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Encounters in transit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I found these two on the same day, and found them suspiciously similar.  You'll see exactly what I mean.  Which leads me to wonder: are they from the same person who is extremely stupid, are they inventions of the editors (to entertain readers) who are not very, well, inventive, or do they happen to be from two different men who randomly had very similar experiences?

You be the judge.

Young lady in Fifth avenue stage at noon on the [?], from New York Hotel to Twenty-seventh street. - The high rank officer who handed over your fare is anxious to apologize and explain his interest.  If agreeable address to the most strict confidence, Lord Derby, station D, Bible House.  Nothing but honorable.

Will the blonde lady who crossed Fulton ferry at 2 1/2 o'clock yesterday with her mother grant an interview to gentleman with side whiskers and mustache who helped her into the stage and passed up her fare, read Personals and got out, at Grand street.  Address M.H.L., box 150 Herald office.

Okay, their experiences aren't that similar.  But isn't it funny that both say they "passed up" or "handed over her/your fare"?  I'm not saying I've never ever seen that before in an ad, but it's not like that happened every day, so twice in one column?  I dunno; to me it's striking.  That being said, I have been known to read too much into these ads, on occasion. But probably they aren't the same person, really; one's a high ranking officer, the other isn't.  Side note: since I'm teaching Civil War again, as I said, here's a fun piece of trivia for you.  The term "side whiskers" was gradually replaced with "sideburns" because of Ambrose Burnside, a Union Army general who was briefly General in Chief of the entire army (till he totally blundered at Fredericksburg, but that's a different story).  Check out the mutton chops!

Getting back on track.  In the first ad I noted especially when he said he wanted to apologize and explain his interest I was reminded of an ad I wrote about a bazillion years ago (well, a year and a half) with a similar theme, which I thought was kind of sweet and my readers thought was an apology for mistaking a lady for a prostitute.  Ha!  I don't know if that could be what happened here though.  If he did mistake her for a prostitute, I can hardly imagine that the woman would ever, ever reply, no matter how honorable his intentions.  I mean, would you want to date someone who you know would pick up prostitutes?  Of course not.  I also wonder about the Lord Derby schtick.  Real name?  Seems unlikely at best.

As for the other, it's sort of hilarious that the guy is trying to pick up a lady who was with her mother.  Talk about class!  I wonder if he was trying to flirt with her with her mother looking on?  Because I bet that went over really well.  Though who the time this ad was written, the personals had been around long enough that it's entirely possible that the mother was once addressed in one as well.  Wow.  When I think about that - about the longevity these ads had - I'm really amazed anew.

©2010 Pam Epstein


Mimi October 20, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

I think the questionable phrase is "1st inst." See link: inst. abbreviation

Anonymous November 11, 2010 at 3:13 PM  

I agree with Mimi... "1st inst" ... I.e., the 1st of the current month.

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