The Beginnings of the Greyhound Bus Company

334px-Hupmobile_1909-0905_zps13325237.jpgIn 1914, a young Swedish minor named Car Eric Wickman left his job as a diamond drill operator in the rugged Mesabi Iron Ore Range in Hibbing, Minnesota, to open a Hupmobile (Goodyear Tire) franchise. The venture cost him $3000. Except to himself, young Wickman failed to make a single sale, so the enterprising young Swede abandoned his dealership dreams. 

Realizing that most iron miners were too poor to afford their own vehicle, Wickman decided to start transporting workers between Hibbing and Alice, a mining town two miles away. Cramming 15 passengers into his eight-seat “touring car,” the 27-year-old charged 15 cents a ride or 25 cents for a round trip. On his first trip, in 1914, Wickman collected a grand total of $2.25. But 100 years later, that modest sum has grown into nearly a billion dollars in annual revenue.

1909-Hupmobile-Model-20-runabout.jpg The “jitney bus” proved popular with the miners. By moving things about with the bus, Wickman managed to add two extra seats. Passengers also rode on the running boards and fenders of the vehicle. Realizing he required more vehicles, Wickman convinced a blacksmith friend to go into partnership with him. Together, they purchased another Hupmobile. The car was enlarged to seat ten. The two men also expanded their routes. 

The offered their first long-distance route in 1915. It covered ninety-mile stretch between Hibbing and Duluth. In fierce winter weather, drivers were equipped with block and tackle and snow shovels. Meanwhile, passengers were provided with lap rugs and hot bricks for their feet. By 1916, their firm had grown to five members and five buses. Each member served as a director of the firm, as well as a bus driver. 

So the “buses” would not appear dirty on the dusty roads, they were painted a “battleship gray.” An innkeeper along one of their regular routes commented that the hupmobiles resembled a “greyhound dog streaking by.” The name stuck. Some Wickman was advertising: Ride the Greyhounds. 

Greyhound Bus by isriya_0.jpgEventually, Greyhound became part of the name of the company. A one-man, four-miles route in Minnesota became the world’s largest inter-city passenger carrier. “Wickman, it turns out, pretty much invented intercity bus travel—which for most Americans equals Greyhound, the company that emerged from that long-ago Hupmobile ride. ‘Greyhound has become generic for bus travel,’ says Robert Gabrick, author of Going The Greyhound Way. ‘Like Kleenex for tissues.’ Indeed, this classic American business icon—which, as it happens, is now owned by a British conglomerate—today has more than 7,300 employees, with estimated yearly sales of $820 million and 2,000 buses serving 3,800 destinations in 48 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces. ‘I’m amazed at Greyhound’s brand recognition,’ says DePaul University professor Joseph Schwieterman, an authority on intercity bus travel. ‘It’s an American success story.'” (100 Years on a Dirty Dog: The History of Greyhound)


Posted in American History, buildings and structures, business, commerce, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Love Is in the Air…

love-6.jpgOne of my author friends recently posted her top ten “love” quotes from movies. In response, I have chosen some of my favorites (in no particular order). I had a great time doing this, but I ran out of space. I think I will revisit the idea again soon. (P.S. Tell me some of your favorites. Perhaps we can start a trend and post them on imbd.) Now, I must pull several of these from my collection and have a “love fest” of my own making. A great film and a glass of wine. Enjoy! 

515Ze8T5jWL._SX940_.jpg Pride & Prejudice (2005)

“…If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love … I love … I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”
—Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) to Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley)

images.jpg Dirty Dancing (1987)
“Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.” Baby (Jennifer Grey) to Johnny (Patrick Swayze).

love+actually+main.jpg Love Actually (2003)
“But for now, let me say — without hope or agenda, just because it’s Christmas and at Christmas you tell the truth — to me, you are perfect. And my wasted heart will love you. Until you look like this [picture of a mummy]. Merry Christmas.” Mark (Andrew Lincoln) to Juliet (Keira Knightley)

NottingHillRobertsGrant.jpg Notting Hill (1999)
“Don’t forget I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
— Anna (Julia Roberts) to William (Hugh Grant)

ngrmfuht.jpg Titanic (1997)

“Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you … You must do me this honor, Rose. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.”
— Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) to Rose (Kate Winslet)

Mohicansposter.jpg The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
“…You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.”
— Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) to Cora (Madeleine Stowe)

images-1.jpg When Harry Met Sally (1989)
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
— Harry (Billy Crystal) to Sally (Meg Ryan)

1438124471-the-notebook-2004-copy.jpg The Notebook (2004)

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What does it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.”
— Noah (Ryan Gosling) to Allie (Rachel McAdams)

imgres.jpg Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known … I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like … magic.”
— Sam (Tom Hanks) speaking of his deceased wife to the radio show

search.jpg Gone with the Wind (1939)

“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

— Rhett (Clark Gable) to Scarlett (Vivien Leigh)

homepage_eb19960915reviews08401010308ar  Casablanca (1942)
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
—Rick (Humphrey Bogart) to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman)

Love_Story_(1970_film).jpg Love Story (1970)
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
—Jennifer (Ali MacGraw) to Oliver (Ryan O’Neal)

jerry-maguire-05.jpg Jerry Maguire (1996)
“You had me at hello.”
— Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) to Jerry (Tom Cruise)

imgres.jpg Sense and Sensibility (1995)
“But wait, there’s more! My heart is, and always will be, yours.” — Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) to Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson)

214751 On Golden Pond (1981)

“Listen to me, mister. You’re my knight in shining armor. Don’t forget it.”
— Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) to Norman (Henry Fonda)

imgres.jpg An Affair to Remember (1957)
“Oh, it’s nobody’s fault but my own! I was looking up… it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there…” — Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) to Nick Ferrante (Cary Grant)

images.jpg Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Lara (Julie Christie): “Wouldn’t it have been lovely if we had met before?”
Zhivago (Omar Sharif): “Before we did? Yes.”
Lara: “We’d have got married, had a house and children. If we’d had children, Yuri, would you like a boy or girl?”
Zhivago: “I think we may go mad if we think about all that.”
Lara: “I shall always think about it.”

imgres-1.jpg Wuthering Heights (1939)

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.” — Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier)

imgres-2.jpg A Room with a View (1985)
“He’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn’t love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms. It’s our last chance.” — George Emerson (Julian Sands)

imgres-3.jpg The Way We Were (1973)
Katie (Barbra Streisand): “Wouldn’t it be lovely if we were old? We’d have survived all this. Everything thing would be easy and uncomplicated; the way it was when we were young.”
Hubbell (Robert Redford): “Katie, it was never uncomplicated.”

imgres-4.jpg The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
“I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust. Tonight I feel that my love for you has more density in this world than I do, myself: as though it could linger on after me and surround you, keep you, hold you.” Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) to Claire Abshire (Rachel McAdams)

imgres-5.jpg Ten Things I Hate About You (1996)
“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it that you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.” Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) speaking of Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger)

imgres-6.jpg The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Francesca (Meryl Streep): Robert, please. You don’t understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins, but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife, and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave, they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected to move again, only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you.
Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood): But now that you have it…
Francesca: I want to keep it forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don’t you understand… we’ll lose it if we leave. I can’t make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you.

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
Robert Kincaid: This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime.

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
Francesca: And in that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before.

imgres-7.jpg Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Frances (Diane Lane): Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should. When someone you’ve promised to cherish till death do you part says “I never loved you,” it should kill you instantly. You shouldn’t have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn’t know. The light just never went on, you know. I must have known, of course, but I was too scared to see the truth. Then fear just makes you so stupid.
Martini(Vincent Riotta): No, it’s not stupid, Signora Mayes. L’amore e cieco.
Frances: Oh, love is blind. Yeah, we have that saying too.
Martini: Everybody has that saying because it’s true everywhere.

736_DVD_box_348x490_original.jpg It Happened One Night (1934)
Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert): Have you ever been in love, Peter?
Peter Warne (Clark Gable): Me?
Ellie Andrews: Yes. Haven’t you ever thought about it at all? It seems to me you, you could make some girl wonderfully happy.
Peter Warne: Sure I’ve thought about it. Who hasn’t? If I could ever meet the right sort of girl. Aw, where you gonna find her? Somebody that’s real. Somebody that’s alive. They don’t come that way anymore. Have I ever thought about it? I’ve even been sucker enough to make plans. You know, I saw an island in the Pacific once. I’ve never been able to forget it. That’s where I’d like to take her. She’d have to be the sort of a girl who’d… well, who’d jump in the surf with me and love it as much as I did. You know, nights when you and the moon and the water all become one. You feel you’re part of something big and marvelous. That’s the only place to live… where the stars are so close over your head you feel you could reach up and stir them around. Certainly, I’ve been thinking about it. Boy, if I could ever find a girl who was hungry for those things…
[she comes around the blanket “Walls of Jericho” and kneels by his bed]
Ellie Andrews: Take me with you, Peter. Take me to your island. I want to do all those things you talked about.
Peter Warne: You’d better go back to your bed.
Ellie Andrews: I love you. Nothing else matters. We can run away. Everything will take care of itself. Please, Peter, I can’t let you out of my life now. I couldn’t live without you.
[she cries in his arms]
Peter Warne: [firmly] You’d better go back to your bed.
Ellie Andrews: I’m sorry.
[she returns to her bed still crying]

imgres-8.jpg Up Close & Personal (1996)
Tally Atwater (Michelle Pfeiffer): Do you want to be with me?
Warren Justice (Robert Redford): So much it hurts.

images-1.jpg Charade (1963)

Adam Canfield (Cary Grant) Well, what did you expect me to say? That a pretty girl with an outrageous manner means more to an old pro like me than a quarter of a million dollars?
Reggie Lampert (Audrey Hepburn): I don’t suppose so.
Adam Canfield: Well, it’s a toss-up, I can tell you that.
Reggie Lampert: What did you say?
Adam Canfield: Hasn’t it occurred to you that I’m having a tough time keeping my hands off you?
[Regina is stunned]
Adam Canfield: Oh, you should see your face.
Reggie Lampert: What’s the matter with it?
Adam Canfield: It’s lovely.
[Regina drops her knife and fork]
Adam Canfield: What’s the matter now?
Reggie Lampert: I’m not hungry anymore; isn’t it glorious?

imgres-9.jpg Two Weeks’ Notice (2003)
George Wade (Hugh Grant): I need your advice on one last thing, then I promise you will never hear from me again. You see, I’ve just delivered the first speech I’ve written entirely by myself since we met, and I think I may have blown it. I want to ask your thoughts. Okay? Then I will read it to you. I’d like to welcome everyone on this special day. Island Towers will bring glamour and prestige to the neighborhood and become part of Brooklyn’s renaissance. And I’m very pleased and proud to be here. Unfortunately, there is one fly in the ointment. You see, I gave my word to someone that we wouldn’t knock down this building behind me. And normally, and those of you who know me or were married to me can attest to this, my word wouldn’t mean very much. So why does it this time? Well, partly because this building is an architectural gem and deserves to be landmarked and partly because people really do need a place to do senior’s water ballet and CPR. Preferably not together. But mainly because this person, despite being unusually stubborn and unwilling to compromise and a very poor dresser, is… she’s rather like the building she loves so much. A little rough around the edges but, when you look closely, absolutely beautiful. And the only one of her kind. And even though I’ve said cruel things and driven her away, she’s become the voice in my head. And I can’t seem to drown her out. And I don’t want to drown her out. So, we are going to keep the community center. Because I gave my word to her and because we gave our word to the community. And I didn’t sleep with June. That’s not in the speech, that’s just me letting you know that important fact. What do you think?
Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock): I have to get back to work.
George Wade: Right. Right, yes. Sorry to disturb you. Congratulations, again, Polly.
Lucy Kelson: Aside from the split infinitive that was somewhere in the middle, that speech was actually quite perfect, wasn’t it?
Polly St. Clair: Yeah. I don’t know what the hell you’re still doing sitting here. And I don’t even like him.
Lucy Kelson: [runs after George]

imgres-10.jpg Notting Hill (1999)
P.R. Chief (John Shrapnel): Next question? Yes. You in the pink shirt.
William (Hugh Grant): Uh, right. Miss Scott, are there any circumstances that you and he might be more than just friends.
Anna Scott (Julia Roberts): I hoped that there would be but I’ve been assured that there’s not.
William: Yes, but what if…
P.R. Chief: I’m sorry. Just the one question.
Anna Scott: No. It’s all right. You were saying?
William: I was just wondering what if this person…
Journalist: Thacker. His name is Thacker.
William: Right. Thanks. What if, uh, Mr. Thacker realized that he had been a daft prick and got down on his knees and begged you to reconsider if you would… indeed… reconsider.
Anna Scott: [pause] Yes. I believe I would.
William: That’s wonderful news. The readers of Horse and Hound will be relieved.

Posted in acting, film | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“God Save the Queen,” British National Anthem

“God Save the Queen,” also called (during a kingship) God Save the King, British royal and national anthem. The origin of both the words and the music is obscure. The many candidates for authorship include John Bull (c. 1562–1628), Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1583–c. 1633), Henry Purcell (c. 1639–95), and Henry Carey (c. 1687–1743). The earliest copy of the words appeared in Gentleman’s Magazine in 1745; the tune appeared about the same time in an anthology, Thesaurus Musicus—in both instances without attribution.

“The origins of ‘God Save the Queen’ are lost in obscurity, but there is no doubt whatever that the words and the tune, as we know them today, suddenly became widely popular in September, 1745. In that month, demonstrations of loyalty to the reigning house were in special demand. Prince, Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, had routed Cope at Prestonpans, and was about to invade England; London was preparing to defend itself and its Hanoverian rulers. An example of popular feeling was given on September 28th when the entire male caste of Drury Lane theatre announced their intention of forming a special unit of the Volunteer Defence Force. That evening they gave a performance of Jonson’s The Alchemist. At its conclusion there was an additional item. Three of the leading singers of the day—Mrs. Cibber, Beard and Reinhold —stepped forward and began a special anthem:

“God bless our Noble King,

God Save great George our King …”

“The Daily Advertiser reported: “The universal applause sufficiently denoted in how just an Abhorrence they (the audience) hold the Arbitrary Schemes of our invidious enemies. …” The other theatres were quick to follow Drury Lane. Benjamin Victor, the linen merchant, wrote to his friend Garrick, who was ill in the country: “The stage is the most loyal place in the three kingdoms,” and Mrs. Cibber noted: “The Rebellion so far from being a disadvantage to the playhouses, brings them very good houses.” Soon the anthem was being sung as far afield as Bath.” (History TodayIt soon became the custom for the song to greet the sovereign whenever he or she arrived. 

In 1746, George Frideric Handel used it in his Occasional Oratorio, which dealt with the tribulations of the Jacobite Rebellion of ’45. Thereafter, the tune was used frequently by composers making British references, notably by Ludwig van Beethoven, who used it in seven variations.


The phrase “God Save the King” in use as a rallying cry to the support of the monarch and the nation’s forces (via Wikipedia)

From Great Britain the melody passed to continental Europe, becoming especially popular in Germany and Scandinavia, with a variety of different lyrics. Later, in the United States, Samuel F. Smith (1808–95) wrote “My Country ’Tis of Thee” (1832), to be sung to the British tune; it became a semiofficial anthem for the nation, second in popularity only to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

It is the national anthem of the United Kingdom and one of two national anthems used by New Zealand since 1977, as well as for several of the UK’s territories that have their own additional local anthem. It is also the royal anthem of all the aforementioned countries, as well as Australia (since 1984), Canada (since 1980), Barbados and Tuvalu. In countries not previously part of the British Empire, the tune of “God Save the Queen” has provided the basis for various patriotic songs, though still generally connected with royal ceremony.The melody is also used for the national anthem of Liechtenstein, Oben am jungen Rhein  (“Up above the Young Rhine”).

Beyond its first verse, which is consistent, “God Save the Queen/King” has many historic and extant versions. Since its first publication, different verses have been added and taken away and, even today, different publications include various selections of verses in various orders. In general, only one verse is sung. Sometimes two verses are sung, and on rare occasions, three.

“God Save the Queen”
(standard version)

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

When the monarch of the time is male, “Queen” is replaced with “King” and all feminine pronouns (in bold type) are replaced with their masculine equivalents.

You may hear “God Save the Queen” HERE on You Tube.




“God Save the Queen,” Encyclopædia Britannica

“God Save the Queen,” International Business Times 

“God Save the Queen,” Wikipedia 

Posted in British history, Georgian England, royalty | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Life Below Stairs: English Servants Emigrating to Australia, Part I

Liverpoo.gifIn the mid to late 1840s, many girls in service decided to make the arduous journey from England to Australian ports. One must remember that the journey took three to four months to complete, depending upon the weather and the winds. Clipper ships were still being used for such journeys for they were more economical than steam-driven ships. The clippers would export their “live lumber” and bring back a much needed import to English shores. Many died during the journey. Illness and harsh treatment was commonplace. It was not unusual to have 50 to 100 to die during the journey. Many of those deaths were babies of women who hoped for a better way for them and theirs. 

Some of the agents hired to gather candidates for the servant class presented the girls free passage. They also were not opposed to giving free passage to prostitutes. The girls were not promised protection on the journey, and many found themselves debauched by the men aboard ship. 

janilye-4794-full.gifIn 1846, South Australia appointed matrons to oversee the girls in hopes of securing more appropriate candidates. This became a common practice. As many as fifty to sixty employers met with each of the “acceptable” girls. It cost about £20 per girl (train fare to Portsmouth, bedding, and fare) to bring a woman from England to Australia. Queensland and South Australia groups often absorbed the cost of the girls’ voyages to bring reliable help to their homes. These schemes were abandoned when governmental economic issues interfered with the practice. Even so, thousands of servant girls arrived in Australia thanks to these programs. 

“In the decade from 1878 to 1888, over 21,000 female servants went out to Queensland alone, a total surpassed only by the number of farm workers who emigrated to the same colony. Nevertheless, the demand remained so high, that is could never be wholly satisfied. Some girls elected to stop off even before they reached Australia, as there was always an eager queue of would-be employers waiting at Colombo, Batavia, and Thursday Island and, after the Suez Canal had been opened in 1869, at Malta, Port Said, and Aden, too. One young woman servant, who disembarked at Thursday Island, off the northern tip of Queensland, eventually amassed a fortune of £15,000 by becoming the owner of five pearl-fishing boats and of the island’s best hotel. For those who completed the voyage, adequate provision had been made for them to obtain suitable situations. In the early days, some girls had drifted into prostitution through the great temptations which prevailed in the pioneer towns with their great excess of single men. In 1841, Mrs. Caroline Chisholm, the wife of an Indian Army officer, established a home and registry office in Sydney and, later, at her own expense, took her first party of girls, who had been frightened by ‘foolish stories about blacks and robbers in the bush,’ up river on a steamer to a district called Hunters River, where all sixty girls soon found situations at double the wages they could have obtained in Sydney. She went on to establish four more homes and sent many servants out to famers in the bush. By the 1850s, New South Wales had also set up its own official depot, where servant girls could live in charge of a matron until they were hired. (Both publican and lodging house keepers were prohibited from hiring single girls for obvious reasons.)” (Frank E. Huggett, Life Below Stairs, Book Club Associates London. pages 139 -141) 

Posted in British history, business, commerce, servant life, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Richard II “Invent” the Handkerchief?

Okay, I will admit up front the history of Richard II’s reign is NOT my area of expertise, and so I do NOT mean this piece as a “history” lesson. Rather it is meant to be an interesting historical “tidbit.” You decide whether Richard II had a “hand” (get it???) in the invention of the “handkerchief.” 

A Pageant of Kings: Richard II -- the King Who Could Not Fight

Richard II and Anne of Bohemia

 That being said, Tim Shaw’s Daily Medieval tells us, “Richard II (1367-1400) had all of the elegance and none of the political savvy or military skill required of a king of England in the 14th century. He was given to–and ridiculed for–extravagances and fastidiousness that shocked many of his contemporaries. In an attempt to curb his excesses, he was put under the regency of a council called the Lords Appellant. Richard decided to negotiate a peace with France and devote his energies and finances to overthrowing the Lords Appellant. The Merciless Parliament of 1388 was called to curb him. During the process, Parliament convicted most of Richard’s advisors of treason. The charges against them include lists of extravagances such as richly decorated garments and household furnishings.

“At a time when such excesses were worthy of condemnation, something like the following line–a description of an order from the king’s tailor, Walter Rauf–would surely make heads turn and eyes roll:

parvis peciis factis ad liberandum domino regi ad portandum in manu suo pro naso suo tergendo et mundando

“small pieces made for giving to the lord king to carry in his hand for wiping and cleaning his nose”

“Why does this stand out? Prior to this, the sleeve was the primary receptacle for the things for which we now use handkerchiefs or tissues. Stella Mary Newton, in her Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince,  does not find any evidence of handkerchief use in the courts of Europe. This seems to counter the theory that Richard picked up this “foppish” practice from France.* We know the Romans used a piece of cloth called a sudarium for wiping sweat, but that is not likely where Richard got the idea, since there is no evidence that the sudarium survived as a custom in Europe. So maybe Richard did invent the pocket handkerchief.”

*Richard was raised in France, where his father, Edward the Black Prince, held much land thanks to Edward III’s successes in the Hundred Years War. In fact, it’s pretty certain that Richard never bothered to learn English.

Meanwhile, BBC History tells us, “Richard is the first king that we know for sure what he looked like, in part because of his own conscious attempts to raise the personal place of the monarch, through the active use of imagery and artistic representation, the most notable example being the Wilton Diptych, a portable altarpiece and Richard’s own portrait, which now hangs in Westminster Abbey. Richard constructed the first royal bathhouse, may well have invented the pocket handkerchief and used a spoon for the first time. In his patronage of architecture and personal piety, his reign has a powerful legacy in some of the key parts of Westminster Great Hall, York Minster and Canterbury Cathedral. Richard built the magnificent hammer beam roof for the hall, which can be seen to this day. The medieval parliament and king’s court often sat under its carved angels and it was from here that the kingdom was ruled.”

In Mr. Giotto’s Online Textbook, under “The Kings of England: Richard II and Three Henrys,” we are told, “Richard, unlike his grandfather and father, did not care for carrying on the war with the French. On the contrary, he enjoyed French cooking, creating the first royal cookbook. Richard was into manners, he created the first handkerchief, as he was appalled by the habit of wiping one’s mouth or nose on his or her sleeve at the dinner table.”

220px-Handkerchief.jpg Rampley & Co. of London gives us a bit more information regarding the History of the Pocket Square. “Some people believe that the pocket square in one form or another can trace its origins back to ancient Egypt, where small linen cloths were dyed with a red powder that indicated they were used for decorative purposes and as an example of wealth. However, this is quite a leap of faith and small pieces of coloured cloth don’t necessarily translate directly into what you would consider a modern day pocket square.

“There are also those that trace it back to the Ancient Greeks who carried a cloth with scented perfume in order to ensure they always had a pleasant smell nearby or the Romans who used pieces of cloth to start the Gladiatorial Games, with the event starting when the Emperor dropped his handkerchief.

“Some claim the first use of a handkerchief being worn as an accessory was in 800’s where members of the Catholic Church would attach a white handkerchief to their left arm as a representation of their devotion to God and their church or that King Richard II of England was the first person to wear a handkerchief as a fashion accessory while on the throne between 1377 to 1399. Although it’s clear people have been using squares of material for various uses for a long time, we’re not convinced that this is a justifiable comparison to what is now deemed a pocket square.”

Finally, Wikipedia tells us, “Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means “to cover,” and chef, which means “head.” In the times of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today. But in the Middle Ages, kerchiefs were usually used to cover the head. Then in the 16th century, people in Europe began to carry kerchiefs in their pockets to wipe their forehead or their nose. To distinguish this kind of kerchief from the one used to cover the head, the word “hand” was added to “kerchief”. King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399, is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose. Certainly they were in existence by Shakespeare’s time, and a handkerchief is an important plot device in his play Othello.” 

Posted in British history, fashion, history, legends, medieval | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Princess Helena Escape Queen Victoria’s “Heavy Thumb”

220px-Helena_scan.jpg Princess Helena (Helena Augusta Victoria; Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein by marriage; 25 May 1846 – 9 June 1923) was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Like the queen’s other children, Helena was educated by private tutors chosen by her father and his close friend and adviser, Baron Stockmar. At her birth, Albert reported to his brother, Ernest II, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, that Helena “came into this world quite blue, but she is quite well now”. He added that the Queen “suffered longer and more than the other times and she will have to remain very quiet to recover.”

Helena was a lively and outspoken child, and reacted against brotherly teasing by punching the bully on the nose. Her early talents included drawing. Like her sisters, she could play the piano to a high standard at an early age. Other interests included science and technology, shared by her father Prince Albert, and horseback riding and boating, two of her favourite childhood occupations. However, Helena became a middle daughter following the birth of Princess Louise in 1848, and her abilities were overshadowed by her more artistic sisters.

Queen Victoria’s Daughters tell us, “Helena was always known within the family as Lenchen. Finding a husband for her was problematic for the queen. The older sisters had been more desirable for several reasons but Lenchen has no seniority in the family, as Vicky had as the eldest daughter. Alice was undoubtedly attractive, unlike Lenchen, who was was rather dumpy.

“To outsiders, Lenchen’s choice of husband seemed to have few attractions. Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein was older than his bride (but looked considerably older than he really was, he was impoverished (in royalty terms) and having just left the army, was jobless. But Lenchen fell hook, line and sinker and was determined to marry the prince. But the couple had a close and happy marriage, producing six children.”

princess-helena-1After, Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria went into a profound depression that affected the remainder of her reign. Her children still under her care were expected to abandon their youthful pursuits and grieve for their beloved father, as did the Queen. At age sixteen, Helena was barely from the schoolroom, but Victoria’s few thoughts beyond her grief at Albert’s loss turned to finding an appropriate husband for a daughter that she had termed as the “least promising.” Victoria had written that “poor dear Lenchen, though most useful and active and clever and amiable, does not improve in looks and has great difficulty with her figure and her want of calm, quiet, graceful manners.” (Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO. Oxford. page 189.)

Helena was not known for her intellectual curiosity, and many would say that she ate her feelings of inadequacy. Even with Lenchen’s “faults,” Victoria called upon her daughter often to assist in the queen’s official duties (especially in Alice’s absence from England). 

In 1862, Victoria took her children on a journey through Germany. They were to visit where Albert had lived as a boy. While visiting their Uncle Leopold at Laeken Palace in Brussels, Lenchen and Princess Louisa took the acquaintance of the Prince Christian of Denmark. During this time they became friends with the prince’s daughters Alexandra (later the wife of the Prince of Wales) and Dagmar. 

220px-1831Christian-05.jpg Three years later on another visit to Germany, Helena met another Prince Christian, this one of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. On the maternal, Prince Christian held ties to a Danish noble family, as well as to the British royal family. His grandmother was the granddaughter of Frederick, King George II’s son. He was 15 years Helena’s senior. Unfortunately, the prince appeared older than he actually was, a fact that Victoria remarked upon on numerous occasions. Moreover, Christian was not the most intelligent of men (certainly nothing in the manner of Victoria’s “dear Albert”). He was not sophisticated or ambitious or very amiable. Nor did he possess a fortune worthy of Victoria’s daughter. Moreover, he had recently left his military post in the Prussian army. 

As Beatrice became the queen’s newest “crutch” in her official capacity, Helena was free to marry. However, Queen Victoria was not one to lose a daughter easily, and so she demanded that Christian and Helena reside in England and near to her own residences. 

According to Jerrold M. Packard in his Victoria’s Daughters (New York. St Martin’s. 1998. pages 112-113, the Prusso-Danish war “… would have a profound impact on Queen Victoria’s third daughter as the Augustenburg family became a second casualty of all this Realpolitik. A younger son of the Augustenburgs, who were a branch of the Schleswig-Holstein family, Christian recognized that his family were no longer practical candidates for a throne of the duchies. This signified that his own future was pretty much bereft of recognizable landmarks, and specifically that he was free from any dynastic responsibility at home. Yet even with the issue of Christian’s political liabilities largely obviated by his family’s loss to Bismark’s scheming and Prussia’s strength, his own personal lack of desirability would drive a wedge between members of Lenchen’s family.” 

Even so, two years passed before Victoria finally agreed to Helena’s joining to Christian. It took place on 5 July 1866 in private chapel at Windsor Castle. Christian who had recently been naturalized wore the uniform of a major general in the British Army, indicating his appropriate station as the son-in-law of the Queen. Victoria gave the bride away. 


“Princess Helena of the United Kingdom,” Wikipedia

“Victoria’s Children, Part 5: Princess Helena,” Nineteen Teen

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Toilets, or the Lack Thereof, for Georgian Women

512J3dWI1KL._UY250_.jpg In my books, I often have my characters address their personal needs. For example, in A Touch of Grace, my heroine is working in the ladies’ retiring room as a seamstress at a ball, but as she is pregnant, she must sneak around to use the chamber pot that was meant for titled ladies. The heroine, Grace is married to a marquis, but she has run away from her husband and cannot let anyone know her identity. 

But what excuse could a Regency guest have for excusing himself or herself during a supper party? Would he or she say they were going to “freshen up”? What would a man say, and where did he go? Believe it or not, some sources say the men never left the dining room but relieved themselves behind a screen in the same room. I do not know about you, but the thought of sitting at a table and listening to someone urinate behind a screen while I attempted to eat my meal (and not counting the obvious smell) would be a real turn off for me, but I am realistic enough to understand the necessity of such crude designs in the Regency period. If any one seriously had the need to leave the table for personal reasons, a footman would be sent to escort them to the proper facility. 

Ladies did not want to draw attention to themselves leaving the table to go to the toilet. I think most waited until the ladies left the room so the men could enjoy their drink and smoking and then went. The men often used the pot  in the room, so we have heard, as soon as the ladies left. 

I have often heard that women ate and drank very little at balls and social functions because they could not easily discover a means to relieve themselves at these events that lasted for hours on end.

Underwear: Here’s the shocker – women wore very little in the way of underwear as we would define them. (Panties/Knickers) Yes, they wore a chemise, slips, corsets and short-stays but should a stiff breeze kick-up, it is highly likely that our Regency sisters felt a distinct draft-in-the-aft.

Leaving the dining table was very poor manners indeed. I remember reading that the astronomer Tycho Brahe died after a dinner party because his bladder burst. Brahe was long thought to have died from a bladder infection after politeness kept him from excusing himself to use the bathroom during a royal banquet in October 1601, causing his bladder to rupture.

I always assumed it was one of those strict codes of behaviour that dictated not leaving the table once the meal was served, and that’s why men and ladies separated right after the meal, not just for cigars and port, but also for that all-important chamber pot hidden in the cupboard. I assume the ladies had a somewhat more delicate solution. 


image by Francois Boucher


What was a Bourdaloue? – All Things Georgian

From Joana Major and Sarah Murden’s All Things Georgian blog, we learn, “Just prior to the Georgian era, they did have the chamber pot, but that was not very practical to be used in public so they devised an object known as a ‘Bourdaloue’. Personally, we think that the Bourdaloue would have been more discreet to be honest. Rumour was (as no proof seems to exist) that the name of the object evolved courtesy of a Jesuit priest, Louis Bourdaloue who gave such long speeches that could last for hours that ladies needed to relieve themselves.  Another school of thought is that they came about as a result of women not wishing to miss a second of his amazing sermons, either way, whether true or not the ‘Bourdaloue’ evolved.  Certainly he gave his name to part of a hat* which seems far more acceptable. It also seems feasible that the modern word ‘loo’ came from this term, but again we have no proof of this….” It was a boat shaped vessel with a raised lip at one end and handle at the other, a bit like a gravy boat and the maid would be expected to carry this for her mistress and likewise empty it after use. If you didn’t have a maid then you dealt with this yourself. Apparently it was designed to be used standing up, possibly not that easy to use then!”

A 2013 article in The Daily Mail entitled “Did Mr. Darcy Have Bad Breath?” tells us something of Austen’s time period, “What of other toilet habits? Once again you needed stronger stomachs than we possess to get through the common daily atmosphere. Men, even women, caught short would use alleyways in which to relieve themselves.

Even indoors, it was common to keep a ‘jordan’ or chamber pot in the corner of public rooms. Privies, outside in the yard, were known as ‘necessaries’. There was no toilet paper on sale. They were supplied with household scrap paper, and even leaves and moss were pressed into service. Flush toilets which worked were introduced as late as 1778, by Joseph Bramah, but sewers were often not handy. Eventually, someone had to empty commodes and privies into buckets for collection by night soil men with carts. Arrangements in large towns were more sophisticated, but their streets were made noisome by the sheer weight of horse dung. This led to the need for crossing sweepers who would, for money, clear you a path to cross the street. It was hard to take a droppings-free walk in towns, hence the prevalence of foot scrapers at doorways. The rich, when not in carriages, employed sedan chairs carried by two chair men fore and aft.”

Bathroom etiquette is strange and interesting. Apparently ladies in the Georgian courts were not allowed to leave the royal presence unless dismissed, which could take a very long time. They wore cups strapped under their gowns so they could go while standing in place. It kind of explains those hooped skirts. Still, think how carefully you’d have to move so your cup did not, as they say, runneth over. 

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