“Hilarity Court”

Wood, Alice.  “Hilarity Court.”  1938.  1632.0001/26.  University of Alabama Special Collections.  “Carolyn Shepard Price Home Economics Teaching Materials” collection; “Entertainments” folder.

In an October 1938 magazine article entitled “Hilarity Court” Alice Wood describes the events of a particular Halloween party. The host invites her guests to the party with a legal summons, and then takes them on a scenic tour of the property, including multiple clues and one ladder, before they arrive

at the party. Once the guests find their way into the house they’re presented with a “hideous ghost” and various booby traps including a heated chair and a fake body. The article then describes the party games the guests play; they attempt to name foods by touch, run beans from one side of the room to the other, and even dress up in randomized costumes. At the end of the night the group is told that “because of the depression” none of the listed delicacies (laughing duck and reboiled coffee) could be served, but are instead taken to an “ample buffet supper.”

This article is useful because it sheds light on what women were reading and writing during the Great Depression. Rather than writing an article dedicated to how to entertain yourself and your friends on a budget, this author chooses to describe what must have been an extremely expensive party. From the lavish invitations to the detailed costumes provided for each guest, the author of article seems to intentionally ignore the economic problems plaguing most of the country. At the end of the article the author even goes so far as to make a specific joke about the depression, pointing out the lack of food in the country and then providing a lavish feast for her guests. Overall, this article was an extremely interesting insight into the way that the the rich responded to depression, as well as to what women of all socioeconomic classes might have been reading in magazines at that time.