Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday: Pucker Up!

Welcome to another Old Postcard Wednesday! OPW is the baby and brainchild of Lydia over at Writerquake blog. Lydia is engaging, friendly, interesting as all get-out, and if you're interested in joining us, ask the lady herself. I'm just the copycat around here. ;-)

This week's postcard is a 1900's-era card featuring two ladies (almost) kissing, with the legend "Sometimes the girls kiss each other in Detroit, but it's only between times." This is not a "French" postcard at all. Though my detractors insist that I simply have Bosco walk across the keyboard a few times and, voila!, new post, your intrepid girl reporter actually does research this stuff. And my research revealed that this postcard, in various permutations, was generally available at the time, even ubiquitous. As for the veracity of the text, I can personally vouch to an absolute certainty that at least some of the girls in Detroit kiss each other to this very day, and not even just between times. Not even just in Detroit! I know, I know, it all just keeps getting racier, doesn't it? 

This postcard reveals that, across the ocean in Aberdeen, Scotland, girls were kissing each other there, too. Actually, and I warn you so you can cover your eyes if you don't want to know this, the little felt pennant could be made to say any place at all, and attached to the postcard to suit. 

You might be surprised at a postcard like this being sold in the starched olden days, but "lesbian chic" has been around for quite a while. As long ago as the days during and after the American Civil War, women faced with a dearth of men due to the tremendous loss of life on the battlefields, turned to what was known as the "Boston marriage." This was a socially acceptable arrangement in which two unfortunate spinsters could set up housekeeping together. Some even viewed it as a higher form of devotion. I don't know about all that, but I have no doubt, to a certain portion of these ladies, the lack of available men was  nothing but a boon. Goodnight, Jeeves, that will be all. We'll manage somehow until morning!

Around the turn of the century, lesbian attachments became trendy once again. President Theodore Roosevelt had a lively and attractive daughter named Alice. One day he was discussing matters of heavy import with some bigwig dignitary or other, when Alice came blowing through the room chattering and carrying on. The dignitary suggested that Teddy might ought to exercise more control over his girl. T.R. famously responded that he could run the country, or control Alice, but that he could not possibly do both!

Alice grew to be quite an attractive young woman. A gossipy friend let it drop that another girl had declared herself to be in love with Alice. To her everlasting credit, Alice answered, "How lovely. I'm so glad that she is." That must surely have taken the wind out of the gossip girl's sails! If you don't know about Alice Roosevelt Longworth, hers was a fascinating life, well worth finding out about. She was famously credited with the line "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me." I would love to sit by her. I admire her tremendously. The image of her above is from a 1906 postcard.

But back to our almost-kissing ladies. They seem to have gotten around, because here they are again, on a 1904 postcard with the legend, "Starving In The Midst Of Plenty." Poor fellow, he certainly does seem to have been forgotten in favor of other pursuits!

I hope that you have enjoyed this little foray into Old Postcard Land. See you next week!

_________

20 comments:

signed...bkm said...

Great bit of history here Shay, love Alice Roosevelt - gutsy lady..girls have been kissing girls for a long time...I finally got connected and can see as you post....thanks for letting me know how to do that....bkm

mac said...

I suspect girls have been kissing girls since kissing has been a thing. Which, I think must have been in the 1960s ;-)

ellen abbott said...

I like this new thing.

TALON said...

Why couldn't I have had history teachers like you, Shay? You make it come alive - your love for history in every line.

Scarlet Ily said...

History 101 with Shay. Sign me up. I love the way you explain things, my dear. I almost get it.

Riot Kitty said...

Fascinating!

faye said...

Professor Shay .. entertaining as
always !!

Tabitha Bird said...

Ah Shay. No one says it quite like you do. But I have to say, that guy might consider that all his dreams have come true LOL :)

Jannie Funster said...

Love Alice in that pose. This postcard thing is very fun! Because you put the fun in fun and HERstory.

Xo

Mama Zen said...

This is really fascinating, Shay!

Daryl said...

Fabulous just like Alice!

Jeannie said...

Thanks. I recall from my childhood, a lot of old books referring to a couple of old bachelors that lived together as well. I think homosexuals were likely well accepted in polite society as long as they were very discrete and not flamboyant.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love every so-well-written word of this! And the postcards. An informative and entertaining post. Good job! So glad I am following your stuff - you keep us guessing. I still love the witch poem the best! So far!It kicked serious ass!

Lynn said...

I love that Alice spoke out like that. :)

Liza said...

What an interesting post! Thank you.
ps...I love the postcards.

La Belette Rouge said...

I had no idea that there was a "Girls gone wild" back in the 1900's. I love where Lydia's post cards take her and you.
p.s. I can't thank you enough for your comments. Your comment on Home-a-phobia really helped me. Thank you!!!!

Cloudia said...

And so innocent after all...

nothing men need be bothered by...

what could they DO...TOGETHER?

(Let's not tell them)

Cloudia said...

And so innocent after all...

nothing men need be bothered by...

what could they DO...TOGETHER?

(Let's not tell them)

Lydia said...

Well, if this isn't just a fascinating little piece of hidden history! It really is synchronicity that each of our OPW posts this week had something to do with Teddy. I did not know anything about his daughter except her name, 'til now that is. :)

Mojo said...

Do I need to comment on "Alice"?

I thought not.

And the dude in the last photo? Trust me, he's just trying to figure out if these two are even slightly bi.

'Cos he wants summa dat. I promise you. There ain't a straight man alive hasn't had that fantasy at some point.