METHODS OF TREATMENT. After choosing a subject and formulating his

purpose, a writer is ready to consider methods of treatment. Again it is

desirable to survey all the possibilities in order to choose the one

method best adapted to his subject and his purpose. His chief

consideration should be the class of readers that he desires to reach.

Some topics, he will find, may be treated with about equal success in

any one of several ways, while others lend themselves to only one or two

forms of presentation. By thinking through the various possible ways of

working out his subject, he will be able to decide which meets his needs

most satisfactorily.


developing a special feature article is that which combines narration

and description with exposition. The reason for this combination is not

far to seek. The average person is not attracted by pure exposition. He

is attracted by fiction. Hence the narrative and descriptive devices of

fiction are employed advantageously to supplement expository methods.

Narratives and descriptions also have the advantage of being concrete

and vivid. The rapid reader can grasp a concrete story or a word

picture. He cannot so readily comprehend a more general explanation

unaccompanied by specific examples and graphic pictures of persons,

places, and objects.

Narration and description are used effectively for the concrete examples

and the specific instances by which we illustrate general ideas. The

best way, for example, to make clear the operation of a state system of

health insurance is to relate how it has operated in the case of one or

more persons affected. In explaining a new piece of machinery the writer

may well describe it in operation, to enable readers to visualize it

and follow its motions. Since the reader's interest will be roused the

more quickly if he is given tangible, concrete details that he can

grasp, the examples are usually put first, to be followed by the more

general explanation. Sometimes several examples are given before the

explanatory matter is offered. Whole articles are often made up of

specific examples and generalizations presented alternately.

To explain the effects of a new anæsthetic, for example, Mr. Burton J.

Hendrick in an article in _McClure's Magazine_, pictured the scene in

the operating-room of a hospital where it was being given to a patient,

showed just how it was administered, and presented the results as a

spectator saw them. The beginning of the article on stovaine, the new

anæsthetic, illustrating this method of exposition, follows:

A few months ago, a small six-year-old boy was wheeled into the

operating theater at the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled

Children, in New York City. He was one of the several thousand

children of the tenements who annually find their way into this

great philanthropic institution, suffering from what, to the lay

mind, seems a hopelessly incurable injury or malformation. This

particular patient had a crippled and paralyzed leg, and to restore

its usefulness, it was necessary to cut deeply into the heel,

stretch the "Achilles tendon," and make other changes which, without

the usual anesthetic, would involve excruciating suffering.

According to the attendant nurses, the child belonged to the "noisy"

class; that is, he was extremely sensitive to pain, screamed at the

approach of the surgeon, and could be examined only when forcibly

held down.

As the child came into the operating-room he presented an extremely

pathetic figure--small, naked, thin, with a closely cropped head of

black hair, and a face pinched and blanched with fear. Surrounded by

a fair-sized army of big, muscular surgeons and white-clothed

nurses, and a gallery filled with a hundred or more of the leading

medical men of the metropolis, he certainly seemed a helpless speck

of humanity with all the unknown forces of science and modern life

arrayed against him. Under ordinary conditions he would have been

etherized in an adjoining chamber and brought into the

operating-room entirely unconscious. This cripple, however, had

been selected as a favorable subject for an interesting experiment

in modern surgery, for he was to undergo an extremely torturous

operation in a state of full consciousness.

Among the assembled surgeons was a large-framed, black moustached

and black-haired, quick-moving, gypsy-like Rumanian--Professor

Thomas Jonnesco, dean of the Medical Department of the University of

Bucharest, and one of the leading men of his profession in Europe.

Dr. Jonnesco, who had landed in New York only two days before, had

come to the United States with a definite scientific purpose. This

was to show American surgeons that the most difficult operations

could be performed without pain, without loss of consciousness, and

without the use of the familiar anesthetics, ether or chloroform.

Dr. Jonnesco's reputation in itself assured him the fullest

opportunity of demonstrating his method in New York, and this

six-year-old boy had been selected as an excellent test subject.

Under the gentle assurances of the nurses that "no one was going to

hurt" him, the boy assumed a sitting posture on the operating-table,

with his feet dangling over the edge. Then, at the request of Dr.

Jonnesco, he bent his head forward until it almost touched his

breast. This threw the child's back into the desired position--that

of the typical bicycle "scorcher,"--making each particular vertebra

stand out sharply under the tight drawn skin. Dr. Jonnesco quickly

ran his finger along the protuberances, and finally selected the

space between the twelfth dorsal and the first lumbar vertebræ--in

other words, the space just above the small of the back. He then

took an ordinary hypodermic needle, and slowly pushed it through the

skin and tissues until it entered the small opening between the

lower and upper vertebræ, not stopping until it reached the open

space just this side of the spinal cord.

As the needle pierced the flesh, the little patient gave a sharp

cry--the only sign of discomfiture displayed during the entire

operation. When the hollow needle reached its destination, a few

drops of a colorless liquid spurted out--the famous cerebro-spinal

fluid, the substance which, like a water-jacket, envelops the brain

and the spinal cord. Into this same place Dr. Jonnesco now

introduced an ordinary surgical syringe, which he had previously

filled with a pale yellowish liquid--the much-famed stovaine,--and

slowly emptied its contents into the region that immediately

surrounds the spinal cord.

For a few minutes the child retained his sitting posture as if

nothing extraordinary had happened. Dr. Jonnesco patted him on the

back and said a few pleasant words in French, while the nurses and

assistants chatted amiably in English.

"How do you feel now?" the attending surgeon asked, after the lapse

of three or four minutes.

"All right," replied the boy animatedly, "'cept that my legs feel

like they was going to sleep."

The nurses now laid the patient down upon his back, throwing a

handkerchief over his eyes, so that he could not himself witness the

subsequent proceedings. There was, naturally, much holding of breath

as Dr. Virgil P. Gibney, the operating surgeon, raised his knife and

quickly made a deep incision in the heel of this perfectly conscious

patient. From the child, however, there was not the slightest

evidence of sensation.

"Didn't you feel anything, my boy?" asked Dr. Gibney, pausing.

"No, I don't feel nothin'," came the response from under the


An operation lasting nearly half an hour ensued. The deepest tissues

were cut, the tendons were stretched, the incision was sewed up, all

apparently without the patient's knowledge.

Some types of articles, although expository in purpose, are entirely

narrative and descriptive in form. By relating his own experiences in a

confession story, for example, a writer may be able to show very clearly

and interestingly the dangers of speculations in stocks with but small

capital. Personality sketches are almost always narrative and


Many of the devices of the short story will be found useful in articles.

Not only is truth stranger than fiction, but facts may be so presented

as to be even more interesting than fiction. Conversation,

character-drawing, suspense, and other methods familiar to the writer of

short stories may be used effectively in special articles. Their

application to particular types of articles is shown in the following


SPECIAL TYPES OF ARTICLES. Although there is no generally recognized

classification of special feature articles, several distinct types may

be noted, such as (1) the interview, (2) the personal experience story,

(3) the confession article, (4) the "how-to-do-something" article, (5)

the personality sketch, (6) the narrative in the third person. These

classes, it is evident, are not mutually exclusive, but may for

convenience be treated separately.

THE INTERVIEW. Since the material for many articles is obtained by means

of an interview, it is often convenient to put the major part, if not

the whole, of the story in interview form. Such an article may consist

entirely of direct quotation with a limited amount of explanatory

material concerning the person interviewed; or it may be made up partly

of direct quotation and partly of indirect quotation, combined with the

necessary explanation. For greater variety it is advisable to alternate

direct and indirect quotations. A description of the person interviewed

and of his surroundings, by way of introduction, gives the reader a

distinct impression of the individual under characteristic conditions.

Or some striking utterance of his may be "played up" at the beginning,

to be followed by a picture of him and his surroundings. Interviews on

the same topic with two or more persons may be combined in a single


The interview has several obvious advantages. First, the spoken word,

quoted _verbatim_, gives life to the story. The person interviewed seems

to be talking to each reader individually. The description of him in his

surroundings helps the reader to see him as he talks. Second, events,

explanations, and opinions given in the words of one who speaks with

authority, have greater weight than do the assertions of an unknown

writer. Third, the interview is equally effective whether the writer's

purpose is to inform, to entertain, or to furnish practical guidance.

Romance and adventure, humor and pathos, may well be handled in

interview form. Discoveries, inventions, new processes, unusual methods,

new projects, and marked success of any kind may be explained to

advantage in the words of those responsible for these undertakings.

In obtaining material for an interview story, a writer should bear in

mind a number of points regarding interviewing in general. First, in

advance of meeting the person to be interviewed, he should plan the

series of questions by which he hopes to elicit the desired information.

"What would my readers ask this person if they had a chance to talk to

him about this subject?" he must ask himself. That is, his questions

should be those that readers would like to have answered. Since it is

the answers, however, and not the questions, that will interest readers,

the questions in the completed article should be subordinated as much as

possible. Sometimes they may be skillfully embodied in the replies;

again they may be implied merely, or entirely omitted. In studying an

interview article, one can generally infer what questions the

interviewer used. Second, he must cultivate his memory so that he can

recall a person's exact words without taking notes. Most men talk more

freely and easily when they are not reminded of the fact that what they

are saying is to be printed. In interviewing, therefore, it is desirable

to keep pencil and paper out of sight. Third, immediately after leaving

the person whom he has interviewed, the writer should jot down facts,

figures, striking statements, and anything else that he might forget.

EXAMPLES OF THE INTERVIEW ARTICLE. As a timely special feature story for

Arbor Day, a Washington correspondent used the following interview with

an expert as a means of giving readers practical advice on



WASHINGTON, April 1.--Three spadefuls of rich, pulverized earth will

do more to make a young tree grow than a 30-minute Arbor day address

by the president of the school board and a patriotic anthem by the

senior class, according to Dr. Furman L. Mulford, tree expert for

the department of agriculture.

Not that Dr. Mulford would abbreviate the ceremonies attendant upon

Arbor day planting, but he thinks that they do not mean much unless

the roots planted receive proper and constant care. For what the

Fourth of July is to the war and navy departments, and what Labor

day is to the department of labor, Arbor day is to the department of


While the forestry bureau has concerned itself primarily with trees

from the standpoint of the timber supply, Dr. Mulford has been

making a study of trees best adapted for streets and cities

generally. And nobody is more interested than he in what Arbor day

signifies or how trees should be chosen and reared.

"We need trees most where our population is the thickest, and some

trees, like some people, are not adapted to such a life," said Dr.

Mulford. "For street or school yard planting one of the first

considerations is a hardy tree, that can find nourishment under

brick pavements or granite sidewalks. It must be one that branches

high from the ground and ought to be native to the country and

climate. America has the prettiest native trees and shrubs in the

world and it is true patriotism to recognize them.

"For Southern states one of the prettiest and best of shade trees is

the laurel oak, and there will be thousands of them planted this

spring. It is almost an evergreen and is a quick growing tree. The

willow oak is another.

"A little farther north the red oak is one of the most desirable,

and in many places the swamp maple grows well, though this latter

tree does not thrive well in crowded cities.

"Nothing, however, is prettier than the American elm when it reaches

the majesty of its maturity and I do not believe it will ever cease

to be a favorite. One thing against it, though, is the 'elm beetle,'

a pest which is spreading and which will kill some of our most

beautiful trees unless spraying is consistently practised. China

berry trees, abundant in the South, and box elders, native to a

score of states, are quick growing, but they reach maturity too soon

and begin to go to pieces."

"What is the reason that so many Arbor day trees die?" Dr. Mulford

was asked.

"Usually lack of protection, and often lack of care in planting,"

was the answer. "When the new tree begins to put out tender rootlets

a child brushing against it or 'inspecting' it too closely will

break them off and it dies. Or stock will nip off the new leaves and

shoots and the result is the same. A frame around the tree would

prevent this.

"Then, often wild trees are too big when transplanted. Such trees

have usually only a few long roots and so much of these are lost in

transplanting that the large trunk cannot be nourished by the

remainder. With nursery trees the larger they are the better it is,

for they have a lot of small roots that do not have to be cut off.

"Fruit trees are seldom so successful as shade trees, either along

a street or road or in a yard. In the first place their branches are

too low and unless carefully pruned their shape is irregular. Then

they are subject to so many pests that unless constant care is given

them they will not bear a hatful of fruit a season.

"On the other hand, nut trees are usually hardy and add much to the

landscape. Pecan, chestnut, walnut and shaggy bark hickory are some

of the more popular varieties."

The first Arbor day was observed in Nebraska, which has fewer

natural trees than any other state. This was in 1872, and Kansas was

the second to observe the day, falling into line in 1875.

Incidentally Kansas ranks next to Nebraska in dearth of trees.

The Arbor day idea originated with J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraskan

who was appointed secretary of agriculture by Cleveland. Now every

state in the Union recognizes the day and New York, Pennsylvania,

New Jersey, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and others have

gotten out extensive Arbor day booklets giving information

concerning trees and birds; most of them even contain appropriate

songs and poems for Arbor day programs.

How an interview combined with a description of a person may serve to

create sympathy for her and for the cause that she represents is shown

in the following article, which was published anonymously in the Sunday

magazine section of the _Ohio State Journal_. It was illustrated with

two half-tone portraits, one of the young woman in Indian costume, the

other showing her in street dress.


"_Oh, East is East and West is West,

And never the two shall meet_."

BUT they may send messengers. Hark to the words of


"I carry a message from my people to the Government at Washington,"

says Princess Galilolie, youngest daughter of John Ross, hereditary

King of the "Forest Indians," the Cherokees of Oklahoma. "We have

been a nation without hope. The land that was promised us by solemn

treaty, 'so long as the grass should grow and the waters run,' has

been taken from us. It was barren and wild when we received it

seventy years ago. Now it is rich with oil and cultivation, and the

whites coveted our possessions. Since it was thrown open to settlers

no Cherokee holds sovereign rights as before, when it was his

nation. We are outnumbered. I have come as a voice from my people to

speak to the people of the Eastern States and to those at

Washington--most of all, if I am permitted to do so, to lay our

wrongs before the President's wife, in whose veins glows the blood

of the Indian."

Only nineteen is this Indian princess--this twentieth century

Pocahontas--who travels far to the seats of the mighty for her race.

She is a tall, slim, stately girl from the foothills of the Ozarks,

from Tahlequah, former capital of the Cherokee Nation. She says she

is proud of every drop of Indian blood that flows in her veins. But

her skin is fair as old ivory and she is a college girl--a girl of

the times to her finger-tips.

"When an Indian goes through college and returns to his or her

people," she says with a smile, "they say, 'Back to the blanket!' We

have few blankets among the Cherokees in Tahlequah. I am the

youngest of nine children, and we are all of us college graduates,

as my father was before us."

He is John Ross 3d, Chief of the Cherokee Nation, of mingled Scotch

and Indian blood, in descent from "Cooweeskowee," John Ross I., the

rugged old Indian King who held out against Andrew Jackson back in

1838 for the ancient rights of the Five Nations to their lands along

the Southern Atlantic States.

She sat back on the broad window seat in the sunlight. Beyond the

window lay a bird's-eye view of New York housetops, the white man's

permanent tepee. Some spring birds alighted on a nearby telephone

wire, sending out twittering mating cries to each other.

"They make me want to go home," she said with a swift, expressive

gesture. "But I will stay until the answer comes to us. Do you know

what they have called me, the old men and women who are wise--the

full-bloods? Galilolie--'One-who-does-things-well.' With us, when a

name is given it is one with a meaning, something the child must

grow to in fulfillment. So I feel I must not fail them now."

"You see," she went on, lifting her chin, "it is we young

half-bloods who must carry the strength and honor of our people to

the world so it may understand us. All our lives we have been told

tales by the old men--how our people were driven from their homes by

the Government, how Gen. Winfield Scott's soldiers came down into

our quiet villages and ordered the Indians to go forth leaving

everything behind them. My great-grandfather, the old King

Cooweeskowee, with his wife and children, paused at the first

hilltop to look back at his home, and already the whites were moving

into it. The house is still standing at Rossville, Ga. Do you know

what the old people tell us children when we wish we could go back

there?" Her eyes are half closed, her lips compressed as she says

slowly, thrillingly: "They tell us it is easy to find the way over

that 'Trail of Tears,' that through the wilderness it is blazed with

the gravestones of those who were too weak to march.

"That was seventy years ago, in 1838. The Government promised to pay

amply for all it took from us, our homes and lands, cattle--even

furniture. A treaty was made solemnly between the Indians and the

United States that Oklahoma should be theirs 'as long as the grass

should grow and the waters run.'

"That meant perpetuity to us, don't you see?" She makes her points

with a directness and simplicity that should disarm even the

diplomatic suavity of Uncle Sam when he meets her in Washington.

"Year after year the Cherokees waited for the Government to pay. And

at last, three years ago, it came to us--$133.19 to each Indian,

seventy-eight years after the removal from Georgia had taken place.

"Oil was discovered after the Indians had taken the wilderness lands

in Oklahoma and reclaimed them. It was as if God, in reparation for

the wrongs inflicted by whites, had given us the riches of the

earth. My people grew rich from their wells, but a way was found to

bind their wealth so they could not use it. It was said the Indians

were not fit to handle their own money."

She lifts eyebrows and shoulders, her hands clasped before her

tightly, as if in silent resentment of their impotence to help.

"These are the things I want to tell; first our wrongs and then our

colonization plan, for which we hope so much if the Government will

grant it. We are outnumbered since the land was opened up and a mass

of 'sooners,' as we call them--squatters, claimers,

settlers--swarmed in over our borders. The Government again offered

to pay us for the land they took back--the land that was to be ours

in perpetuity 'while the grass grew and the waters ran.' We were

told to file our claims with the whites. Some of us did, but eight

hundred of the full-bloods went back forty miles into the foothills

under the leadership of Red Bird Smith. They refuse to sell or to

accept the Government money for their valuable oil lands. To appease

justice, the Government allotted them lands anyway, in their

absence, and paid the money for their old property into the banks,

where it lies untouched. Red Bird and his 'Night Hawks' refuse to

barter over a broken treaty.

"Ah, but I have gone up alone to the old men there." Her voice

softens. "They will talk to me because I am my father's daughter. My

Indian name means 'One-who-does-things-well.' So if I go to them

they tell me their heart longings, what they ask for the Cherokee.

"And I shall put the message, if I can, before our President's wife.

Perhaps she will help."

THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ARTICLE. A writer's own experiences, given under

his name, under a pseudonym, or in anonymous form, can easily be made

interesting to others. Told in the first person, such stories are

realistic and convincing. The pronoun "I" liberally sprinkled through

the story, as it must be, gives to it a personal, intimate character

that most readers like. Conversation and description of persons, places,

and objects may be included to advantage in these personal narratives.

The possibilities of the personal experience story are as great as are

those of the interview. Besides serving as a vehicle for the writer's

own experiences, it may be employed to give experiences of others. If,

for example, a person interviewed objects to having his name used, it is

possible to present the material obtained by the interview in the form

of a personal experience story. In that case the article would have to

be published without the writer's name, since the personal experiences

that it records are not his own. Permission to present material in a

personal experience story should always be obtained from the individual

whose experiences the writer intends to use.

Articles designed to give practical guidance, to show readers how to do

something, are particularly effective when written in the first person.

If these "how-to-do-something" articles are to be most useful to

readers, the conditions under which the personal experience was

obtained must be fairly typical. Personal experience articles of this

type are very popular in women's magazines, agricultural journals, and

publications that appeal to business men.


service offered to women by small daily newspapers are set forth in the

story below, by means of the personal experiences of one woman. The

article was published in the _Woman's Home Companion_, and was

illustrated by a half-tone reproduction of a wash drawing of a young

woman seated at her desk in a newspaper office.




"What do you stay buried in this burg for? Why, look how you drudge!

and what do you get out of it? New York or some other big city is

the place for you. There's where you can become famous instead of

being a newspaper woman in a one-horse town."

A big city newspaper man was talking. He was in our town on an

assignment, and he was idling away spare time in our office. Before

I could answer, the door opened and a small girl came to my desk.

"Say," she said, "Mama told me to come in here and thank you for

that piece you put in the paper about us. You ought to see the

eatin's folks has brought us! Heaps an' heaps! And Ma's got a job

scrubbin' three stores."

The story to which she referred was one that I had written about a

family left fatherless, a mother and three small children in real

poverty. I had written a plain appeal to the home people, with the

usual results.

"That," I said, "is one reason that I am staying here. Maybe it

isn't fame in big letters signed to an article, but it's another


His face wore a queer expression; but before he could retort another

caller appeared, a well-dressed woman.

"What do you mean," she declared, "by putting it in the paper that I

served light refreshments at my party?"

"Wasn't it so?" I meekly inquired.

"No!" she thundered. "I served ice cream, cake and coffee, and that

makes two courses. See that it is right next time, or we'll stop the


Here my visitor laughed. "I suppose that's another reason for your

staying here. When we write anything about a person we don't have to

see them again and hear about it."

"But," I replied, "that's the very reason I cling to the small town.

I want to see the people about whom I am writing, and live with

them. That's what brings the rewards in our business. It's the

personal side that makes it worth while, the real living of a

newspaper instead of merely writing to fill its columns."

In many small towns women have not heretofore been overly welcome on

the staff of the local paper, for the small town is essentially

conservative and suspicious of change. This war, however, is

changing all that, and many a woman with newspaper ambitions will

now have her chance at home.

For ten years I have been what may be classified as a small town

newspaper woman, serving in every capacity from society reporter to

city and managing editor. During this time I have been tempted many

times to go to fields where national fame and a larger salary

awaited those who won. But it was that latter part that held me

back, that and one other factor: "Those who won," and "What do they

get out of it more than I?"

It is generally conceded that for one woman who succeeds in the

metropolitan newspaper field about ten fail before the vicissitudes

of city life, the orders of managing editors, and the merciless

grind of the big city's working world. And with those who succeed,

what have they more than I? They sign their names to articles; they

receive big salaries; they are famous--as such fame goes. Why is a

signed name to an article necessary, when everyone knows when the

paper comes out that I wrote the article? What does national fame

mean compared with the fact that the local laws of the "Society for

the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" were not being enforced and

that I wrote stories that remedied this condition?

I began newspaper life as society reporter of a daily paper in a

Middle-Western town of ten thousand inhabitants. That is, I supposed

I was going to be society reporter, but before very long I found

myself doing police assignments, sport, editing telegraph, and

whatever the occasion demanded.

I suppose that the beginnings of everyone's business life always

remain vivid memories. The first morning I reported for work at

seven o'clock. Naturally, no one was in the front office, as the

news department of a small-town newspaper office is sometimes

called. I was embarrassed and nervous, and sat anxiously awaiting

the arrival of the city editor. In five minutes he gave me

sufficient instructions to last a year, but the only one I remember

was, "Ask all the questions you can think of, and don't let anyone

bluff you out of a story."

My first duty, and one that I performed every morning for several

years, was to "make" an early morning train connecting with a large

city, forty miles away. It was no easy task to approach strangers

and ask their names and destination; but it was all good experience,

and it taught me how to approach people and to ask personal

questions without being rude.

During my service as society reporter I learned much, so much that I

am convinced there is no work in the smaller towns better suited to

women. Any girl who is bright and quick, who knows the ethics of

being a lady, can hold this position and make better money at it

than by teaching or clerking.

Each trade, they say, has its tricks, and being a society reporter

is no exception. In towns of from one thousand to two thousand

inhabitants, the news that Mrs. X. is going to give a party spreads

rapidly by that system of wireless telegraphy that excels the

Marconi--neighborhood gossip. But in the larger towns it is not so

easy. In "our town," whenever there is a party the ice cream is

ordered from a certain confectioner. Daily he permitted us to see

his order book. If Mrs. Jones ordered a quart of ice cream we knew

that she was only having a treat for the family. If it were two

quarts or more, it was a party, and if it was ice cream in molds, we

knew a big formal function was on foot.

Society reporting is a fertile field, and for a long time I had been

thinking that society columns were too dull. My ideal of a newspaper

is that every department should be edited so that everyone would

read all the paper. I knew that men rarely read the social column.

One day a man said to me that he always called his wife his better

judgment instead of his better half. That appealed to me as

printable, but where to put it in the paper? Why not in my own

department? I did so. That night when the paper came out everyone

clamored to know who the man was, for I had merely written, "A man

in town calls his wife his better judgment instead of his better


Then I decided to make the society department a reflection of our

daily life and sayings. In order to get these in I used the initials

of my title, "S.R." I never used names, but I always managed to

identify my persons.

As one might expect, I brought down a storm about my head. Many

persons took the hints for themselves when they were not so

intended, and there were some amusing results. For instance, when I

said in the paper that "a certain man in a down-town store has

perfect manners," the next day twelve men thanked me, and I received

four boxes of candy as expressions of gratitude.

There were no complaints about the society column being dull after

this; everyone read it and laughed at it, and it was quoted in many

exchanges. Of course, I was careful to hurt no one's feelings, but I

did occasionally have a little good-natured fun at the expense of

people who wouldn't mind it. Little personal paragraphs of this

sort must never be malicious or mean--if the paper is to keep its


Of all my newspaper experience I like best to dwell on the society

reporting; but if I were to advance I knew that I must take on more

responsibility, so I became city editor of another paper. I was

virtually managing editor, for the editor and owner was a politician

and was away much of the time. It was then that I began to realize

the responsibility of my position, to grapple with the problem of

dealing fairly both with my employer and the public. The daily life

with its varying incidents, the big civic issues, the stories to be

handled, the rights of the advertisers to be considered, the

adjusting of the news to the business department--all these were

brought before me with a powerful clarity.

When a woman starts on a city paper she knows that there are

linotypes, presses and other machinery. Often she has seen them

work; but her knowledge of "how" they work is generally vague. It

was on my third day as city editor that I realized my woeful

ignorance of the newspaper business from the mechanical viewpoint. I

had just arrived at the office when the foreman came to my desk.

"Say," he said, "we didn't get any stuff set last night. Power was

off. Better come out and pick out the plate you want to fill with."

What he meant by the power being off I could understand, and

perforce I went out to select the plate. He handed me long slabs of

plate matter to read. Later I learned that printed copies of the

plate are sent for selection, but in my ignorance I took up the

slabs and tried to read the type. To my astonishment it was all

backward, and I found myself wondering if it were a Chinese feature

story. Finally I threw myself on his mercy and told him to select

what he chose. As I left the composing-room I heard him say to one

of the printers: "That's what comes of the boss hiring a hen


Shortly after noon a linotype operator came to me with his hands

full of copy.

"If you want any of this dope in the paper," he said, "you'll have

to grab off a paragraph here and there. My machine's got a bad

squirt, and it'll take an hour or more to fix it."

Greek, all Greek! A squirt! I was too busy "grabbing off" paragraphs

to investigate; but then and there I resolved to penetrate all these

mysteries. I found the linotype operator eager to show me how his

machine works, and the foreman was glad to take me around and

instruct me in his department and also in the pressroom. I have had

trouble with printers since; but in the end they had to admit that

the "hen editor" knew what she was talking about.

There is a great cry now for woman's advancement. If the women are

hunting equality as their goal let them not seek out the crowded,

hostile cities, but remain in the smaller places where their work

can stand out distinctly. A trite phrase expresses it that a

newspaper is the "voice of the people." What better than that a

woman should set the tune for that voice?

Equality with men! I sit at my desk looking out over the familiar

home scene. A smell of fresh ink comes to me, and a paper just off

the press is slapped down on my desk.

"Look!" says the foreman. "We got out some paper today, didn't we?"

"_We_!" How's that for equality? He has been twenty years at his

trade and I only ten, yet he includes me.

When I am tempted to feel that my field is limited, my tools crude,

and my work unhonored and unsung, I recall a quotation I read many

years ago, and I will place it here at the end of the "hen editor's"

uneventful story.

Back before my mind floats that phrase, "Buried in this burg." If a

person has ability, will not the world learn it?

"If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or sing a

more glorious song than his neighbor, though he build his house in

the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door."

That a personal experience story may be utilized to show readers how to

do something is demonstrated in the following article taken from _The

Designer_. It was illustrated by a half-tone made from a wash drawing of

one corner of the burlap room.




Our burlap room is the show room of our bungalow. Visitors are

guided through the living-room, the bedroom, the sleeping-porch and

kitchen, and allowed to express their delight and satisfaction while

we wait with bated breath for the grand surprise to be given them.

Then, when they have concluded, we say:

"But you should see our burlap room!" Then we lead the way up the

stairs to the attic and again stand and wait. We know what is

coming, and, as we revel in the expressions of admiration evoked, we

again declaim with enormous pride: "We made it all ourselves!"

There is a solid satisfaction in making a room, especially for an

amateur who hardly expects to undertake room-making as a profession.

We regard our room as an original creation produced by our own

genius, not likely to be duplicated in our personal experience. It

grew in this wise:

When we came to the bungalow last spring the family numbered three

instead of the two of the year before. Now number three, a healthy

and bouncing young woman, necessitated a "sleeping-in" maid if her

parents were ever to be able to detach themselves from her person.

We had never had a sleeping-in maid at the bungalow before and the

problem of where to put her was a serious one. We well knew that no

self-respecting servant would condescend to sleep in an attic,

although the attic was cool, airy and comfortable. We rather

thought, too, that the maid might despise us if we gave her the

bedroom and took up our quarters under the rafters. It would be an

easy enough matter for carpenters and plasterers to put a room in

the attic, but we lacked the money necessary for such a venture. And

so we puzzled. At first we thought of curtains, but the high winds

which visit us made curtains impracticable. Then we thought of

tacking the curtains top and bottom, and from this the idea

evolved. The carpenter whom we consulted proved to be amenable to

suggestion and agreed to put us up a framework in a day. We helped.

We outlined the room on the floor. This took two strips of wood

about one and a half by two inches. The other two sides of the room

were formed by the wall of the attic and by the meeting place of the

roof and floor--that is, there was in reality no fourth wall; the

room simply ended where floor and roof met. Two strips were nailed

to the rafters in positions similar to those on the floor, and then

an upright strip was inserted and nailed fast at intervals of every

three feet. This distance was decided by the fact that curtain

materials usually come a yard wide. For a door we used a discarded

screen-door, which, having been denuded of the bits of wire clinging

to it, answered the purpose very well. The door completed the


We used a beautiful soft blue burlap. Tacking on proved a more

difficult matter than we had anticipated, owing to the fact that our

carpenter had used cypress for the framework. We stretched the

material taut and then tacked it fast with sharp-pointed,

large-headed brass tacks, and while inserting these we measured

carefully the distances between the tacks in order to keep this

trimming uniform. The two walls supplied by the framework were

quickly covered, but the rough wall of the attic necessitated some

cutting, as we had to tack the burlap to the uprights and these had

not been placed with yard-wide material in view. Above the

screen-door frame was a hiatus of space running up into the peak.

The carpenter had thoughtfully run two strips up to the roof and

this enabled us to fill in by cutting and turning in the cloth. A

corresponding space above the window received similar treatment.

Then we covered the inner surface of the screen door and we had a


But we were far from satisfied. The room looked bare and crude. We

bought a can of dark-oak stain and gave the floor a coat and this

improved matters so much that we stained the wood visible on the

door frame and about the window. Having finished this, we saw the

need of doing something for the ceiling. The ceiling was merely the

inner surface of the roof. The builders had made it of boards of

varying sizes, the rafters were rough and splintery and there were

myriads of nails sticking through everywhere. It looked a hopeless

task. But we bought more stain and went to work. Before beginning we

covered our precious blue walls with newspapers, donned our oldest

clothes and spread papers well over the floor. It was well that we

did. The staining was not difficult work but the nails made it

splashy and we were pretty well spotted when we finished.

But when we did finish we felt compensated. The nails had become

invisible. The dull blue walls with their bright brass trimming, the

soft brown floor and the stained, raftered roof made the room the

most attractive in the house. We could not rest, although the hour

was late and we were both tired, until we had furnished it. We put

in a couple of small rugs, a brass bed, and a white bureau. We hung

two pictures securely upon the uprights of the skeleton. We added a

couple of chairs and a rack for clothing, put up a white madras

curtain at the window, and regarded the effect with the utmost

satisfaction. The room answered the purpose exactly. The burlap was

thick enough to act as a screen. It was possible to see movement

through it, but not form. It insured privacy and still permitted the

air to pass through for ventilation. As a finishing touch we screwed

a knob on the outside of the door, put a brass hook on the inside

and went downstairs to count the cost.

As a quick and inexpensive method of adding to the number of rooms

in one's house, the making of a burlap room is without an equal. The

idea is not patented, and we who deem ourselves its creators, are

only too happy to send it on, in the hope that it may be of service

to some other puzzled householder who is wondering where to put an

added family member.

THE CONFESSION STORY. Closely akin to the personal experience article is

the so-called "confession story." Usually published anonymously,

confession stories may reveal more personal and intimate experiences

than a writer would ordinarily care to give in a signed article.

Needless to say, most readers are keenly interested in such revelations,

even though they are made anonymously. Like personal experience stories,

they are told in the first person with a liberal use of the pronoun "I."

A writer need not confine himself to his own experiences for confession

stories; he may obtain valuable material for them from others. Not

infrequently his name is attached to these articles accompanied by the

statement that the confession was "transcribed," "taken down," or

"recorded" by the writer.

Conditions of life in classes of society with which the reader is not

familiar may be brought home to him through the medium of the confession

story. It may be made the means of arousing interest in questions about

which the average reader cares little. The average man or woman, for

example, is probably little concerned with the problem of the poorly

paid college professor, but hundreds of thousands doubtless read with

interest the leading article in an issue of the _Saturday Evening Post_

entitled, "The Pressure on the Professor." This was a confession story,

which did not give the author's own experiences but appeared as

"Transcribed by Walter E. Weyl." This article was obviously written with

the purpose, skillfully concealed, of calling attention to the hard lot

of the underpaid professor.

Constructive criticism of existing conditions may be successfully

embodied in the form of a confession article that describes the evils as

they have been experienced by one individual. If the article is to be

entirely effective and just, the experience of the one person described

must be fairly typical of that of others in the same situation. In order

to show that these experiences are characteristic, the writer may find

it advantageous to introduce facts and figures tending to prove that his

own case is not an isolated example. In the confession article mentioned

above, "The Pressure on the Professor," the assistant professor who

makes the confession, in order to demonstrate that his own case is

typical, cites statistics collected by a colleague at Stanford

University giving the financial status of 112 assistant professors in

various American universities.

Confessions that show how faults and personal difficulties have been

overcome prove helpful to readers laboring under similar troubles. Here

again, what is related should be typical rather than exceptional.

EXAMPLES OF THE CONFESSION STORY. That an intimate account of the

financial difficulties of a young couple as told by the wife, may not

only make an interesting story but may serve as a warning to others, is

shown in the confession story below. Signed "F.B.," and illustrated with

a pen and ink sketch of the couple at work over their accounts, it was

printed in _Every Week_, a popular illustrated periodical formerly

published by the Crowell Publishing Company, New York.


We were married within a month of our commencement, after three

years of courtship at a big Middle West university. Looking back, it

seems to me that rich, tumultuous college life of ours was wholly

pagan. All about us was the free-handed atmosphere of "easy money,"

and in our "crowd" a tacit implication that a good time was one of

the primary necessities of life. Such were our ideas when we married

on a salary of one hundred dollars a month. We took letters of

introduction to some of the "smart" people in a suburb near Chicago,

and they proved so delightfully cordial that we settled down among

them without stopping to consider the discrepancies between their

ways and our income. We were put up at a small country club--a

simple affair enough, comparatively speaking--that demanded six

weeks' salary in initial dues and much more in actual subsequent

expense. "Everybody" went out for Saturday golf and stayed for

dinner and dancing.

By fall there was in working operation a dinner club of the "younger

married set," as our local column in the city papers called us; an

afternoon bridge club; and a small theater club that went into town

every fortnight for dinner and a show. Costly little amusements, but

hardly more than were due charming young people of our opportunities

and tastes. I think that was our attitude, although we did not admit

it. In September we rented a "smart" little apartment. We had

planned to furnish it by means of several generous checks which were

family contributions to our array of wedding gifts. What we did was

to buy the furniture on the instalment plan, agreeing to pay twenty

dollars a month till the bill was settled, and we put the furniture

money into running expenses.

It was the beginning of a custom. They gave most generously, that

older generation. Visiting us, Max's mother would slip a bill into

my always empty purse when we went shopping; or mine would drop a

gold piece into my top bureau drawer for me to find after she had

gone. And there were always checks for birthdays.

Everything went into running expenses; yet, in spite of it, our

expenses ran quite away. Max said I was "too valuable a woman to put

into the kitchen," so we hired a maid, good-humoredly giving her

_carte blanche_ on the grocery and meat market. Our bills, for all

our dining out, were enormous. There were clothes, too. Max

delighted in silk socks and tailored shirts, and he ordered his

monogramed cigarettes by the thousand. My own taste ran to expensive

little hats.

It is hardly necessary to recount the details. We had our first

tremendous quarrel at the end of six months, when, in spite of our

furniture money and our birthday checks, we found ourselves two

hundred and fifty dollars in debt. But as we cooled we decided that

there was nothing we could do without; we could only be "more


Every month we reached that same conclusion. There was nothing we

could do without. At the end of the year on a $1200 salary we were

$700 behind; eight months later, after our first baby came, we were

over a thousand--and by that time, it seemed, permanently estranged.

I actually was carrying out a threat of separation and stripping the

apartment, one morning, when Max came back from town and sat down to

discuss matters with me.

A curious labyrinthine discussion it was, winding from

recriminations and flat admissions that our marriage was a failure

and our love was dead, to the most poignant memories of our

engagement days. But its central point was Max's detached insistence

that we make marriage over into a purely utilitarian affair.

"Man needs the decencies of a home," he said over and over. "It

doesn't do a fellow any good with a firm like mine to have them know

he can't manage his affairs. And my firm is the kind of firm I want

to work for. This next year is important; and if I spend it dragging

through a nasty divorce business, knowing that everybody knows, I'll

be about thirty per cent efficient. I'm willing to admit that

marriage--even a frost like ours--is useful. Will you?"

I had to. My choice rested between going home, where there were two

younger sisters, or leaving the baby somewhere and striking out for


"It seems to me," said Max, taking out his pencil, "that if two

reasonably clever people can put their best brain power and eight

hours a day into a home, it might amount to something sometime. The

thing resolves itself into a choice between the things we can do

without and the things we can't. We'll list them. We can't do

without three meals and a roof; but there must be something."

"You can certainly give up silk socks and cigarettes," I said; and,

surprisingly, on this old sore point between us Max agreed.

"You can give up silk stockings, then," he said, and put them down.

Silk socks and silk stockings! Out of all possible economies, they

were the only things that we could think of. Finally--

"We could make baby an excuse," I said, "and never get out to the

club till very late--after dinner--and stay just for the dancing.

And we could get out of the dinner club and the theater bunch. Only,

we ought to have some fun."

"You can go to matinées, and tell me about them, so we can talk

intelligently. We'll say we can't leave the kid nights--"

"We can buy magazines and read up on plays. We'll talk well enough

if we do that, and people won't know we haven't been. Put down:

'Magazines for plays.'"

He did it quite seriously. Do we seem very amusing to you? So

anxious lest we should betray our economies--so impressed with our

social "position" and what people might think! It is funny enough to

me, looking back; but it was bitter business then.

I set myself to playing the devoted and absorbed young mother. But

it was a long, long time before it became the sweetest of realities.

I cried the first time I refused a bridge game to "stay with baby";

and I carried a sore heart those long spring afternoons when I

pushed his carriage conspicuously up and down the avenue while the

other women motored past me out for tea at the club. Yet those long

walks were the best thing that ever happened to me. I had time to

think, for one thing; and I gained splendid health, losing the

superfluous flesh I was beginning to carry, and the headaches that

usually came after days of lunching and bridge and dining.

I fell into the habit, too, of going around by the market, merely to

have an objective, and buying the day's supplies. The first month of

that habit my bills showed a decrease of $16.47. I shall always

remember that sum, because it is certainly the biggest I have ever

seen. I began to ask the prices of things; and I made my first faint

effort at applying our game of substitution to the food problem, a

thing which to me is still one of the most fascinating factors in


One afternoon in late summer, I found a delightful little bungalow

in process of building, on a side street not so _very_ far from the

proper avenue. I investigated idly, and found that the rent was

thirty dollars less than we were paying. Yet even then I hesitated.

It was Max who had the courage to decide.

"The only thing we are doing without is the address," he said, "And

that isn't a loss that looks like $360 to me."

All that fall and winter we kept doggedly at our game of

substitution. Max bought a ready-made Tuxedo, and I ripped out the

label and sewed in one from a good tailor. I carried half a dozen

dresses from the dyer's to a woman who evolved three very decent

gowns; and then I toted them home in a box with a marking calculated

to impress any chance acquaintance. We were so ashamed of our

attempts at thrift that they came hard.

Often enough we quarreled after we had been caught in some sudden

temptation that set us back a pretty penny, and we were inevitably

bored and cross when we refused some gayety for economy's sake. We

resolutely decided to read aloud the evenings the others went to the

theater club; and as resolutely we substituted a stiff game of chess

for the bridge that we could not afford. But we had to learn to like

them both.

Occasionally we entertained at very small, very informal dinners,

"on account of the baby"; and definitely discarded the wines that

added the "smartness" demanded at formal affairs. People came to

those dinners in their second or third best: but they stayed late,

and laughed hilariously to the last second of their stay.

In the spring we celebrated Max's second respectable rise in salary

by dropping out of the country club. We could do without it by that

time. At first we thought it necessary to substitute a determined

tramp for the Sunday morning golf game; but we presently gave that

up. We were becoming garden enthusiasts. And as a substitution for

most of the pleasure cravings of life, gardening is to be highly

recommended. Discontent has a curious little trick of flowing out of

the earthy end of a hoe.

Later that summer I found that a maid was one of the things I could

do without, making the discovery in an interregnum not of my

original choosing. A charwoman came in for the heavier work, and I

took over the cooking. Almost immediately, in spite of my

inexperience, the bills dropped. I could not cook rich pastries and

fancy desserts, and fell back on simple salads and fruit instead. I

dipped into the household magazines, followed on into technical

articles on efficiency, substituted labor-savers wherever I could,

and started my first muddled set of accounts.

At the beginning of the new year I tried my prentice hand on a

budget; and that was the year that we emerged from debt and began to


That was six very short years ago. When, with three babies, the

bungalow became a trifle small, we built a little country house and

moved farther out. Several people whom we liked best among that

first "exclusive younger set" have moved out too, and formed the

nucleus of a neighborhood group that has wonderful times on incomes

no one of which touches $4000 a year.

Ours is not as much as that yet; but it is enough to leave a wide

and comfortable margin all around our wants. Max has given up his

pipe for cigarettes (unmonogramed), and patronizes a good tailor for

business reasons. But in everything else our substitutions stand:

gardening for golf; picnics for roadhouse dinners; simple food,

simple clothing, simple hospitality, books, a fire, and a game of

chess on winter nights.

We don't even talk about economies any more. We like them.

But--every Christmas there comes to me via the Christmas tree a box

of stockings, and for Max a box of socks--heavy silk. There never is

any card in either box; but I think we'll probably get them till we


The following short confession, signed "Mrs. M.F.E.," was awarded the

first prize by the _American Magazine_ in a contest for articles on "The

Best Thing Experience Has Taught Me":

Forty Years Bartered for What?

A tiny bit of wisdom, but as vital as protoplasm. I know, for I

bartered forty precious years of wifehood and motherhood to learn


During the years of my childhood and girlhood, our family passed

from wealth to poverty. My father and only brother were killed in

battle during the Civil War; our slaves were freed; our plantations

melted from my mother's white hands during the Reconstruction days;

our big town house was sold for taxes.

When I married, my only dowry was a fierce pride and an overwhelming

ambition to get back our material prosperity. My husband was making

a "good living." He was kind, easy-going, with a rare capacity for

enjoying life and he loved his wife with that chivalrous,

unquestioning, "the queen-can-do-no-wrong" type of love.

But even in our days of courting I answered his ardent love-making

with, "And we will work and save and buy back the big house; then we

will--" etc., etc.

And he? Ah, alone at sixty, I can still hear echoing down the years

his big tender laugh, as he'd say, "Oh, what a de-ah, ambitious

little sweetheart I have!"

He owned a home, a little cottage with a rose garden at one side of

it--surely, with love, enough for any bride. But I--I saw only the

ancestral mansion up the street, the big old house that had passed

out of the hands of our family.

I would have no honeymoon trip; I wanted the money instead. John

kissed each of my palms before he put the money into them. My

fingers closed greedily over the bills; it was the nest egg, the


Next I had him dismiss his bookkeeper and give me the place. I

didn't go to his store--Southern ladies didn't do that in those

days--but I kept the books at home, and I wrote all the business

letters. So it happened when John came home at night, tired from his

day's work at the store, I had no time for diversions, for

love-making, no hours to walk in the rose garden by his side--no, we

must talk business.

I can see John now on many a hot night--and summer _is_ hot in the

Gulf States--dripping with perspiration as he dictated his letters

to me, while I, my aching head near the big hot lamp, wrote on and

on with hurried, nervous fingers. Outside there would be the evening

breeze from the Gulf, the moonlight, the breath of the roses, all

the romance of the southern night--but not for us!

The children came--four, in quick succession. But so fixed were my

eyes on the goal of Success, I scarcely realized the mystery of

motherhood. Oh, I loved them! I loved John, too. I would willingly

have laid down my life for him or for any one of the children. And I

intended _sometime_ to stop and enjoy John and the children. Oh,

yes, I was going really to _live_ after we had bought back the big

house, and had done so and so! In the meanwhile, I held my breath

and worked.

"I'll be so glad," I remember saying one day to a friend, "when all

my children are old enough to be off at school all day!" Think of

that! Glad when the best years of our lives together were passed!

The day came when the last little fellow trudged off to school and I

no longer had a baby to hamper me. We were living now in the big

old home. We had bought it back and paid for it. I no longer did

John's bookkeeping for him--he paid a man a hundred dollars a month

to do that--but I still kept my hand on the business.

Then suddenly one day--John died. _Died_ in what should have been

the prime and vigor of his life.

I worked harder than ever then, not from necessity, but because in

the first few years after John left I was _afraid_ to stop and

think. So the years hurried by! One by one the children grew up and

entered more or less successful careers of their own.... I don't

feel that I know them so very well.

And now that the time of life has come when I must stop and think, I

ask myself: "What did you do with the wonderful gifts Life laid in

your lap--the love of a good man, domestic happiness, the chance to

know intimately four little souls?"

And being honest I have to answer: "I bartered Life's great gifts

for Life's pitiful extras--for pride, for show!"

If my experience were unique it would not be worth publishing, but

it is only too common. Think of the wives who exchange the best

years of their lives, their husband's comfort, his peace of mind, if

not to buy back the family mansion, then for a higher social

position; sometimes it is merely for--clothes!

It i

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