Silk Stockings

THE CONTRIBUTORS’ CLUB

I know that this is a theme whereon one must, like Agag before the prophet Samuel, step delicately.

Ever since that first life-size raisin pie appeared in full color in the advertising pages of our magazines, during the war, all mankind, I suppose, has been drawn to a closer study of that illustrated section. I wonder if anyone else has been distressed, like myself, by the curious fact that, while a spade is a spade in the advertiser’s art, a silk stocking is not a silk stocking. For instance, if, under the picture of a spade, or an alarm-clock, or a rubber tire being carried off to bed by a yawning little boy with a candle, you scratch ever so feebly your name and address on the row of tiny black dots in one corner, back to you, in time, will come a spade, a Big Ben, or a non-skid tire. But if, on the other hand, you accept the invitation to ‘Sign Here To-day,’ under a pair of silk stockings, what a miscellany of articles will come parcels-posting unexpectedly into your front hall.

Once, a full-page vision of a shapely ankle, sheathed in the most gossamer of silken hose and dainty Cinderella slipper, hung lustrous in my dreams for days; until a sudden little jump in my pay envelope furnished me the wherewithal to write for one pair, extra-size. When the order was all but addressed, I discovered that the Cinderella slipper, and the wondrous silken sheen from ankle to delicately draped knee, lived in Art but to press a tiny hithertounnoted button for the new peaceful Starting, Lighting, and Ignition of Automobiles!

Since that time I have kept a vigilant lookout for silk stockings that are silk stockings. Over the shoulder of a man ahead of me in the train, I catch sight of a pair of silk stockings sitting cross-legged before a fire in a cheery wainscoted library. The coloring, the firelight, play up, obviously, the silk stockings as the centre of attraction. I pull out my glasses and peer credulously at the name of the firm. Over his shoulder I read,‘Knotless! Crackless! Use Beaver Board for Walls and Ceilings!'

Again, blown open by a gust of wind, the Evening Post flaunts to passers-by a half-page pict ure, on which I catch a glimpse of brightly colored silk stockings. I pay my five cents and, once more at home, open it with scientific curiosity. Flung like a fringed rainbow against the sky are a dozen silk stockings, alluring to the eye of any maid; but underneath, ’Easy Terms if you Buy Now—Electric Washing Machines.’

Silk stockings, prominent under a widespread parasol with a dim tenniscourt far in the background, mean only ‘Aromints! Five Flavors!’

Silk stockings, flashing into view on a wind-swept hill overlooking the roofs of a doll-house village below, mean ‘Send for Free Booklet! Neponset Shingles!’ Silk stockings, three-quarters displayed by every member of the family, quite obscure the half-hidden corner where stands the object which would come back to you, securely crated, — an 'Æolian-Vocalion, Greatest of Phonographs.’ Silk stockings, a-shimmer on a score of dainty misses dancing across a full page, mean ‘Mother’s Blouse Made New — Use Dye-Flakes.’

I am looking, almost any day now, to discover a silk stocking that will mean a new kind of raisin pie. I am resigned to the theory and practice of the advertiser who permits spades to be spades, and toothbrushes to be toothbrushes, and fountain pens to be fountain pens, but does not yet firmly resolve that silk stockings shall be silk stockings.