Monmouth, ME: 1896-1897. Triangular "mystery book" (22x15x15cm.); drab card wrappers, red cloth tape spine; ll. folded leaves that, when opened, reveal letters and messages from friends and classmates, each labelled "To be opened when..." ("you have retired to rest and blown out the light," "your last name commences with R and ends with n," "the next time you are caught out in a shower and you forgot to put the robe over the seat," etc.). Extremities rubbed with small loss at end of one cover, some minor soil to textblock, else Very Good. Item #1228
"Mystery book" filled nearly to completion, apparently a fad amongst the adolescents at the M.H.S. & A. (Monmouth Academy), the letters revealing Edith Gilman's active social life and perhaps over-love of flirting. Letters from her girlfriends note at least two serious crushes in a six month period, beginning with Arthur Frost, whose own letter reveals something of a dull dud ("Enjoy yourself as much as possible while going to school. Live in the present. You will be dissappointed if you look forward too much, expecting great pleasure in the future"). After Frost breaks up with Gilman, letters of consolation begin to appear, noting that she could always fall back on Fred Daggett (whose letter simply reads "When this you see / remember me / But don't call this / a mistery [sic]"). By the final letters Gilman appears to be involved with a boy named Robinson, her girlfriends all regarding their nuptials as hard fact. Our personal favorite comes from an unidentified dance partner at the Grange, whose letter asks that "When you read this think of the dude who dances. Never eat lobster for supper it will not be good for you will not set well in your stomach." This letter includes the programme from the night they danced at the Grange, which included the debate "Foreign Immigration Should Be Prohibited," Fred Daggett, aff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two letters from adults, Uncle Josiah and Aunt Samantha, both remind her "DON'T FLIRT." A compelling portrait of late nineteenth-century high school life, proving that some things don't change (except maybe for the dearth of dirty words).