Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Clark's Restaurant, 12:30 P.M., Thursday evening - Will brunette, with two pretty dimples, dressed in black, Astrakhan collar on coat and gilt buttons, who sat opposite gentleman in Astrakhan coat and afterwards sat at middle table in McCormack's grant interview? Address Jack Walker, Herald Uptown office.
Astrakhan, by the way, is kind of awful: it's the pelt from newborn (under three days old) lambs from the Karakul breed of sheep - which means you're killing little baby sheep to make it, but shockingly you can still find coats made of them today. Gross. But I'll give these guys a little bit of leeway since it was over 100 years ago and people were less interested in animal rights back then. (Though, for the record, animal rights activists have been around in America since at least the Civil War era.)
Anyway, I'm more interested in who this girl is. She's hanging out at a restaurant at 12:30 in the morning (he says P.M., but he also says evening, so I'm pretty sure he's talking about the latter) with a guy who she is, apparently, not married or engaged to. Or in any event, I assume not, since you'd think the author of this ad wouldn't solicit a woman with a ring, or who is clearly with her husband/fiance, but who knows? A respectable lady isn't out at 12:30 in the morning without a husband, but she's out with someone else who Jack Walker doesn't consider competition. Moreover, she's not just hanging out at Clark's restaurant. She then moves on to McCormack's - and may or may not be alone.
Me, I think party girl. Not necessarily prostitute, just a girl out on the town, enjoying herself, going on dates with men, hanging out in restaurants (or bars), and making men fall madly in love with her by flashing her dimples everywhere she goes. And Jack wants a date! This is a much more modern-style "missed connection"; I think you see ones like this that are almost identical today. Other than outdated words and phrases like "gentleman" and "grant an interview," you could find this exact missed connection on Craigslist almost any day of the week. (Not that I'd know about that or anything.) Now, a coat with an Astrakhan collar might not have been cheap - but then it was just the collar, not the whole coat - however, a girl with pretty dimples might be able to get a boyfriend to buy her a nice coat. So I think she was probably either working class or, more likely, a sales clerk in a department store or something.
I do wonder how frequently such ads as these brought young people together for casual dating - as opposed to people falling in love at first sight with an elegant lady in the window. Because that's all I think this is. I wish I could find some diaries or letters by working girls talking about this sort of thing - but as far as I know, no one ever did. Or, at any rate, if they did, those diaries or letters are long, long lost.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein