Archives for category: pregnancy

Are you wondering why our diarist and her Mama are sewing little dresses and gowns when there was no way to tell if the baby was a boy or a girl?  Me too.

The answer is, families dressed little boys in dresses from infancy until 6 or so years old until as late as the 1930s.  And not manly little Carhartt dresses either, we’re talking skirts, and gowns with embroidery:

“Mon. Jan. 23

Mama cut out some skirts nighties & another flannel kimona for Baby & I tried my hand at Emb(roidery).

I called up Ruth & asked her to send down a couple chickens.

In p.m. we sewed a little while in Mrs. Andrews room & then went for a walk down town and looked at the big Sales.

Warm thru the day but nippy in evening.

Had soup & crackers for dinner.”

Here is a little guy in a dress, from around the turn of the century.Image:

Hard to imagine nowadays when expectant mothers factor gender into clothes and nursery furnishings, and friends give gendered gifts.  Back then you laid in a stock of little gowns and that was what Baby wore, boy or girl.

So, it’s A-okay to have a treat when you’re expecting and even better when the doctor prescribes it!  Some more entries from our mystery diary:

“Thur. Jan. 12

Jay & I got out about day light. Had a time getting the fire to go so did not have our breakfast very pronto. Jay cut up quite a lot of the wood & packed some upstairs. Got his tradeing done before dinner & left for home about 2 p.m. I surely hated to see him go but tried to be a good girl & not a baby.

Mama & I went down town about four P.M. & saw the Dr. He told me to try Oyster soup & Bananas so hurrah for me we had Oyster soup for supper.

Bright but cool.”

It was a big deal to have your husband leave, when home was nine hours away across the snowy Montana plains.  I hope our lady diarist got some comfort from her fancy soup.  Oysters are pretty scarce in Montana now, I can imagine how expensive they were in ’22.

Here’s a recipe for ‘old fashioned’ oyster soup, posted at  It’s pretty much like all the old recipes out there for this dish:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 12-16 ounces standard-size oysters with liquid
  • 1 quart half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) box oyster crackers

“Melt butter in a heavy saucepan.  Add oysters and cook over low heat just until edges curl.  Slowly add half-and-half and heat gently.  Do not boil.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve steaming hot with oyster crackers.”

Well, our diary writer is quite busy over the next few days, walking miles (pregnant and all) in search of a nice apartment to have her baby.  She is also spending some time with her husband Jay before he heads back to the ranch.  Mama is considerately staying with friends to give them some ‘alone time.’  Including a movie date!

“Tue. Jan. 10      1922

We went and looked at some rooms & then had breakfast. Went from there up to Nelsons & there J. & Mr. Nelson took a scout around looking for housekeeping rooms. Had dinner there then Mr. N Jay Mom & I about walked our shoes down looking for rooms. The men found in a.m. Went out to Randalls about 6:30 & stayed all night.

Not such a bright day but melting some.

Wed. Jan. 11.

Jay took the trunk & bedding down in a:m: & Mama & I just set around & visited with the Randalls until about five we loaded ourselves up & took possession of our new rooms. Jay & I went to the show in the evening ‘Cheated Hearts’ and Mr. & Mrs. Nelson came up & Mama went home with them & spent the night.”

Cheated Hearts was a silent movie made the previous year (yep, it took awhile for new releases to ride the train out here to Montana movie theaters) starring Herbert Rawlinson.  The plot is classic, corny silent movie-era, below synopsis is courtesy of with commentary inserted by me:

Protagonist Barry Gordon (Rawlinson) has inherited a love of drink from his father. Because of this, he gives up his girl, Muriel Beekman to his brother, Tom, and goes to Paris. (Kinda like handing over your favorite dog, eh?)   But then he finds out that brother Tom is missing in Morocco, so he goes to search for him.  Muriel and her father are in Morocco too of course, and she tells Barry she always loved him best (again with the dog analogy). So they wed, and Barry discovers that his brother is being held for ransom. Barry offers up all his money, and himself, for his brother’s release, and is accepted. A native girl, however (thank goodness for those Native Girls!) helps him to escape and although he gets lost in the desert, he is eventually able to return to Muriel. Somewhere along the way, apparently, he has conquered his taste for booze, so everyone lives happily ever after.  


Over the next few days our mystery lady seems not to be feeling very well…

“Thur. Jan. 5                                                                                    1922

Men worked on the ceiling. Ruth churned and watched the hen coop for eggs most of the day. & I felt bum. Got the kitchen about finished. Baked bread. I fixed Jays shirt and made him a finger stall for his sore thumb and fixed my red slippers.  Emb(roidered) in the p.m.

Didn’t feel very good in evening so the folks decided to ship me out of the Wilderness. Mama made me two aprons.”

(If you’re wondering: a finger-stall was basically a tube to protect your injured finger, usually attached with a band around the wrist).

“Fri. Jan. 6.                        21 above                                                1922

The folks washed & I played lady all day. Eat & ly down was all I did. Had kind of a hard headache in a.m.  Got a letter from Edna.

Ruth made cookies.

Sat. Jan. 7.                        22 above                                                1922

Mama & Ruth was busy most of the day prepareing for our journey to Missoula. Jay was busy all Pm taking the shoes off some of the horses. I was busy laying around. Frank & Dad set out more traps & Frank shot a coyote. The wind blew quite a lot.

Sun. Jan. 8.                        21 above                                                1922

I took my bath and fuddled around all morning and finally got ready for the trip to Missoula. The whole house hold was busy getting Jay, Mama, & I off to the big Potomac. We left home about one & got to Potomac about six. Stayed there all night.

Felt pretty blue at the thot of having to go away & leave my dear old Boy to come back without me.

Very pretty warm day.

Mon. Jan. 9.

Left Potomac about ten and got in Missoula about 2:20. Mama & I cleaned up a bit & went up & saw Dr. Thornton. He gave me some stuff for my stomach and a diet of milk, toast & cereals.

Jay got his money from the Reclamation office & then went up to Mr. Nelsons. Mr. Nelson came downtown with Jay & had us go up to his house for supper. Mama stayed there all night & Jay & I went down to the hotel.”

–Ah hah!  Travel to town, visit to the Doctor’s office, prescription for a bland starchy diet: our diarist is expecting!