MARY E. PALMER
MARY E. PALMER
THE TRIBUNE PRINTING CO.
Charleston. W. Va.
CREDIT TO THE HOTEL WORLD.
The greater part of the contents of this book was published,
in instalments, in The Hotel World, of Chicago.
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.
Charleston, West Va.
March 1, 1908.
The Manager and the Help.
The average hotel manager is only too prone to complain
of the incompetency and the inefficiency of hotel
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
2. Must not leave the linen-room without notifying
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
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
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
Inventory of Linen-Room for month ending January 1, 1908.
|Jan. 1, 1908.
||Total No. last count
Dec. 1, 1907
|Plus new stock
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.
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.
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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
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
[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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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 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
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
- Assembly Hall, 87
- Attention to Details, 34
- Birds of Passage, 32-33
- Character in The Hotel Business, 26
- Cleaning Rooms, 41-44
- Card and Wine Rooms, 88
- Cleaning Brass, 85
- Chambermaids, 90
- Evolution of the Housekeeper, 104-105
- Fires, Suggestions in case of, 98
- Fire Prevention, 102
- Fires, origin of, 103
- Gossip between employes, 29-30
- Housekeeper and the Help, 17-22
- Housekeeper's salary, 38-40
- Housekeeper, progressive, 35-37
- Housekeeper's Rules, 81
- Housekeeper, relationship between guests, 31
- Housekeeper, requirements of, 11-20
- Housekeeper, and co-operation, 17-22
- How to Make Beds, 47-48
- How to Clean Walls, 49-51
- How to Scrub a Floor, 51-52
- How to Get Rid of Vermin, 53-57
- Linen Room, Linen Woman, 63-68
- Linen, table, care of, 69-70
- Linen, removing stains, 70[Pg 108]
- Linen, best kind, 71
- Linen, how to test, 72
- Laundry, making bleach, 73-80
- Miscellaneous subjects, 94
- Parlor Maid, 83-90
- Proprietor's Wife, 23-25
- Room Inspection, 21-28
- Vacuum Cleaning System, 58-62
- Waxing Ballroom Floor, 88