Will Work for Food

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home

An article in today’s edition of The New York Times caught my eye.

New caretakers were needed for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house–located in Concord, Massachusetts. Apparently, the couple that fit the bill were a pair of 27-year-olds, one of whom has “a deep tan and residual ski hair” while the other “thinks of the clothes dryer as a satellite closet.”


The article intrigued me, and while I chuckled over the fact that these new caretakers had to ask around to figure out who Ralph Waldo Emerson was before accepting the job, I marveled at this quote:

“With women’s lib, the whole domain of domestic work has been relegated to the back of women’s minds,” [Bay Emerson] Bancroft said. “How do you clean a house well? It’s a mundane task, but there’s a total art to it.”

And I puzzled over the anomaly that–on one hand–America prizes the homes of the deceased while overlooking the homes of the living. What an honor to clean the home of a long-dead writer … what a meaningless job to care for the home of husband and children.


There is an art to home management, make no mistake. But better to enjoy it while alive.

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