Every era has its version of the Modern Woman, and the 1920s were no different. Women had the vote–and they had washing machines! Cars and canned goods were widely available and affordable, and with more labor-saving appliances, including the vacuum cleaners, a household could be run more efficiently than ever before.
But housekeeping was still work, even if magazine ads made it look easy. In “Turkey in the Straw (Bess, 1925),” we find a younger version of our old friend Bess Wilcox laboring under the illusion that she can do everything without help–including prepare Thanksgiving dinner for her family and her nephews. But when Bess’s mother sends a note saying she and Bess’s father will be coming to dinner this year, Bess begins to worry she won’t be able to produce a dinner party that’s up to her mother’s exacting standards. As the guest list grows, so does Bess’s anxiety, which she tries to keep under wraps. After all, she’s a modern woman with modern machines–shouldn’t she be able to do it all? Her recently-hired housekeeper, Dorothy Johnson, has her doubts!