Mary Cunningham to Jane Addams, November 14, 1916


Nov. 14, 1916.

My dear Miss Addams:

I am so sorry I was not here last night so will send you a few statements regarding the Coffee House.

There are seven girls who have time off in the afternoon and they are quite a room full, I assure you.

As some of them do not get home much before nine and leave at seven or seven-thirty, their rest hours are spent doing little things properly belonging to their evenings. Three of the girls are in the Coffee House at noon and two others belong to evening classes, so I permit them to launder their waists which they do keep beautifully white and clean, and I suspect they launder other [page 2] things besides those and their kitchen aprons. They also take baths, wash their hair, work out with each other intricate patterns in lace, or more with more difficulty extracts from the daily papers. I find it so hard to get help that [anything] done to make them more comfortable is an advantage to the House. I have just put in a colored woman and the girls are taking kindly to her because she speaks English and they at last realize that they must give up their Polish before they can obtain better positions.

As for the Coffee House, we have taken off the 40¢ dinner, and put on each item at a small profit, have omitted either the salad or second vegetable part of the time [page 3] in the Dining Room, have bought in larger quantities and discounted when possible, so Sept. and Oct. show better returns than those months last year. I have lowered the deficit which is still six hundred and some dollars.

I have just this month found what I think is an accurate way of keeping the Dining Room Daily account as the flat rates, flatites, guests, and signing out make it difficult to be accurate.

In October the amount lost on flat rate people who received free Sunday Dinners <(5)> was about $20, while amount paid by people when absent was about $75. Residents are getting their meals cheaper comparatively than last year and only one thing seems badly adjusted. [page 4] I feel it is not fair that Misses Hannig, Praeger, Pillsbury and others should come and go as they please at exactly the same rates as their next door neighbors who are compelled to pay flat rate. If they and all guests who constantly say "How can you do it"? paid 45¢, the extra would help very <materially> as usually more than half the people are not on flat rate, and it costs $2 to serve the meal after it leaves the kitchen ($1 for waiters, $1 for laundry and dishes). Then the [flat-rate] people who must occasionally eat in the Coffee House have another disadvantage as they get less for 40¢ than in the Dining Room. I do not charge an excess of 5¢ but it is often 15¢. I speak of this only because I can't help being partial to the flat rate residents and [page 5] more responsive when an opportunity offers them a favor.

The 70 meals for the Montessori School has added considerably to the labor of the Kitchen and I haven't the work as well in hand as it should be, but I fear we will settle more and more into peace and system as no extras are in sight at present.

The big profit this month seems to be due to the increase in inventory on hand, but I actually have the supplies on hand in canned materials and they are paid for. Eliminating inventory used, and on hand, the profit is 68.70 which is about as it should be.

I will be able to pay Mr. Deknatel's entire loan of $300 this month and [page 6] I think Mrs Bowen will be willing for me to do this as I will make her a payment next month and will owe only her and myself. I hope to clear off the debts by the end of May as I did two years ago.

Hoping this will give you some knowledge of the conditions without too much detail, I am,

Most sincerely yours,

Mary Cunningham.