The Project Gutenberg eBook of Guide to Hotel Housekeeping

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Title: Guide to Hotel Housekeeping

Author: Mary E. Palmer

Release date: January 25, 2011 [eBook #35066]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Barbara Kosker and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
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Copyrighted 1908,



Charleston. W. Va.
Publisher's Mark


The greater part of the contents of this book was published, in instalments, in The Hotel World, of Chicago.

A Foreword.

My chief purpose in writing this book was to place a few guide-posts along the route of hotel housekeepers to warn them against certain errors common to women engaged in the arduous and difficult occupation of keeping house for hotels.

If anything that I have set forth herein shall make the work of hotel housekeepers easier, more inviting, or more efficient, thereby contributing to the satisfaction of proprietors and to the comfort of patrons, I shall feel amply repaid for writing this book.

Mary E. Palmer.

Hotel Ruffner,
Charleston, West Va.
March 1, 1908.

[Pg 7]

The Manager and the Help.

The average hotel manager is only too prone to complain of the incompetency and the inefficiency of hotel "help."

It is true that it is difficult to secure skilled help, for there is no sort of institution that trains men and women for the different kinds of hotel work. Each hotel must train its own help, or obtain them from other hotels.

Thus there is no uniform and generally accepted standard of excellence in the different departments of hotel-keeping.

A good word should be said in behalf of the Irish-American girls, who constitute a majority of the laundry help, waitresses, and chambermaids in American hotels to-day.

With a high regard for honor and rectitude, handicapped by poverty, they find employment, at a very early age, in hotels, and perform menial duties in a manner that is greatly to their credit.

The Irish-American girls are not shiftless, remaining in one place for years until they either marry or leave [Pg 8]to fill better positions, which is the privilege of every one living under the "Stars and Stripes."

Some improve their spare time in study, thereby fitting themselves to become stenographers and bookkeepers. Some adopt the stage as a profession, one instance being that of Clara Morris, who takes delight in telling of the days when she washed silver in a hotel.

An ex-Governor Peeled Potatoes.

Ex-Governor Hoard, of Wisconsin, boasts of the time when he peeled potatoes in a hotel.

The success of hotel-keeping depends largely on the manager. He should possess patience, forbearance, and amiability. He should know that the best results are obtained from his help by kindness, and that good food and good beds mean better service.

The manager should realize that the working force of a hotel is like the mechanism of a clock: it has to be wound occasionally and set going. No novice can operate this wonderful piece of mechanism; it requires a skilled mechanic.

The proprietor of a hotel should be a good loser; for there are periods of the year when the employes outnumber the guests, and the balance-sheet shows a heavy loss.

One of the most successful hotel men of the writer's acquaintance is Mr. Louis Reibold, formerly of the [Pg 9]Bates House (now the Claypool), Indianapolis, Ind. Mr. Reibold's fame rests in his liberal, kindly treatment of his help. He never called them "help," but always referred to them as "employes." Reception, reading, and writing-rooms were furnished for their use, and he himself saw that good food was provided and that the tables were spread with clean, white table-cloths once a day.

He remembered his employes at Christmas, each one receiving a gold coin, some as much as $20.

When a girl in his employ lost her arm in a mangle, he presented her with a house and lot, provided her with ample means to furnish the house and to keep her the remainder of her lifetime.

Mr. Riebold is a multi-millionaire, and he has the admiration and love of every woman and man that ever worked for him.

[Pg 10]

Feeding and Rooming the Help.

Employes, such as housekeepers, clerks, cashiers, stenographers, stewards—though few stewards use the privilege—and bartenders, are permitted to take their meals in the main dining-room.

Other office-employes take their meals in the officers' dining-room, from the same bill of fare used in the main dining-room.

Chambermaids, bell-boys, and other "help," are served in the "helps' hall," from a separate bill of fare. Their food is good, as a rule; when it is not, the fault usually lies with the chef in the kitchen. All proprietors want their help to have good food.

The housekeeper can do much to make the help comfortable. She can see that their rooms are kept clean and sweet, and free from vermin. She can give them soft pillows and plenty of warm covering. It is her duty to add to their comfort in every way she can.

In a majority of hotels, the help are roomed and fed equally as well as are the patrons.

[Pg 11]

Requirements of a Housekeeper.

Every profession or trade is made up of two classes: the apprentice and the skilled workman. The young woman looking for a position as hotel housekeeper should not forget that careful training is fully as important and necessary in her chosen vocation as it is in medicine or cooking; that she must learn by slow and wearisome experience what it has taken years for the skilled housekeeper to acquire.

The apprentice may stumble on the road to success and may even fall by the wayside. In order to succeed, she must give her time wholly to her occupation. She must be thankful for the successes that come to her and not fret over the failures, remembering that hotel housekeeping, like all other occupations, demands experience, patience, and perseverance, as well as skill, in its followers.

The profession is overcrowded with novices to-day; they are the ones that have demoralized the profession—if the word, profession, may be applied to hotel housekeeping. The failure of many housekeepers is due to [Pg 12]the lack of proper training; it is only the skilled housekeeper that wins lasting approval.

A trained nurse must remain in a training school at least three years, possibly four, before she is given a certificate to care for the sick. The chef of the hotel kitchen, in all probability began his career as a scullion, serving at least ten years' apprenticeship in minor situations in the kitchen. The housekeeper must not be above gaining knowledge in the laundry and the linen-room. A woman that is ambitious to become a good housekeeper should first serve as a chambermaid. If she is wise, she will secure the good graces of the linen-woman by offering to help her mend the linen, hem the napkins, sort the linen, and mend the curtains.

In this way, a clever chambermaid may learn many useful things that will help her to a better position. From the linen-room, it is only a step to the position of a housekeeper. When a housekeeper leaves on her vacation, or is called away to fill another place, or drops out on account of illness, the linen-woman may seize the opportunity of showing her executive ability. After she has worked faithfully in the linen-room for three years, there is not much danger that a linen-woman of ability will fail to find employment as a housekeeper. If she should have any trouble getting a situation, one way out of the difficulty is to offer her services one month on probation to a hotel man in need of a [Pg 13]housekeeper; and, if she is granted a trial and mixes brains with her enthusiasm, she will receive a housekeeper's salary at the end of the month.

Just what a housekeeper's work should be is a vital question. We hear of housekeepers meddling in the steward's department and with the affairs of the office. This is, at least, no less wrong than the idea that the housekeeper owes servile obedience to all other heads of departments.

The essential requirements of a housekeeper are the same, whether she is in a hotel with the capacity of a thousand guests or in a hotel of two hundred rooms. The young housekeeper, looking for a position in a first-class hotel, should read the following requirements, which were submitted to the writer by the manager of a first-class Western hotel a few years ago:

A Housekeeper's Requirements.

Must be morally correct.
Must have a dignified and respectable appearance.
Must have executive ability.
Must have a good disposition and try to get along with the help.
Must be a good listener and not a talker.
Must be quiet, giving orders in a firm but low tone.
Must be loyal to the management.
Must be courteous to guests.
Must not worry the management with small matters.
[Pg 14] Must refrain from gossiping.

Neatness in dress is essential to the success of a hotel housekeeper. She should take great pains to be always well groomed, and neat in her attire. If she finds herself growing coarse or commonplace-looking, her fingernails in mourning, and her hair unacquainted with soap and water, she should at once set about to remedy the defects. It is her duty, as well as her privilege, to dress as well as she can, not by donning all the colors of the rainbow or by useless extravagance, but by modest and harmonizing shades and by appropriate apparel. It behooves the woman to make herself as good-looking as possible, for good looks pay. Obliging manners are also a stock in trade. Grit, grace, and good looks can accomplish wonders, especially the good looks.

Ignorance and ambition make an unprofitable combination. There are housekeepers filling positions to-day that have never been taught to do a single useful thing correctly; they can not darn the linens, they can not sew, they can not upholster a chair, they can not wait on the sick, nor can they settle the slightest dispute without sending for the manager. The housekeeper should know how these things are done, in order to impart her knowledge to others; for any housekeeper that has any respect for her calling considers herself an instructor.

There is no special hour set for the housekeeper's [Pg 15]appearance in the morning. It is safe to say that she will make a greater "impression" and last longer by rising at 6 o'clock. Late rising is one of the rocks on which many a housekeeper has been wrecked.

Cheerfulness and Good Manners.

Every housekeeper should make the "good morning" her bright keynote for the day. She should not say, "Hello, Mollie," to a girl named Mary. Though the girl may be only a scrub-girl, she knows a breach of etiquette; and a girl that bears the beautiful name of Mary does not want it changed to "Mollie."

A cheerful "good morning" should be the beginning of each day, by the housekeeper. It makes everybody feel pleasant, and the maids can work faster and easier when their hearts are full of pleasantness.

The successful housekeeper does not win her laurels by merely perfecting herself in her work, but also by careful study of the lives of others in her charge, and how to promote their happiness.

Getting along with help requires tact, poise, and balance. The housekeeper should bestow praise where it is due. She may give a gentle pat on the back to some faithful employe, and yet keep her dignity. A hard task may be made lighter by it, and monotonous labor robbed of its weariness. The old and persistent notion [Pg 16]that housekeepers are an irascible tribe—if it was ever true—is not true now.

The question here arises—What qualities of mind and heart should a housekeeper possess to be successful?

Nobody has discovered a rule—to say nothing of a principle—whereby a housekeeper's success may be determined. It is reasonable to claim that the permanent success of any housekeeper lies in her skill and in the confidence and esteem of her employer. She has learned that skill is acquired by serving an apprenticeship, and that esteem and confidence are won by character. Everybody who touches a sterling character comes at last to feel it, and the true hotel man has come to know that the housekeeper of skill and character is his friend. After the relation of friendship has been established between the manager and the housekeeper, a "go-between" has no place; to speak plainly, there is no legitimate function for a tattler.

The young housekeeper should not become discouraged, excited, or worried, but learn to "manage." She should sit down quietly and think it over. She should have a system about her most ordinary duties, and never put off till to-morrow what may be done to-day. Tomorrow may never come, and, if it does come, it will bring other duties equally as important. Every field of labor has its drawbacks. The greater the work, the greater the hindrances and the obstacles seem to be.

[Pg 17]

The Housekeeper and the "Help."

It is a truism that there should be no hostilities between the heads of the different departments of a hotel. Everything works more smoothly and satisfactorily when pleasant relationships exist between the different departments of any business.

A housekeeper feels stronger if she thinks that she is of sufficient importance to her employer to have her views receive some consideration. She takes up her daily tasks with an added sense of responsibility, and with a desire to do still better work.

No housekeeper is perfect. It cannot be wisely assumed that any housekeeper will possess all the requisite qualifications for successful housekeeping, nor can she develop them all, no matter how ambitious, industrious, and naturally fitted for the work she may be. But "Knowledge is power," and she that has the most of it, coupled with the greatest ability to utilize it, enjoys advantages that will contribute largely to her success.

[Pg 18]Keeping a Position.

A housekeeper studies not only to secure a good situation, but also to avoid losing it. "Good enough" is not her motto; "the very best" are her constant watchwords. Some one has said: "A housekeeper is born, not made." The "born housekeeper" is a spasmodic housekeeper. As a rule, she is not evenly balanced. A housekeeper with plain common sense, susceptible to instructions, willing to obey orders, is the housekeeper that leaves the old situation for one of better pay. There must be, of course, a foundation on which to build. The stones of that foundation should be self-control, self-confidence, education, neatness in dress, and cleanliness. None of these is a gift, but an accomplishment that can be developed more or less according to the individual.

Good manners are very essential. Politeness alone will not bring about the desired results in any profession, but it has never been known to be a hindrance. Manners that will be accepted without criticism in one woman, will be odious and objectionable in another. Too much familiarity breeds contempt. An employer would better be approached with dignity and reserve.

The Charm of Neatness.

Few housekeepers realize the charm of the neatly dressed woman. The hair should always be neatly arranged and not look as if it was about to fall on her [Pg 19]shoulders. The binding of her skirt should not show ragged in places. These are little things, but they weigh heavily in the general results. The well-groomed woman knows that the neglect of these things is full of shame to womankind.

In regard to "bumping up against" the bell-boys, clerks, stewards, and stenographers, the wise housekeeper is shrewd enough to "stand in." She "turns the other cheek," which may sometimes be a difficult task to perform.

Remember that no one on earth can ever succeed in life and hold a "grudge." The inability to forgive his enemies lost James G. Blaine the White House.

If a bell-boy is caught doing something detrimental to the success of the management, the housekeeper should write a note to the clerk, or the captain of the watch, and inform him of the bell-boy's misdeeds. This will be sufficient from the housekeeper.

On assuming the duties of a new field, the housekeeper may remember merely a few important duties; for instance, she must carefully scrutinize the time-book and learn all the maids' names and stations. Next learn the location of rooms and become familiarized with every piece of furniture in them. Then, step by step, she should build up the general cleanliness of the house. This is by far the most important of all the requisites pertaining to hotel housekeeping. Guarding against [Pg 20]difficulties encountered with the employes and with the managers' wives is secondary.

A housekeeper that can not take orders is not fit to give them; if the manager asks for the removal of an offensive employe, the housekeeper should immediately get rid of the objectionable person. If the housekeeper fails in deference to the manager's wishes, is not that good evidence that she is not a good soldier? She should be eager to maintain the dignity of her position—must maintain it in fact—and do as high service as possible for the management. Yet she can not always carry out her own ideas. The manager has his ideas about matters, which right or wrong, must be respected. The housekeeper carries out the manager's orders. If the hotel fails to bring a profit or give satisfaction, the manager alone is held accountable.

About Hiring Help.

To dismiss a maid is a very easy matter; to obtain a substitute that will perform the duties assigned her in a manner that will prove more effectual, is not so easy.

To fire or not to fire, that is the question
Whether 'tis easier on the impulse of the moment
To suffer the terrors and exactions of the haughty maids,
Or take up arms against their impudence
And with pen and ink end them.
To lie, to sleep—
Worry no more, and by good management to dispatch
[Pg 21] The cares and thousand little details
Housekeepers are heir to—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

The employment-agency is the housekeeper's recruiting station. She gets most of her help from this place. The housekeeper should always consult the manager when other help is to be hired. Everyone knows that old employes are always best, even if they do spoil the new ones. The housekeeper endeavors to keep the help as long as she can, using persuasion, kindness, and forbearance, striving to teach them the best and easiest way to do their work, bearing with their imperfections, overlooking a great deal that is actually repulsive, not expecting to find in the hard-working individual the graces of a Marie Antoinette, or the inherent qualities of a Lady Jane Gray.

The housekeeper should not only be scrupulously honest herself, but should insist that the maids be honest. It is true that almost irresistible temptations and opportunities to steal are constantly thrown in the way of the maids; and those that are steadfastly honest deserve great credit.

If a maid is neat and clean in appearance and does her work well—these qualities cover a multitude of sins. From the standpoint of many housekeepers, too much curiosity and gossiping are the chiefest and quickest [Pg 22]causes—next to the neglect of work—for a maid's dismissal. A housekeeper is usually disliked by the maids that do not want to do their work, just as a stepmother is hated by some stepchildren, regardless of her kindness and her consideration for their welfare. Employes in any business prefer to take their orders from the person that pays them their money. For this, they are not to be blamed; but if the proprietor or the proprietor's wife wishes to retain the services of a good housekeeper, and be relieved of the trying ordeal of training the help, he or she will not encourage tattling from the housekeeper's inferiors.

[Pg 23]

The Hotel Proprietor's Wife.

Implicit confidence should exist between the housekeeper and the proprietor's wife. This does not mean that the proprietor's wife should take the housekeeper automobile riding. Any proprietor's wife that enters into such a degree of intimacy with any of her husband's employes distinctly displays the hallmarks of plebeanism. The writer does not want to become an iconoclast, but she believes that all business should be conducted on a business basis. There must be an unwavering loyalty to the interests mutually represented, at all times and under all circumstances.

The proprietor's wife that goes to the help's dining-room or to the laundry, presumably to press a skirt or a shirt-waist, but in reality to see what she can see and to hear what she can hear, is disloyal to the management. She will always have poured into her ears stories that will annoy her and keep her worried. There are maids in a hotel always ready to "keep the pot boiling." Such a proprietor's wife not only encourages malicious slander and tattling, but she will soon be asking questions of the inferior help about the housekeeper's [Pg 24]management. Soon the inferiors will be giving the orders instead of the housekeeper, and the discipline will be spoiled. Besides, the proprietor's wife will be told imaginary wrongs, and exaggerated stories concerning some maid employed in the hotel, which will necessitate the maid's discharge. Whether the story is real or imaginary, the proprietor's wife is not benefited by the stories she has heard. She should ask herself: Is this loyalty? Isn't it unmistakably the earmark of commonality?

No housekeeper will object to taking orders from the proprietor's wife. The progressive housekeeper is always polite to her employer's wife, though not to the extent of being deceitful. The housekeeper must bear in mind that what is of vital importance to the proprietor of a hotel is of equal importance to the proprietor's wife. The housekeeper tries to work in harmony with them both, which means success of the highest order. To do this, the housekeeper must retain her dignity, often under the most exasperating circumstances. The proprietor's wife is privileged to frequent any part of the hotel she may choose to, but how must a housekeeper feel to see her conversing in the most familiar tones with the waitresses and the chambermaids, and to know that she is listening to malicious slander of the lowest kind. A housekeeper can have no control over the employes where the discipline is thus ruined, or where there is so [Pg 25]much unpleasantness arising from unwise interference over trifles, by the proprietor's wife, or from officious meddling by the families of the prominent stockholders.

Tact Can Not be Taught.

"Bumping up against" the proprietor and proprietor's wife or family is one of the most perplexing problems that the housekeeper has to solve. The ability to combat with such a problem can not be imparted by teaching. It has to exist in the housekeeper herself, in the peculiar, individual bent of her nature. No amount of preaching and teaching can ever endow a housekeeper with the ever ready wit characteristic of the "Irish tongue."

The savory reply, "O, Mrs. B., you are a dream of loveliness!" would be sweet to some ears while to others it would be a "harsh discord." It is impossible to teach which ear would or would not be the receptive one. Any attempt on the part of the housekeeper to work up these qualities, "by rule" would only be a failure Even the "Golden Rule" fails sometimes to bring about desired results. The better plan, perhaps, for the housekeeper to adopt is to live her own life, and not try to imitate others. If she tries to be great, she will be nothing; if she tries to be plain, simple, and good, she may be great.

[Pg 26]

Character in the Hotel Business.

There is no royal road to success for the hotel clerk, steward, manager, or housekeeper. The hotel business is peculiar in many respects; it teaches conspicuously the great importance of character.

There is no ingenious system that the housekeeper may adopt to insure her success. Getting into trouble or keeping out of it is largely a matter of luck, influenced by the kind of help that she is able to secure. But, first and last, her success depends on her character—her own energy, industry, intelligence, and moral worth.

[Pg 27]

Room Inspection.

When inspecting rooms, the housekeeper will notice that the room is completed with the following necessaries: One bed, one foot blanket. One rocking chair and two straight chairs. One writing table and a scrap basket. One cuspidor. One dresser. One clothes tree or wardrobe. One ice water pitcher and two glasses on a tray. If there is no bathroom, or stationary hot and cold water, there must be a commode, a wash bowl and pitcher, soap dish and clean soap. One slop jar, one chamber. Four face towels. If there is a bathroom, one bath mat and toilet paper in the holder. One small mirror. One cake of bath soap and two bath towels are needed. On the dresser in every guest room should be a box of safety matches and a candle. Candles are so cheap, and candle holders may be purchased for a trifle, which will answer the purpose as well as silver. No one who has lived in hotels but knows how annoying it is to be left in total darkness for half an hour, on [Pg 28]account of a burned out fuse, when they are dressing for the theatre and in a hurry to complete their toilet.

The clerk in the office with the room rack in front of him has no conception of the rooms except that they are in perfect order. Perfect order does not only mean that the bed is neatly made, the floor clean and all the furniture dusted; soap, towels, matches, candles and glasses in their places, but everything must be in perfect working order. Let the housekeeper's inspection begin then with the door. The lock must be in order, and the key work properly. It is embarrassing to the clerk to have to listen of a morning to such complaints as "my door would not lock, and I was compelled to push the dresser in front of it to insure safety." But this "kick" is often heard in first-class houses. The transoms next should receive attention—see if they will open and close. Next the electric lights; they must all be in order and burn brightly. The dresser drawers must move readily, and be perfectly clean. The windows must be carefully examined to see if they open and close easily, and they must have no broken cords. A housekeeper's intelligent attentions to these details will greatly aid the clerk in prompt service to the guests, and will insure to the hotel the service that will be its own best advertisement.

[Pg 29]

Gossip Between Employes.

There are only two classes in a hotel among its employes; one class is quite perfect and pure as angels, while the others are black sheep and altogether unspeakable. There is no transition, no intermediate links, no shading of light or dark. A hotel employe is either good or bad, and this rigid rule applies not only to moral character, but intellectual excellence also is measured by the same standard. In a large hotel of, say 250 employes, everybody seems to know everybody and everything about everybody. Everybody knows that he is watched, and gossip, both in the best and worst sense of the word, rules supreme. Gossip is, in fact, public opinion, with all its good and all its bad features. Still, the result is that no one can afford to lose caste, and everybody behaves as well as he can. The private life of hotel employes is almost blameless. The great evils of society do not exist; now and then a black sheep gets in, but his or her life soon becomes a burden, everybody knows what has happened and the employes, being on a whole [Pg 30]so blameless, are all the more merciless on the sinners, whether their sins are great or small.

What most impresses one in hotels is the loyalty among employes. No one tells them what to do or what to say, or what not to say, or what not to do, yet you will observe that one who professes to be your friend will not say unfriendly things behind your back. This condition is noticeable among those of inferior rank, as well as among managers, stewards, clerks and housekeepers. As a rule, one table in the main dining room is reserved for the officers, clerks, stewards, cashiers, bookkeepers, checkers, stenographers and housekeepers. Most of them have been taught a few rules of life wisdom by their seniors. At any rate, few of them are seen with their elbows on the table. They are observant enough of social forms to eat pie with a fork, and their teaspoon is always in the saucer; they eat slowly and take time to triturate. There is always one "wit" to make one sorry when the meal is ended. Many hotel employes possess intellectual powers to a great degree. Many clerks are college graduates. The housekeeper is not, as some have said usually a member of the broken down aristocracy, some one who has seen better days, whose duty it is to walk through the halls with a "persimmon" countenance, in search of the evildoer; never was a statement more false. Hotels employ a house detective to look after its morals. A housekeeper is more apt to be [Pg 31]an assistant, who has been promoted to the very responsible position of housekeeper.

Relationship Between Housekeeper and Women Patrons.

A simple acquaintance is the most desirable footing with all persons, however desiring. The unlicensed freedom that usually attends familiarity affords but too ample scope for the indulgence of selfish and mercenary motives on the part of the women patrons. It would be safe to say that the housekeeper owes to all women patrons the courtesy and consideration due one woman from another. It has been said that woman's inhumanity to woman makes countless millions mourn. But this condition is happily fading away; within the last decade women have been improving in manners and morals toward each other. The housekeeper should take the initiative, consider the "roof as an introduction" and assume a kindly interest in the welfare of the women guests.

Politeness is the sweetener of human society and gives a charm to everything said and done. But a housekeeper may be called on to sacrifice her duty to her employer. In this case she must not let any weak desire of pleasing guests make her recede one jot from any point that reason and prudence have bid her pursue.

Birds of Passage.

One of the most striking conditions in modern hotel [Pg 32]life is that few hotels retain their heads of departments any great length of time, while the inferior working class remains in one hotel for many years, and often for a lifetime. This significant state becomes more marked from year to year, and the question arises: What has brought about such a changed condition? The traveling public surely is gratified to see a familiar face behind the desk, in the housekeeping department, and also in the dining-room. In days past, clerks, stewards, and housekeepers, were identified with the same hotel until a retirement from all active life would see them replaced by others. But of late they seem to have earned the title, "birds of passage."

Temperament creates the atmosphere of your surroundings, and if you would remain in a fixed place, you should cultivate the respect of all, and, if possible, their love, also. A nervous man or woman speaks in haste and uses a sharp tone of voice over mere trifles, which, to an ignorant mind, may have a tendency to create dislike, causing results that may prove distinct barriers to his or her success as a manager or housekeeper, whereas a placid man or woman could bring about the same result with gentler tones, thereby preventing useless friction and hatred.

Directing and Commanding.

Heads of hotel departments should cultivate their talents for directing and commanding. Politeness, [Pg 33]which belongs to all persons of good breeding and is essential in the ordinary transactions of life, is so minutely cultivated by the heads of hotel departments as to be conspicuous in its absence; some are not even civil, which is the very least that one person can be to another.

I do not mean to infer that an employe is to be forgiven if he gets intoxicated and is late to his work every morning, nor that a sneak, a thief, or an agitator should be excused. To handle help on the forgiving plan in such cases, employers would become sentimental reformers and the worst kind of failures. Sentiment may be comforting, but it is silly when employed in business, under these conditions. Those that desire may practice forgiveness, but when it costs time and money and brings gray hairs to those that are doing the forgiving, it is better to keep as near the line of sternness as possible. Everyone employing labor should be very careful of his manner in expressing his disapproval of the actions of subordinates. A reprimand should never be made in anger. If a grave offense has been committed, reprimanding should be done with great coolness and reserve, if you would look to future events and their probable consequences. Impertinent and forward people may be checked by cold reserve. Often the faculties for transacting business and the talents for directing and reprimanding are considered by fond admirers to be the [Pg 34]gift of nature, when, in reality, they are the outcome of self-control and education.

Chesterfield says: "If you are in authority and have a right to command, your commands delivered in sauviter in modo will be willingly, cheerfully, and, consequently, well obeyed."

Attention to Details.

Hotel housekeeping is a science. The crowning excellence, as all acknowledge, lies in giving strict attention to small things. Successful hotel-keeping is an artistic achievement in which everything is in its right place, is of the proper grade, shade, quality, and cleanliness, harmonizing in every particular.

Details are repulsive to the lazy or the listless. Let the housekeeper feel the greatness of her position and the importance of her duties, if she so desires to succeed. Enthusiasm is an element that can least be spared—one that must accompany the housekeeper at every step.

The question has arisen whether the housekeeper should learn without rules, by blundering experience, or should she take what the approved experience of others has found to be the best. No one doubts the answer. The true way is to submit to rules and regulations and methods of experienced and practical hotel housekeepers that have made their profession a life-long study.

[Pg 35]

The Progressive Housekeeper.

The ocean is an everchanging wonder of kaleidoscopic views and no eye ever wearies of its beauty. The earth arrays herself in such gorgeous costumes so pleasing to man's sight that few there are who want to leave her to try another. The child tires of the old ragdoll and cries for the "Teddy bear." Put a new dress on the old ragdoll and it will again become the favorite.

If a housekeeper is not progressive, her employer will tire of her. The onward trick of nature is too much for the average housekeeper, and gladly would she anchor, but to do so means to sink. She must keep up with the times, she must travel the pace of progress.

There is nothing new under the sun, but there is constant metamorphosis. Time brings changes. Competition is strong and housekeepers must be on the alert for any accomplishment that will aid in their calling.

In America, life is a universal race for exalted positions. Then get out of the rut and keep up the long list of illusions, of which a rapid succession of changes and moods and styles and ideas is the secret.

[Pg 36]You must keep busy. There is only one sin that you can commit; that sin is idleness. Polish the old things and make them look like new. Do not let your footsteps become so narrow that they will end in a turkey-track. Keep up your practice of thoroughly cleaning rooms, overhauling furniture, and sending out a mattress now and then to have it repaired. Take up a carpet and have it cleaned. Give the radiators a coat of bronze. Have the ceiling lights cleaned. Paste up the wall-paper that is hanging from the wall. Polish the brass on the stairs. Put in an order for some new material of which to make dresser covers.

Decorative Dresser Covers.

The writer has just completed some very pretty dresser covers for the parlor floor rooms, en suite. The work is fascinating, and the linen-room girls and parlor-maids can lend a hand at making them. Any kind of linen material can be adapted that can be laundered with ease and success. Plain white linen is a well-deserved favorite and makes thoroughly useful, as well as fashionable, dresser-covers. A cheaper material can be found in linen toweling—just as pretty and just as durable as the plain white linen.

The dresser cover just covering the dresser and not allowed to hang down is the favorite mode just now. It can be simply hemmed; but a charming and more [Pg 37]attractive pattern is with scalloped edges and elaborated ends. These scallops are made with a spool, medium size, No 50 being especially suitable. Put the spool on the edge of the material and with a lead pencil, draw a crescent and then another, clear across the end. Pad the scallops with common white darning-cotton, using the old fashioned chain-stitch. Before putting the work in the embroidery-hoops, sew a strip of muslin, about six inches in width to the edge of the dresser cover. This will aid in getting the work placed in the hoops and will enable you to do smoother and more satisfactory work.

Embroider the scallops with linen embroidery floss, size "D," using the buttonhole stitch. An eyelet at the termination and just above each crescent will add materially to its effectiveness. Rip off the muslin and launder before cutting out the scallops. This will prevent the ugly fringe seen on so many embroidered dresser-covers.

[Pg 38]

The Housekeeper's Salary.

Too many housekeepers of the present day neglect the small things. They want to draw large salaries and let the house take care of itself, while they visit with the guests and gossip and have a good time. The clerks are kind and do not report to the manager the little complaints that come to the office every day; but the housekeeper's conscience should tell her that she is not earning her money.

The housekeeper that is above her profession, is not interested in her work, and that is trying to get into some church society, had better not engage in hotel housekeeping, for her housekeeping duties will require her constant attention at the hotel. There will be some difficulties to settle at all times, which will require her presence. Maids work better when they are conscious of a vigilant overseer. They take more pride in their work when they know that every nook and corner is being inspected by the housekeeper. Especially is this true if the housekeeper is successful in commanding the respect of her subordinates.

[Pg 39]The housekeeper that lays the blame of some grave mistake on her assistants is not worthy of the name of housekeeper. Had she been there, attending to her affairs, it would not have happened, for she would have prevented or stopped it.

The housekeeper, by diligence, attendance to her duties, and by economies, figures greatly in the success of a hotel, and makes her own position. The position does not make her. Then it is fairly reasonable to suppose that such a housekeeper should make her own salary; that she should command and receive her price; that she should be paid according to the amount she is really worth, and not the fixed scale that the hotel pays. If a housekeeper can show by her books, by her management, and by her economies, that she is worth more than her predecessor, she is entitled to more pay, and by all means should receive more pay. The average salary paid a housekeeper is not enough to properly clothe a housekeeper. After her laundry bills are paid, what has she left to lay up for the "rainy day," to say nothing of an old age, when parsimony and incompatibility of temper and "set ways" make her, in any place, an unwelcome personage.

The Faithful, Efficient Housekeeper.

The housekeeper that sticks to her post and is always looking after her work is surely worth more to her [Pg 40]employer than one that has worn the carpet threadbare in front of her mirror, or one that puts in a great portion of her time at the bargain-counter, or the theater, or with a novel in her hand. Surely, the hard-working housekeeper, the one that makes her occupation a study and is always at her post, is worth more to her employer than the housekeeper that is trying to do society "stunts," to ring in with people of fashion, to "out-dress" them. But the majority of hotels pay much the same salaries to housekeepers, good, bad, and indifferent.

The progressive housekeeper that thus looks after her employer's business every day, always at her post in the linen-room, is uncomplaining, shoulders the blame, and is not always knocking on his private-office door and entering complaints about this or that, is surely worth more than thirty dollars a month to any hotel man. If he does not think so, he should not blame the progressive, faithful, reliable housekeeper, if she promptly accepts a position with better pay.

[Pg 41]

Inspection and Cleaning of Rooms.

The housekeeper, or her assistant, should go through every room twice a day. In the morning, the housekeeper should take the house-plan, inspect every room, and check up the rooms that have been occupied. If the bed in a room has been used, and if there is baggage, she should check this also, and should turn the report into the office by nine o'clock. Then, in the afternoon, when the maids are supposed to have finished their work, the housekeeper should take her pencil and pad and thoroughly inspect every room and the maids' work. She may find a ragged sheet or pillow slip; if so, she should make a note of it. Some room may be short of a towel, soap or matches; she should make a note of this also. Around the gas-jets and in the corners, she may find "Irish curtains" (cobwebs); in the commode, she may find a vessel that was forgotten; in a dresser drawer, a man may have left his cast-off hose, and suspenders. Some maid may have swept the center of the room, while under the bed and under the dresser there may be dust of two weeks' standing; in another [Pg 42]room, the housekeeper may find a bathtub forgotten—all of which she should write on the pad. This work will occupy two hours of her time in a two-hundred-room house. When the maids come on watch at six o'clock, each one should be given instructions to go back and finish her work. In some hotels, the maids do not go off duty of an afternoon, but continue working until six o'clock. In this case, the housekeeper should issue her instructions at once.

[Pg 43]

How to Clean a Room.

There are many ways to clean a room, but there is just one best way to clean it thoroughly. "Dig out the corners" should be the watchword of every successful housekeeper. She would rather the maid would leave the dirt in a pile in the center of the room than fail to clean out the corners.

If one word could be selected that means the most and needs the most emphasis in the science of housekeeping, that word would be "cleanliness." The first desideratum, therefore, of the chambermaid, is the scrub-pail and a piece of oilcloth—some maids use a newspaper—under it to protect the carpet. The first thing to do is to clean the small pieces of furniture. If the furniture is new, it should be only wiped with the dust-cloth. If it is old and marred, it should be washed with warm water and soap, and oiled with a good furniture-polish. It should then be set in the hall. The dresser drawers should be washed and the marble cleaned with sapolio; the mirrors should be polished, the windows washed, and the shutters dusted. The crockery should be cleaned [Pg 44]and put in the hall. The bed should be covered with a dust-cover. The cobwebs should be swept down with a long-handled broom. The lace curtains should be shaken, and either taken down or pinned up. The closet should be swept out. The toilet-bowl should be scrubbed inside and out with the toilet-brush, and a disinfectant powder put in. The stationary wash-bowl should be scrubbed with sapolio, and the faucets polished, not forgetting the chain. The bathtub should also be scrubbed with sapolio, and the floor washed.

The door should now be closed and the sweeping begun. A very good plan is to scatter wet paper over the floor to keep the dust down. The corners should be dug out and the dirt swept to the center of the room and taken up in the dust-pan. If the carpet is old, it should be sponged with warm water and soap, to which a little ammonia has been added. The carpet will look like new after this process. After the dust is well settled, all the wood work in the room should be washed; the bed and dresser should be washed and oiled, and all the furniture should be symmetrically arranged, and the windows closed on account of storms.

One chambermaid can successfully look after eighteen or twenty rooms a day. Not all of the rooms are occupied every night. The maid should take advantage of the dull days to clean her rooms thoroughly; she should clean one room every day.

[Pg 45]

The Importance of Good Beds.

Competition is great, and success will come to the best and cleanest hotel. The traveler loves to slip into a bed with perfectly laundered sheets that do not look as if the maids had sprinkled, folded, and pressed them between the mattress, as chambermaids ordinarily do in hotels where there is a scant supply of linen.

Sometimes the chambermaid will ask the laundryman for a pair of sheets to make up a sample-room, as the guest wants to receive a customer. The laundryman replies: "Well, just as soon as the machinery starts again, you may have them." There has been a breakdown; the belt is off; or something has gone wrong, and they have sent for the engineer to fix it. Then the housekeeper must go to some unoccupied room and strip the bed and use the linen for making up the bed in the sample-room, while the guest walks the floor and frets over the delay. Much time is saved if the hotel is supplied with plenty of linen.

Sheets that cover only two-thirds of the mattress do not add to the cheerfulness and comfort of the guests. [Pg 46]Many well grounded complaints are entered about this. Special laws have been enacted in some states, within the last year, regarding the length of sheets.

Occasionally a guest finds it expedient to make his bed over, if he would have any comfort. The maid has put the double fold of the blanket to the top; it is a warm night, yet he fears to throw the blanket off—he might take cold. So he concludes to make his own bed, putting the single fold to the top, that he may throw some of it back.

[Pg 47]

How a Bed is Made.

Good bed-making is the one trait par excellence in all good chambermaid work. To make a bed artistically is one important feature, and to make it so that the guest may rest comfortably is another, and, finally, just how is the best way to make a bed is a question worthy of consideration.

In our big country of America, the traveler from Maine to California sees many styles of bed-making. In New Orleans is seen the picturesque canopy of pure white mosquito-netting tucked in neatly all around. In Kansas City is seen the snowy spreads plaited half way to the foot with numerous little folds. In New York is seen the pure linen hemstitched sheets, turned back with a single fold.

To begin to make a bed, first, the mattress should be turned. The bottom sheet should then be tucked in carefully by raising the mattress with one hand and smoothing the sheet down with the other. The large hems should always be at the head, in order that no one may be compelled to lay his face where some one's feet [Pg 48]have been. After the bottom sheet has been tucked in at the head, it should be tightly drawn and tucked in at the foot in the same way. Sheets should be long enough to tuck in one foot at the head and one at the bottom. If it is a brass bed, the sheets should be left to hang down.

After the bottom sheet is on perfectly, it is easy to make a pretty bed, and one in which the guest may rest well. The top sheet should be put on, and tucked in at the foot only. The blanket should be put on with the single fold at the head. If the guest should get too warm, he can throw half of the blanket to the foot and yet have sufficient covering. After the spread is put on, a single fold as large as your hand should be made, then another fold one foot in width should complete the folding, and the spread should be neatly tucked in. The pillows should now be smoothed evenly and placed up aright, and the bed is made.

[Pg 49]

How to Clean Walls.

To clean a painted canvas wall does not require so much skill as patience.

A painted canvas wall is very easily cleaned. Many housekeepers have them washed with ivory soap and water, and obtain good results. Others add a little ammonia to the water, and still others use the powdered pumice.

The cost of painted walls are great, and it is a great saving to any proprietor, if the housekeeper can successfully clean a painted wall without calling the decorators.

Perhaps the most practical and most economical way to do the work and obtain the best results is to wash the wall with water, in which has been dissolved a cake of sapolio.

To proceed to clean the parlor walls: first, take out all the bric-a-brac and tapestry and furniture; then take up the carpet. Have the carpenter erect a scaffolding for the houseman to stand on. Have two pails of hot water, and in one let a cake of sapolio dissolve. Keep [Pg 50]the other pail of water for rinsing. Have two large sponges, one for cleaning and the other for rinsing. Souse the cleaning-sponge in the pail in which the sapolio has been dissolved, then squeeze the water out of the sponge. Then begin on the ceiling or in one corner, cleaning only a small square at a time. After cleaning, rinse with the sponge from the clean pail, not making the sponge too dry. Do not wipe the wall with a cloth, but leave moist, after which have ready a pail of starch, and with an ordinary paint or white-wash-brush, starch the square that you have cleaned, before it is thoroughly dry. The starching-process is very necessary. It will leave a gloss on the paint, and also preserves it the next time it is washed; for, in this case, it will be the starch that will be washed off instead of the paint. To make the starch take ordinary laundry starch and dissolve one cupful in one pint of cold water. Into this pour boiling water until it is as thick as cream and let boil, stirring constantly.

The following is an excellent preparation for cleaning wall-paper, and perhaps it might serve as well to clean walls hung with burlap:

2 pounds of rye flour.
½ pound of wheat flour.
1 handful of salt.

Mix well together with water and bake one hour in [Pg 51]the oven. Then peel and work back into a dough, adding ½ ounce of ammonia and ½ ounce of gasoline.

This is not an expensive preparation and will clean papered or burlap walls very nicely.

Calcimined walls will have to be re-decorated.

A good way to clean hardwood floors in halls where the carpet does not entirely cover the floor, is to take a can of linseed oil and a small woolen cloth and dip one end of the cloth in the oil, being careful not to spill the oil on the carpet, or touch the edge of the carpet while cleaning; this will remove the dust and dirt, after which the floor may be polished with ordinary floor-wax put on with a flannel cloth and polished with a brick, over which has been sewed a piece of Brussels carpet.

How to Scrub a Floor.

What is prettier than a hardwood floor after it has been properly scrubbed? To scrub a floor and get satisfactory results is a science. To change the water frequently is one secret of success. "Elbow grease" is another. Mops are impossible, and this is another subject on which the housekeeper can wax eloquent. What is more disgusting than to see the baseboards of a room smeared, or the dirt shoved in the corners with an old dirty mop?

Before commencing to scrub, place every article of furniture on the table and then sweep. Beginning [Pg 52]in the rear of the door so as not to track over the clean part until it is perfectly dry, scrub with a brush a small section at a time; first wipe up with a damp rag and then with a dry one. The New York Knitting Mills, of Albany, N. Y., furnish remnants of cloth that are indispensable for scrubbing. Enough of these remnants can be bought for $3 to last six months.

A little ammonia in the water will help to whiten the floors. The modern skewers from the kitchen are very useful in getting into the corners of the window sills and into the corners of the stair steps. A weak solution of oxalic acid and boiling water will remove the very worst kind of ink-stains from the floor.

Pads for kneeling on are made of burlap, and one is given to each scrubber. The unnatural position that the scrubber assumes makes the work laborious; the scrubber may change her position frequently by getting clean water.

[Pg 53]

How to Get Rid of Vermin.

The worst kind of house-pests, if you do not know how to get rid of them, but not the easiest to exterminate, are bedbugs. They do not confine themselves to any section of the country, though the International Encyclopedia gives the belief "that up to Shakespeare's time they were not known in England," and that "they came originally from India."

In Kansas, the bedbug is improperly called the chintz-bug, and is believed to dwell under the bark of the cotton-wood tree. There is no authentic truth for this belief.

The spread of the bedbug is mainly due to its being carried from place to place in furniture and clothing. It has the power of resisting great cold and of fasting indefinitely. The eggs of the bedbug are very small, whitish, oval objects, laid in clusters in the crevices used by the bugs for concealment; they hatch in eight days. Under favorable conditions and slovenly housekeeping, their multiplication is extremely rapid. The greatest trouble lies with the housekeeper who allows the bugs to [Pg 54]increase unchecked until they are so numerous in the floors and walls that it is nearly impossible to kill them off.

It is useless waste of time to try to exterminate with Persian insect powder, or sulphur candles. These remedies have been recommended by the International Encyclopedia, but have not demonstrated their worth when subjected to tests by careful experimental methods, by the author.

Scientific Way of Extermination.

The only scientific and practical way to get rid of them is to clean thoroughly, religiously, and scrupulously the room and every article in it. Bedbugs are exceedingly difficult to fight, owing both to their ability to withstand the action of many insecticides and owing also to the protection afforded them by the walls and the woodwork of the room.

If the mattress is old, it should be burned. The bed should be taken apart, the slats and springs taken to the bathroom and scalded, and then treated with a mixture of corrosive sublimate and alcohol, liberally applied, after which a coat of varnish should be given to the entire bed—slats, springs and all. The carpet should be taken up and sent to the cleaners. The paper should be scraped from the walls and sent to the furnace and burned, and the walls should be left bare until the bugs [Pg 55]are exterminated. The holes in the walls and woodwork and the cracks and crevices in the floor should be filled up with common yellow soap. This is better than to fill them with putty; it is more practical and is easier to handle. Use the thumb or an old knife to put the soap into the holes; the workman should get the stepladder and go over the entire ceiling, getting the soap into every crack and crevice. After this is done, it will be impossible for the eggs to hatch or the bugs to get out. This is the most important part of the extermination of bugs. The floor should then be scrubbed, after which it should be well poisoned with the mixture of corrosive sublimate and alcohol. Every piece of furniture in the room should be washed and poisoned, and given a coat of varnish.

Treating the Mattress.

If the mattress is too good to be thrown away, the following will be found a good method to destroy the vermin in it: dissolve two pounds of alum in one gallon of water; let it remain twenty-four hours until all the alum is dissolved. Then, with a whisk-broom, apply while boiling hot. This is also a good way to rid the walls and ceiling of bugs. Getting on the stepladder, the workman should apply the wash with the whisk-broom, never missing an inch of the entire ceiling and walls, keeping the liquid boiling hot while using. It [Pg 56]should be poured in all the cracks of the floor, in the corners, over the doors and over the windows. The operation should be repeated every day for two weeks, after which the woodwork should be painted and the walls papered.

A strict watch should be kept on all the help's rooms, and any signs of bugs should be promptly treated with the mixture of corrosive sublimate and alcohol.

Cleanliness a Necessity.

Cleanliness is a prime factor in ridding rooms of vermin. In many of the hotels there is one woman appointed to look after the bugs, and she has no other duty.

A good night's sleep is necessary to health and happiness. It can not be found in a room with vermin. The housekeeper should keep up the continual warfare against the standing army of bugs, and never allow the enemy to take possession.

Roaches, or water-bugs, are easily exterminated. Hellebore sprinkled on the floor will soon kill them off. It is poison. They eat it at night and are killed. Some people object to having poison around. In that case, powdered borax will prove an expedient eradicator.

A good way to keep rats from a room is to saturate a rag with cayenne pepper and stuff it in the hole; no rat or mouse will touch the rag, not if it would open a communication with a depot of eatables.

[Pg 57]A Nauseating Subject.

Of all the obnoxious being that get into a hotel, the one whose feet smell to the heavens is the worst. Every housekeeper in America—heaven bless them—if she has a normal and simple mind as fits her calling, finds smelling feet an intolerable nuisance.

Health requires at least one bath a day for the feet, and when they perspire freely they should be bathed twice a day. What must be said of the maid who, on entering a room, compels you to leave it on account of the sickening odor from her feet. In a case like this, the housekeeper must "take the bull by the horns," tell the maid that "her feet smell" and that "she must keep herself cleaner." The maid's feelings are not to be spared in the performance of this important duty. After washing the feet carefully twice a day for a week a cure will be effected. Clean hosiery should be put on every day. A very good remedy for offensive feet is a few drops of muriatic acid in the water when bathing the feet before retiring to bed.

[Pg 58]

The Superiority of Vacuum Cleaning.

This is an age of surprises and scientific researches. The up-to-date vacuum-cleaning machine is a huge debt to an ancient past. It is a big improvement over the methods employed in days gone by. As a preventive for moths, it has no equal. In hotels where this labor-saving device has not been installed, carpets must be carried to the roof to be cleaned, or sent to the regular carpet-cleaners, and soon converted into ravelings. Carpets are very expensive, and, if you want your money's worth from them, you must preserve them from moths. In order to do this, they must be either vacuum-cleaned or taken to the roof every six months and given a beating. After the moths get a start in a carpet it is surprising to learn what vast inroads toward destruction they can make in a few weeks. Moving the furniture and thoroughly sweeping and brushing the edges with turpentine are good preventives. But nothing will so effectually destroy them as does the vacuum-cleaning process.

[Pg 59]In order to secure detailed information regarding the workings of the vacuum-cleaning system for hotels, I wrote to a gentleman in Milwaukee, who is probably the best informed man on that subject in the country. Besides being in the vacuum-cleaning business, he is a hotel man himself and therefore knows how to meet the needs of the hotel housekeeper. I quote a part of his reply:

System Explained by an Expert.

"The vacuum-cleaning system in a hotel will pay for itself every year by reducing the cleaning force and by increasing the life of carpets, rugs, hangings, upholstery, and decorations, whether paper, fresco, or paint.

"In hotels where this system is in use—and their number is increasing every month—carpets and rugs are cleaned on the floor. Right here is a big saving. First, taking up and relaying carpets is expensive. There is nothing that wears them out quicker than this sort of handling and the beating and "tumbling." Vacuum-cleaning not only saves this, but saves the daily wear and tear of grinding in the dirt and wearing off the nap with a broom. Third, with the vacuum-system, valuable rooms are never put out of commission while the carpets and rugs are away being cleaned.

"Not only are the carpets and rugs kept cleaner by the vacuum-system, but everything else is cleaner because dust is kept down. The housekeeper of a certain [Pg 60]hotel told the owner that since he put in the vacuum-system, the transoms had to be washed only one-fourth as often as before. Now, the dust on those transoms came out of the air. It settled everywhere, but it showed plainly only on the transoms. With the vacuum-system, there is only one-fourth as much dust to settle on the walls and decorations, and even that little is quickly removed with the vacuum-wall-brush. Dust on the walls is what causes the unpleasant, musty smell of many hotel rooms. Keeping walls clean means less frequent redecorating.

Purifies Nearly Everything.

"Upholstered furniture is quickly and thoroughly cleaned by the vacuum-method. Dust is removed not only from the surface, but also from the folds and creases and even the interior of the cushions. Moths and their eggs are sucked out from their hiding places under the upholstery buttons or in the corners.

"Mattresses and pillows are kept clean and sweet by vacuum-treatment. Passing the cleaning tool over the surface prevents dust from accumulating and sifting in. It sucks out the stale dusty air inside and draws in fresh air, thus preventing that unpleasant musty smell which hotel beds sometimes have.

"By the vacuum-method, tapestries and hangings are kept fresh and bright without the trouble and expense [Pg 61]of taking them down. One hotel manager told me his vacuum-system saved him $10 every time he cleaned the hangings in his dining-room, for it used to cost him that sum to have them re-draped.

"By means of a special brush, wood and tile floors can be cleaned without the dust of dry sweeping, or the muddy aftermarks of sawdust.

Vacuum Always on Tap.

"The most and recent important improvement in vacuum-cleaning consists in having the vacuum or 'suction power' always 'on tap' on every floor. At convenient points in the corridors, nickel-plated taps are placed. To these, the housemen or maids can quickly attach the rubber hose connected with the cleaning-tools. Opening a valve turns on the suction or vacuum. Then, as fast as the tool is moved over the surface to be cleaned, dust and dirt are sucked through the hose into the pipes and away to an air-tight dust-tank in the basement. The 'on tap' vacuum is always ready for use. No need to telephone or send word to the engineer to start that pump or to stop it when the work is done.

"Although the vacuum, or suction, is kept on tap all the time, practically no power is consumed except when the cleaning is going on. Even then the amount of power used—whether it be steam or electricity—is [Pg 62]automatically proportioned to the number and the size of the cleaning tools in use. Whenever you lay down the sweeper to move a chair, just so much less power is consumed while the tool is idle. If one sweeper is in use, only one-tenth as much power is needed as when ten sweepers are working. The little upholstery tuft-cleaner consumes only one-ninth as much power as the carpet-sweeper. This means a great saving of power and is a great improvement over the old vacuum-methods, by which it was impossible to keep the vacuum on tap and by which, once the apparatus was started, full power was consumed, no matter how many sweepers were at work."

[Pg 63]

The Linen-Room and the Linen-Woman.

The linen-woman has in her care all the beautiful and expensive linen in the hotel; if she is careless in counting it when sending it to the different departments, careless in counting it after it has been returned, there will be a deficit in the "stock-report" at the end of the month. The linen-room is a position of trust. The linen-woman should be as accurate in counting her employer's napkins and table-cloths as the cashier is in counting his employer's dollars.

The following set of rules and essential requirements are suggested for the management of the linen-woman:

1. She must be prompt to open the linen-room at 6:30 a.m.

2. Must not leave the linen-room without notifying the housekeeper.

3. Must sort the linen.

4. Must see that no damaged article of linen is sent out to the guest-rooms.

5. Must mend all the linen.

6. Must keep track of the linen.

7. Must keep the linen-room books.

[Pg 64]8. Must mark the new linen before sending it out.

The linen-room is the housekeeper's pride. What is more pleasing to a housekeeper than to look into a well-kept linen-room. This room is the housekeeper's "stock-exchange," the room where all her business transactions take place. It is also her home. She has her geraniums in the window and her desk in one corner. She has her sewing-machine, and telephone, and a bright rug or two on the spotless floor. The linen-room is the place where the housekeeper is found or her whereabouts made known.

The room should be thoroughly cleaned every Saturday, and swept and dusted every day. It requires skill and labor to keep a well regulated linen-room looking neat and pretty. Linen-shelves are scrubbed, not papered. All heavy articles, such as spreads, blankets, pillows, and table-felts should be kept on the top shelf. The water-glasses, ice-water pitchers, extra slop jars, washbowls and pitchers, should also be kept on the top shelves, and covered with a dust-cover. The other shelves should be scrubbed, and the sheets, slips, face-towels, and bath-towels used for the guest-rooms, put on a shelf by themselves. The helps' linen should be put on another shelf. The table-linen should be placed by itself, and so on—a place for everything and everything in its place.

[Pg 65]How Linen is Mended.

The table-cloths should be mended first before they are sent to the laundry. The best way to mend table-linen is first to fill the holes with darning-cotton, just as you would if you were darning a stocking; then loosen the presser-foot of your sewing-machine and darn it down neatly with the machine. If the hole is very large—say as large as your hand—the better way is to cover the hole with darning-net before filling it in with the darning-cotton; then it may be finished on the machine.

When the table-cloths are too bad to mend, the large ones can be cut down into small ones and the small ones into tray-covers. Old napkins can be sewed together and used for cleaning-cloths. Table-linen is very expensive and the careful housekeeper will easily save her salary above that of a careless one by properly taking care of the linen.

How Coffee Bags Are Made.

The coffee-bags should be made from the stewards' dictation. No two stewards will have them made the same. Bath-towels, when damaged, may be made into wash-cloths, and used in the public baths. The cases for hot-water bags are made of white flannel.

A supply of soap, matches, toilet-paper, and sanitary powder, should be kept in the linen-room, where it is convenient for the maids.

The progressive housekeeper will not allow the stock [Pg 66]of linen to grow too small. She will see that it is replenished each month.

The linen-room should be opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed at 10:00 p.m. If it is a commercial hotel, the linen should be portioned among the maids, in the morning. The linen issued in the morning should be charged to each girl on the slate. The maids should count the soiled linen on their floor, pin the count to the bundle, and bring it to the linen-room, where the linen-woman again should count it and give each maid credit on the slate. The linen-woman should deduct the clean linen issued in the morning from the soiled linen returned, and, if the linen-room owes the maid, she should be given her linen at once. After that, the maid should get only one piece of clean linen for one of soiled. If the maid brings in no soiled linen, she should not get any clean. In this way, the linen-woman will be able to keep track of the linen. She will be able to tell the manager where every piece of linen is at any time of the day.

The dining-room linen should be issued in the same way. The linen-woman should be able to tell by her books how many napkins are in the dining-room, how many are in the laundry, and the number that are on the shelf in the linen-room.

It may not be an innovation, but a blackboard in the linen-room will be of great assistance to the housekeeper in copying the changes that are sent up from time to [Pg 67]time during the day. The board may be freshly ruled every day, with as many columns as there are maids, and the maid's name, or number, should be written above her column.

As the changes are sent up on a pad by the clerks, the linen-woman should copy them on the board, putting each maid's changes under her name. The maids should take the chalk and draw a straight line through their changes, indicating that the rooms have received proper attention. As there are few hotels that have not had some trouble about reporting changes, it would be a splendid idea for the clerk to insist on the housekeeper or the linen-woman signing for the changes. The fact that the clerk can produce his duplicate, showing the time to the very minute he sent the change, is not proof that the change was received in the linen-room. The bell-boy may be a new boy, and may have taken the change-slip to some other part of the house. But if the housekeeper, or the linen-woman, signs the pad on which the changes have been sent up, and the pad is returned to the office, the housekeeper or the linen-woman will have to furnish some other excuse for the room being out of order, than that she did not get the change.

The housekeeper should see that an accurate account is taken every month of all the linen, and correctly entered on the linen-room stock-book. This account should show the new linen purchased during the month. [Pg 68]The following form is suggested for the stock-book for the linen-room:

Inventory of Linen-Room for month ending January 1, 1908.

Jan. 1, 1908. Total No. last count
Dec. 1, 1907
Plus new stock Grand Total Worn out Stolen   Net Total
Sheets 800 50 850 25     835
Wash-room Towels              

Paradise, indeed, to the housekeeper, is the hotel that has its reserve-linen closet, where, in case of accident in the laundry, she may find linen to put the rooms in order. On the other hand, how very discouraging it is where there is only one set of linen for the beds and the maids must wait until the linen is back from the laundry before they can put the rooms in order. In such hotels, the housekeeper spends much of her time running to and from the laundry.

When a new linen-woman is installed in the linen-room, the housekeeper should write out all the details of the duties required of her, regardless of any previous experience she may claim to have had.

[Pg 69]

Care of Table-Linen.

A table-cloth should be long enough to hang over the table, at least eighteen inches on all sides. Pattern cloths are prettier than the piece-linen. They are more expensive, but it pays to buy the best for hotel use. Linen, to have sufficient body to wear well, should have a certain weight to the square inch. Table-linen should weigh at least four and one-half ounces to the square yard. All pattern-cloths have the napkins to match. The napkins and table-cloths should have a tiny, narrow hem. They are best hemmed by hand, but this can not be thought of for hotels.

It takes the same amount of money to purchase the unbleached linen as it does to buy the bleached. The Irish bleached linen is of a more snowy whiteness than that of Germany. This is owing to the climate of Ireland, which is particularly adapted by sunshine and rain for natural bleaching.

Table-Linen Most Important.

The table-linen is more important than the bed-linen, and should receive the first consideration in the laundry.

[Pg 70]It should be carefully counted and sorted by the linen-woman at night, after dinner, and should be ready for the laundryman who must rise very early in the morning in order to have the table-linen ready for the laundry-maids that come on duty at seven o'clock.

A table-cloth should be folded lengthwise twice, then doubled, putting both ends together, then folded, and it will be ready for the shelf. Napkins should be put through the mangle three times and left without folding, so the linen-woman can easily sort them.

Removing Stains.

Fruit-stains in linen may be removed by pouring boiling water through the stained spot. Lemon juice and salt will remove iron-rust.

Tea, coffee, chocolate, and fruit-stains should be removed as soon as possible by pouring boiling water over them. After fruit-stains have been washed a few times in soapsuds, they become as firmly fixed in the linen as though they were dyed there, and can only be removed by a bleaching process. A good bleach can be made by taking one pint of boiling water to one teaspoonful of oxalic acid and one teaspoonful of ammonia. One teacupful of ammonia to a wash will keep the table-linen white.

The care of the table-linen is a very important feature of the housekeeper's work. In many hotels, the [Pg 71]housekeeper is required to purchase the linen. Fashion changes in table-linen as in other things. A careful study of facts and figures has proved that, in proportion to the population, the United States of America consumes more linen than any other country in the world. It is not, however, a leader in the production of flax. Russia takes the lead in this industry. The United States grows flax for the seed and not for the fibre; hence very little weaving is done in this country.

Kinds of Linen.

Linen has a variety of names, as Holland, damask, et cetera. Damask linen was first made in Damascus—the oldest city in the world—and was figured in fruit and flowers. A long time ago linen made in Scotland was sent to Germany to be bleached; hence the name Holland.

The old-time way of bleaching was long and expensive, sometimes taking an entire summer. After it was bleached by a natural process of open air, dew, and sunshine, it was then treated with an alkaline, and then buttermilk. It was left lying on the grass for a month, and sprinkled frequently with water and sometimes sour milk.

At the present time, linen can be bleached in two weeks. The cost of bleaching is much less and linen fabric is one-half cheaper than formerly. The chemicals used in the modern process of bleaching greatly [Pg 72]injures the fibre, and linen is not so durable as it was under the old-fashioned way of bleaching.

How to Test Linen.

The housekeeper in selecting linen at the counter may test the linen by ravelling out some of the threads. The threads that form the woof as well as the warp should be strong, and long thread linen. Never buy linen that is stiff and glossy, as it will be thin after it is laundered. Linen should be substantial, but pliant when crushed in the hand. Never buy a table-cloth that is part linen and part cotton, as the shrinkage of linen and cotton fibre varies greatly, which causes the threads to break, and the table-cloth will soon be full of holes.

[Pg 73]

Laundry Work.

"Order is Heaven's first law," sang the poet, and to keep order in a hotel seems not such an Herculean task. System makes work easy, and the superintendent of the laundry must insist on the work being systematically performed.

Soap and water are the most important materials used in the laundry work. To do good work with little or no damage to the linen, soft water and good soap are absolutely necessary. In many parts of the United States, the water is permanently hard, and is a perplexing question to laundry workers. The first thing to do is to soften the water. It can not be made soft by boiling, and must be treated with chemicals which must be used before the soap is added. When soap is used in hard water before it has been softened, the soap unites with the minerals in the water, and clings to the linen like a greasy scum. Borax is the best softening agent for hard water.

To soften water with borax, use one tablespoonful to each gallon of water. A tablespoonful of ammonia and [Pg 74]one tablespoonful of turpentine to each washing will keep clothes white. Hard water may be softened with potash or sal soda, which is much cheaper than borax and ammonia, but potash and sal soda are both corrosive and very injurious to the linen. Great care must be used in softening water with these alkalines. If they are not thoroughly dissolved before using in the washer, little particles are apt to escape the solvent action of the water and stick to the linen and form brown spots which soon become holes.

Good Soap a Necessity.

Soap is the next cleaning agent to be considered. You can not have pretty, white linen without good soap. A good soft soap for use in hotel laundries can be made from the refuse fat from the kitchen. This soap will effect the cleaning of the hotel bed and table-linen, but for bundle-washing, flannels, and prints, a milder soap is generally used. A very good soap for washing flannels and prints may be made from the pieces of soap that are collected from the rooms.

How linen is laundered and to be able to give a scientific reason for each step are the very first things a housekeeper should learn. No housekeeper is worthy of the title if she is unskilled in laundry tactics. Yet how few housekeepers there are that could give even a recipe for making bleach, to say nothing of the most [Pg 75]effective way to use it so as to cause the least injury to the fabric? Few housekeepers know little or anything of the benefits of the scientific researches that have been made to render laundering easy.

The linen must be carefully sorted and counted in the linen-room by the linen-woman. In hotels where the houseman gathers the linen from the different floors and carries it direct to the laundry, the laundryman has been known to dump it in the washer without sorting it. This is the source of many a lost pillow, blanket, nightshirt, and even pocketbooks and jewelry. Guests often put their valuables under the pillow or in the pillowslip and forget them. These valuables sometimes escape the chambermaid's eyes in her haste to strip the beds. Sometimes a new waiter in the dining-room will use a napkin to wipe his tray; these greatly soiled napkins should be rinsed out before they are put in the washer.

Why the Hotel Laundry Work is Discolored.

Is it any wonder that the sheets and table-linen soon get that brown color? All the soft water in the kingdom will not bring about the desired results if the linen is not carefully sorted. The napkins should be put in one pile, those that are badly soiled with mustard or gravy in another pile, and the table-cloths in another. Napkins and table-cloths that are stained with tea, coffee, chocolate, or fruit, should be laid aside and boiling [Pg 76]water should be poured through the stains before they come in contact with soap, as the soap will help to set the stains permanently.

The laundryman should rise early and have the first washing from the extractor before the laundrygirls make their appearance, which is usually at seven o 'clock.

The table-linen should receive the first attention. It is the least soiled, the most expensive, and it may be needed before the bed-linen. The napkins and table-cloths should not remain long after they are shaken out. They will have a finer gloss if they are mangled immediately after being taken from the extractor.

One reason that linen gets that dirty brown color is because it has not been properly rinsed before adding the blueing. The soap should be thoroughly rinsed from the linen before the blueing is put in the washer. How many hotel laundries send the linen to the linen-room damp and steaming and smelling of soap? Is it any wonder that the linen is soon full of holes and worn out?

Two tablespoonfuls of kerosene in a washing will greatly aid in cleansing, though more soap must be used in this case.

In many laundries, there is not sufficient help. There should be at least two girls employed to shake out and two at the mangles, in a 200-room house. Where there is bundle-washing it will require even more help than this.

[Pg 77]The kitchen-linen should be washed by hand on the board and not put in the washer.

The housekeeper should be allowed plenty of help to properly do the work.

Bleaching Linens.

When clothes have become yellow by the use of impure water or any other cause, the snowy whiteness must be restored by a bleaching process. Chloride of lime and oxalic acid are powerful agents, and, if not quickly removed from the fabric, they will corrode and do much injury to the linen. Turpentine has some power as a bleacher as also has borax. Blueing will aid in keeping the clothes white, but do not use too much. There are a variety of blueings to be had. The indigo blue is the best.

Starch will greatly aid in keeping clothes clean. It is made mostly from rice, wheat, corn, or potatoes. Only a little starch should be used with delicate fabrics. They should be no stiffer than when they are new. The starch should be completely dissolved in cold water before adding the boiling water. Stir the starch constantly while the boiling water is being poured in. A few things may be put in to give a gloss, and to make the iron run smooth; among them are paraffine, lard, kerosene, and gum arabic.

How to Iron.

Before commencing to iron, have ready a bowl of water [Pg 78]and a cloth for smoothing wrinkles and rubbing away any soot or spots that may get on the garment. Have a piece of paraffine tied in a cloth to rub over the iron, and a knife for scraping any starch from the iron that may stick to it in the process of ironing.

Put much weight on the iron and do not raise it from the garment but move it quickly over the surface. When a wrinkle is made, dampen it again with a wet cloth and smooth again with the iron. Always iron in a good light so that scorching may be avoided. A garment should be ironed quickly; otherwise it will dry out and much time will be wasted in going over it with the damp cloth and changing the irons.

In ironing a white duck skirt, stretch it in shape quickly while it is damp and iron it into shape, else it will be long here and short there. When ironing a ruffled skirt, always iron the bottom ruffle first and turn it back while ironing the others. Iron around hooks and eyes and not over them. Never iron a crease in a garment unless it is necessary. A crease will mar the effect of the garment and also cause the threads to break sooner, thereby making holes.

Recipe for Making Bleach.

An inexpensive recipe for making a good bleach to be used every day will be found in the following:

Fill a clean barrel half full of boiling water and put into it ten pounds of chloride of lime and stir until well [Pg 79]dissolved. Dissolve ten pounds of caustic soda in boiling water and stir in the barrel. Fill the barrel with boiling water and stir. Let it settle and skim the little white particles from the surface, as these are what rot the clothes. Use one gallon of the bleach in a washing.

Although laundering is one of the last kinds of work to receive the benefits of scientific research, much effort has recently been made to present easy and effective ways of laundering. The "how" and "why" has been learned. It is no difficulty for the housekeeper to hire a laundryman and to install him in his work with the words: "This is the laundry; you will meet with many difficulties in your line, but you must work out your own salvation."

How Curtains are Washed and Mended.

Take down the lace curtains that you are going to wash and shake them well so as to get all of the dust from them. Put them in cold water to soak. Then wash by hand in warm suds, to which has been added one teaspoonful of ammonia. Do not rub them, squeeze dry and rinse through two waters. Do not blue them. If they are of an ecru shade, put a little coffee in the water and they will look like new. Starch and stretch loosely on the curtain frames while they are wet. The holes can be drawn together while on the bars [Pg 80]so they will never be noticed after they are dry, and it is a far better way to mend curtains than darning them on the machine after they have dried. Cream-colored curtains may be washed in the same way. Colored madras and silk curtains can be cleansed in gasoline. Great care must be taken, as gasoline is explosive. The curtains should be taken to the bathroom, and the door should be bolted and kept bolted until the curtains are cleaned and the gasoline is washed down the sewer. The curtains are then taken to the roof and aired for half a day.

Embroidered and lace-trimmed pieces should be taken from the line while only half dry and immediately ironed, to secure the best result. To raise the embroidery, iron on the wrong side over several layers of flannel covered with a sheet of old linen.

Never iron lace with the point of the iron, if you would have it look like new. Pull and pat it into place, picking out the loops with a hairpin, or with a pointless darning-needle or bodkin. Dampen it with a wet cloth and press with the reverse iron, using its "heel" only.

When ironing circular centerpieces and table-cloths, see that the iron moves with the straight grain of the cloth. If this method is followed, the circular edge will take its true line. Guard against ironing on the bias or on a curve, lest the linen stretch hopelessly out of shape. Never fold a piece of this character after ironing it.

[Pg 81]

The Housekeeper's Rules.

If the management does not provide the housekeeper with rules, she is safe in formulating the following:

  1. Maids must report for duty at 7:00 a.m.

  2. Maids must lock all doors when leaving rooms.

  3. No maid is allowed to transfer chairs or furniture from one room to another by order of the guests, unless they have an order from the office.

  4. Maids must report at once any articles which are misplaced or taken from the rooms.

  5. Keep all soiled linen in closets.

  6. Maids must not leave any article of soiled linen lying in the halls.

  7. Maids must not leave their brooms, feather dusters, dust-cloths, or sweepers, in the halls at any time during the day.

  8. Any article found in the rooms must be brought to the linen-room, with the number of the room and date when found.

  9. All keys found left in rooms and doors must be sent to the office.

[Pg 82]10. When a tray of dishes is left in a room, the maid must ring for a bell-boy and have him notify the headwaiter or report it to the housekeeper who will telephone the headwaiter.

11. All ink, paper, and pens left in the rooms must be put in the wire ink and stationery-receiver.

12. The watch-girls must report at 6 p.m. and remain until 10 p.m. or later, if required.

13. All torn blankets and spreads must be brought to the linen-room for repairs.

14. Maids must not receive men friends in their rooms.

15. The housekeeper will relieve the linen-woman while she goes to her meals.


  1. Maids must report at 8 a.m. and remain until 1 p.m.

  2. Watch-girls must report for duty at 1 p.m. and remain until 9 p.m.

All of these rules can not be, at all times, strictly enforced by the housekeeper. She will make such modifications as are made necessary by circumstances. But rules she must have, and she must insist on their being observed.

[Pg 83]

The Parlor Maid.

Excepting the linen-room position, that of parlor maid is the most desirable situation that the hotel housekeeper can offer a girl. The wages are usually better than those of a chambermaid, and her work is not near so laborious. At all times, the parlor-maid is neatly dressed, suave, serene, and courteous. A quiet and unobtrusive manner is absolutely essential. She needs to take many steps during the day, and thus youth and a slender figure are the first qualities in one who wishes to make a success of the position. She meets people of wealth and refinement and the ultra fastidious, hence her position is a responsible one and requires a dignified appearance and demeanor. She must have self-respect and must claim the respect of others. None of the moralities must be omitted nor must she forget the daily bath, clean underwear, and clean hosiery every day. The morning is the time for the parlor-maid to do the cleaning, and she should wear about her work a washable dress of percale or dimity, with a white apron. In the afternoon and [Pg 84]evening, this should be exchanged for a black skirt, white waist, and white apron.

Where Work Is Diversified.

She is expected to render quite diversified services. Her duties vary with the mode of life of those by whom she is employed. She will scarcely be called on to do all the work that is herein enumerated; but the success of any hotel employe is largely due to the number of things he or she is able to do well. A parlor-maid may raise her occupation to a level with that of millinery or dress-making. There is room at the top of the ladder for the expert parlor-maid just the same as there is for any other person in any other calling.

In the small hotels, the parlor-maid usually cares for the proprietor's private apartments. In addition to these, a suite next to the parlor may be given her to keep in order. She can easily look after these rooms where she has only one parlor. The cleaning of the ladies' toilet-room and reception-hall and the ladies' entrance-stairs usually falls to the parlor-maid. She must look after the writing-rooms, do the high dusting, clean the tiles, clean the mirrors, polish the brass trays, clean the cuspidors, wash the lace curtains, and sweep and dust. In washing windows and mirrors, she should use warm water to which a little ammonia has been added. She should not use soap, as the grease in the soap makes [Pg 85]the polishing difficult. Wipe with a dry cotton cloth and polish with a chamois skin.

Keeping Parlor in Order.

As the parlor must always be in readiness for the reception of guests, it is thoroughly cleaned early in the morning. Once a week is often enough for a thorough cleaning. Monday is the best day for it. The furniture is moved into the hallway or into one corner of the parlor, the parlor is swept and dusted and every article replaced before breakfast. On week days, the corners are dug out with a whisk-broom and the dirt taken up with the sweeper. The parlor is dusted frequently and the cuspidors washed at least four times a day. She should wash the cuspidors inside and out, using soap and water; then wipe with a dry cloth. Leave a little clean water in the cuspidors, as this will make the vessels easier to clean next time.

Cleaning Brass Trays.

If the brass trays under the cuspidors are very badly stained, the stains may be easily removed with a solution of vinegar and salt, to which has been added a little flour. Have the mixture boiling hot; rub the tray with the mixture with a flannel cloth, then wash the tray with hot water and wipe dry with a cloth. After this, it may be polished with a good mineral paste or some of the special [Pg 86]preparations made for the purpose, using a flannel cloth for polishing.

The high dusting is done with a long handled broom. Tie a bag made of cotton flannel over the broom and brush the walls downward. Brush the dust off the cornice and over the doors and windows. Then, using a clean cheesecloth duster, go over the doors, window sills, mantles, and furniture, changing the soiled dust-cloth frequently for a clean one. The housekeeper must see that the parlor-maid is supplied with plenty of clean dust-cloths.

The Maid's Many Duties.

If the fireplace is finished with tile, the parlor-maid should wash these with soap and water. She should polish the brass and replace it. The curtains and silk draperies should be taken down and hung in the open air and brushed with a whisk-broom. The rugs should be rolled up and the houseman should take them to a flat roof where they should be laid flat and swept. They should not be whipped or beaten, as "whipping" will ruin an expensive rug. When sweeping the stairs of the ladies' entrance, the parlor-maid should use the whisk-broom and dust-pan. The ladies' toilet-room requires some care to keep it always neat and clean. After sweeping the floor and dusting the doors, the bowls should be washed inside and out with the toilet-brush [Pg 87]and a disinfectant put in. The stationary wash-basins should be scrubbed with sapolio and the faucets polished. There should be kept always on hand clean towels and soap, a comb and brush, a box of face-powder—the English prepared chalk is the best for toilet-rooms. The public baths on the parlor floor come under the parlor-maid's charge. She should keep the tubs and the floor clean, and see that soap and towels are supplied.

The writing rooms should be cleaned before breakfast. The sweeping should be done the first thing in the morning. The desks should be supplied with fresh pen points, paper and ink once a day. The waste paper baskets should be emptied as often as is necessary, and the cuspidors should be cleaned at least four times a day.

Keeps Assembly-Room in Order.

It is usually the parlor maid's duty to take care of the casino, more familiarly called the assembly-hall. The casino floor requires very careful cleaning. No scrubbing or sweeping with ordinary brooms is permissible on a polished hardwood floor. It should be carefully swept with a bristle broom and the dust taken up on the dust-pan. The floor should then be dusted with a broom, over which has been tied the cotton-flannel bag made for the purpose. If there are any spots on the floor, they will have to be washed up, but this will take [Pg 88]off the polish; therefore, it must be restored by the weighted brush or weighted box with brussels carpet tacked on the bottom of it. The original polish is restored by pulling the box back and forth over the floor. A housekeeper will make a sad mistake if she attempts to scrub the ballroom floor.

Waxing the Ballroom Floor.

In most every hotel, it is left to the housekeeper to wax the ballroom floor before the opening of the "hop." The wax is sprinkled over the floor.

In very large hotels in large cities where there are three or four public parlors, and where three or four parlor-maids are employed, their work is confined to the parlors. The parlor-maid waits on the ladies, helps them on and off with their wraps, and caters to their comfort both physically and mentally; keeps the parlor clean, and does many little acts which go to make a great big hotel seem like home.

The Card and Wine-Rooms.

No drinks are served in the public parlors, public halls, or cosy-corners. The wine-rooms are usually kept in order by the parlor-maid. The bar-porter should come for the bottles and remove the dishes. The parlor-maid should sweep and dust the wine rooms and wipe the tables, if they are polished wood. If they are ordinary [Pg 89]dining-room tables, she should put clean table-cloths on them twice a day. The wine-rooms are usually named for the cities: Chicago, New York, Binghamton, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Denver, and New Orleans.

The card-rooms are kept in order by the parlor-maid. There is seldom much furniture in a card-room, only chairs and tables. Sweeping and dusting once a day and a clean cover for the table is all that is required.

To make a muslin cover for a poker-table, take a piece of muslin and cut it round to fit the table, allowing six inches to hang down. Run a casing on the edge of it, with a bias piece two inches wide. Run in the casing, a drawing-string of common wrapping-twine. The drawing-string must be as long as the muslin is around so it will not have to be removed when laundered. After it is laundered, put it on the table and pull the drawing-string, and tie under the table.

In small hotels where the parlor-maid is called on to perform all of these manifold duties, she is assisted by the houseman.

[Pg 90]

About Chambermaids.

Some person that does not know anything about the life of a chambermaid will tell you that the "chambermaid has no protection, no morality, and is without the influence of a fixed place or home atmosphere;" finally, that "chamber-work is the most degrading occupation a girl can engage in!"

If a girl is not capable of a higher calling, why should not she make beds in a hotel when there is such a crying need from the hotel managers for conscientious and painstaking work? It is not every girl that Providence has blessed with a prima donna's voice. Not every girl can be admitted on the vaudeville stage. Not all have had kind and wealthy parents to send them through college and fit them for the higher attainments.

Chambermaid Can Take Care of Self.

The proprietor is ever ready to protect the maids from undue familiarity from the male patrons of the hotel. This is seldom necessary. The average maid meets an [Pg 91]incivility with a cold disdain that puts to rout a second attempt. Men that wreck women's lives are found outside of hotels.

Religion a Factor.

It is an undisputed fact that the Irish-American Catholic girls make the best chambermaids. The comfort found in the Catholic religion compensates for the loss of home ties. She is without any danger signal save her own conscience, yet there does not exist on the face of the earth a more moral class of girls than the Irish-American Catholic chambermaids in the hotels of the United States.

She goes at her work determined to use her experience as a stepping-stone to something higher. She encounters many pitfalls. She makes a few mistakes, but during her stay in Yankeeland she has learned President Roosevelt's maxim: "The man who never makes any mistakes is the man who never does anything." She is consoled by it, and from her pitfalls learns a lesson that enables her to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Not a Bad Day's Program.

At the Grand Union Hotel in New York City, and in hotels in other cities in New York state, the writer has learned from observation that the social side of the [Pg 92]chambermaid's life is a pleasant one. She begins the day at 7:15 and quits at 4:00, except the night she is on watch. She is given a ten o'clock lunch; she has one hour for dinner, and at 2:30 she is given fifteen minutes for a cup of tea. The night she is on watch, she is served with a good dinner of chicken and all the good things the hotel affords. She has every third Sunday off and may follow her own will. She has time to cultivate acquaintances, and attend to her religious duties.

Christmas Time.

There is kindness and courtesy existing among the maids. When Christmas day draws near, the festivities are looked forward to with eager anticipation. Mysterious-looking bundles are coming in and going out. Friends are remembered. The father and mother, brother and sister over the water are not forgotten; and likewise the maids are not forgotten by their employer. The dining-hall is wreathed in holly, the table is loaded with all the season's delicacies. Trade is dull in the hotel, and the time is given over to enjoyment.

Chambermaids at Their Best.

There are evening parties in the "help's hall." The weekly "tips" or any "stray coins" are invested in sugar and butter, and "fondant" is made that would melt in your mouth. Then there is the "taffy-pull," the [Pg 93]cups of tea, and the "fortunes told," over the cups. The jokes go round, the merry laughter resounds and gets so loud that the housekeeper, who has retired, rises, and hastens to put a stop to the noise. Arriving on the scene, she has not the heart to reprove them. Herein she tastes an old joy of girlhood. It is Christmas. She slips back to her own room and into bed again. The airs of "Killarney" and "The Wearing of the Green" die away, and the house is quiet.

[Pg 94]

Miscellaneous Subjects.

The housekeeper should furnish the houseman with a synopsis of his duties every morning.

In addition to this, he has, of course, his regular duties—sweeping halls, dusting, cleaning cuspidors, washing windows, hanging curtains, moving furniture, laying carpets, and cleaning lights. Sweeping roofs and keeping gutters clean fall to his share also. Fortunate indeed is the housekeeper that can have a houseman for each floor. A skull cap and an over-all suit would be appropriate apparel for the houseman.

Any defective plumbing in bathrooms should be promptly reported by the housekeeper. Sometimes a guest will justly complain that the faucet in the bathtub is out of order, and the water trickling all night keeps him awake.

A tray under the ice-water pitcher will save the table or dresser.

The soul of the housekeeper faints within her when a [Pg 95]guest complains that he has been given a room reserved for "plain drunks." He calls attention to the fact that the carpet is patched in thirteen places, and at least as many patches of paper are in evidence on the wall.

The sweepers require special care. The maids should bring them to the linen room once a month where they are oiled. Never empty the sweeper by pulling the pan down, as this breaks the spring, causing the pan to drop lower than the brush, and the sweeper fails to pick up the dirt. A Bissell sweeper in the hands of a skillful maid will last three years.

Season for Repotting House-Plants.

September is the season for repotting house-plants. As flowers are such important factors of civilization speaking to us of nature's God, it is surprising that more plants are not seen in hotels, and that more proprietors do not adopt this ingenious plan of beautifying their dining-rooms and corridors, using palms instead of those cheap artificial roses which are so conspicuous in third-rate hotels.

The stately palm lends an air of refinement that nothing else can give. The greatest obstacle to the growth [Pg 96]of house-plants is dust. The palms, azaleas, and rubber plants may be sponged occasionally to keep them clean and healthy. Other plants may be taken to the bathroom and given a shower-bath. In the summer time, two or three times a week is often enough for watering the house-plants. In winter, once a week is sufficient.

[Pg 97]

Why Hotel Employees Fail to Rise.

The reasons why some people never rise above commonplace positions should be made clear to all that seek employment or better conditions. In every field, there are those that never take the initiative, and they make up the great majority. They are apparently afraid of doing too much work, or of making themselves generally useful, or of doing some bit of work that has not been assigned them, for which they might not be paid, forgetting that the world's greatest prizes are generally bestowed on the individual who does the right thing without being told.

If we wait to be told our duties, we cease to be moral agents and are mere machines, and, as such, stationary in place and pay.

If you would succeed, cultivate self-confidence, which is one of the foundation stones of success. Rest assured your employer knows the difference between "bluff" and the real thing. "Nerve" will not win in the long run. [Pg 98]It may accomplish temporary advantage, but there must be something back of "nerve."

Practice self-control. If you can not control yourself, you can not control others. When the commander riding in front of his army takes to the woods in the face of the enemy, he can only expect his troops to follow his example. Anger is an unbecoming mood. In serenity, lies power.

Keep busy. Improve each moment. Do not be afraid of too much work. The office-boy that sits around watching the clock, as if he might be waiting for his automobile to take him home, will never own the hotel.

The superintendent that has not enough patience to instruct properly a beginner may lose valuable assistants and can not hope to achieve a great enterprise.

Do not become discouraged and resign your position because it is not up to your ideal. It may be better to bear with the ills you have than fly to others you know not of.

[Pg 99]

Suggestions in Case of Fire.

It is hard to tell a housekeeper what to do or what not to do in case of fire. No two hotels are alike, and no two fires occur in the same way. Circumstances are to be considered first. Much depends on the location and the progress of the fire, and whether it is night or day. It is an old maxim "that fire is a good servant but a hard master." Shakespeare wrote: "A little fire is quickly trodden out, which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench." It is bad policy to delay sending in the alarm to the fire department. Many persons put off this important duty until it is too late. They reason that it might alarm the guests and cause a panic and that they will be drowned out. Thus they battle with the flames with the incomplete fire apparatus belonging to the hotel, refusing the petition to turn in an alarm to the fire department until the fire has gained such headway that it is impossible for even the skilled firemen to put it out. Thereby jeopardizing the lives of the hotel guests and also the lives of the firemen. No [Pg 100]general in command of an army, no hero in battle deserves more praise than do these courageous men who hourly risk their lives to save lives and the property of others. Minutes count for something in a fire. The fire department can quickly and quietly put out a small fire, and the guests of the hotel may never know that a fire has occurred until it is all over. Panics usually follow when the people are face to face with the flames, and not at the sight of the fire department in front of the hotel. To a sensible mind, the fire engine and firemen should bring a feeling of safety. A feeling that if the hotel is on fire, the fire will soon be extinguished. Keep cool; don't run, and don't talk or give orders in an excited tone. Should a fire occur in a single room, close the door of that room to prevent the flames from spreading, and go to the nearest fire hose rack, and attach the hose to the plug and take the nozzle end to the door of the room in which the fire is started, then go back and turn on the water. If the water is turned on before the hose has been carried it will make the hose too heavy for one person to carry, especially if you have to climb a stairway or go any great distance; a fire hose when full of water is very heavy. The housekeeper should never desert the hotel in case of fire. She has in her possession keys to all doors. She is familiar with the location of windows and fire escapes, and the location of the fire extinguishers and axes. She knows the [Pg 101]position of all stairways, particularly the top landing and scuttle to the roof. She knows where all fire proof doors are located, where the water pails are kept and she can render the firemen great service in directing them to a more advantageous position. All doors should be unlocked so that the firemen can have free access without breaking them in and causing delay. The doors, however, should be kept closed to prevent the fire spreading. The rapidity with which a building is consumed by flames is due to the wind and the draughts from stairways, open doors and windows and elevator shafts. The walls of elevator shafts and all vertical openings should be built of non-combustible material, such as brick and mortar and all elevators should be equipped with automatic traps. In case of a fire on the first floor, the automatic trap would fall when a certain degree of heat was reached and thus prevent the fire from reaching the second floor, and the progress of the fire would be delayed.

All fire hose should be tested every six months. A leak may have caused the hose to become worthless. All hose should be attached to the fire plug at all times and the little wrench for turning on the water should be tied to the rack where the hose is kept. All these essentials should be examined and carefully scrutinized by every housekeeper and chambermaid. A fire can make great progress while some inexperienced person is fumbling [Pg 102]with and trying to attach the hose and turn on the water. There should be a red light in the hall in front of the fire escape window; a red light can be seen better than a white one. The view of the fire escape window should never be obstructed by any kind of a curtain.

All hotels should have a stand pipe, it will reduce the rate of insurance one-third.

Although few people know how to escape down a rope fire-escape, every room in the hotel should be equipped with one. All fire departments should have a life net; dropping into a life-net is not so hazardous as sliding down a rope when one is ignorant of the proper way to do it. The life nets are made of woven rope with springs, and are 10 feet in diameter. The firemen hold this net and persons dropping into it can be saved.

The Kirker Bender spiral tube fire-escape is the best and safest. In one minute 200 persons can slide through the Kirker Bender, to absolute safety. It is a very expensive fire escape, but expense should not be considered when building fire-escapes. There should be a fire-alarm box in every hall. Should a fire occur, on a floor where there is no fire-alarm box, a messenger would have to be dispatched to the office before the fire company could be notified. Some hotels have no fire-box at all. The fire-box being located a block away from the hotel. Fire-boxes can be put in hotels with very little expense. It is an old saying—"An ounce of [Pg 103]prevention is worth a pound of cure." This is especially true in the case of fire prevention. If the following precautions are taken, fires from accident or spontaneous combustion seldom occur.

Fire Prevention.

Keep your hotel clean and never allow rubbish, such as paper, rags, cobwebs, old clothing and boxes to accumulate in closets and unused rooms. Don't allow coal oil lamps to be used by women patrons for the purpose of heating curling irons. Never put up gas brackets so they can be swung against door casings or immediately under curtains. Never keep matches in any but metal or earthen safes. Never keep old woolen rags that have been used in oiling and cleaning furniture, or waxing floors, unless in a tin can with a tin lid.

Origin of Fires.

Fires are the results of accidents, of spontaneous combustion, and of design. If they have been accidental, the cause can generally be discovered, and it will be found, that they might have been prevented. Carelessness and negligence are the cause of over two-thirds of all fires.

Electrical fires are caused from electric light wires [Pg 104]lying against wood or iron, or coming in contact with water. A stream of water thrown on a heavily charged electric light wire will give a shock and may even kill the fireman holding the nozzle. This is one reason why the electric lights are cut off when a fire is raging and thus leaving people to grope their way out through darkness. All hotels should have hall-ways lighted by gas, and especially should a gas light with a red globe be placed in front of all fire escape windows.

Should a fire occur at night the housekeeper should give orders to have all doors unlocked and the gas lighted in the halls.

[Pg 105]

The Evolution of the Housekeeper.

The greatest wonder to my mind is that more women that must of necessity earn their livelihood, do not adopt the profession of hotel housekeeping. What nicer or more profitable way can a woman earn her living. Standing at my window of a stormy morning, I see many women going early through the wind and snow, sometimes rain, to their work, and I can not help comparing my daily tasks to theirs. Many of these women stand all day behind the counters of some large dry-goods store, where they are designated only as No. 1, No. 2, and so on. Some of the women are going to work in silk mills, where the looms keep up a deafening roar, and where, at their noon hour, they must eat a cold lunch. These women get a small salary, on an average $8.00 a week, and out of this they must pay their room, board and laundry bills.

I could not refrain from contrasting the hotel housekeeper's position with that of other women-workers in cities. The housekeeper has a good, warm room, clean bed, hot and cold bath, and the best eating that the hotel [Pg 106]affords. She may command the respect of all other employes in the house, and may make many life-long friends. My advice to any young woman seeking a situation is to start right at chamber-work, to keep her wits sharp, and her head on her shoulders. To be sure, there are many temptations, all of which the average girl should be able to resist. But a chambermaid with a modest and reticent disposition may never meet with any pitfalls, at least, no more than would be encountered in a dry-goods store or factory. From chambermaid, she may get promoted to the linen-room, where she will be shielded and protected from interlopers, and will have plenty of leisure to sew or to mend for her own benefit.

She can save money, for she will have better pay in the linen-room. She will also have better food, and will learn something of the executive management of the hotel. Naturally, she will see more of the proprietor or the manager, and will learn his ideas and principles, which knowledge may be useful to her in later years. Time brings about many changes, and hotels change proprietors, as well as housekeepers and managers. Often, when a new manager makes his appearance, he will bring his housekeeper or linen-room woman with him; in this case, the linen-room woman may have to secure another situation. Now is her chance to take a step higher on the ladder, by obtaining a position as housekeeper.

[Pg 107]


Transcriber's Note

Some inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document has been preserved.

Typographical errors corrected in the text:

Page      8  succees changed to success
Page      9  Riebold changed to Reibold
Page    12  linen-en-room changed to linen-room
Page    14  housekeeperes changed to housekeepers
Page    22  ordel changed to ordeal
Page    23  plebianism changed to plebeanism
Page    24  benefitted changed to benefited
Page    31  sweetner changed to sweetener
Page    33  admireres changed to admirers
Page    39  avereage changed to average
Page    40  theadbare changed to threadbare
Page    44  symmetricaly changed to symmetrically
Page    49  woll changed to wall
Page    49  obmtain changed to obtain
Page    58  clening changed to cleaning
Page    59  sytem changed to system
Page    60  accumulationg changed to accumulating
Page    63  line changed to linen
Page    65  ow changed to How
Page    67  line changed to linen
Page    70  procees changed to process
Page    71  presen changed to present
Page    75  line changed to linen
Page    75  pilow changed to pillow
Page    85  cupidors changed to cuspidors
Page    87  cosino changed to casino
Page    88  Balroom changed to Ballroom
Page    89  Binghampton changed to Binghamton
Page    96  occasionaly changed to occasionally
Page    99  headwas changed to headway
Page  100  prevtn changed to prevent
Page  102  an a floor changed to on a floor
Page  103  Carlessness changed to Carelessness