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Friday, September 4, 2009

I saw this ad the other day and it made me laugh:

Personal - A young gentleman wishing to improve his handwriting, also with a view to matrimony, would like to correspond with some respectable young lady of good appearance, under twenty years of age; one not living in the city preferred: old maids, don't answer. Address, in confidence, for 5 days, L 67, Tribune office.

When I first read this, I thought this guy was speaking in code. You know, "wishing to improve his handwriting" must be some kind of thinly veiled reference to something dirty. But then I realized he was just being cute and making a little joke - like the primary purpose of the correspondence would be for him to improve his handwriting, and marriage would be a nice outcome. So interesting to me, though, the way that letter-writing was valued back then. Of course we all email (and text, and IM, and Twitter, etc, etc, etc), so it's not as if writing has gone completely the way of the Dodo (let's not discuss what texting abbreviations has done to the English language, but, whatever). But both men and women back then took letter writing so very, very seriously. That makes perfect sense - there was no other way to communicate across long distances. But I can't imagine today this same kind of desire to correspond without meeting, at least not immediately.

My favorite part, of course, is when he concludes by saying, "old maids: don't answer." Ha! Thanks for being blunt. Does this mean anyone over 20 years is an old maid? That's really sad! But you can tell from the way it's written; the author of this ad is pretty young himself.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, folks!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Caroline @ Quack Doctor September 5, 2009 at 3:14 PM  

He sounds sweet, even if he does make his feelings very clear about old maids! I feel positively elderly now at 33.

Pam September 7, 2009 at 9:33 AM  

Seriously, right?! 32 has never felt so old.

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