Saturday, March 26, 2011
A scroll of the mouse wheel landed on a day with several correspondences and missed connections that I found interesting so I'm posting them all today. Two of them don't have to do with love at all (or at least not romantic love, I assume), but sometimes the other personals can be just as, if not more, intriguing (like this old favorite).
"I Have It." - Will give $100. No more. They are of no use to you. S.
Will the lady who wrote an anonymous letter to Mr. Porter concerning a malady of the heart send her present address or any information concerning Mr. Porter to H.G., Herald office?
Mary Levins, now 21 years of age, fair complexion and light brown hair. She left her home, Grand street, Brooklyn, May 12, 1859, on an errand, and has not been heard from since. If alive it will be of advantage to communicate with her father, John Levins, care of S.B. Noble, Esq., No. 111 Nassau street, New York city.
The one of the two ladies who noticed the gentleman who followed them Saturday afternoon in Broadway and left them at Taylor's restaurant will oblige the same by conferring an interview. Address P.Q., Herald office.Blackmail! Romance? Missing Person. Stalker! This...actually reads like a soap opera précis, doesn't it? I guess the personals really were daily soap operas, weren't they? This beats Page Six any day.
Well, let's see. The note addressed to "I Have It" is fairly straightforward. Someone is threatening to expose S. through some letters or other incriminating evidence that he's (or she's) done something bad. Cheated on the spouse? Stolen from the cash till? That I don't know. But despite what S. said, they must have been pretty valuable. $100 is no small sum. I mean, I put down $104 each month for the MTA's monthly Metrocard and it makes me shudder just thinking about it - and this ad is from 150 years ago. $100 was a lot of money back then! So I wonder what "it" was and how much "I Have It" was asking for in the first place.
The second ad, this I have a little more trouble interpreting. At first I took it literally and was like, why, if this woman had a heart problem, did she write anonymously? Shouldn't she have gone to a doctor? What can I say; I haven't been getting much sleep lately. But I think the more likely scenario is that the "malady" referred to is heartbreak. Interesting turn of phrase. I wonder if she said that in her letter, or if the advertiser was feeling poetic that day. And who is H.G. anyway? H.G. wants to know about Mr. Porter - not about the anonymous lady. Wondering if H.G. is Mr. Porter's wife. Mr. Porter has gone missing, she opened his mail and found the anonymous letter, and was desperate enough to find her husband that she chose to reach out to his mistress, presumably, in the hopes that the letter-writer might have a clue where Mr. Porter was. But that seems unlikely; if the mistress knew where he was, she wouldn't be writing letters to his house, and besides, I assume she's heartbroken because Mr. Porter has disappeared and stopped visiting her. So where did he run off to? Was there another mistress in the background with whom he's eloped? Scandalous!
The third ad is not a love ad, but it saddened me because it was written ten years after the day Mary disappeared. So went little Mary went out to run an errand, she would have been eleven! Every parent's worst nightmare. I don't even like to think about what they must have suffered. But now, ten years later, suddenly this ad! So strange! "If alive..." that seems unlikely, or if she is, I hate to ask how she's been living all this time. Normally I'd see an ad instructing the person to address a lawyer and assume that Mary's parents had died and she's going to gain some kind of inheritance. But apparently Mary's father is still alive. And what an odd way of putting it anyway. Not, Mary please come home, we miss you, all is forgiven, whatever. No, just "it will be of advantage." That is so formal - though I suppose if written by the lawyer, that would make sense. I don't know - it seems like a hopeless cause to me.
And finally, the stalker. Do these men pause for even a second to think about how their ads must look? P.Q., there is nothing - nothing - appealing about knowing that a man deliberately followed you down the street. It is creepy. Even if you are incredibly attractive, it is still creepy. Those women were probably heaving a big sigh of relief the moment you "left" them at the restaurant. Yikes.
So that's the lot for today. Now back to my real work!
©2011 Pam Epstein