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A Memento

Monday, January 18, 2010

My computer tells me it's 7pm (currently awaiting a transfer in Montréal), but my brain is thinking midnight and man, I'm exhausted.  Therefore, expect no lines of brilliance in today's post.  Tomorrow I'll be back in gear but for now you'll have to settle for drawing your own conclusions.

But I did find this ad intriguing:

Madison avenue car, Saturday, December 29, afternoon. - Gentleman stopped car for young lady going out, probably 56th st., remarking, 'I am ever so much obliged to you.'  Will the lady have the kindness to permit sincere gentleman the opportunity for repeating these words only once more?  Please address Memento [Meum?], box 200 Herald office.

I'm curious how this interaction played out.  He writes that he stopped the car for the young lady going out, but he's the one who says he's "ever so much obliged to you."  That's odd.  If he stopped the car for her, why isn't she thanking him?  What did the lady do that makes our author feel obliged?  Did she speak to him?  What did they say?  She can't have given him any contact information or he wouldn't be asking for a correspondence.  Perhaps she just nodded and smiled, or maybe she took his hand while alighting from the stagecoach, and he was so thrilled by this that he had to tell her how grateful he was?  I wish I knew! 

I'm also curious about the name he gives, which unfortunately I can't make out.  I gave my best guess, but I doubt that I'm right - many of you have better eyes than me, and I'm too tired to try and make it out (also: a 32-ounce beer is really big, and maybe not a brilliant idea when you're jetlagged.  Just sayin'.)  "Memento..."?  Is that a hint?  Oooh - maybe she gave him something, like a memento, and that's why he's obliged to her!  That's got to be it!  But what did she give him?  A feather from her hat?  A bangle?  A brooch?  I wonder!  Very, very racy!

And I like his line: asking for the opportunity to say it again.  That's kind of sweet - or anyway, clever.  I don't know, I might fall for that.  But, again, not thinking clearly at the moment so who knows what I'd fall for right now...

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


Bianca C January 19, 2010 at 12:34 AM  

I am guessing she gave him directions, after perhaps he had failed attempts with others nearby.

Pam January 19, 2010 at 9:15 AM  

Eh, boring. ;)

jen van leigh January 19, 2010 at 11:16 PM  

it's "memento meum" which can be "remember me" or "i remember" or maybe "my memory. "something of the sort.

Pam January 20, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

Jen - thank you! Is that Latin? Of course both of these things render my "interpretation" completely wrong - but I guess I can live with that!

Cameron February 14, 2010 at 10:38 AM  


I think if you re-read the ad-you see that the young lady was thanking him for stopping the car (in the 19th Century people referred to horsecars -ie horsedrawn streetcars--or later the cable car or electric streetcar as ¨the car¨. As an aside-if you ever see someone refer to ´the cars¨they are using a name for the train--although that wasnt in common use everywhere). Anyway--take out the bit about where she got off and you can see SHE made the remark to him for his kindness.

Also-in your next post about the ¨stalker on the ferry¨-I believe he was in the ladies waiting room of the ferry terminal. At that time many larger transport terminals had separate waiting rooms for men and women. Men were often allowed in the ladies waiting room if they were behaving themselves or accompanying a woman-really these were areas where the woman could feel safe from being accosted by the ruder male. However, women would rarely be found on the mens side, as that was where smoking, tobacco chewing, etc would be found, and men like traveling salesmen and labourers would gather. Not the kind of people a lady would, nor should, be associated with. Also--in this case-the stage mentioned would be a horsedrawn omnibus (or public stagecoach) that would have operated like a transit bus does today (and its where we get the word bus). The horsecar and trolleycar really only became common in the 1880s.prior to that many towns offered omnibus routes until they laid the rails and converted the routes to horse, cable or trolley lines. And these conversions took a while so many places had omnibus routes into the early 1900s.

Sorry to be so lond winded--but thought I´d try to fill in some knowledge gaps.

Pam February 14, 2010 at 5:26 PM  

Thanks Cameron!

As I'm sure you could probably figure out, I sometimes write these blog posts very quickly and really just put down whatever comes into my head. So I'm sure my accuracy is frequently wrong or at least a little off. But it always makes me happy when people are able to contribute, so don't apologize!

Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM  

I rather like this post, and I can confirm the name is Latin "memento meum". Jen van Leigh's first two guesses are close, but the word forms don't make sense that way. "my memory" is correct, but can be rearranged to convey the meaning in a slightly nicer way: "a reminder of me".

I like the way they used to assume everyone knew Latin and French. Drives me nuts, but also makes me smile.

Pam February 20, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

Thanks illudiumphosdex! I love the use of Latin and French, etc, because it confirms my belief that highly educated people sometimes used the ads. Things like this say an awful lot about class.

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