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Lady in black!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I haven't posted any missed connection ads in awhile, in part because they're pretty much all the same, but here are two I found interesting - not entirely unique, but I'll explain momentarily what is, to me, striking about them.

The text reads:

If the lady who walked up Broadway on Tuesday about 12 o'clock, with a steel gray basque, black velvet bonnet and black veil, will allow a gentleman (a long admirer of her) to make her acquaintance, she can do so by sending a note, stating how it may be done, to J.S.W., station D, Post office, Astor place, Buildings. The intention is strictly honorable, and any communication shall be confidential.

29th street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues. - If the lady wearing a black shaggy cloak, furs, double black veil, black silk dress, with small crimson dots, and satchel in left hand, who, on Saturday afternoon, at about half-past four o'clock, left the stage at the corner of Broadway and Twenty-ninth street, will send her address to A. Albert, box 81 Broadway Post office, she will hear of something greatly to her advantage.


Actually these are interesting to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, look, I don't know a whole lot about lady's fashion in the 19th century, but when a woman is wearing that much black, chances are she's in mourning. Black cloak, black bonnet, black veils, black dress... that's an awful lot of black. (A basque is a type of women's jacket; this woman's was not black, but steel gray is still pretty dark.) So basically what we have here are two men soliticiting women who are in mourning. Classy, dudes.

But there's noteworthy things about these otherwise; in the first, the guy says he's a "long admirer," and I am curious - a long admirer who knew her? Or a long admirer who's been eyeing her every day as she walks down the street past his house or office? It's made even more intriguing by the fact that apparently she didn't see him (no mention of the gentleman with the goatee, or blonde hair, or who "sat opposite"). Thanks but no thanks. Unless there's some kind of code here that I'm not picking up on.

In the second one, I find it amusing how detailed "A. Albert's" description is. How many men do you know who are this observant about what a woman has on? The whole situation - he has it down to every last detail (the satchel was in her left hand, mind you, in case there was some other woman in the same outfit at the same time who might have been holding her bag in her right hand!). It's almost as if he was taking notes. I'm surprised he didn't say "at 4:34" instead of "half past four." Now, he doesn't call himself an admirer - just says she'll learn something greatly to her advantage. So it's possible this isn't about romance; maybe she dropped her wallet and he's picked it up or something. But odds are, the thing he thinks will be to her advantage is A. Albert himself.

Wildly speculating here, of course; I could easily be misinterpreting these entirely. But come back tomorrow for my all-time favorite missed connection ad ever!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

4 comments:

Breukellen June 25, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Ooo those were fun. I don't know about the fashion of the times, either, but I do know NYC fashion, and black is it. I wonder when New Yorkers began wearing more black than the general populous?

Pam June 25, 2009 at 4:06 PM  

Ha ha, I don't think it was until the 1950s with the Beats, but even they were more California-based. Sometime after that, though.

Jo June 29, 2009 at 5:10 PM  

The woman in the steel grey basque was probably (if I read Judith Flanders correctly) in half mourning for a husband, which means it was only just about time that it'd be acceptable for a man to advertise his admiration for her.

Pam June 29, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

Jo, that makes sense. Thanks for the tip!

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