Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reflections of Times Past in Literature

Below is an excerpt from a piece titled "Our City Niece" published in Peterson Magazine ©1889. I've left the spellings as it was written, in part because I believe the author of the work was trying to convey the speech of their character. What I find interesting in this tidbit is a few things. The terms for salesladies or store gals and the question that the lower income worker asks at the end of this excerpt. Enjoy!

They dassen't walk up and shake hands with a decently-dressed respectable, woman because she ain't '-in our set." I'm speakin' of the rich ones, you see.
And the workin' wimmen — they ain't independent as they mite be. They. do want to foller their rich sisters—so they buy cheap stuff for dresses, and then git 'em made up with all the trimmin' the fashion allows; wear cotton velvet, when cashmere or suthin' else would look so much better.
Then they has their "set" to go in as well as the tony ones. The gal who stands behind the counter in the big dry-goods stores rigs out in all the fine feathers she can command; and, if a woman cums in to trade that ain't got up in style, she gits looked over with a cool stare, and is waited on with a sort of I-don't-carewhether-you-are-suited-or-not air — or, mebbe, snubbed outright.
These store-gals—or "salesladies," as they like to be called—look down on the shop-gals and factory-operatives, and they, in turn, snub and slight the honest pure-minded gals that do housework for a livin'. I wish sumbody would ixplain why one kind of work ain't jest as honorable as another, providin' it is honest respectable labor.

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