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Talk about variety

Friday, May 14, 2010

These ads were all on the same day, and although they're not all romantic, I thought they were each so interesting in their way that I decided, why not, I'm gonna post them all. The first two in particular are very unique, which is why they deserve a mention.

G. St. Leger Grenfell, a prisoner on the Dry Tortugas, who escaped on the night of March 7, 1868 - Anyone who can give information so that his family in Europe may know whether he is alive or perished in his attempt to escape will please address F.F. Marbury, Counsellor at Law, 64 Wall street.

Now, I see ads all the time looking for people who are missing, or who have "left his/her home"; that's pretty common. But never have I ever seen an ad where people are looking for an escaped prisoner! This ad was published a little over a year after the escape, so presumably the police had given up on finding G. St. Leger Grenfell (quite a fancy name for a convict!). But it's not like if he was found he couldn't be sent back to jail. Any lawyers out there: if F.F. Marbury got information on an escaped prisoner, as his counselor (hired by his family), can he keep his whereabouts privileged under client confidentiality? I'm pretty sure not. Although I guess if some confederate of Grenfell just wrote an anonymous note that said whether or not he's alive, then Marbury doesn't know where he is, so, that's okay then. Pretty odd though. I wonder what Grenfell was in jail for?

The lady that picked up a gentleman's purse on Thursday evening, 22d last, on Fifteenth street, will oblige him by returning the same, with the papers, on the corner of Twentieth street and Broadway, at 6 o'clock Saturday evening. Welcome to the money.

Speaking of crime! I have posted a few similar ads, including one of my all time favorite ads ever, but this one's a first, being addressed to a "lady." It's not that women were never thieves, of course, but certainly it's not something you see all the time. I love that he does call her a lady, though; I don't know if that's meant to win her over, or if it's just such a convention to use that word that he does so without thought. I doubt that; I think he's trying to be diplomatic. Those papers must have been pretty important; he's willing to lose the money but not them. But do you think a pickpocket is going to show up on a street corner to return them? Isn't there a chance that the gentleman might bring a policeman friend with him to arrest her? And is a pickpocket reading the personals column anyway? I suppose these ads must have had a little bit of success given that I do see them, if not all the time, then at least often enough that people must have believed they worked.

Your ardent admirer saw you yesterday at the shoe store in Broadway, trying your boots, but could not speak and only tried to open the door to let you out. Appoint time and place for interview; give signs to avoid mistakes. Address Spaniard, Herald office.

Aw, that's kind of cute. Could he not speak because he didn't have the opportunity, or was he struck dumb by her incredible beauty? I like to think the latter, which makes a charming little story, but I have a feeling it's the former. He says he "tried" to open the door, not that he actually did, which makes me think they were both in the store, she was leaving, he rushed over to try and let her out, but alas! Someone else beats him to it, and she blithely wanders out into the street without being aware of our hero. Of course he can't run after her because he's just in his socks, plus it would be weird to accost her in the streets, so...he prints a personal.

Anyway, I love that these ads, and so many other kinds, all appear right next to each other. Romance, theft, prison breaks - what more could you ask for in your daily news? It's better than a novel - and you get a different collection of personals every single day! No wonder at least one paper printed them on the front page. It's the best column in the paper!



Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein

3 comments:

Liz May 14, 2010 at 9:39 AM  

Re. the second ad - what other word could he have used besides 'lady'? 'Woman'? I rather think 'brazen strumpet' might have been too much for a family newspaper.

Re. the third ad - *please* don't tell me I'm the only person thinking 'shoe fetish' here.

Pam May 14, 2010 at 4:56 PM  

Woman would be a reasonable possibility. Person. I don't know, honestly, it's just sort of funny to refer to a thief as a lady!

Mimi May 14, 2010 at 6:19 PM  

I am only a lawyer in training, of course, but the lawyer would probably only have a duty to keep Grenfell's whereabouts a secret if Grenfell was his own client; I don't think the family could hire him on Grenfell's behalf. On the other hand, Marbury probably wouldn't have to say anything to the authorities unless they asked...

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