Angel ushers fluster papa, needle mama

Kathleen (Kit) Blake Coleman, Canada’s most popular and most widely read journalist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wikimedia Commons.


Angelic young ushers are adapt at wheedling extra money from pappa when they pass the offering plate at church, much to the consternation of mamma, notes Kit Coleman in the following item from the Toronto Mail and Empire, January 22, 1898.

The latest fad is Angel ushers. One Reverend already has them. They are charming. They glide around with the plate and stare that man out of countenance who presents them with petty coins. They have killed the waistcoat button. That no longer finds its way religiously into the church coffers.

The most stalwart become weak and flurried into great offerings when the plate is presented by a dear little gloved hand, and eyes brighter than diamonds are cast upon manly, bearded faces. Even pater familias grows flushed and flurried as he fumbles in his vest pocket for a larger coin than the one he had laid there for church offering in the morning.

And mater familias does not like it. She is not to be wheedled out of quarters by saucy young things in bewitching fur toques and dainty sables. She presents a stiff and stony exterior when the plate is thrust at her. She will not see it. It is quite enough for pater to burst into religious extravagance. At his time of life, too! She looks at his flushed countenance with a grim eye. Pater will catch it presently. Such goings on in a church! It’s not orthodox! It isn’t even decent!

But the Angel usher smiles sweetly on mater and winks furtively at pater, and goes on her serene way, sure of shekels.

Irish-born Kit Coleman—Kathleen Blake Coleman, 1864-1915—was Canada’s most widely read and influential newspaper reporter in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Widowed a second time at age 25, she turned to house cleaning to support herself and two small children before winning a job as a reporter with the Toronto Mail (later Mail and Empire). She wrote first about the domestic and social matters that editors deemed to be the only issues of interest to women, before winning her argument that women were just as interested in such matters as politics, science, business, and religion. In 1898, she covered the Spanish American war in Cuba, as the world’s first accredited female war correspondent. But Kit Coleman never lost her ability to write about everyday life with a sharp eye, keep perception, and eloquence.

Unfamiliar Canadian history stories 086

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