Money-Making Tip–Open a Tea Room

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, August 8, 1913: Nothing doing.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to again go off on a tangent–

Women must have worried a lot back then about how to earn a little pin money (or in some cases more substantial amounts).  Ladies Home Journal even had a column called “What Can I Do? where women could send in letters with money-making tips. This is how the magazine described the column:

The aim of this department is to show what can be done at home to use money by the use of special talents. The department is a sort of clearing house of information as to the kinds of work for which there is most demand, the conditions and chances of success, and the best ways of find a market.

A few days ago I shared tips in the magazine for making and selling Sun-Preserved Preserves.  Here is another suggestion:

Tea for Motorists

I live in the country on a road where a great many autos pass every day, so I conceived the idea of opening a tea room. Having always on hand a supply of cream, butter and jellies my venture required no lavish outlay.

I first had an attractive sign painted and displayed in a conspicuous place on the roadside in front of the house. Next I arranged the tea table with my best china, and kept it in constant readiness, inspecting each article carefully every day.

One day a party of autoists knocked at my door and asked for tea. I ushered them into the tea room, and while they removed their veils, etc. I boiled the water, made thin bread-and-butter sandwiches, and arranged a little plate of tea cakes. For some time my patrons were few, but they increased in number as my reputation grew.

Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

13 Responses

  1. Wow, the entrepreneur (neuse?) was so cutting edge for 1913. Autoists!

  2. No regulatory authorities to stop a little home enterprise back then. Lovely illustration for your post.

  3. How sweet is this? “Removed their veils”, “bread and butter sandwiches”: (sigh) another time indeed!
    Can you imagine (as Gallivanta implied) all the regulations required today to have such a little business??

  4. hmmm… I can’t help wondering what is going on… on not going on in your life my Miss Muffly that you’re so “down”…

  5. Just found your blog and I love the concept! Will look forward to following future posts!

  6. That was a good idea…imagination does go a long way. I hope Helena finds some fun things to do soon.

  7. Can you imagine what it would take to open a tearoom this day and time? You’d need licences, inspections, certifications, etc. galore. You’d have to designate handicapped parking, build accessibility ramps and remodel your bathrooms. And God help you with the IRS if you happened to name your establishment The Tea Party.

  8. Hmmm… this tips are still valid… and are good! I have to think about it :-)

  9. So much of this still applies today! I was watching a program where the “expert” said, “What is your passion? What are you good at doing? From there figure out a way to make that happens so you can earn something extra!” Passion and creativity…what a concept! Great post, Sheryl! The article has wonderful imagery! :)

  10. What a great little story! Serving bread and butter seems so strange to me, but back then I know it was quite normal.

  11. What a great idea. And maybe the customers might also like to buy a nice sweet bread to take home with them :)

  12. That would have been such a neat thing to do to earn some extra money. Impossible in this day and age, unfortunately, but it’s neat to think about. :)

  13. We used to go to a little dining room in Detroit that two sisters had in their house. I am pretty sure it was “underground”. It was in the early 1970s. They had a huge house and had made the living room area into the dining area. The food was plentiful, well prepared and very reasonable. The house is gone now.

    In the late 1930s, also in Detroit, my grandmother wanted to make lunches to sell to the men who worked in the factory across from their house. Her husband said no wife of his was going to work, so she didn’t. She was a good cook and had a good head for business, her children were high school age or older. Too bad she wasn’t able to do it.

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