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St. Nicholas in April

Author Rita Smith
Air Date 4/5/2000

St. Nicholas in April Transcript

Here’s Rita Smith with a Rediscovery.

St. Nicholas was a popular American juvenile periodical that was issued monthly from November 1873 through March 1940. It contained fiction and non-fiction articles, as well as poetry, letters, and puzzles. Many of the non-fiction articles dealt with practical matters; works intended, as one scholar wrote, Ïto give the reader a command of the organization and operations of society, suggest certain skills and accomplishments that may prove desirable, and convey facts designed to instill in the reader the skills necessary to function effectively in the modern world.”(1)

In the April 1900 issue of St. Nicholas, one such article, written by Margaret E. Caldwell, offers suggestions to young girls who are planning a trip to the Paris Exposition.

“Of course,” she writes, “you are going not only for the sake of the enjoyment but also for the real benefit to be gained…you may never go abroad again, [and] you ought, therefore, begin to get ready as early as possible.(2)

“Guide books are very helpful, but don’t buy them now and read them as you visit the sights. Do your studying,” she encourages, “while you are at home and have the time. Avoid those heavy volumes of French history, and read the story books of travel. Pursue the interesting stories: “When you read something about Marie Antoinette’s Swiss cottage and the trouble that it caused, do you not feel interested to know what the trouble was and why a Swiss cottage caused it?(3)

“Knowledge of French history and the life stories of France’s famous people will add wonderfully to the enjoyment of the trip. Also, read all you can about the Exposition and the wonders on display there. Think about what you would especially want to see, then make an effort to see it. Study the French language and culture. Every ordinary French word that you know will add to your comfort.You will have a kindlier feeling toward a people whose language you can speak. As you study them and learn their ways, your own ideas of life and humanity will be broadened and deepeed.

This is one of the great advantages of travel, the author notes. We are lifted out of our own little grooves and made to see that other people, whose ways are not our ways, and whose opinions differ from ours, are yet living good and useful lives.

Caldwell ends on a rather melancholy note, I think. Her final suggestion is to cultivate the habit of observation and remember what you see. It is important, she says, to save these memories because “We must all necessarily spend many lonely hours and fortunate is the girl or woman who has happy memories to make these hours glad. Any trip ought to fill the memory with treasures, but a trip to Europe ought to brighten your life and thereby make you happier through all coming years.”(4)

(1)Erisman, Fred. “St. Nicholas,” in: Children’s Periodicals of the United States, edited by Gordon R. Kelly, p. 382-383.
(2)Caldwell, Margaret E. “Are You Going to the Paris Exposition?” in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, April, 1900, p. 538.
(3)Ibid.
(4)Ibid, p. 540.

Sources:
Caldwell, Margaret E. “Are You Going to the Paris Exposition?” in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, April, 1900, vol. 27, no. 6., p. 538-540.
Erisman, Fred. “St. Nicholas,” in: Children’s Periodicals of the United States, edited by Gordon R. Kelly. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. 1984. p. [377]-388.
(C)2000 Rita Smith

 

Posted in Magazines