Sunday, March 6, 2011
Perfect for a rainy day in Brooklyn today. Seriously, these are sooo depressing. They're almost enough to make you think, you know, there are worse things than being single. Like being in a completely doomed and wretched relationship!
D.M. - I admit error, for which I am suffering now bitterly; forgive me, baby, and allow your papa to see you Monday early.
Why this cruel deception? What of Barda's bill? Lease expires in March. Instruct me, [??], your broken-hearted wife.
C. - Have not returned to interfere with or trouble you, as you seem to infer; am but obeying the commands of another; too miserably unhappy to trouble others. L*****G.
Wow. Well I feel rotten now. These just run the spectrum of bad to worse. First couple is in a terrible falling out, second couple is going through an unpleasant separation, and third couple is no longer a couple. What a sad group of souls!
Now, as for the first, I'm actually not certain this is an actual couple. If it was, like, 50 years later I'd think that the whole "baby" and "papa" monikers would definitely be between lovers. But did they use those words in that way in the nineteenth century? I suppose it's entirely possible that this ad is actually from a father to his daughter (presumably). But the tone doesn't work, does it? I just don't know when people began using "baby" as a way to address their significant others. Same goes for "papa," which, kind of like "daddy" is something I thought was the product of the 1920s, which this ad far precedes. But maybe not. If the ads was between a couple, then I find that pretty fascinating! You have to wonder about the socioeconomic background of these two, if they're a couple. Definitely a very "low brow" form of address. Interesting.
As for the second, I unfortunately couldn't make out a few of the words. I think they might just be the woman's name? This one is actually the saddest of the lot for me. The husband has deserted his wife after telling her he was running out to buy a pack of cigarettes (or whatever excuse they might have used back then) and left her with no income. She's in their apartment with the bills piling up: the rent is due, the grocer is demanding payment, and any second now when the lease is up she's going to get kicked out. She has no way of finding her husband other than the personals. That is...really sad. Even more sadly, also not uncommon. Desertion was such a problem for women that it is one the main reasons many states created more lax divorce laws (and even in the most restrictive states, like New York, the only accepted reasons for divorce were desertion, abuse, and adultery). Because of course if your husband disappears with the only income, you're pretty screwed. Can't support yourself, but can't remarry. Poor thing. Hope she wasn't evicted.
And the last is, wow, kind of passive-aggressive, don't you think? But L*****G seems to have it pretty bad (and that ain't good). C and L*****G broke up, and L*****G moved away, but then had to come back to the city under orders. I wonder whose orders? Was it for a job? Clearly whoever was giving the orders was not a very nice person to be associated with. When you're talking about "obeying the commands" of someone else, I can guarantee that someone else is not pleasant. No wonder L*****G is so unhappy! Still heartbroken after the breakup with C, and now forced to go into the city where C lives, and on top of everything else, C is being all bitchy like, you're not going to win me back. Thus the personal. So sad!
Who knew such depressing stuff was going on behind the curtains of serene Victorian relationships!
©2011 Pam Epstein