July 22 Thursday. this has been a hot uncomfortable
day and the flies are quite too plenty
dead ones laying on the floor in any
quantity. Hannah is not neat at all
and does not keep the house in any order
Julia has got my skirt to the borage so
much one side that it will have to be taken
of[f]. She says she will come Saturday and do it
Oh, dear. Today was “allso a verry warm day verry much like yesterday.” * Evelina appears to have been affected by the “uncomfortable” heat. She had nothing agreeable to report. Her maid was sloppy, her dressmaker was inept, and there were dead flies all around the house. Probably not even her flower garden offered solace.
As for the flies, we modern readers must remember that window screens were in their infancy, so that when Evelina and other housewives pulled up the window sashes in their homes to try to cool the air inside, they let in flies and other bugs “in any quantity.”
Flypaper hadn’t been invented yet, either, but it would come along in another decade when a baker in the small town of Waiblingen, Germany, fed up with the flies that landed on his cakes and tortes, had the idea to coat a strip of paper with molasses and hang it in his window. The flies went for it, so to speak, and a universal aggravation was successfully addressed. Customers began to want the strips of flypaper even more than the baked goods, so much so that the baker eventually gave up baking and took up the manufacturing of his product. (He would soon replace the molasses with arsenic, but that’s another story.)
The German baker’s invention, unfortunately, came too late to help the disgruntled Evelina or the hapless Hannah on this warm, warm day in Easton.
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection