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lilly1326001
06-15-2012, 03:13 AM
I have a few characters (late teens, early twenties) in my latest novel set in 1904, but I have no idea what they would do for fun. What are some activities two boys and a girl would do? The girl and one boy are cousins while the two boys are childhood friends.

Thanks!

Beachgirl
06-15-2012, 03:29 AM
I have a few characters (late teens, early twenties) in my latest novel set in 1904, but I have no idea what they would do for fun. What are some activities two boys and a girl would do? The girl and one boy are cousins while the two boys are childhood friends.

Thanks!

Depends on the setting, their family income level, etc. My grandfather grew up in that era, but he lived on a dairy farm. The things he did for fun (what little time was left considering the chores he had to do on a farm) were things like fishing in the creek, skipping rocks, walking into town for a soda, etc. But it would be far different for someone who lived in a city and came from a wealthy family.

lilly1326001
06-15-2012, 03:35 AM
Thanks Beachgirl! I utterly forgot to give that information. They are in the city and from wealthy backgrounds. One family is in steel while the other is in textile.

lorna_w
06-15-2012, 03:36 AM
I had a book of parlor games from that era. Lots of parlor games. I remember one called "kiss the candlestick" in which a girl was blindfolded and given a candle and complex directions but somehow it ends up it was she who was kissed. (go figger)

Music. A piano (or a melodeon) in a middle-class household. (Guitar or fiddle or banjo in a poorer household. Maybe home-made percussion as well in the latter case.) People might take turns playing, singing. Again, depends on class, but you'd get art songs (think, Schubert's) or popular songs (in that era "After the Ball" I think was out. "Because (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAswYX1LPsc)" "Bird in a Gilded Cage" "My Wild Irish Rose"). ETA: okay, if they are rich, a child might want to sing "Bird in a Gilded Cage" but a parent in the corner doing needlework might protest it: "Do that lovely Schubert instead." Because this lyric would have been considered indecent:

And her beauty was sold,
For an old man's gold,
She's a bird in a gilded cage.

Story telling. Taffy pulls and popping corn.

ETA: stereographs. Maybe even early phonographs for rich people.

badly formatted, but here's a lot of diversions for children through young adults: http://www.archive.org/stream/kindergartenpain00clin/kindergartenpain00clin_djvu.txt

Recitations. Used to be a big thing at school and at home. They'd do an act of Hamlet, or recite Spartacus's speech to the gladiators. Look for pdfs of "the MacGuffey Reader" or "The Comprehensive speaker" at googlebooks for examples. The guys, to show off to the girls, might pick something with swordplay in it.

ETA to add: Hey, I'm old, but I'm not this old, okay?

Hallen
06-15-2012, 03:40 AM
Leisure time back then usually consisted of evenings. It was things like reading, parlor games (things like charades, card games, checkers, chess, etc), talking, that kind of thing. Many times, knitting and other piece work was done at the same time. Daylight was rarely wasted "just hanging out". Also, for that time in the US, I doubt guys and gals of that age did a lot together that wasn't supervised by family.

It does depend a lot as to where they are. Are they in NY City or in some smallish farming town in Kansas? I'm assuming you're asking about the US here. The answer would probably be different for Europe.

lilly1326001
06-15-2012, 04:19 AM
Thanks for the ideas! They are in NYC. Any suggestions for what they would do in the daytime? Their chaperone has been taken ill.

Siri Kirpal
06-15-2012, 06:41 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I second singing and piano playing. Lots of songs were group sings. "Holy smokes the preacher shouted as his wig flew in the air,
Now his head resembles heaven for there is no parting there."
Pretty sure that's in public domain. We'd sing it in several part harmony. (I'm not that old, but my grandmother was.)
In wealthy families, both the boy and the girl might play the piano, and they'd play piano 4 hand (duets).

Reading.

That's what I'm coming up with at the moment.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Bing Z
06-15-2012, 08:55 AM
How about sports? Tennis/racquet ball or other activities at New York Athletic Club or Central Park/Bryant Park?

If it's winter, they can also do ice skating. If it's summer, maybe they can row or paddle boats at the Lake in Central Park?

While ice skating in Central Park is now restricted to Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink. A 1890 photo in "Life at the Dakota" shows the frozen Lake filled with gent and lady skaters.

Alessandra Kelley
06-15-2012, 09:16 AM
Badminton. Tennis. Croquet. Horseback riding in Central Park (the old stables still exist, I believe). Bicycling was very, very popular even in the city. Roller skating.

Fudge had been recently invented and fudgemaking was a huge craze for young ladies (no kidding!).

Reading each other novels and poetry. Scrapbooking.

Photography. The Kodak Brownie was introduced in 1900 and amateur photography took off like gangbusters.

Plenty of NYC attractions were available. They could visit museums and art galleries, or Coney Island (maybe not unchaperoned -- thete's a description of a 1904 picture book about it at http://brooklynhistory.org/library/wp/glimpses-of-the-new-coney-island-viewbook-1904-1904/ ).

Alessandra Kelley
06-15-2012, 09:27 AM
As for music, gramophone records (discs rather than cylinders) were first sold in 1892 and gramophones were popular among the wealthy.

Most upper class youngsters would play one musical instrument or another.

Somewhere I have some little books from roughly then of themed dinner parties, teas, breakfasts, etc. They're a little Martha Stewartish, but if they are of use to you I'll dig them out.

lilly1326001
06-15-2012, 11:35 PM
The information you guys compiled is perfect. Thanks for all your help! You have no idea how stuck on this I was.

Xelebes
06-15-2012, 11:51 PM
This would have been at the height of the piano craze, so likely piano-playing or practicing on the piano. Other popular instruments were the violin, the cello, the flute, the clarinet. Guitars would not have been a wealthy-person's favoured instrument as the techniques back then were not that well refined.

jaksen
06-16-2012, 03:36 AM
Lots of socializing for upper-class people, including children. Lots of family members or friends stopping by in the early evening (and no calling ahead first) or on Saturday afternoon.

Reading aloud. Card games of all kinds. There were board games, too. Younger children had toy soldiers, train sets, dolls, stuffed animals, puppets, and miniature dishware, cups and saucers, etc.

Stop by a toy museum or even an older house which is open as a sort of museum. Quite often one room will be set up as a child's room, with vintage toys, etc. Wind-up toys were common.

And as said, sing-alongs around a piano were popular. Usually one or more family members could play the piano and it was a big day when new sheet music came out of some popular tune.

Squirrel on a Ledge
06-16-2012, 05:00 AM
Biking was popular. Of course, so was a good ol' fashioned seance.

blackrose602
06-16-2012, 10:07 PM
Of course, so was a good ol' fashioned seance.

I agree with everything that has been posted, but I really like this one. Your time period was the height of the Spiritualism movement, particularly among the upper classes. Among other things, it was one of the few places that men and women could freely congregate and women were respected as leaders. So depending on your girl's personality, she might be especially interested. But some branches of both Christianity and Judaism were against Spiritualism. If your sick chaperone happens to be anti-Spiritualism, I could definitely see your characters taking the opportunity to get involved. Just a thought.

lilly1326001
06-17-2012, 07:36 PM
I agree with everything that has been posted, but I really like this one. Your time period was the height of the Spiritualism movement, particularly among the upper classes. Among other things, it was one of the few places that men and women could freely congregate and women were respected as leaders. So depending on your girl's personality, she might be especially interested. But some branches of both Christianity and Judaism were against Spiritualism. If your sick chaperone happens to be anti-Spiritualism, I could definitely see your characters taking the opportunity to get involved. Just a thought.

That seems interesting. It might even fit with my plot too. How do you think something like that would be conducted in that time period. Is it a hold hands and wait for the table to start turning kind of thing?

mccardey
06-17-2012, 07:44 PM
Your library might have an Oral History section - I've found some of those recordings unbeatable as resources.

Siri Kirpal
06-17-2012, 09:38 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers describes a seance of the period.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Squirrel on a Ledge
06-19-2012, 11:43 PM
That seems interesting. It might even fit with my plot too. How do you think something like that would be conducted in that time period. Is it a hold hands and wait for the table to start turning kind of thing?

The wealthy hired special "spiritualists." In these sessions, they generally sat around a table at night holding hands. There was often a candle on the table. The spiritualist had a whole bag of trips up his or her sleeves (yes, they were often women). Most of these were similar to magic tricks. The table would lift up off the ground, the candle might be blown out, etc. In fact, Harry Houdini was known to oppose spiritualists, since they tried to sell a magic trick as a spiritual experience.

I would assume that young people trying to replicate it would do similar things - gather around a circle and ask the "spirits" questions. They'd probably wait for some sort of response (or one of them would fake a response). For the at-home spiritualist, Oujia boards were also available in the early 1900s.

Wikipedia has some pretty good information on the various types of seances: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seances

jaksen
06-20-2012, 02:47 AM
Spiritualism! Yes! One of my mother's aunts was a spiritualist minister. She had seances and my mother's family had as little to do with her as possible as the woman was also a complete fraud and something of a con-artist. She put her hands on my mother's belly (when pregnant with me) and announced that 'this baby will be born dead.'

Needless to say, that didn't go over well. And by the way, the woman was wrong.

I asked my mother where this 'church' was and she said it still existed in Brockton, MA, but I could never find it.

The woman died when I was a child and I never recall meeting her.

But yes, this 'fad' or whatever you wish to call it would have been going on in 1904, for sure.