12/29 New Year’s Day at the Governor’s Mansion
On January 1, 1892 there was the traditional New Year’s Day reception at the Governor’s Mansion, with hundreds of guests and a lavish buffet.
As Ima remembered years later:
These called for great preparations. Men came in to cover the carpets with white canvas and everything was elaborately decorated. It was the day when people festooned the windows and pictures and door openings with smilax. The large crystal chandeliers in the two parlors were also delicately outlined with smilax which could not be put too near the lights because they were gas and as I recall it, did not have any shades over the flames. The mantels were always banked with flowers.
Table decorations were entirely different from those now. They were usually quite low with forms made of tin and filled with wet sand. In these, flowers were packed very closely together to give a clear outline with a special motif and color. I cannot remember how the tables were covered, but I believe, having seen my Mother’s interest in qualities of damask, that the damask of fine Irish linen was used.
Young men in Austin who were interested in social functions came in to assist with the decorations. Neighbors arrived to do what they could to help in the kitchen and dining room. There was a colored porter at the Capitol named Bill Boulding who always came to stand at the door and announce the guests as they entered the parlor.
But receptions were always a trial for the frail Governor’s Lady:
Finally Father got her a high stool which she sat on or leaned against so that she could get through receptions without being too fatigued. She was entirely too conscientious and should have delegated a great deal more than she did to the servants.
A letter Sallie wrote in 1892 to her son Will, who had gone back to boarding school after the holidays, shows her bravely carrying out her duties as mother and hostess:
Don’t think your Mother has forgotten her boy you know I have been very busy ever since you were here getting ready for another reception, and oh! I am so glad it is over. The flowers you sent Mama were so pretty. Many thanks for them, I sent you a small box [of treats from the reception] it was the only size I had. I could have sent you other things but they would not keep long enough to get to you. Everything passed off very nicely (so everybody says).
Brava, Salllie Hogg.