Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: marriage

Sunday, December 15, 1912

The Daily Illini bored me again today, so once again I turned to my copy of the Siren, the university humor magazine. Here is an article I found there:

Tea drinking, to our mind, is a vicious habit and a dangerous weapon. To our certain knowledge this herb has been instrumental several times in late months, to bacheloricide with malice afore thought, or marriage in the first degree. And this under our very eyes;—perpetrated by honored ladies of the faculty;—consummated under the shadow of a statue of learning.

The plot is this. Two or more ladies, of culture and graces beyond question, combine resources and establish quarters wherein they may furnish tea and aesthetic language to eligible bachelors on the faculty.

The unmarried males arrive. Tea is served. The males speak thus: “What de-l-icious tea!” “Yes, simply go-orgeous.” “What charming apartments!” “So bohemian!” Oh gracious, I have spilled a drop of tea on my trousers. Oh no—nevermind—not at all! It will not hurt them a bit.” This occupies the first hour.

Then comes the dirty work. The ladies begin to smile naughtily and make such appalling jokes as: “When the mice are away the old cat must play” (High tenor giggle from the men) or “What would Mrs. So-and-So say if she knew” (frightened little laugh) or “I just love these little parties—they are so deliciously naughty. But you mustn’t tell a soul” (pursed lips and mockingly stern finger).

The deed is did. Murder is out. The demoralizing atmosphere is too many for the Professors—they succumb.

The women must be women. Have they not in care the instruction of younger women? The men are surely men for they are intrusted with the making of other men. Yet—well—I suppose it’s that darned tea.

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Thursday, December 12, 1912

Representative S. A. Roddenberry of Georgia has introduced a House resolution to “forbid the marriage of negroes and persons of any other color.” Angered by the recent marriage of “Jack” Johnson, a negro prize fighter, to Lucille Cameron, a white girl, in Chicago, Mr. Roddenberry spewed forth much vitriol. “We see an African with much brutal force, with no moral character, with no stamina, entering the office of a legal officer in that city, and calling on him to issue—’to Jack Johnson!’—a marriage license to wed a young American woman of our own blood, our own race, our own color. The young officer is directed to issue to the brute a legal certificate permitting a white woman in these days to be bound in the wedlock of black slavery.” Black slavery! He went on and on and on, apparently, and it looks as though the papers printed most of it. “No blacker incubus ever fixed itself upon the social politics of this republic than the embryonic cancer of negro marriage to white people that has lately been in evidence,” he emitted, probably turning redder and redder. “No more voracious parasite ever sucked at the heart of pure society and moral status than the one which welcomes or recognizes everywhere the sacred ties of wedlock between Africa and America.” What a horrible man. I feel sorry for his wife.

Meanwhile, Senator Benjamin F. Shively of Indiana disdained ether and chloroform before an operation in which his toe was to be removed. Instead, while it was being cut off, he smoked a cigar. I expect he hopes to be shot on his way to a speaking engagement so that he may give a speech while a bullet is in his chest, just like Theodore Roosevelt.

The Courier-Herald consulted various Urbana residents and came to the conclusion that the temperature last night dipped below zero. The headline is “MERCURY LOSES STANDING LOCALLY,” and below that, it says, “Weather Indicator Tries to Sneak Out of Bottom of Tube.”

Tuesday, November 19, 1912

Sarah Durham, a Champaign seamstress, is seeking $50,000 in a lawsuit against C. W. Walcott, a well-known retired farmer living in Urbana. She charges that Walcott alienated the affections of his son, St. Elmo, from her. She says they were engaged in 1904 and that St. Elmo Walcott is the father of her nine-year-old boy. The elder Walcott, she charges, persuaded his son not to marry her. “Owing to the fact that the Walcott and Durham families moved in different social circles,” the article says, Miss Durham’s story of how she (as a high school girl) and Walcott (then a University student) became acquainted is “quite interesting.” It is, however, the opposite of interesting.

Tuesday, October 29, 1912

Vice-President Sherman lies at the point of death. He has Bright’s disease and a weakened heart. His doctor did not disclose his critical condition until last night. “The secretiveness of the physicians was undoubtedly inspired by a desire to hide the true situation regarding Mr. Sherman’s illness in the closing hours of the campaign, in which he is a candidate for re-election to the second highest office in the land.”

A couple from Fort Wayne, Indiana, eloped by flying 71 miles to Hillsdale, Michigan, and wrecking their aeroplane during the landing. They were married in their hospital beds.

Surgeons in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, removed 102 nails, two keys, a button hook, and a partly digested three-inch iron spike from the stomach and intestines of a man they are calling “the human ostrich.” The man has craved metal since accidentally swallowing some shingle nails ten years ago.

Finally, there is a short article mocking Johns Hopkins university for studying “the blues” as a mental disorder. Whoever wrote the piece (for it is not attributed) says that “the blues” has its origin in the stomach or liver and recommends “a dose of calomel followed by a sane system of eating and living.”

Friday, October 18, 1912

Francis Ganalon, the “wild man” who took possession of a house in Tolono and who claimed to own all of the public buildings and farmland in this county, has escaped from the asylum for the insane. As Mr. Ganalon tends not to keep such a low profile, I believe we have not heard the last of him.

“A wild-eyed stranger, hatless and poorly clothed and excitedly claiming to have witnessed a frightful train wreck,” appeared at the Johnson residence just south of Sidney early this morning. Sidney officers brought the stranger, who first gave his name as Con Graney and later as Dan Conley, to Urbana, where he was adjudged insane. The prisoner imagined himself to be in Chicago. Although clad in the attire of a common laborer, the mystery man has a refined face, and his hands are small and uncalloused. “The rough exterior does not disguise the refined and intellectual appearance of the man and the authorities are considerably puzzled.”

Myrtle Bowers, employed in a knitting mill, put her name and address into a stocking before it was shipped. A Florida man bought the stocking, the two corresponded, and they were married in Rockford, Illinois.

George R. Lunn, Socialist mayor of Schenectady, New York, and six of his Socialist co-workers have been arrested on a charge of rioting and thrown in jail in Little Falls. The mayor, his wife, and a number of others had attempted to address groups of striking employees in the streets there without a permit.

Sunday, October 6, 1912

Today is Encyclopaedia day, because there is, of course, no paper on Sundays. The next article, “Man As a Domesticated Animal,” was very enlightening. There are many examples of how a woman may domesticate a husband and get him to participate in the running of the household. Here is my favorite selection:

“An excellent way to domesticate a husband is to take a country cottage and have in daily help, who comes at seven in the morning and leaves at perhaps seven in the evening. The couple have to get their own supper, and Edwin soon becomes an adept in garnishing dishes, shredding lettuce for salad, and even in cookery itself. He washes his potatoes cleaner than any hired cook has ever been known to do, and cooks them to a turn, but the worst of his accomplishments is that he requires those at table audibly to appreciate his achievements almost without intermission. He thoroughly enjoys the products of his own skill, and seems resolved that no one else should miss doing so from want of attention being drawn to them.”

I have never seen Papa do any cooking, unless carving a roast counts.

There is also an interesting part about how if a woman has a wonderful idea for improving the home, she must go to great lengths to convince her husband that it is his own idea. This marriage business is more complicated than I ever imagined!

Monday, September 30, 1912

Two men claim to have seen a biplane fly over Urbana at ten o’clock this morning! “There is considerable speculation over the event as coming of the stranger of the air was not heralded.”

The sorority rushing season closed on Saturday “amid bedlam on John street. A burlesque band of students paraded in derision, while whirling autos driven by co-eds, carried pledges from their rooms to the sorority houses. There was plenty of excitement for two hours.”

John Philip Sousa, who will be here on Thursday, loves trap shooting. “Although he is an excellent shot, it is said he misses clay pigeons oftener than he allows a member of his band to play a false note.”

On Friday and Saturday at the state fair, Madame Somebody-or-Other from Cuba will drive her automobile down a 75-foot incline and turn a triple somersault! (I cannot make out her actual name, because there is a spot of jam over it. Strawberry, I believe.)

Illinois Socialists filed their list of presidential electors and University of Illinois trustees with the secretary of state; all of the trustee candidates are women of Chicago. And finally, the champion corn husker of Illinois sued another man for $20,000, charging “alienation of his wife’s affections.”

Sunday, September 29, 1912

In Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia there is an entire section devoted to women’s work. The following professions are gone into in some detail: manicurist, baby-linen outfitter (a good choice for widowed mothers or those with infirm husbands), poultry farmer, and hostess for paying guests, which is apparently a fancier version of the operator of a boarding-house.

The section on marriage begins with a discussion of the matchmaking mother, “an abomination” from which all young men flee. Still, the author urges sympathy for such a woman, who is after all only doing her duty. “She looks into the future, and sees that if she cannot get her girls married and suitably provided for there will be nothing for them but hopeless poverty, or, to her, the equally distressing alternative of working for their own living.”

The next section, called “How to Domesticate a Husband,” looks to be more entertaining, but I shall save it for next week. Are men like wild animals who must be tamed by women? What was Papa like before marriage?