Today, February 23, is National Banana Bread Day. While banana bread (as we now know it) became a staple among home bakers in the 1930s, banana bread had its start in the late Victorian era where “banana flour” came to the United States from the tropics. Vintage newspaper advertisements show the beginnings of banana bread available in bakeries and homemakers’ awareness of quality nutrition to be found in the imported fruit and “flour.” With or without nuts, banana bread is a hallmark of American quick breads… and our nineteenth century ancestors, complete with baking powder and a wealth of cake-baking knowledge, were prepared for the post-Great Depression’s urge to “use it up.”
While bath tubs of various styles were available in cities by the mid-nineteenth century, the American Old West didn’t have easy access to delivery of such finery until after the Transcontinental Railway in 1869 (followed by additional railroads bringing delivery nearer to home) eliminated freight by horse-drawn wagon. Historic images of Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogs and Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs illustrate available options–some of which are simply too ingenious to miss! Who knew a kitchen sink so easily doubled as a bath tub? Or that a five-and-a-half-foot bathtub could fold up? Price comparisons (then to now) show why it took a good long while for most folks to afford more than a public bath (next post) or a bowl and pitcher to make do.
The Victorian Era drew to a close in January, 1901 with the death of Queen Victoria. The newspaper article I share within this post comes from July, 1902 (technically the Edwardian Era), but society’s expectations of table manners and propriety at a summer resort hadn’t changed. This article covers a few of the many, many “Summer Resorts” in the Victorian-Era United States and touches on why these resorts were so loved.
FIVE STARS for Charles River Editors’ Legends of the Wild West: Tombstone, Arizona. This nonfiction account covers the breadth of Tombstone from the first miners and where the settlement took its name to the forever famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Amateur historians and readers of fiction set in the American West will benefit from reading or listening to this informative and entertaining book.
How did 19th century folks go about ordering something from Montgomery Ward or Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogues? How was payment sent? What about delivery options?