Voices of the night – many years ago

Imagine a hot summer night in Aurora, Illinois in 1890 when the only way to cool yourself while you slept was by leaving all the windows open. Conversations such as the ones below probably pierced the silence of the night and left you wondering about the people


Heard Through the Open Window of Our Boarding House

(Excerpt transcribed from the Aurora Daily Express. Aurora Illinois August 23, 1890)

Open house windows on still summer nights afford good entertainment for those sleepless individuals who spend their time kicking the sheet off and pulling it up.

Chicago, Illinois,  North Clark Street 1899 (Library of Congress)

“For heaven’s sake, Maria,” peals out a voice as startling as if from a church yard, “don’t snore so loud. I’ve done nothing but invent ways to wake you up ever since I came to bed. The neighbors will certainly think I am strangling you. Can’t you put on the soft pedal a little? Ease up, any way, till I get a cent’s worth of nap.”

“Me snoring” Maria replies, in sleepy disregard of grammar. “It’s your own echoes you hear. I haven’t had a wink of sleep. I can’t sleep, with you coming in at all hours of the night and turning up the gas full tilt to see if you had dampened your patent leathers. Me snoring! Never snored in my life, and you know it. You didn’t know what you were about, anyway, when you came in. You said you had been down to Taft’s and there isn’t any Taft’s now. Think I’m a fool. You get into one of your stupid snoozes and hear yourself snore, and then yell ‘Maria! Go to sleep, will you, and remember there’s only one person snores in this family, and that’s you!”

And a deadly silence reigns behind those windows.

Are you here?

“Mar-mar, is you here?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is par-par here?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is we goin’ away to-morrow?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is I goin’?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is you goin’?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is par-par goin’?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is we goin’ in choo-choos?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is I goin’ in choo-choos?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is you goin’ in choo-choos?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Is par-par goin’ in choo-choos?”

“Yes, darling.”


“Yes, darling.”

“Is we goin’ to grammar’s?”

“Shut that child up, will you, Helen, or I’ll come in there.” And silence falls on another happy nocturnal talk.

Your brother?


“Yes,” in eager shrillness.

“Are you awake?”

“Yes; are you?”

“Yes, I can’t sleep.”

“Neither can I.”

“Wasn’t he splendid?”

“Sh, ‘sh! Your brother will hear us.”

“Don’t care if he does; he acted like a perfect brute to-night, to drag us home so early.”

“Well, Ruth?”


“Don’t you think” (subdued giggle) –

“Do tell me what I don’t think.”

“Don’t you think your brother” (snicker) –

“Don’t be an idiot, Maud: what do you mean?”

“I think your brother is” (sound as of pillow rammed into mouth) –

“Maud Newbury, if you can’t stop being a fool at midnight what hope is there for you?”

“All right, Ruthie; I’m going away next week, and you can be as wise as you please, only I was going to say something that you might” —

“Well, what is it?”

“Why, I” (ecstasy of snickers) —


“I know it.”

“What do you know?”

“That I am a fool, but there ” –

“But what?”

“But your brother is so very” (gyration of giggles) –

“So very what?”

“Why, so very” (chokes in a spasm of mirth) – a window suddenly bangs, and the sheet kicker is left in the summer midnight slough of silence again. — (Lewiston Journal)

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the pastis a collection of household tips, medical cures, clothing care and old recipes from the 1800’s and 1900’s. Many of the tips, such as the household cleaners, cooking tips and ways to control pests, still work and are helpful in today’s ‘green’ environment while others such as ‘how to cure a dog of eating eggs’ will make you laugh. Either way, this book will help you appreciate the difficult life your grandparents endured.

With Bonus: First two chapters of novel Ribbon of Love

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She cohost the Podcast: Alabama Grist Mill and developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me

All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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