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short and sweet

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sometimes it's the simplest ones that grab you the most:

Matrimonial. - With a view to matrimony, the advertiser wishes the acquaintance of a fair-haired, blue-eyed, kind-hearted girl. Address A.M.A., Station G.

With all thy faults I love thee still.

Aw. That matrimonial ad was one of the first ones I found, I think even before Bertram's, and I still remember how touched I was. Poor lonely guy. I hope he found who he was looking for.

As for the second, Charlie might be more poetic, but if I was going to get a personal written to me in the papers, I think I'd prefer the style of the second ad above (just so's you know). Well, except the part about the "faults," since I don't have any.

Seriously, though, can't you just imagine: a couple got into a fight, one of them (let's say it was the woman, to make things simpler)* did something she regretted and was beating herself up, and so her lover put this gentle little note in the paper to make her feel better. Or at least that's the scenario I came up with.

Of course, coming up with your own stories is part of the appeal of these ads, as I think you my readers have already discovered. That's what the plot of the movie Desperately Seeking Susan revolves around. But the coolest thing about that (to me at least) is that everyone at the time seemed to be doing the same thing. Two papers which carried personals actually printed articles encouraging their readers to come up with their own stories about these ads. Personals weren't just for the people involved - they were for everyone's enjoyment. That's one of the things that makes them special.

*I've been asked many times if I think that personals were used by same-sex couples, and my answer is: absolutely. I think it would make perfect sense given their secretive nature and the anonymity. I haven't found any ads that stand out to me as possibilities, but if everyone's using pseudonyms or initials, how would I be able to tell anyway? So, perhaps because I am myself a straight woman, I tend to see these as between heterosexual couples, but I think it's perfectly fair to assume that sometimes they're not.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Anonymous May 29, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

I was curious about the last paragraph so I did a quick google search. This bibliography was interesting:

Especially #210, although you might have to learn German. :-)

Pam May 29, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

Oh cool! Thanks for the link! (I had a little trouble opening it; it's actually for anyone else who's interested in checking it out.) I don't speak a word of German, unfortunately, but I'm glad to know there is stuff out there on this regarding the 19th century.

It's so hard to cover every issue in your dissertation and I've just had to let things go that I find so fascinating in order to ever finish...

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