A well-known “letter” has been making its rounds for many decades which was supposedly written by a young female college student to her parents, updating them on the recent events that had befallen her. While the letter is fictitious, it certainly encourages us to keep perspective when hearing bad news concerning loved ones. A (modified) form of the letter is as follows:
Dear Mother and Dad:
It has been three months since I left for college. I have been remiss in writing and I am very sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on, please sit down. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down, okay.
Well then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out of the window of my dormitory when it caught fire shortly after my arrival are pretty well healed by now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get those headaches once a day.
Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory and my jump was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the Fire Dept. and the ambulance. He also visited me at the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the burnt out dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. It’s really a basement room, but it’s kind of cute. He is a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married. We haven’t set the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show.
Yes, mother and dad, I am pregnant. I know how very much you are looking forward to being grandparents and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child. The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has some minor infection which prevents us from passing our premarital blood tests and I carelessly caught it from him. This will soon clear up with the penicillin injections I am now taking daily.
I know you will welcome him into the family with open arms. He is kind and although not well educated, he is ambitious. Although he is of a different race and religion than ours, I know that your oft-expressed tolerance will not permit you to be bothered by the fact that his heritage and religion are different than ours. I am sure you will love him as I do. His family background is good too, for although I’ll need to learn my place when I visit, I am told his father is one of the most respected men in his village and is often called upon to help keep order when those from his community step out of line.
Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you there was no dormitory fire; I did not have a concussion or a skull fracture; I was not in the hospital; I am not pregnant; I am not engaged. I do not have a communicable disease, and I am not dating someone from a culture which is oppressive to women. However, I am getting a D in sociology and an F in science; and I wanted you to see these marks in proper perspective.
Your loving daughter,
It is with the heart of this letter in mind I present a copy of a recent rather-lengthy text my wife and I sent to our young daughters:
As you know, the summer season is nearly upon us and your annual quest to find swimsuits your mama and I are willing (if even reluctantly) to allow you to wear in public is upon us. We know this is about as challenging and frustrating as finding a “mama acceptable” evergreen tree at the start of each Christmas season. Need I say more? However, this year, as your loving parents, we’ve decided to alleviate your stress by purchasing matching suits for all of you. While they have yet to arrive, we were able to download a picture of the ad for the style we selected from the online catalog at AuntieAmysAuspiciousApparel.com:
Okay, we didn’t purchase swimsuits for each of you, but we’re considering doing so next year. Please keep the above in mind as you begin your quest. I’m sure we’ll be pleased with your choices.
Mom and Dad
PS A special thank-you goes out to the Public Ledger, Philadelphia, June 15, 1893, for this most wonderful advertisement. It’s a bit unsettling to note the ad appears in an issue containing an article on Lizzie Borden.
Full Disclosure: My wife and I are blessed to have 5 daughters with whom we never need to fight this battle. Thank you!
While pairing the concept of superior athleticism with cigarette smoking as an advertising ploy would come across ridiculous in today’s “enlightened” culture, there was a time when this was not the case. In fact, professional athletes promoting cigarettes (see the ad from a NYT, October 1, 1941 shown below) was as common in early-to-mid 1900’s as the same promoting energy and “health” drinks is today. I wonder if our children’s children will look back on today wondering how we could have been (dare I say) duped by such connections. Are health drinks really healthy? Time will likely tell.
Hofstra University maintains a Facebook page where staff from their special collections department can post interesting finds. We recently discovered the following which illustrates one of the collecting strands of the hobby: sensational (or absurd) advertising:
This advertisement for the “Beauty” Bower cigar, found in the Daily Free Press, June 3, 1881, from Bodie, California doesn’t seem to hold true to its name. If this is what the smokers looked like “after”, I’d hate to see the “before”. I wonder if 19th century travelers to the region where confronted with signs stating, “Beware of non-smokers!”.
Various patent medicine advertisements were all the rage in the late 19th century, and it seems they were more prevalent in Western rather than Eastern newspapers. This one (below) appears in the July 7, 1880 issue of “The Deseret News” from Salt Lake City:
Advertisements for physicians have certainly changed much over the last 270 years. This ad for “Richard Rock, Practitioner in Physick and Surgery” has a curious list of ailments he treats. This ad appears in the March 30, 1734 issue (and others) of “The Country Journal or the Craftsman” from London. Note that he keeps officers hours of 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m…
Many of the newspapers held in our “Old West” category have a look very similar to most newspapers of the day, but have histories which tell an interesting story of the Old West. The newspapers from these towns offer a window into daily life and are much more interesting when the story of the town is known. From time to time we will provide a glimpse into the past of some of the towns in our Old West inventory.
We offer many issues of the “Gunnison Daily Review” from the early 1880’s. It was named for John W. Gunnison who first explored the area looking for a transcontinental railroad route, even though he only stayed in the town for 3 days of his entire life.
Gunnison first began to boom in the 1870’s along with the rush of mining activity in Colorado. The Ute Indians had been forced out of the area and many ranchers, traders and miners began to move in. Gunnison became the official seat of Gunnison County on May 22, 1877. In 1880 the railroad arrived, welcomed by not only miners but by the ranchers and farmers as well.
Gunnison saw one of the quickest boom and bust cycles ever as the mines and railroads came to town in the 1880s along with all the normal business increases it created. But, by 1883 a mining bust had come to town and half of the population departed. It seems the precious ore veins that were discovered turned out to be shallow and low producing. It was also at this time when the Earps, of Tombstone, and Texas Jack set up camp on the outskirts of Gunnison. Eventually, Wyatt took over a faro game (gambling card game) at a local saloon.
Today Gunnison is the home of some 5500 residents.
(credit: Wikipedia & the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce)
So how would you like to pack this hairdryer in the suitcase for a weekend trip? It might have been a great devise in 1900 but I’m sure it didn’t travel well. This ad appeared in the “Ladies’ Home Journal” issue of August, 1900.