Friday, July 31, 2009
You know, I like a man with a good sense of humor as well as the next girl, but sometimes I wonder if self-deprecation can go too far. I mean, presumably, these men actually wanted women to reply? Tell me what you think:
These ads read:
A young man, receiving the princely salary of $5 a week and has only had his wages lowered once in four years, wishes to find some young woman foolish enough to marry him; beauty and money will not be sneered at.
Wanted - Correspondence. We, three young men, aged, respectively, 23, 24, and 26, having been thrown out of our home society, and seeing the error of our ways, desire to reform, and to further that end by matrimony, desire correspondence with young ladies. We are, as to looks, good, bad, and indifferent. Do. morals, but have the rocks. Any good looking lady wishing to try it on will please address C.F., O.H., or S.A., Post office, box 92, Dayton, Ohio.
I like these, and I suspect the men who wrote them were probably pretty funny, but I wonder how many women would say, "Hmm, I'm really foolish; let me at him!" Interesting side note, though, I did find out that the year after the first ad was printed the cost of a matrimonial ad was $1.00, plus $0.50 for each line after four lines, which makes me wonder if this ad is even for real. Would you spend one-fifth of your weekly salary on a personal ad written in such a way as to put off every woman who might read it? I wonder if someone put it in there just to see if there were any women "foolish enough" to write. I don't know.
The second ad is another example of one where several people published an ad together, like the widower and his nephew from a few days ago. But this one is slightly different. Again, assuming this is real, I appreciate their humor, but I gotta wonder if it'd bring any replies. I know I'd just be dying to marry a man who'd been kicked out of his home society. Granted there have always been women with the (subconscious) desire to reform wicked young men, but someone I can't see a woman deciding to answer an ad from Dayton, Ohio in order to do so. There are always enough wicked young men in New York City (where this ad was published) in need of reform. I'm writing all this as if it is what it claims to be, but of course it could be anything, I suppose. I don't know what they mean by "Do. morals, but have the rocks." Did people refer to diamonds as "rocks" back then? People did wear diamond wedding rings back then, but not everyone - certainly only people with a lot of money.
I'm totally making stuff up here; I have no real preconception of whether or not these ads are real. They would be odd as codes but anything is possible! I'm not using them in the dissertation, so it doesn't matter too much, though if/when I get to publish my book I'd hate to waste them.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein