By Dorothy Day
New York Call Monday, December 18, 1916, page 2
So The Call’s Diet Squad of One Learns on Her $5 a Week Experiment With Prunes and Tenement House Insects.
“Man cannot live by bread alone,” not even one dollar and eighty-two cents worth. Neither can a woman. Although the diet squad weighed itself and found that it had gained three ounces in the last week and a half, it was not content, nor satiated by the simple, hermit-like fare. In freezing weather it takes more than a dish of prunes to warm one.
The average working girl cannot go home for her mid-day meal, nor yet does she want to take a dry and unappetizing sandwich to work with her; so it was decided that it would be a wise plan to eat a restaurant lunch daily. Therefore, two meals of the diet squad have been eaten in the sequestered confines of the salmon-pink bedroom and the other in a cheap lunch room with companions and light and other little appetizers.
After two hours of careful examination of the budget sheet for the week beginning December 8, it has been found that no dollar has been put aside for clothes, as has been decreed by the United Charities. And, what is more, the conclusion has been reached that it is impossible to save a dollar a week out of a $5 income. Room rent, $1.25; gas, 25 cents; 42 cents for shoe repairing; $1.15 for luncheons; 70 cents for milk; 51 cents for other food; 25 cents for car fare; 43 cents for recreation, soap and candles.
If a careful mathematician adds these figures he will discover that there are 4 cents missing. Next week the diet squad will really have to be more careful in putting down an itemized account of expenditures. Such carelessness will never do at all. Still, there is an improvement. Last week’s accounts show that [illegible] cents were unaccounted for.
As girls do not wear trousers, nor shirts, it is a waste of time and of space to tell them how they can save and still look neat by pressing the trousers under the mattress and sleeping on them, and of turning in the cuffs of their shirt. And, anyway, this is not a column, or part column, to tell girls how to give condescendingly helpful hints on how to save and be content in the hall bedroom. It is merely an experience.
As to the bedbug problem…
“Here, here,” said the editor at this point. “That is an indelicate subject. We won’t print anything about it.”
“But we thought that The Call printed news that the other papers didn’t. Bedbugs are one of the problems of the working girls, it must be mentioned.”
“Alright, give it a line.”
Gasoline, 5 cents. (Beware of fire.)