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Very charming ads

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two more ads from the article featuring me in the Rutgers Magazine, both of which I've been itching to post since I got the invitation to be a part of this spread:


Will handsome young lady that is in mourning, wears Spanish veil on her head, sat at Spingler House window Thursday afternoon embroidering on black, permit the gentleman who was passing by in a carriage, could not help admiring that lovely face, lady did not notice passer by, put one word (agreeable) to Alfred in Personals? E.H.

Another man hitting on a woman in mourning! There are perfectly rational explanations why such things might happen, but there do seem to be a large number of men in this era who sent personals addressed to women in black. Why? Maybe these were nefarious rakes who were trying to take advantage of young ladies who were emotionally distraught and might make decisions they normally wouldn't? You know - pretending to be the friend for a poor, lonely, widowed lady to lean upon, gradually convincing her to marry him, then absconding with all the money left to her by her husband? That just seems like such a complicated endeavor. Also, how weird that he writes to her even though he admits that she did not notice him? Who would reply to that? He could be anyone, any age, any income level (he says he was in a carriage, but how would she know for sure?), anything at all. In any event, Miss Spanish Veil evidently felt the same way about this as I do: if she printed an ad in the personals, I can't find it!


Maennerchor Ball, Philadelphia - Most beautiful girl in box E: have heard again your sweet laugh, and saw those rosy, dimpled cheeks; garnet satin, diamond bracelets! I adore you! Grant to one of wealth and position an introduction, I pray. Address Devotion, box 185 Herald Uptown office.

I. Love. This. Ad. If you didn't click through the link, a Maennerchor is a German social club (according to my handy Wikipedia, the literal translation is, in fact, "men's choir"). This event would have been much like the Liederkranz and Arion balls that I have written about before. But this one is awesome. I wonder if "Devotion" actually knew the girl he's addressing. He says he has "heard again" her sweet laugh, which makes me think they must have run in the same circles. Plus, he adores her! Ha! That's wonderful. I hope she wrote back and they lived happily ever after, but I have a feeling this is one of those examples of a slightly too-easily-smitten young man who fell madly in love with a beautiful face, and then the whole thing petered out. But who knows?

What's interesting here, though, is that the ball was in Philadelphia but he tells her to address him at the Herald office, which was in New York. This is the other reason I think they may have known each other. Both were part of New York high society, both went down to Philly for the ball, then he runs into her again back in New York. If they were really high society - and to be able to run down to Philly for a ball meant you had to have some money and leisure time - they would have certainly encountered each other more than once. Yet this is the only way he can reach out to her. How sweet!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein

3 comments:

drwende May 20, 2010 at 7:00 PM  

I wonder if they're both prosperous, but she's from Philly and he's from NY. He heard her laugh when she attended some public ball or concert while visiting NY, then encountered her again when he visited Philadelphia.

I'm assuming the earlier event was public because at a private home, the host's roof constituted an introduction. And if they ran in the same circles, they would have known each other -- the 400 all did.

What's puzzling me is why he can't seem to get an introduction through normal social channels, unless one or the other of them is somehow "unsuitable."

Bianca May 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM  

I wonder if deep mourning was a pretty good indication the lady would be single. Or, maybe during the time period (civil war?) a large proportion of people in general were wearing mourning. Or maybe people stand out more in the obvious "widows weeds" and so are more likely to be noticed. (the opposite of my last conjecture LOL)

I dunno, good question though.

Pam May 21, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

drwende - the event was definitely public, but I like that theory of them living in different cities. Maybe she was actually someone else's date?

Bianca - this was about 10 years after the CW, but your second guess could make sense.

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