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From the ladies...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Remember how I said that the vast majority of missed connection ads were from men? Well, there were some from women. Here are two, both from the 1870s:

The text is here:

If the gentleman who met a lady corner of Broadway and Twenty-second street, and accompanied her from there to Maison Doree, and then to Wallack's theatre, wishes to continue the acquaintance please address J.H. De A., station D, New York

Grand Opera House, Parquet, Saturday night, Feb 12 - If the gentleman who was asked at what time the performance would end and afterward stood up behind a lady dressed in a blue sailor jacket wishes to make her acquaintance, he may address a letter to Clara Grove, Herald office.



These are just ridiculously rare. I've found less than 10 missed connection ads from women in all my research, and while I haven't read every single paper by a long shot, I've read enough to say safely - this is out of the ordinary.

I wonder a lot about who these two unique women are. I question what kind of respectable lady meets a man on a corner and then lets him accompany her to the theater? I have no clue what Maison Doree was - there's a hotel in Tunisia by that name, according to Google, but somehow I get the feeling that's not what she's talking about. Although if it was a hotel...hmm...

And "Clara Grove" is even more of an oddity; maybe that wasn't her real name, but you don't see many ads where anyone gives a full name, real or otherwise. The norm was first names, initials, or pseudonyms. If that was her given name, didn't she think anyone might recognize it? Or did she not care? Plus, for a "respectable" woman to go to the theater unaccompanied in the 1870s was extremely unlikely. So, in short, I suspect these "ladies" weren't really ladies at all.

But it doesn't seem likely that they were paid escorts, either. I don't think that prostitutes would be using missed connections to drum up new clients, though you do see ads that appear to be from high-end prostitutes, as I pointed out last week. Maybe J.H. and Clara were just out for a good time; why shouldn't they enjoy male companionship? Maybe they were perfectly nice girls who really wanted to meet a nice man and I'm maligning them horribly. Still, it is striking; they must have known what they were doing was totally unheard of. So I wish I knew what made them decide to go where no woman had gone before.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

7 comments:

dorianegray June 8, 2009 at 2:34 PM  

Perhaps the first lady was caught in the rain and the gentleman offered the shelter of his umbrella?

Pam June 8, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

Maybe - but doesn't that seem like the kind of detail she would have included to identify herself?

Anonymous June 9, 2009 at 6:31 AM  

i like ur lateral thinkin, pam
-prateek

Ms Avery June 20, 2009 at 7:44 AM  

Maybe they were very innocent, and didn't know how it would look?

Anonymous June 24, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

Maison Doree might have been a dress shop.

Pam June 25, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

@Anonymous - good call! I bet that's what it was, or some other shop.

Anonymous March 23, 2017 at 12:18 AM  

Waiting for you latest blog have you gotten bored? Or is the book out?

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