Thursday, June 2, 2011


"Did the Students of 1898 Spoon?"

The 1920s wisdom of Dr. Eliza Taylor Ransom.

But wait, what is spooning? Unfortunately, she doesn't clarify. Because it can't just be ... spooning? Whatever it is, it may solve divorce.

Dr. Ransom also speaks on the benefit of revealing clothes, and, sort of vampirically, on the beauty of a man's neck.

Take off your collar, man, and teach us how to spoon.

[Found at Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library and passed along by Kim. Thanks, Kim!]

39 Comments / Post A Comment


Actually Edith, spooning is an old fashioned term for making out.

Edith Zimmerman

@saythatscool Ah!


@saythatscool: It can also refer to the serving of gravy.

Ozzie, The Last Hairbender

@notandersoncooper Well, if that's what you want to call it.

space opera

When Ray Kurzweil figures out how to bring people back from the dead, I hereby nominate Dr. Eliza T as our newest writer and "Ask a Doctor/Former Dead Lady" columnist.

Pound of Salt

@aleanbluezither He's a jackass to your friends? Doff him like a superfluous stitch!
He’s always texting during dinner and is otherwise rude? His hideous collar is making his brain stupid. Bury it. Bury the collar and let fresh air strike his chest.


@aleanbluezither I think someone should just channel her and write it anyway! Death be damned!


@aleanbluezither I think it'd have to be Ask a "Noted Woman Physician"/Former Dead Lady.


I want a pneumonia blouse! It sounds like a "must-have" for the summer wardrobe. And here I was thinking I just needed more sundresses.


@punkahontas http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Edwardian-Pneumonia-Blouse-/140556451486


I'm going to start calling the boyfriend my "helpmate", to be particularly emphasized when it's time to load the dishwasher after dinner.


I love old newspapers! They are just so delightfully random. I had a summer job once that involved digging through newspaper archives from the 1850s for a professor and I read all sorts of great articles - how to choose a dress for your complexion, how to start a row with your wife, serialized novels, lots of little life advice adages (especially about how procrastination was the devil's work, which I found especially ironic as I was reading articles totally unrelated to the research I was supposed to be doing). Anyway, best job ever. Love this.


Via OED:

a. intr. To lie close together, to fit into each other, in the manner of spoons.
1887 Harper's Mag. Apr. 781/2 Two persons in each bunk, the sleepers ‘spooning’ together, packed like sardines.
1894 Outing 24 343/2 The precision with which we could ‘spoon’ that sad night was truly beautiful to behold.

b. trans. To lie with (a person) spoon-fashion.
1887 Harper's Mag. Dec. 49/2 ‘Now spoon me.’ Sterling stretched himself out on the warm flag-stone, and the boy nestled up against him.


6. intr.
a. To make love, esp. in a sentimental or silly fashion. colloq.
1831 Lady Granville Lett. (1894) II. 77 The billiard room, in which they spooned.
1864 G. Meredith Emilia xxxvi, You might have—pardon the slang—spooned, who knows?
1872 C. J. Lever Ld. Kilgobbin lxxix, So long as a man spoons, he can talk of his affection.
1898 J. B. Wollocombe From Morn till Eve vii. 84 Many danced, while others spooned under the influence of the summer moonlight.


But I bet the following contemporary usage brought forth sniggering:

7. trans. To court or pay addresses to (a person), esp. in a sentimental manner.
1877 ‘Mrs. Forrester’ Mignon I. 252 It was pleasant to spoon her when there was nothing else to do.
1894 K. Grahame Pagan Papers 148 When a Fellow was spooning his sister once, they used to employ him to carry notes.


@garge Whoa whoa whoa! Whom is spooning whom in the billiard room? Scandalous!!


Whoever set the A/C in my office today totally got the "Mollycoddle Nation" memo. You could hang meat in here. Dr. Ransom would approve, though she might insist I take off my jacket and let the glacial air get at my neck.


"It's an actual fact that stiff collars are ruinous to the activity of the brain. They prevent good blood from getting into the brain, and bad blood from getting out." = SCIENCE


@jacqueline, I loved that line so hard, all I could think was "Youll be 110 times sicker with a stiff collar around your neck. Its just a fact."


@theinvisiblecunt Ha! I've never seen that. Also, RIP Rich Cronin.


Is it curious to anyone else that this expert in romantic matters has the surname of 'Ransom'?


'Strong, forceful, positive, active and animal' -- those are words in search of a teeshirt.


It is disturbing how sexual slang can evolve. The changed meaning of 'making love' creates particularly jarring moments. Like in Emma when Mr Elton starts 'making violent love' to Emma in a carriage. Should this slippage continue, presumably one day 'flirting' and 'holding hands' will mean 'getting naked' and 'doing it wild'.

This does not explain, however, what was going on between Sterling and the boy on the warm flagstone!!


@TrilbyLane Eh, a BJ is basically a kiss these days. Kids! Get off my lawn!


@TrilbyLane A sortof inverse example from my time out West...

Mormon lady I worked with about her unmarried Mormon son and a date:
They hooked up last night.

That cannot mean the same thing I think it means. Does it?

Fun fact! In Utah, instead of saying "hang out" they say "hook up". When I explained what the rest of the world meant by hooking up she looked scandalized.


Wait till she finds out what shaking hands with the bishop really means.


I was with Dr Ransom up until she said that hats are useless! USELESS?! Dr Ransom, did you not know that an ovary picture frame has contributed over 130,000 US Dollars? Surely we can agree that a good hat is a part of society, a valued member?! For it has been my habit to go out upon the beach, in my pnuemonia shirt and I wear a hat as large as an umbrella, and thusly, my cheeks will are healthy pink, not cancerous red!


@E, with that staunchly utilitarian perspective on clothing, Dr. Ransom sounds like she belongs in a 21st century IT department somewhere defending the lack of superfluous stitches on her cargo shorts and thinkgeek tee


Yes but how many of them forked?

Jennifer Bridges@facebook

Pretty sure Dr. Ransom just wants to see more mens' necks. And who can blame her.


Oh god, don't let Sarah Palin get ahold of the phrase "Mollycoddle Nation"

raised amongst catalogs

Look, I'm no doctor but even I know that a cold shower totally eliminates a girl's desire for a good rub in the morning.

Nicola Hill@facebook

My favorite part about the Betsy~Tacy books is the way the Ray girls get so indignant about boys thinking they are "spoony".


My favorite part are the description of the hairstyles! I wanted Betsy's pompadour and debutante slouch so much it hurt.


Trying to figure out what the hell "petting" occupied way too much of my youth. Ann Landers, Dear Abby and 50s era teen books were always talking about "necking and petting." Whatever it was, no one was supposed to be doing it.

but fuck it, i'm married now, i am going to go neck and pet and spoon with my husband--maybe all at the same time.



It's oddly nice to know that the "Crazy Sex Stuff All the Kids Are Doing Now, Let's Cite Some Statistics and Say Why This is Good or Bad" article is a century-old tradition at least. It's practically a Madlibs.


Required reading from the era. We aren't the only people who find/found this stuff hilarious:



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