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Re: Elsie Dinsmore ?

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  • David Lenander
    I ve been sick and busy and haven t kept up with this list very well, but a few years ago we had some discussion of Elsie Dinsmore in _Once Upon a Time_, the
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 6, 1999
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      I've been sick and busy and haven't kept up with this list very well, but a few
      years ago we had some discussion of Elsie Dinsmore in _Once Upon a Time_, the
      children's fantasy apa (no, we didn't think Elsie was a fantasy, at least not in
      our usual sense). Like Bernie, I liked the book when I read it in about 5th
      grade. I did read a couple of the sequels, too. My grandmother had recommended
      them, along with a book called _Merrylips_, which was a historical set in
      Commonwealth England, about a sweet little girl. I also liked Burnett's _A
      Little Princess_ and _Little Lord Fauntleroy_. But those books had a lot more
      character than Elsie, I'm afraid. I read most of the Beany Malone books about
      that time, too. I never could really believe in Elsie, though, because she was
      impossibly just too put upon and too good through it all. And all of her
      relatives, except for one cousin, were too uniformly horrible. Also, _Five Little
      Peppers_ (was there only one of those?).

      Berni Phillips wrote:

      > From: Berni Phillips <bernip@...>
      >
      > ERATRIANO@... wrote:
      >
      > > My question today is, has anyone heard of the Elsie Dinsmore books by Martha
      > > Finley?
      > >
      > > Lizzie "Princess Airhead"
      >
      > (My e-mail connection would send for a day, so I'm posting a bit late on
      > this.)
      >
      > I hesitate to admit this, but I loved _Elsie Dinsmore_ as a girl. I
      > felt akin to her in her spiritual struggles. What she was trying to be . . . .
    • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
      David has about given the wrapup on =Elsie Dinsmore.= I went back to the site I gave, btw, and it only gets through Chapters 3 and 4. Too bad. I was
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 6, 1999
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        David has about given the wrapup on =Elsie Dinsmore.= I went back to the
        site I gave, btw, and it only gets through Chapters 3 and 4. Too bad. I was
        looking for the famous chapter where Elsie sits on the piano stool, obeying
        her father as far as possible but refusing to play on a Sunday, until she
        faints and falls off (!) This made a great impression on my mother, who
        recounted it to me, and also on Cornelia Otis Skinner, who in her
        autobiographical reminiscences remembers trying a similar scene on her actor
        parents, who were amiably mystified but tolerant.

        I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag. It has
        spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome. Unfortunately,
        in the first book, they really overcome them all (by being adopted into the
        family of a rich gentleman) and the sequels never measure up, in my opinion.
        To answer his question, there were several of these published, but most are
        o.p., and I only found two of them at the library when I got in the mood to
        look up the Peppers this summer. However, one of those I found answers the
        interesting question, "Who did Polly Pepper marry?" -- and I can also give
        those who haven't read the sequels the interesting information that Mrs
        Pepper, too, married again.

        I owned the first book as a child and read it with great interest, being an
        only child myself and not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of
        hardscrabble poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS. Also I was too young
        to get a lot of the period references, and indeed, I am still mystified as to
        why an "old boot top" should be one of Davy Pepper's prize possessions, how
        cut-up leather could be used to mend a stove, or why, in a New England state
        (Massachusetts, if I recall) where public education was perhaps more
        prevalent than anywhere else in the country (and all praise to New England
        for that), Mrs. Pepper keeps moaning on about not having any money for her
        children to go to school.

        Mary S
      • Berni Phillips
        ERATRIANO@aol.com wrote: [re Elsie] ... I haven t read it in 30 years. I honestly can t remember how it ends. I just remember her earnest attempts at
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 6, 1999
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          ERATRIANO@... wrote: [re Elsie]

          > It had occurred to me, despite my difficulties with the book, that since the
          > characterization seems good, it might appeal to someone if it hooked them
          > right. I just can't deal with the constantly-beaten-on-poor-little-girl
          > thing, which come to think of it is probably just as much "period" as
          > "religious," perhaps even more so... I am struggling on determinedly during
          > my little snips of reading time. So does it get better?

          I haven't read it in 30 years. I honestly can't remember how it ends.
          I just remember her earnest attempts at perfection, her uncle being
          younger than her, and things like trying to write with the old-style
          pens without making any blots to spoil her pages. It's more the
          atmosphere I remember. I can't recall the plot at all.

          Berni
        • Berni Phillips
          ... Indeed. (I also read a couple of the Pepper books.) What mystified me about money and school was _Girl of the Limberlost_ and trying to raise money to go
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 6, 1999
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            Stolzi@... wrote:

            > I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag. It has
            > spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome.
            >
            > I owned the first book as a child and read it with great interest, being an
            > only child myself and not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of
            > hardscrabble poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS. Also I was too young
            > to get a lot of the period references, and indeed, I am still mystified as to
            > why an "old boot top" should be one of Davy Pepper's prize possessions, how
            > cut-up leather could be used to mend a stove, or why, in a New England state
            > (Massachusetts, if I recall) where public education was perhaps more
            > prevalent than anywhere else in the country (and all praise to New England
            > for that), Mrs. Pepper keeps moaning on about not having any money for her
            > children to go to school.
            >
            > Mary S

            Indeed. (I also read a couple of the Pepper books.) What mystified me
            about money and school was _Girl of the Limberlost_ and trying to raise
            money to go to high school! Her mother, who was poor, considered it a
            luxury.

            Berni
          • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
            I am rather aghast at Christian homeschoolers of today exposing their children to Elsie Dinsmore s Mammy Chloe, who wears a spotless turban (of course) and is
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 7, 1999
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              I am rather aghast at Christian homeschoolers of today exposing their
              children to Elsie Dinsmore's Mammy Chloe, who wears a spotless turban (of
              course) and is given to remarks like "Bress de Lawd, Ah knows Jesus loves
              =me=, too, jes' the same as if Ah wuz white." Mammy Chloe can't even pore
              over the Bible herself - Elsie has to read it to her.

              I suppose the Girl of the Limberlost needed money for suitable clothes and
              also transportation - didn't she live a long way from the high school? And I
              think maybe in the old days you had to buy your textbooks even if the
              education was free.

              We were given ours, but had to turn 'em in at the end of the year, so some
              got more battered books than others. We were also given, and required to
              use, a set of fold-and-stick brown paper book covers printed up by the State;
              I find that graven in my memory forever is the lead motto (for State Parks, I
              guess) "Education and Recreation in the School of the Great Outdoors."

              Never thought 'til now of the irony of reading this over and over as we sat
              firmly imprisoned in the School of =Indoors=.

              Mary S
            • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
              Since we are wandering somewhat afield just now, I ll mention F. Marion Crawford. Just finished an oldie I picked up in a local antique barn for 5 bucks. It s
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 7, 1999
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                Since we are wandering somewhat afield just now, I'll mention F. Marion
                Crawford.

                Just finished an oldie I picked up in a local antique barn for 5 bucks. It's
                THE WHITE SISTER by F. Marion Crawford, pub. 1912. Such a sentimental and
                romantical brew, ala =Beau Geste=! The frontispiece is a picture of some
                well-known actress of the time in the role of The White Sister.

                Looked up Crawford on the 'net and it turns out he is remembered today only
                for shockers, ghost-stories and the like ("The Screaming Skull" is one of his
                top titles). One of the pages where I learned this is a set of links with
                the engaging title "Gaslight Fiction" - this seems to cover everything from
                shlockmeisters like Crawford to =real= writers of the period such as
                Turgenev, Chekhov, or de Maupassant. I wonder who he was. "Francis Marion"
                are two good first names for a South Carolinian.

                Mary S
              • WendellWag@xxx.xxx
                In a message dated 12/6/99 5:07:13 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com ... Is this the book I think I remember? I probably read this somewhere between
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 8, 1999
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                  In a message dated 12/6/99 5:07:13 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@...
                  writes:

                  > I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag.
                  > It has spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome.
                  > Unfortunately, in the first book, they really overcome them all (by
                  > being adopted into the family of a rich gentleman) and the sequels
                  > never measure up, in my opinion. . . I owned the first book as a
                  > child and read it with great interest, being an only child myself and
                  > not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of hardscrabble
                  > poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS.

                  Is this the book I think I remember? I probably read this somewhere between
                  1960 and 1962. By that point it was way out of fashion, so it was probably
                  something that my mother had read as a child and had sitting around. Even
                  then I found the idea that your best hope of getting out of poverty was to be
                  adopted by a rich man to be strange. I can't call my family poor, more like
                  struggling working-class. My father made enough working a job and a half
                  that we might have been middle-class if my parents hadn't been silly enough
                  to have eight kids.

                  If I'm remembering the right book, I found it funny when the kids in that
                  book talked about how "someday our ship will come in". I had never heard
                  that phrase before (in the meaning of "someday we'll make our fortune"). I
                  thought that was hilarious. I remember telling my mother, "Mom, our ship
                  just came in. Unfortunately, it hit the side of the pier and sank." Boy, I
                  was one snide, cynical little kid. But then I'm also one snide, cynical
                  adult.
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