the best of life in a struggle to escape the
worst of it? Instead, Mrs. Bruère suggests what may be done by them and by us
to preserve efficiency in the old, and so lighten their load, and youth's, and society's

By Martha Bensley Bruère

Author of "Efficiency Methods in the Home," etc.

Illustrated by H. J. Soulen

women.

UST at the end of April, we hired a low other things than brute strength, that de

single buggy and a strong mountain mands something the old can supply; and

mare, and went zigzagging up from the secondly, to prepare people to furnish more Shenandoah Valley over pass on pass, and than manual service, to satisfy alike the. dipped slowly down through white-blos- demands for strength in youth and brains soming dogwood and filmy purple-pink in age. It is the first part of this problem Judas trees into the hollows and pockets of which has been largely solved since the long,

, the Blue Ridge Mountains. The long, slow ages when we were all fighting-men and lank, blue-eyed men who gave us a pleasant

Our civilization has been so mold"Howd'y, stranger" were of the same breed ed as to utilize all available brain service. as some of those who marched back and But the second part of the problem-to forth with Stonewall Jackson over these train us all to be useful in age instead of same mountain trails when he played hide- dependent-has been hardly more than and-seek with the Union army. Bare- touched, and it is part of the work of the footed, sunbonneted women like those we new profession of matrimony to prepare saw must have given the hungry soldiers for this later usefulness. The young will food and drink; and shy children, running push us out of our places, and it is then for like rabbits, must have stooped behind us to fit ourselves for other work. overgrown rail fences to peer at the march- "In business and in the professions," ing men, as these peered at us.

But none

Dr. Devine, Director of the School of Philof the same men, nor women, nor even anthropy of New York City, says, “machildren, did we see, for there are no old turity of judgment and ripened experience men or women in the Blue Ridge.

offset, to some extent, the disadvantages of "They don't live long," said a mountain old age; but in the factory and on the railmissionary. “Life's too hard here, and they way, with spade and pick, at the spindle, at can't stand it. Not more than half of them the steel converters, there are no offsets." can read and write. They work in the Would it not seem wise, then, to prepare fields and the lumber camps until they are for something in addition to the spindle and worn out; and after that, there's nothing for the steel converter? them to do but just die. There isn't any There is in New York City a veritable old-age problem here; we aren't modern Street of Sorrows, East Twenty-sixth Street, enough to have one."

which is fronted by the great public hospital It is true that the problem of old age is of Bellevue, and ends in the dock of the new, as history counts time, and that to Department of Charities and Corrections. some places it has not yet come; but in I have stopped many times to watch itmost of our modern civilizations it has not ambulances eddying up to the hospital only appeared, but has been in part solved. doors; black wagons, carrying criminals just

The problem has two distinct divisions; committed to the work house; other and first, to create a civilization that can use slower black wagons, carrying the pauper

dead; and saddest of all who come, the aged piece bed-quilts, and how she had just poor.

Once I stood at the desk beside the helped to organize a women's club among man who commits to the poor farm, when her neighbors who were too far from town to a woman brought her mother to be "put join the one there. Mr. and Mrs. Evarts away.” No, she couldn't afford to keep her are garnering years of strength from those mother with her; she had three children, and hours of fishing in the brook, for they have her husband was out of work.--No, there learned that you cannot find the strength wasn't anything her mother could do; she of your youth a second time, and they do was

“all wore out.” The mother faltered not mean to be “scrapped” when it is gone. that she had worked hard ever since she The protest is becoming nation-wide. was a little girl and she “couldn't do no We're beginning to recognize the folly of more.”—And how old was she? Why, wearing out bodies too soon and having nothfifty-five last month!

ing left, and we are passing laws to limit the Fifty-five, with what ought to have been hours of labor and to keep children out of inthirty vigorous years still ahead of her, yet dustry, so that people shall not only conserve “all wore out.' Can the community af- their bodies, but have time to develop their ford such extravagance? And she wasn't minds as well. For whatever old age may even protesting. She had squandered her bring to the body, it should not bring rest physical resources, and had never developed to the brain. resources of another sort. But today a pro

I used to know an elderly couple, the test against the waste represented by such Masons, living with their married son near early consignment to the human junk-heap Chicago. They were as sweet and loving is rising from men and women everywhere. as two people could be; sociable, too, till I have a letter from a farmer's wife in the one wondered if sociability was the virtue Middle West who cries out against the waste it is cracked up to be with people who of her own youth, and wants me to preach have allowed their mental development to be a crusade against overwork and lack of rest. arrested. I remember dining there when

“Tell every woman she should not work an explorer, just back from the Caucasus, in the fields," she cries. “Tell her she was also a guest. We were anxious to hear should lie down in the afternoon for a rest, some of his wonderful experiences, but the even if her house is not absolutely clean. conversation ran about like this: Look at older women! What are they now, Explorer: We wanted to get through the save gray hair and wrinkles? Tell every pass as soon as the snow was gone, and young woman to take care of herself, and she will be well preserved and her children Grandfather Mason (in a voice of gentle will be glad and proud to show her off.” courtesy): Yes, I always found it paid to get

The problem such lives present is being started on things about as soon as the snow more and more squarely faced. Day be- was off the ground. Now when I came to fore yesterday, I took dinner with Mr. and Illinois in the early days, I used to-(here Mrs. Evarts, who are farming in the great follows long description of Illinois in the corn belt. They were bronzed from the fifties, on which the family had been sun, and so splendidly young and strong brought up, so to speak, and under which that I couldn't conceal my surprise when they suffer silently, except Alfred, the they introduced a daughter of sixteen and youngest, who breaks in). a son of fourteen. Mrs. Evarts laughed a Alfred : But I didn't know the snow ever little.

melted up there. “We shan't grow old any sooner than we Mother (swiftly rebuking Alfred): Hush, must. We will read and we will rest, no dear, grandfather is talking. matter what happens to the work. See After a decade or so of Illinois from those trees over there? The creek is just grandfather, I tried to generalize the conunder, and when I find myself getting too versation by bringing grandmother in,

, tired, I take a pole and line, and go out un- hoping that we might create a diversion der them to fish. I can't even see the house, and get back to the Caucasus. But I nor anything but the water and the bushes; found that early in her career Grandmother and I never let anybody come with me, ex- Mason had clamped her mind to the temcept sometimes Will, when he's tired too!”

perance movement, preserved fruits, and the And she told me how she didn't make people she had known as a girl, and that it butter, nor do the washing, and wouldn't was impossible to pry it loose now.

SO

[ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic]

This sort of thing grew to be increas

Elsworth had been ingly common at the Mason's; the intel

the means of introlectual level of the conversation was set

ducing a work on by these two old people, who had al

domestic science lowed their minds to stiffen with their

into the country bodies, and hadn't taken in a new thought

school, and went for twenty-five years. People refused

over three times a to go there, since it always meant spend

week to oversee ing an evening with the early days of

the pupils personIllinois. The younger Masons are too

ally. Mr. Elscourteous to snub their parents into

worth had a silence, but they have come to take all

scheme for martheir social life away from home. Now

keting the abunthis was not the misfortune of the elder

dant fruit supply Masons, it was their fault. What right

of the neighborhad they to forget that their own youth

hood, and was was a time of change? What right has

alternately sunk any otherwise satisfactory matrimonial

government firm to transform itself into a clog on

reports and the brains of its offspring?

freight schedules. Fortunately, this mental rest cure isn't

We had planned necessary to successful old age. The Els. J. Jowler

to stay with them worths, for instance, live in a town so

a day, but lingered small that the train stops there only under a week to enjoy the atmosphere of mental the compulsion of a flag. But what of it? stimulation which they have created out What if all their children are grown and

of the leisure of age. gone? What if Mrs. Elsworth does find it Oh, it can be done! People can apnecessary to have a maid lift the house- proach old age with strength enough for keeping from her shoulders, and Mr. Els- their diminished needs, and with minds worth retires intermittently to a lounge by fixed on the present and the future, instead the window? We went from New York of on the past. It is a question first of deCity to visit them, and there wasn't a thing, veloping a civilization that has need of some from the proposed changes in the public service beyond that of the biceps, and then school system to the new pictures in the of preparing oneself to furnish that service Metropolitan Gallery, that they didn't when the proper time comes. want to know about. They read not only The Sherwoods, living in a Western city, the traditional “best books” but the works have managed to do these two things of the new people–Bennett and Galsworthy pretty effectively. Mr. Sherwood is a lawyer and Shaw, and a dozen less known. Mrs. his wife a splendidly able teacher. 1

[ocr errors]

have five vigorous children. When the “Sharley-it was Sharley! But he ain't youngest was six years old, Mrs. Sherwood, die-he got married!" feeling that the public schools were not up I argued with Mrs. Schultz through a to the standard, started a little school long evening. There was no objection to of her own.

The school grew so rapidly the new daugher-in-law, but “Sharley" that she not only had to employ assistants, was looked upon as a legitimate financial but was obliged to rent a special building. resource, and Mrs. Schultz couldn't help It was not only a good school, but a profit- feeling that she had been robbed. able business enterprise. The Sherwood And I found exactly the same disastrous children went to college, went into business, attitude toward the sons in the family of the married, and grew independent. There DeLavals, people very definitely “in sowere many grandchildren, and much pros- ciety." They had two daughters and one perity. And then came the cry, "Mother son, and when they passed into the land must stop her school!”

of old age, the children, just grown, had There was no reason for this except the to assume the burden of supporting the conventional idea that the old, especially family. Beauty was an inheritance of the old women, should not work. In spite of DeLavals. They took their perfection of her children's protest, mother, therefore, has form and color quite as a matter of course kept right on with her school. She loves and without self-consciousness, but they her independence for one thing, and her knew it was an asset. Leonard, the son, work for another. She never ran her school went into the office of a stock-broker where merely to make money; she loved her pro- his charm and good looks and many acfession as her husband loved his. Does it quaintances were a decided asset. But with not keep her in touch with interesting peo- all his charm, he couldn't command an inple and interesting things? Does it not stant income large enough for the support keep her mind awake and eager? The minds

of his parents. of the Sherwoods are too firmly fixed on the I have heard that the DeLavals were future to give the early days of Illinois or quite frank with their children. Certainly the gossip of the last century a chance. the whole neighborhood knew that it had

A year or so ago a young Jewish girl took been put up to the oldest daughter, Marie, to me through the shops where the worn-out marry a rich man; and when her engagegarment-workers of New York City re- ment to Mr. Cross was announced, we all model the worn-out apparel which the “old knew that she was going to do her duty to clothes” men collect and resell. We went, her parents and provide for their old age too, through the sweat-shops where boys it was as though she had got a good position and girls just out of school begin their in a dry-goods store, only the pay for being lives of basting and cutting and finishing Mrs. William Cross was higher. Now, and pressing.

William Cross was no rich villain buying “Why do they have to work so young?” an unwilling slave. He was merely a little I asked her.

too plump to enjoy walking; a little too “Ain't they gotta earn money for their old for a fresh interest in things; with a thin fathers?” said Yetta. "No man can't spreading of hair on the top of his head; a make a living in the trade if he's more'n little too dull to excite mental curiosity; forty and ain't got no children. No, and a little too rich for a penniless beauty ma'am! But they got such a respect off'n with dependent parents to refuse. Marie their fathers!”

went dutifully to the affairs given in her That particular canker of considering honor, but she refused to hurry the wedding, children as a sort of old-age pension for and in the meantime the beautiful younger their parents is eating into the whole pro- sister, Norine, grew up and prepared to fession of matrimony. Every class suffers assume her share of the family burden in a from it. Last year a lovable German wom- less pleasant form. an who has done my washing for years Lee Morton, her "catch," was young and came to me in great trouble.

cheerfully good-looking, but with a fortune “Haf you heard how I have lose my son?” that had come to him too early for his own she cried.

good-in fact, decidedly to his detriment. “Oh, Mrs. Schultz! Which of the boys He could not be put off as William Cross was it? How did it happen? When did was, and Norine married him promptly. he die?"

Truth compels me to say that these de

a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »