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| \. Miss Miriam Cooper, shown above.
By Helen Welshimer
COUNTER of the spots! Gravy
spots, soup spots, ink spots, li
quor spots, molasses spots,
chocolate spots—any kind of
In brief, the slips between the cup
and the lip are becoming spot news
loday. When home ornamentation is
added to a vest or frock, the public is
taking the count. There are 200 dry
cleaning firms in America that are
keeping score. They are doing it be
cause Miriam Cooper, who likes to add,
spotted herself a new career.
She describes her new count will
“In the 200 dry cleaning firms from
which we gather statistics we discov
ered last year 4.785,000 gravy spots
were removed by dry cleaners follow
ing the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and
New Year gaieties,” she says. “We
obliterated 3.230,000 of them from
men's suits and 890.000 from men's
Men, it seems, are more likely to
spill the gravy than are women!
“During January and February dry
cleaners have an odor that reminds you
of a distillery. That’s because liquor
stains are being removed. Our co
operating firms reported more than a
million stains that were removed from
evening gowns and men s formal
clothes early this year.
“April and May are good for per
fume. Women's dresses yielded more
than three million sweet smelling spots
in the spring months. Then, in Sep
tember and October, we have the tar
and grease months when people are
taking automobile rides and bringing
home evidence on their clothes. Last
year, during these two months, the
score we compiled revealed 2,8 1 9,000
smudges from oil, tar and grease.
It is from October to June that the
school children show their spots. They
are ink. More than 3,000,000 of them
were reported last year.
Miriam Cooper didn’t undertake her'
job because she is good at arithmetic.
She doesn't think that knowing the
number of spots from any given cause
is worth even 47 cents, let alone a
dollar or two, unless there is a pur
pose back of the compilation. She has
a definite one.
“IT just happened, though,” she says.
•*■ “When I was graduated from New
York University I wanted to go on the
stage. My father, Phil Cooper, who
owns a chain of dry cleaning establish
ments, wanted to come into his busi
ness. Finally he saw me in a play and
decided to lend me his encouragement.
Broadway was hard to crash and as I
watched old actors, out of parts, trying
to obtain roles, I decided that the stage
was too hard a life, perhaps, after all.
“Meantime my father announced that
he was going to give me $25 a week,
“During January and February
dry cleaners have an odor that
reminds you of a distillery.
That’s because liquor stains are
and that I should come into his busi
ness and do anything that I pleased.”
So the pretty dark-eyed, dark-haired
girl went down to the main office one
day. She went to the subsidiary offices
and the manufacturing plant and every
place else connected with the system.
She saw clothes checked in, separated,
put in the cleansing baths.
She didn’t know what to do about it,
though. She kept coming to the office.
Gradually an idea was born.
“I had been drifting from store to
store when I discovered I was becom
ing immersed in all phases of the
cleaning business,” she explains. “I
began to notice that the general ap
proach to dry cleaning wasn’t nearly
as progressive as was the approach to
cosmetics, for example.
“Women were asking themselves if
certain rouges and creams were good
for their skin. They didn't puzzle
much about whether certain methods
“Last year 4.785.C00 gravy spots
were removed by ;|-y cleaners fol
lowing the Thanksgiving, Christ
mas and New Year gaieties.”
of cleaning were good for their clothes.
Each dry cleaner was interested in his
own peculiar business instead of the
general field, as were the cosmeticians.
“So I began to work on the idea ot
spots as a beginning. It was a general
approach for the dry cleaners to use
in getting together.
“If dry cleaners had accumulated
working data on the relative progress
of spots, they would know just what
spots to expect each month. Therefore,
they could prepare the right chemicals
for those special stains. Different spots
require different treatment.
“'THEN J decided that the public
needed to be educated into help
ing the dry cleaner. You see. if you
get a spot in a dress and it stays then
too long, it sets and the cleaner must
use much stronger chemicals to remove
it than he would have to do otherwise
People should be taught to bring their
clothes in at once. The garments would
wear much longer, for nothing is evei
used that injures color or fabric in good
The public should be trained to be
spot conscious, too, the spot expert con
For instance, if the yellow-haired
creature who sits on your left at dinner
suddenly discovers that her black vel
vet frock has an adornment, she should
make a mental note of the fact that a
potato slipped or a soup spoon wavered
When she goes to the dry cleaner the
next day she should point to the stain
and say: “That is a soup spot.”
If her pink chiffon shows trace of
vanished perfume, she should be defi
nite. “That is a perfume discolora
tion." would be her best statement.
In fact. Miss Cooper sirvs a wise wom
an will pin slips of paper over the
spots, indicating what they are.
“In that way the spotter is able to
identify them without experimenta
tion,” she explains. “When spots have
been in material for two days it isn’t
easy always to tell what produced
them. Blood and ink look alike after
48 hours, for instance.”
One of Miss Cooper’s contentions,
which her own father and other experts
are trying, is the presenting to clients
of a list of instructions as how to re
move spots. For instance, if you spill
ink on your handkerchief or dress, run
to the bathroom, turn on the cold wa
ter, and daub water on the place un
-111 the stain is gone. It's simple enough
to do. It saves work, too.
“At first sight, this appears to be a
way of spoiling our business,” the ex
pert spotter says. “It isn’t, though.
There are some people always who will
want to practice homemade removal of
spots. Therefore they might as well
know how to do it.
“The hundreds of garments that are
constantly brought in, showing places
where color has been removed by use
of wreng home remedies, shows the
need of this knowledge. After all. if
people know what to do, when the time
comes that their clothes must have a
professional cleaning it is much easier
lor the dry cleaner to take care of
There is quite a process back of-the
spot count. Imagine, for instance, that
you let some coffee spill on your vest.
The vest would be separated nom
other clothes. It would join other
vests of the same color and about as
In fact, here is the line-up. Gar
ments are segregated according to
types of material, types of color, types
of garment and degrees of dirtiness.
Then each lot is put into a separate
bath of fluid.
Maybe 50 lots are cleaned, each gar
nx_nt remaining for two hours. Then,
afler they leave the fluid, they are put
in a dry room where the fluid and the
odor are removed. The spotter then
takes a hand. Now it is time for the
The spotter examines each garment
for spots and treats each one separate
ly. This is good work for wome n. The y
learn to do it Swiftly, the expert re
Miss Cooper hasn’t given up her in
terest in the stage, though she now
keeps her eyes on the wardrobe's. She
swims, drives a car, plays tennis, and
likes walking. Moreover, she is married
to a young real estate man, Leonard
R. Miller, in New York, and keeps
house in a modernistic apartment over
looking Central Park. It is, as you may
have imagined, spotlessly clean.