The whole problem of household management is just now a very serious one. When the maid is ignorant, untrained, and, as is so often the case, slack, wasteful, and inefficient, the situation is, in all conscience, bad enough. But when the mistress is only a little less ignorant than her servant, is equally slack, and perhaps even more inefficient, the high cost of living gets a terrific boost in that household, while comfort, wholesomeness, and adequacy of living are correspondingly depressed. One of the saddest elements in our consultation work is the stream of both men and women who lack courage, aggressiveness, initiative, mental focus, and personal efficiency generally because they are deficient in physical stamina. Their whole life is, as it were, sub-normal. With inherent qualifications for success, they are, nevertheless, threatened with failure because, to use the language of the ring, “they lack the punch.” The trouble with nine out of ten of these unfortunates is that they are under-nourished. Not because they do not get enough food, but because their diet is not properly balanced, is served to them in incompatible combinations, is badly prepared, poorly cooked, unpalatable, and doubtless, in many cases, served in anything but an appetizing manner.
Napoleon is quoted as having said that an army fights with its stomach. The man who goes out to do battle for commercial or professional success from an ill-managed and inefficient kitchen and dining-room is as badly off as the army with an inadequate commissary department. Yet, while the commissary department of the modern army receives the most scientific and careful supervision, many a man must leave his kitchen in the hands of a wife who received her training in music, literature, modern languages, and classics, or in a business college, and of a servant who received what little training she has as a farm laborer in Europe.
There is no denying the truth that if housewives themselves were scientifically trained, we should have a far higher average of training and efficiency amongst domestic servants. One of the consequences of our deplorable self-consciousness in the matter of sex is that we have been too prudish frankly to train our girls to become successful wives and mothers. The result is that, when it becomes necessary for them to earn money before their marriage, instead of gaining experience in housekeeping, cooking and purchasing, they have taken up the stage, teaching, factory work, office work, and retail selling. As we have seen, a great many of them are misfits in these callings. Good food is wasted, good stomachs are impaired, and good brains and nerves deteriorate because, as a general rule, only those who are too ignorant or too inefficient for office work or factory work can be induced to take service in our kitchens.
SPECIAL FORMS OF UNFITNESS