Last year, I spent time with a bored acquaintance. We’d have breakfast occasionally, swap text messages, and we even had lunch once or twice. This acquaintance often lamented about mind-numbing boredom; I will not share the circumstances of her life without work but “being bored” was a concept I could not understand. I tried. Really, I did. I walked a few imaginary miles in her shoes. I tried problem solving and made a few suggestions, taking into consideration all that I knew about her situation.
Sadly, boredom-relieving suggestions I made were tossed aside with a glance that intimated they “sounded boring.” After several months of this amateur social work, I texted in my resignation. It was a difficult decision, because I cared about the well-being of this acquaintance. I’m a better than average listener, but I am not a social worker.
Spending time with a bored person piqued my curiosity because boredom is so alien to me. I am never bored. My brain is filled with thoughts and questions. And that’s in addition to my 40 hour a week job for pay, my part-time writing gigs, my volunteer work with the Moxie Festival and the Gendron Franco Heritage Center, and keeping my house and gardens from looking like BLEEP-holes.
This mental exercise suggested my tombstone epitaph:
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘being bored.’”
Over the weekend, I spent time organizing some books and magazines and came across a tattered May, 1943 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. Skimming through the contents, my eyes settled on a general feature titled “Diary of Domesticity” by Gladys Taber. Near the last pages of the magazine, Taber’s column began like this:
“May is just around the corner, and May in New England is so close to heaven that I wonder how the early preachers managed to keep the eyes of their people turned to the future life. Nobody could help being dazzled by the beauty of this world if he rode down a Connecticut country highway in the soft sweet light of a May morning. Heaven enough for me, at any rate; I wish everyone could see it.”
The column ran about 2,000 words and outlined domestic life at Taber’s Connecticut home. She worked a recipe into her “diary of domesticity” and ended the article with a feel-good note about her cocker spaniels:
“The clean bright grass and the flower-sweet air and a bevy of cockers—this month in Connecticut is a fine season.”
(As a side note, Taber also contributed fiction to the May, 1943 issue, the first of a five-part story called “Navy Nurse”, illustrated by Jon Whitcomb.)
Gladys Taber. Gladys Taber. Why did her name stir up some “déjà vu?”
I clicked around the internet and found some basic information. Here’s her Wikipedia page. And here’s a longer piece written by artist and author Susan Branch.
Bingo! That familiar feeling came from Taber quotes I’d read in my first edition of Branch’s Christmas from the Heart of the Home, published in 1990. Branch has a lovely style of artfully nestling clever quotes in her books.
Branch’s article is interesting and includes a worthy mention of a club, Friends of Gladys Taber. Another article on Branch’s website mentions that “Diary of Domesticity” was (in part) the inspiration for the 1945 film, Christmas in Connecticut.
The internet solved a lot of questions I had about Gladys Taber. What did we do before the internet? We must have been LITERALLY CAVEMEN!
Yet, my curious mind has so many other questions. Gladys Taber’s life remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. For instance, how much was she paid for writing her Ladies Home Journal articles? What about her books? She wrote a lot of them. Did they generate enough income to pay the taxes at Stillmeadow, her Connecticut home? Or was it some combination of breeding cocker spaniels, writing, and alimony? Was she a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution?
So many questions. If time and money were no objects, forensic research on a character like Gladys Taber would be fascinating and right in my wheelhouse.
Sadly, I have no time to do this particular research. I am busy with other projects. I’ll assuage my curiosity with a visit to the local library and a request for membership in Friends of Gladys Taber, a mere pittance at $20 per year.
Now you know why I’m never bored. Frig, there’s the plow. It’s snowing again.
Diary of domesticity, indeed.