Click here to Download Buttered Side Down PDF Book by Edna Ferber Language English having PDF Size 1.1 MB and No of Pages 94.
Any one who has ever written for the magazines (nobody could devise a more sweeping opening; it includes the iceman who does a humorous article on the subject of his troubles, and the neglected wife next door, who journalizes) knows that a story the scene of which is not New York is merely junk.
Buttered Side Down PDF Book by Edna Ferber
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Take Fifth Avenue as a framework, pad it out to five thousand words, and there you have the ideal short story. Consequently I feel a certain timidity in confessing that I do not know Fifth Avenue from Hester Street when I see it, because I’ve never seen it. It has been said that from the latter to the former is a ten-year journey, from which I have gathered that they lie some miles apart.
As for Forty-second Street, of which musical comedians carol, I know not if it be a fashionable shopping thoroughfare or a factory district. A confession of this kind is not only good for the soul, but for the editor. It saves him the trouble of turning to page two. This is a story of Chicago, which is a first cousin of New York, although the two are not on chummy terms.
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It is a story of that part of Chicago which lies east of Dearborn Avenue and south of Division Street, and which may be called the Nottingham curtain district. In the Nottingham curtain district every front parlor window is embellished with a “Rooms With or Without Board” sign. The curtains themselves have mellowed from their original department-store-basement-white to a rich.
Deep tone of Chicago smoke, which has the notorious London variety beaten by several shades. Block after block the two-story-and-basement houses stretch, all grimy and gritty and looking sadly down upon the five square feet of mangy grass forming the pitiful front yard of each. Now and then the monotonous line of front stoops is broken by an outjutting basement delicatessen shop.
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But not often. The Nottingham curtain district does not run heavily to delicacies. It is stronger on creamed cabbage and bread pudding. Up in the third floor back at Mis’ Buck’s (elegant rooms $2.50 and up a week. Gents preferred) Gertie was brushing her hair for the night. One hundred strokes with a bristle brush.
Anyone who reads the beauty column in the newspapers knows that. There was something heroic in the sight of Gertie brushing her hair one hundred strokes before going to bed at night. Only a woman could understand her doing it. Gertie clerked downtown on State Street, in a gents’ glove department.
A gents’ glove department requires careful dressing on the part of its clerks, and the manager, in selecting them, is particular about choosing “lookers,” with especial attention to figure, hair, and finger nails. Gertie was a looker. Providence had taken care of that. But you cannot leave your hair and finger nails to Providence. They demand coaxing with a bristle brush and an orangewood stick. Buttered Side Down PDF Book
Somewhere in your story you must pause to describe your heroine’s costume. It is a ticklish task. The average reader likes his heroine well dressed. He is not satisfied with knowing that she looked like a tall, fair lily. He wants to be told that her gown was of green crepe, with lace ruffles that swirled at her feet.
Writers used to go so far as to name the dressmaker; and it was a poor kind of a heroine who didn’t wear a red velvet by Worth. But that has been largely abandoned in these days of commissions. Still, when the heroine goes out on the terrace to spoon after dinner (a quaint old English custom for the origin of which see any novel by the “Duchess.”
The average reader wants to know what sort of a filmy wrap she snatches up on the way out. He demands a description, with as many illustrations as the publisher will stand for, of what she wore from the bedroom to the street, with full stops for the ribbons on her robe de nuit, and the buckles on her ballroom slippers. Buttered Side Down PDF Book
Half the poor creatures one sees flattening their noses against the shop windows are authors getting a line on the advance fashions. Suppose a careless writer were to dress his heroine in a full-plaited skirt only to find, when his story is published four months later, that full-plaited skirts have been relegated to the dim past!
I started to read a story once. It was a good one. There was in it not a single allusion to brandy-and-soda, or divorce, or the stock market. The dialogue crackled. The hero talked like a live man. It was a shipboard story, and the heroine was charming so long as she wore her heavy ulster. But along toward evening she blossomed forth in a yellow gown, with a scarlet poinsettia at her throat.
I quit her cold. Nobody ever wore a scarlet poinsettia; or if they did, they couldn’t wear it on a yellow gown. Or if they did wear it with a yellow gown, they didn’t wear it at the throat. Scarlet poinsettias aren’t worn, anyhow. To this day I don’t know whether the heroine married the hero or jumped overboard. You see, one can’t be too careful about clothing one’s heroine. Buttered Side Down PDF Book
I hesitate to describe Sophy Epstein’s dress. You won’t like it. In the first place, it was cut too low, front and back, for a shoe clerk in a downtown loft. It was a black dress, near-princess in style, very tight as to fit, very short as to skirt, very sleazy as to material. It showed all the delicate curves of Sophy’s under-fed, girlish body, and Sophy didn’t care a bit.
Its most objectionable feature was at the throat. Collarless gowns were in vogue. Sophy’s daring shears had gone a snip or two farther. They had cut a startlingly generous V. To say that the dress was elbow-sleeved is superfluous. I have said that Sophy clerked in a downtown loft. Sophy sold “sample” shoes at two-fifty a pair.
And from where you were standing you thought they looked just like the shoes that were sold in the regular shops for six. When Sophy sat on one of the low benches at the feet of some customer, tugging away at a refractory shoe for a would-be small foot, her shameless little gown exposed more than it should have. Buttered Side Down PDF Book
But few of Sophy’s customers were shocked. They were mainly chorus girls and ladies of doubtful complexion in search of cheap and ultra footgear, and—to use a health term—hardened by exposure. “But they didn’t have a hitter in the bunch,” went on Ivy. “And not a man in the team could run.
That’s why they’re tail-enders. Just the same, that man on the mound was a wizard, and if he had one decent player to give him some support——” Well, the thing came to a climax. One evening, two weeks before the close of the season, Ivy put on her hat and announced that she was going downtown to mail her letters.
“Mail your letters in the daytime,” growled Papa Keller. “I didn’t have time to-day,” answered Ivy. “It was a thirteen inning game, and it lasted until six o’clock.” It was then that Papa Keller banged the heavy fist of decision down on the library table. “This thing’s got to stop!” he thundered. “I won’t have any girl of mine running the streets with a ball player, understand? Buttered Side Down PDF Book Download
Now you quit seeing this seventy-five-dollars-amonth bush leaguer or leave this house. I mean it.” “All right,” said Ivy, with a white-hot calm. “I’ll leave. I can make the grandest kind of angel-food with marshmallow icing, and you know yourself my fudges can’t be equaled. He’ll be playing in the major leagues in three years.
Why just yesterday there was a strange man at the game—a city man, you could tell by his hat-band, and the way his clothes were cut. He stayed through the whole game, and never took his eyes off Rudie. I just know he was a scout for the Cubs.” “Probably a hardware drummer, or a fellow that Schlachweiler owes money to.”
Lavy began to pin on her hat. A scared look leaped into Papa Keller’s eyes. He looked a little old, too, and drawn, at that minute. He stretched forth a rather tremulous hand. “Ivy-girl,” he said. “What?” snapped Ivy. “Your old father’s just talking for your own good. You’re breaking your ma’s heart. You and me have been good pals, haven’t we?” Buttered Side Down PDF Book Download
“Yes,” said Ivy, grudgingly, and without looking up. “Well now, look here. I’ve got a proposition to make to you. The season’s over in two more weeks. The last week they play out of town. Then the boys’ll come back for a week or so, just to hang around town and try to get used to the idea of leaving us. Then they’ll scatter to take up their winter jobs-cutting ice, most of ’em,” he added, grimly.
“Mr. Schlachweiler is employed in a large establishment in Slatersville, Ohio,” said Ivy, with dignity. “He regards baseball as his profession, and he cannot do anything that would affect his pitching arm.” All of those ladies who end their conversation with you by wearily suggesting that you go down to the basement to find what you seek, do not receive a meager seven dollars a week as a reward for their efforts.
Neither are they all obliged to climb five weary flights of stairs to reach the dismal little court room which is their home, and there are several who need not walk thirty-three blocks to save carfare, only to spend wretched evenings washing out handkerchiefs and stockings in the cracked little washbowl, while one ear is cocked for the stealthy tread of the Lady Who Objects. Buttered Side Down PDF Book Download
The earnest compiler of working girls’ budgets would pass Effie Bauer hurriedly by. Effie’s budget bulged here and there with such pathetic items as hand-embroidered blouses, thick club steaks, and parquet tickets for Maude Adams. That you may visualize her at once I may say that Effie looked twenty-four—from the rear (all women do in these days of girlish simplicity in hats and tailor-mades.
Her skirts never sagged, her shirtwaists were marvels of plainness and fit, and her switch had cost her sixteen dollars, wholesale (a lady friend in the business). Oh, there was nothing tragic about Effie. She had a plump, assured style, a keen blue eye, a gift of repartee, and a way of doing her hair so that the gray at the sides scarcely showed at all.
Also a knowledge of corsets that had placed her at the buying end of that important department at Spiegel’s. Effie knew to the minute when coral beads went out and pearl beads came in, and just by looking at her blouses you could tell when Cluny died and Irish was born. Meeting Effie on the street, you would have put her down as one of the many well-dressed. Buttered Side Down PDF Book Download
Prosperous looking women shoppers—if you hadn’t looked at her feet. Veteran clerks and policemen cannot disguise their feet. Effie Bauer’s reason for not marrying when a girl was the same as that of most of the capable, wise-eyed, good-looking women one finds at the head of departments. She had not had a chance. If Effie had been as attractive at twenty as she was at—there, we won’t betray confidences.
Still, it is certain that if Effie had been as attractive when a young girl as she was when an old girl, she never would have been an old girl and head of Spiegel’s corset department at a salary of something very comfortably over one hundred and twenty-five a month (and commissions). Effie had improved with the years, and ripened with experience.
She knew her value. At twenty she had been pale, anaemic and bony, with a startled-faun manner and bad teeth. Years of saleswomanship had broadened her, mentally and physically, until she possessed a wide and varied knowledge of that great and diversified subject known as human nature. She knew human nature all the way from the fifty-nine-cent girdles to the twenty-five-dollar madeto-orders. Buttered Side Down PDF Book Free
And if the years had brought, among other things, a certain hardness about the jaw and a line or two at the corners of the eyes, it was not surprising. You can’t rub up against the sharp edges of this world and expect to come out without a scratch or so. “Well, Effie,” Gabe said when the evening’s entertainment had reached the restaurant stage, “this is our twenty-fifth anniversary.
It’s our silver wedding, without the silver and the wedding. We’ll have a bottle of champagne. That makes it almost legal. And then suppose we finish up by having the wedding. The silver can be omitted.” Effie had been humming with the orchestra, holding a lobster claw in one hand and wielding the little two-pronged fork with the other.
She dropped claw, fork, and popular air to stare open-mouthed at Gabe. Then a slow, uncertain smile crept about her lips, although her eyes were still unsmiling. “Stop your joking, Gabie,” she said. “Some day you’ll say those things to the wrong lady, and then you’ll have a breach-of-promise suit on your hands.” Buttered Side Down PDF Book Free
“This ain’t no joke, Effie,” Gabe had replied. “Not with me it ain’t. As long as my mother selig lived I wouldn’t ever marry a Goy. It would have broken her heart. I was a good son to her, and good sons make good husbands, they say. Well, Effie, you want to try it out?”