Monday, January 11, 2010

Today -100: January 11, 1910: Of patriotic butting in and contrary Marys

The widow of the recently deceased Rep. James M. Griggs (D-Georgia) has done what the NYT calls “something new in American political history,” naming her personal choice to succeed her husband in the special election, a Mr. McIntosh. While the paper says her action is not to be condemned on account of its unusualness, they do subtly imply, less than a week after her husband’s death, that she just wants to get into McIntosh’s pants: “We are not informed as to whether or not Mr. McIntosh is an eligible bachelor or widower, and we should courteously decline to make use of any information on that point if we possessed it. The practice of seeking a purely personal motive for a public action that attracts notice is reprehensible. ... But the widow’s candidate ought to have the support of the women folks, who must approve of her patriotic butting in, and the women of Georgia know how to influence voters.”

But evidently not enough, because (spoiler alert!), the election was actually won by a Mr. Seaborn Roddenbery,who spent the next three years, until he too died in office, working for a constitutional amendment to ban interracial marriage.

Nursery maids at the Nursery and Child’s Hospital (these are essentially interns, who will go on to become nursemaids in private homes) have gone on strike, demanding to be called “Miss” Whatever Their Name Is instead of just by their first name. The superintendent says they will not be allowed back “unless they get that foolishness out of their heads. ... We don’t want any contrary Marys here.”

An article the next day explains that nursemaids are paid about ¼ of what proper nurses, who are called Miss or Mrs., receive, and eat with the servants rather than with the family. Also, nurses’ aprons cover from the waist down, nursemaids’ extend to the shoulders.

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