Monday, April 1, 2013

Social Butterfly? Very Fishy! Revisited

A couple of weeks ago I published a post on my other Blog, Past Present Future, as part of the Fearless Females series (+Lisa Alzo's, The Accidental Genealogist', 31 inspirational writing prompts in celebration of Women's History Month). In case some of you missed it, I thought it would be fun to republish it here today as it features an article about Ethel (not by Ethel) from exactly seventy-five years ago today. Here is the post titled: Social Butterfly? Very Fishy!

March 17th prompt— Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.
As most of you know, I have been reading many newspaper articles from 1939-1940 for my new blog Ethel's Scrapbook. The blog is centered around my grandmother Ethel and the articles she published as a Rice Institute correspondent for the Houston, Chronicle all of which she collected in her scrapbook. While researching for the new blog, came across scores of additional articles she published in the Thresher, the Rice Weekly Student publication from the same time period. So far, I'm amazed at home much I've learned about my beloved grandmother in only one week since I launched Ethel's scrapbook.
Growing up, I mostly heard that her time at rice was difficult because she was so young. "Socially, it was difficult to fit into college when you are three or four years younger than everyone else," I remember her explaining. She discouraged all of her children and grandchildren from getting ahead in school, because of her experience of skipping second and third grade. Therefore, when I came across this write up about my grandmother in the Thresher, I was surprised. None of the Thresher articles made the scrapbook. Maybe there is another scrapbook that hasn't surfaced yet, but thanks to The Portal to Texas History, see learn quite a bit more about my grandmother's years in college.
It seems she was quite the social butterfly after all!

Bloomfield Gives Backyard Beach Part for Club

"Ethel Bloomfield more or less entertained the Rice Writing Club with a bay party in her back yard, fully equipped with a gold-fish aquarium. Membres of the club waded to the tune of "We Must Go Down to the Sea again," by J Masefield.
Catastrophe of the escapade: ex-member Flossie Albrecht sat on one of Ethel's pet cacti and in revenge stabbed the cactus back with a dagger off the Spanish dagger plant. 
Bloomfield Give Backyard
Beach Party for Club
Joke of the escapade: W. C. Marlone dunked a telephone in the pond, taking it for more or less half a donut. 
Love affair of the escapade: Clyde Terry got it bad for Hellen Norris.
Revolt of the escapade: The president refuses to call the meeting to order. She was heckled, it seems, at not being allowed to parachute-jump from the top of the telephone pole.
Explosion of the escapade: Mary Emily Miller wanting to be alone got into Ethel's newly-remodeled servant house and, lighting a cigar blew the place up. It was a stick of dynamite.
Refreshments of the escapade: Ethel served eggs more or less to the tune of "Break, Break, Break." Mr. Williams, sponsor of the Writing Club, and ever the individualist, dangled his neck over the edge of the pond until he managed to catch skin, and swallow two of Ethel's prize goldfish.
Miss Bloomfield's bay party was a great success, enjoyed by everyone. She is cordially invited to have another one some time soon."

I made a double take and reread the article which didn't make a lot of sense. Especially, knowing my serious, overachiever grandmother and the very serious image her scrapbook articles portray? A backyard beach party? Goldfish? Really?
I went back to the The Portal to Texas History website to find the full page from where I clipped this particular article. Something was very fishy! This was page three of the edition, but instead it resembled a front page.

The Thresher, April 1st, 1938
(Click to enlarge)
The Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 23, No. 22, Ed. 1 Friday, April 1, 1938, Newspaper, April 1, 1938; digital images, ( : accessed March 18, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Rice University: Woodson Research Center, Houston, Texas.

This was an April Fools edition!
Ethel may have taken part in writing this article as she was an associate editor. The joke may have been played on her, but I'd like to imagine she took it well. After all, she did continue on at the publication and was even the Staff Nominee for Assistant Editor later on that year. In truth, Ethel did host the Writing Club at her home, but the meetings were not half as much fun as this imaginary beach party. The true report of the meeting she hosted on May 2nd of that year reads as follows:

"At the last meeting, held Monday, May 2nd, at the home of Ethel Bloomfield, Mary Bethany and Helen Saba read short stories and Harry Hold and Clyde Terry read poems. All works read at the meetings of the Writing Club are written either by Rice Institute students or graduates."
The Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 23, No. 28, Ed. 1 Friday, May 13, 1938, Newspaper, May 13, 1938; digital images, ( accessed March 18, 2013),
University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Rice University: Woodson Research Center, Houston, Texas.

Thankfully, my grandmother's image was restored from party animal, to serious aspiring writer!


  1. Smadar - What a fun post! At first I thought your grandmother knew how to party! Loved her sense of humor and joining in on the prank article.
    Your new blog is wonderful! I've enjoyed reading the articles in the scrapbook,reading your words and how you've learned so much more about your grandmother as you've read and worked with her scrapbook.
    Now I have to explore some more!
    - Cindy

    1. Thanks, Cindy! It's funny how we can fall into the same prank so many years later! I'm glad you are enjoying my blog and I look forward learning together and to your future comments!


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