Holidays in Corn Hill

~ Reprinted from “Third Ward Traits” by Charles Mulford Robinson 1899

“Holidays in the Third Ward are observed much as elsewhere in the city. There was a time, to be sure, when New Year’s Day took on a character of its own in the big, hospitable mansions; but that was years ago when the day was a time for calling and good wishes everywhere. It was one of the social laws of Rochester then that the calls on East-side women had to be made in the forenoon. The West-side, which was at the time the Third ward, reserved the late afternoon and evening. You would see the men, at ten o’clock in the morning, in dress suits and high hats, starting forth in little parties that filled carriages-or sleighs with jingling bells, or even “four-in-hands”-to pay the day’s respects over the river. And do not think that Third ward women were left at home. Such was the social instinct of the district that they would receive twice: In the morning with their East-side acquaintances, and in the evening at home.

When the darkness settled over the ward and the men returned, houses were ablaze with light, women were in evening gowns and jewels, the long tables in the dining rooms glittered with glass and silver, and punch and coffee were steaming hot to ward against the cold. There were meats, salads, and dainties galore, and everywhere the shades were up and the blinds open that the cordiality might reach enticingly into the street. For there used to be a rivalry between the hostesses as to which had the longest list of calls. How the mistresses of the Third ward shone those nights, what graciousness, what wit and smiles, what entertainment was provided!”

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