Exercise in the Bedroom, 1905

Recently I purchased a couple of tiny, old magazines simply because they looked interesting and I had never heard of that title before. They were called “Beauty and Health,” and both were published in 1905. However, when I looked closer at one of the covers, I noticed the print on the very bottom which stated: “Physical Culture Publishing Co., Physical Culture City, Spotswood P.O., N.J.” Immediately the magazines grew much more fascinating to me, because I actually live very close to the town of Spotswood and had never heard of this Physical Culture city!

Spotswood, NJ, where Physical Culture City was located in 1905

Location of Spotswood, NJ, where Physical Culture City was founded in 1905. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Physical Culture City

A matter of a little time searching the internet and I soon found out that there was indeed an actual “Physical Culture City” in my area, founded in the year 1905 and in existence for only a short time. It seems that this group of people got together, under the founder Bernarr Macfadden, in order to live a natural, healthy life featuring a vegetarian diet and a lot of exercise, no drugs, and no tobacco. My local paper contained a short article about the group here where you can see a photo of the healthy-looking group with some of the members standing on each other’s shoulders!

The “Beauty and Health” magazines that I have were printed here in this city in Spotswood. There is a great picture of the publishing company building here, along with many other wonderful pictures on the Bernarr Macfacden website. In the end, Physical Culture City only lasted about three years and ended amidst various lawsuits as well as complaints that the residents dressed indecently outside the community (apparently this referred to the bathing suits and bloomers they sometimes wore). It’s a very interesting story and one that I highly recommend reading more about if you are so inclined.

The Four Exercises Using Bedroom Furniture

However, in this entry I’ll be focusing on one particular article in the October, 1905 issue of Beauty and Health magazine. The article is called “Exercises for Building Internal Vital Power”, and is the “Eleventh of a Series of Valuable Articles by the Editor on How to Exercise With no Other Apparatus than Ordinary Bedroom Furniture.” That’s right, this article was penned by none other than Physical Culture City’s founder, Bernarr Macfadden. To me, the best part of the article are the wonderful photos of an Edwardian woman in a leotard (perhaps some of the “indecent attire” the community complained about!) doing the various exercises on her bed.

Macfadden starts out by stating that:

“…I am offering a few movements which I consider of great value, and are designed to build a vigorous condition of the internal functional system. Although beauty and strength of the exterior parts of the body is very desirable, and necessary, yet strength of the heart, lungs, and the entire digestive and functional system is after all of much more importance. Once may lose a leg or an arm, and still live, but one is absolutely dependent upon the important vital organs for every moment of life.”

Here now are the four exercises focused on in this article. They could be a good choice for exercise on a snow day when you’re stuck in the house anyway, or even to try out of mere curiosity to see how they work.

Exercises from 1905 using only your bedroom furniture.

EXERCISE No. 1 – Lie on your back across the bed, placing hands far back of the head and taking hold of the other edge of the bedstead with them. Now bring both feet together up and as far back as possible, as shown in the ilustration. The farther you carry this movement, the better, though be careful not to fall off the bed. Bring feet down and repeat the movement, continuing until tired.

Exercises from 1905 using only your bedroom furniture.

EXERCISE No. 2 - Lie face downward across the bed, the feet being held securely down by hooking them under a towel tied to the edge of the bed, as shown in photo. Place hands on hips, with head hanging far down over the edge of the bed, then raise head and shoulders as high as you can, to the position illustrated. Endeavor to raise still higher, and then repeat the entire movement, continuing until tired.

Exercises from 1905 using only your bedroom furniture.

EXERCISE No. 3 – Recline on the right side, bracing yourself by taking hold of the rods at the head of the bed, as illustrated above. Now with weight of the body entirely on feet and shoulder, raise the hips up sideways as high as possible, and repeat the movement until tired. Same movement on the left side. Another splendid exercise can be taken from the same position by keeping feet together, and knees straight, raising the feet up sideways as high as possible, repeating until tired. Same on other side.

Exercises from 1905 using only your bedroom furniture.

EXERCISE No. 4 - Assume position shown in photo, with back towards the bed, hands on edge, as illustrated, and feet about four feet away. Keeping the elbows and knees straight, first lower the hips as much as is convenient, then raise them to the position illustrated, or considerably higher, if possible. Repeat the movement until tired.

In closing, here are some more words from Macfadden from the article, concerning his view of what physical culture really means:

“True physical culture means not alone the development of the muscular system, but it also means the possession of pure blood, together with superior bodily health, all of which means the true happiness that comes of the possession of physical perfection allied to sound mentality. You will not only find life more satisfactory and enjoyable, through the medium of these exercises, but by improving the condition of the vital organs by which life is sustained, you will be able to live to a much greater age than otherwise.”


The Dangers of Wedding Horseplay, 1911

The problems caused by wedding horseplay in Edwardian times

“How Long are We Going to Tolerate This?”

“Some Pictures of Actual Examples of the Extent to Which the Silly Girl and the Masculine Fool are Carrying Their Vulgar Horseplay at Weddings.”

This alarming heading was found in the April 15, 1911 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal, an issue known as “The Bridal Number.” Inside are pages full of lovely Edwardian wedding attire for both the bride and her guests, some colorful candy and cake options, and thoughtful articles full of vintage advice to the bride.

But somewhere among those pages of more typical wedding content, I found the article that I am sharing with you now. Basically, this illustrated page served as a warning of how simple but thoughtless wedding horseplay could have unbelievably disastrous effects on the bridal couple. I can’t help but think that these examples are so out there that they had to have been created by a writer with a big imagination, but then again I can’t be positive.

The following are four of the illustrations from that page, all showing silly pranks with horrible outcomes:

The problems caused by wedding horseplay in Edwardian times

“Just some harmless (?) handfuls of rice thrown after a wedding carriage in Delaware. But some of the harmless rice struck the horses, which bolted. The bride was thrown out and was instantly killed, her head striking against a lamp-post. So harmless is rice-throwing!”

The problems caused by wedding horseplay in Edwardian times

“Thrown at a departing couple in New York in an automobile a shoe struck the glass, broke it, and a piece of the glass entered the eye of the bridegroom. The wedding journey was postponed, the bridegroom was taken to the hospital where it was found that he would permanently lose the sight of the injured eye. He has to go through the rest of his life with one eye, thanks to the joke of his friends.”

The problems caused by wedding horseplay in Edwardian times

“In Wisconsin a newly wedded couple were forcibly grabbed by their friends, their hands and feet tied, and were then placed in a crate locked with a padlock, marked ‘Live Stock,’ and put in the baggage compartment of a trolley car. It was over an hour before the bride and bridegroom could induce the motorman and the conductor, who were in the scheme, to release them by breaking the crate. By this time the bride was in such a nervous condition that the couple had to return home, and she was ill with nervous prostration for weeks at her mother’s home. Her physician writes: ‘I doubt if she will ever fully recover from the shock.’”

The problems caused by wedding horseplay in Edwardian times

“For trunks, carriages, etc., at weddings a favorite decoration is just a representation of the stork as is here illustrated, this one having been tacked on a bridal carriage in Ohio. Perhaps vulgarity reaches its limit with such representations, and yet they form a large part of the idea of fun of the vulgarians at weddings.”


Vintage Wedding Invitations and Postage

If you are planning a vintage style wedding, it can be difficult to find invitations and other accessories that have an authentic vintage design to them, and are not just a poor modern imitation of vintage style. I’ve chosen a few of my favorite vintage wedding invitations, post cards, and postage styles that really do say “vintage,” and you would be unlikely to see another bride using your exact items!

Vintage Travel 1920's French Riviera Wedding CardVintage Travel 1920′s French Riviera Wedding Card

Save The Date Postage StampSave The Date Postage Stamp

Vintage Pink Orchids on Modern Pink Stripes CardsVintage Pink Orchids on Modern Pink Stripes Cards

Vintage Edwardian Bride and Groom Postage StampVintage Edwardian Bride and Groom Postage Stamp

Ebony Vintage Gramophone Save the Date PostcardEbony Vintage Gramophone Save the Date Postcard

1900s Vintage Edwardian Wedding Shower Invitation1900s Vintage Edwardian Wedding Shower Invitation

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The Girl’s Good-Time Dress, 1913

This page from the September, 1913 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal featured what they called “good-time dresses.” I honestly have never heard this term used in vintage fashion before, but from looking at the illustrations it seems they are meant to be somewhat fancy and are made from soft, feminine materials.

vintage dresses from 1913

“It is not necessary to choose an expensive material in order to have an attractive gown for ‘good-time’ wear. The designs illustrated on this page will prove effective if made up in any soft fabric, be it silk, wool or cotton. The little dresses shown above (Nos. 7883 and 7876) will be lovely of crepe de chine or chiffon, though for economy’s sake cotton voile or silk muslin may be used just as effectively. Shadow or Bohemian lace and soft ribbons form the simple trimmings.”


“Brushing Up” on New Ways of Handling Housework, 1922

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

“Quite frequently, friends, when looking at my collection of cleaning brushes, ask, ‘How did you know what sizes and shapes to select?’ This always brings the mention of my one guiding point in their purchase – whenever a corner or crevice is difficult to reach in cleaning, I try to find a brush with bristles and a handle which will do the work. And I usually find the needed tool.”

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

The May 1922 issue of the Woman’s Home Companion magazine includes an article called “Brushing Up on New Ways of Handling Housework.” In it, the author explains about the numerous specialized brushes she uses to help clean and dust her house. The list seems inexhaustible – just trying to come up with a place where I could possibly store all of those brushes seems to negate any ease they would bring me in cleaning!

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

But to me the best part of the article is the charming little 1920′s style illustrations that fill the pages. The housekeeping flapper in her 1920′s bob holds up a different brush in every picture, and even uses one to dust off her phonograph records to “keep the music smooth and clear”! I can only wonder what great songs those records held.

To give you an idea of just how many different cleaning brushes we are talking about here, here is a list of the various accessories you’ll need for the daily dusting rounds – and keep in mind that this does not include floors, walls, kitchen, bathroom, which all need their own brushes too:

For the daily dusting rounds:
a. a duster with a 12-inch handle, with a brush composed of strands of treated coarse cotton threads.
b. an old-fashioned dust cloth – to apply furniture polish to the wood every two weeks.
c. a long, narrow brush with a flexible handle – to dust the radiator, sewing machine, chandeliers, dusting under pianos, bed springs, etc.
d. a small brush – to brush dust off of the door and window screeens.
e. a soft hair bristle brush – to dust velvt and velour upholstery.
f. a brush with curved ends – to remove the dust around buttons and tufted places on upholstered furniture.
g. a soft brush – to remove the dust from phonograph records, lamp shades, and delicate curtains.


using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

If you are interested in reading more about all the types of brushes and how best to use them, I have scanned the article in its entirety at the end of this entry (just click on the thumbnails).

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

Though this was an article about brushes, the author ends by admitting that they are not enough, in her opinion, to keep a house sufficiently clean on their own:

“Brushes, brooms, and vacuum sweepers are the great dusting tools. I do not consider either one or two of these types of appliances complete equipment, but with the three, there is little chance of much dust lingering in any home.”

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922

using brushes to make housework easier, 1922


Holiday Greetings! From Jell-O, 1929

“Ye Time-Honored cranberries, make way… For this gorgeous new cranberry dish! Different, from the first bite to the last quivery morsel that you round up on the last wisp of lettuce!”

I don’t know, that part about the “last quivery morsel” doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me. Yet I really enjoy this vintage ad from Jell-O. The colorful illustrations are great and the whole ad just seems very Christmas-y.

The holiday ad was found in the December 1929 issue of McCall’s magazine, and includes recipes for Cranberry Mold (besides Jell-O, made with celery, pineapple, cranberry sauce and lemon juice), Cider Jelly, Plum Pudding (this one actually contains Grape Nuts cereal!) and Bavarian Date Slices (with almonds, dates, and marshmallows).

A vintage Jell-O Christmas ad from 1929 with recipes

If you would like to try serving one of these old-fashioned Christmas Jell-O recipes, they are all fully provided in the ad above so just click on it to enlarge. Remember, as the ad claims,

“Everyone can eat Jell-O. It’s one of the easiest foods in the world to digest!”


Flowers you can plant for one dollar, 1912

“In each of these illustrations is shown the result obtained from a dollar wisely expended.”

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

A little bed of Irises and Alyssum is another means of adding beauty to the yard.

This one-page article, filled with beautiful illustrations, was found in the April 1912 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. The point of this article was to show “how those with little money can make their small yards attractive.”

“A single bed of well-chosen flowers will go far toward making the surroundings of the small house attractive, to say nothing of the pleasure it will add to the home life, the physical benefit derived from making and caring for the bed, the knowledge obtained from intimate association with the flowers, and the little touches of color which a few cut flowers add to the inside of the house. So much can be done with a dollar that there is little excuse for the absence of flowers from any house yard.”

Now on to the rest of the illustrations:

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

Ferns from the woods are a good setting for gladioluses

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

What is more beautiful than the great wealth of color seen in a fine bed of pansies?

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

The showy digitalia has made this rear entrance attractive

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

Zinnias, a solid mass of glowing red and orange, with a border of dainty sweet Alyssum

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

What a delightful picture can be obtained with Cannas bordered with Asters and Alyssum

Flowers for a small yard, 1912

Flowers for your small yard, from a vintage 1912 issue of the Ladies Home Journal


3 Sure Ways to a Man’s Heart, 1945

“Want him to say you’re wonderful when you make his favorite dishes? Then be fussy about ingredients as good cooks are.”

Vintage Crisco ad from 1945 with three sure ways to a man's heart

This vintage ad for Crisco shortening was found in the March 1945 issue of McCall’s. It assures the housewives reading the article that there are three sure ways to a man’s heart, and all three of them involve using Crisco.

It’s a fact! More women use Crisco than any other vegetable shortening. It gives you lighter cakes. And what pies! Crisco Pastry is flaky, tender every time! And foods fried crisp and light in Crisco are so digestible even children may eat ‘em!”

Naturally, the three ways presented are all recipes, two of them for desserts, and the other for fried food. If you’re interested in vintage, retro recipes from the 1940′s, I’d definitely give them a look! Here are the titles of the three recipes, which you can find in the ad:

1. Apple Pie with Toasted Cheese Top

2. Beef Roll-ups and Pan-Fried French Fries

3. Devil’s Food Cake

Vintage Crisco ad from 1945 with three sure ways to a man's heart


A Safe Guide in Buying a Gas Range, 1931

Vintage ad for the Magic Chef gas range, 1931

This ad for the Magic Chef, a gas range made by the American Stove Company, appeared in the October 1931 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal.

This ad shows off some of the latest models of the Magic Chef, and it seems that green was a popular color for kitchens in the early 1930′s as most of the ranges here feature that color.

We also read a list of some of the exclusive features that “have made Magic Chef the outstanding gas range of today”, and this includes “the famous Red Wheel Lorain Oven Heat Regulator which originated Time and Temperature Cooking; used by over 3500 schools and universities.”


How to Serve a Great Thanksgiving Dinner, 1920 Style

“…what really concerns us most is our own thanksgiving dinner – what we shall have and how we shall serve it.”

Thanksgiving tips and recipes from 1920

“New Fashions for an Old Feast” – “new” being 1920 style.

The November 1920 issue of McCall’s magazine was full of tips and tricks on how to come up with a Thanksgiving dinner you could be proud of. All of the traditional favorites of today were here – turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberries, stuffed celery – along with some more untypical Thanksgiving choices such as halibut, and oyster stew. Here I am going to share the highlights of the article entitled “New Fashions for an Old Feast”, and you just may find a new, old-fashioned way to prepare one of your holiday favorites.

1. The Turkey

“In buying a turkey, it is better never to buy one smaller than eight pounds. The bone in any one will weigh a godly amount, and more meat will be added for every pound after the frame is paid for.”

“Select a bird with an unbroken skin, pump dark legs and the cartilage at the tail end of the breast-bone soft and pliable. If you are fortunate enough to find a turkey with the wings on, be sure to save them. Cut them off carefully; rub a little salt at the joint; dry them, and a nicer brush to use in getting into corners could not be found.”

“Your turkey can be prepared the night before, even to the stuffing. The stuffing may be made of plain bread crumbs, or oysters or boiled chestnuts may be added. Allow three hours for a ten-pound turkey, basting it often.”

2. The Red, Red Cranberry

“The invariable accompaniment of the turkey is cranberries. There are many ways of serving these berries; cooked and moulded with the skins, or made into jelly; as a conserve with seeded raisins, walnuts and an orange; or frozen as a frappe. An invariable rule for cooking the moulded berries, and one easy to remember, is this: Half as much sugar as berries; half as much water as sugar. Boil ten minutes covered, then pour into a mould which has been rinsed in cold water.”

Thanksgiving tips and recipes from 1920

Guinea Hens Ready for the Roasting

3. The First Course

“For the first course, the suggestions are many. Raw oysters, oyster cocktail, clams or grapefruit are fine appetizers. Dainty canapes with chopped olives, piminentos, cream cheese, anchovy or caviar may be combined, making a delicious course.”

“A clear soup should always be served with a heavy dinner, but many prefer to omit the first course and serve a cream soup.”

4. The Fish Course

“For the fish course, halibut turbans or fish cooked in scallop shells are very dainty.”

5. The Turkey and Vegetables

“Then would come the turkey and vegetables. For the starchy vegetable – potatoes, mashed and beaten with a little milk and butter, well seasoned, put in a buttered baking dish and browned in the oven are delicious.”

6. Thanksgiving Salads

“Some unusual salads are celery with red and green peppers, large red apples hollowed out and filled, white cherries with the pit replaced by a bit of salted pecan nut, and tomatoes, their peel turned back like rose petals.”

Thanksgiving tips and recipes from 1920

A Tomato with its Peel turned back like Rose Petals


7. Thanksgiving Desserts

“The most popular of Thanksgiving desserts is flaky pie with a lucious rich filling – mince, apple or pumpkin. Excellent pumpkin can be purchased in cans. Another delicious dessert is New England pudding made of crackers, molasses, eggs, raisins and spices and served with a sauce. This does not trespass on the plum puddings which must be kept for Christmas. Ice-cream or ices are, of course, approriate.”

“Thanksgiving sweets and relishes are legion but nuts must always be present. Stuffed figs and dates, candied orange, lemon or grapefruit peel are more suitable than ready-made candies.
All kinds of pickles and jellies have their place, too.”

8. Drinks

“For a drink, nothing is more appropriate than sweet cider or grape juice.
Perfectly made black coffee should always be the grand finale of the feast.”

Thanksgiving tips and recipes from 1920

The Complete Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, 1920

Here is a list of all the recipes that are provided in this article. So if you would like to try any of them, be sure to click on the thumbnail link to the complete article below.

Pumpkin Pie
Jack O’Lantern Canapes
Stuffed Celery
Turkey or Guinea Hen Stuffing
Thanksgiving Pudding
Baked Onions
Frozen Cranberries
Halibut Turbans

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving tips and recipes from 1920