Monday, December 21, 2009
Ha ha ha! I knew this ad existed somewhere, but due to some unbelievably ridiculous obstacles in the way of getting access to a copy of the paper it was from, I have only finally been able to see it in print. Wow. I feared it was a fake, but here it is, true to life. I give you:
R. - Letter February 28 received. Will not write. You suppose Mr. Devil is protecting me, hope I am blackmailed, &c. You are a contemptible cur. If you write my husband I will see you. Am a crack shot. I defy you. D.
Oh, ads like this just make my day. I know I say this pretty much every time, but I really mean it now: I wish I knew what this was all about!! Well, I think an easy guess is that "D." was cheating on her husband and "R." found out. "R" can't prove it yet, but sent the threatening letter anyway to make sure "D" knows she's being watched.
I suspect that's the crux of the matter, but there's still lots of fascinating stuff going on here. "You suppose Mr. Devil is protecting me"? What does that mean? Does D mean that literally - like, Satan is my protector, mwah ha ha ha - or is Mr. Devil an actual person with a very bizarre nickname (I refuse to believe "Devil" is anyone's real last name). And the part about being "a crack shot"! Wow! What's this lady doing running around with a gun? And how does she know she's a crack shot? Has she been practicing with beer cans behind her house? Shooting stray cats or pigeons from her apartment window? Okay, I use the word "lady" rather loosely; I don't think she's anything of the sort.
Now the funny thing about this ad historically is that the reason I know about it is because it was evidence in an indictment and had been labeled "lascivious, lewd, and obscene." Now I will grant that this is not pretty, and I'd even buy lascivious and lewd, but obscene? Not by today's standards. But back in the day this is the sort of thing that could get you convicted. (Thank you Comstock!)
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein