Charles T. Brodhead in 1899: NYC’s Lower East Side girls are “saucy” and “self-reliant” (Part II of II)

[Continued from previous post]

L. L. Roush photographic illustration for the article

L. L. Roush photographic illustration for the article

…In the summer this young girl, who does not think the hand of fate is turned against her, spends her evenings on the piers that line the East River. There she finds congenial company. She meets Tommy and Maggie, and Mike and Mamie, and all the rest of what she affectionately terms “the mob.” They sit out on the string-piece and sing the popular sentimental songs of the day. One of the young men plays a waltz on a mouth harmonica or an accordion, and they dance the hours away on the rough planking of the pier and are happy. She goes to as many picnics as she can. If she is fortunate as to invited to four picnics in one week she goes to all of them, and is among the last to leave the dancing pavilion for dancing is her chief and almost only diversion.

New York circa 1903. "East River from Brooklyn tower of Williamsburg Bridge." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. Link to full-size image: http://www.shorpy.com/node/8483?size=_original#caption

New York circa 1903. “East River from Brooklyn tower of Williamsburg Bridge.” 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. Link to full-size image: http://www.shorpy.com/node/8483?size=_original#caption

When she earns what she calls “real money,” which is anything from four dollars a week upward, she pays three dollars a week to her mother for board and keeps the balance for her own needs. She buys her own clothing and pays half a dollar for a seat in one of the down-town theatres whenever she can afford it, which is not often.

Our young friend is also fond of the theatre because she can see there the dresses worn by women more fortunate than she. She is fond of dress and has a love for pretty things. When the opportunity offers she stops before the show-windows of the big dry-goods stores in the shopping district, and gazes wistfully at the handsome gowns displayed there, and turns away with a sigh from the things that can never be hers. Yet she feels that she is as much entitled to them as the grand dame who sweeps out of the establishment and across the walk to her handsome brougham**.

L. L. Roush photographic illustration for the article

L. L. Roush photographic illustration for the article

Though her clothing is inexpensive, Miss East-Side dresses neatly. Occasionally she runs to a blaze of color as to hats, and now and then flashes a fifty-cent diamond in the faces of her associates; but they “guy” her so, she soon gives up such things.

It happens often that she is the sole support of the family. The East-Side girl works harder and just as cheerfully as ever, and turns every cent into the house as fast as she makes it. She assists with the household duties before she leaves in the morning and when she returns at night. The few articles of clothing she manages to get are made over and over again, patched, darned, and cleaned many times. In the winter she suffers from lack of proper clothing. She walks to her work every morning—it costs too much to ride—through sunshine and storm, and back again at night. So she trudges on, month in and month out; and when the quiet young truck driver who lives around the corner asks her to marry him, she regards him seriously and says:

“Honest, Mike, I’d like ter marry yer, because yer know I like yer, and ye’re on the level, but me ole man and me ole woman ain’t in it anny more for workin’, and if I left ’em they’d be in the soup. No, I don’t stand for no game like that.”

So, he goes away, and she grieves because of it, but her conscience is clear—she is doing her duty.

Summer 1913. "Bird's eye view of N.Y.C. from roof of Consolidated Gas Building." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. For full image: http://www.shorpy.com/node/4521?size=_original#caption

Summer 1913. “Bird’s eye view of N.Y.C. from roof of Consolidated Gas Building.” 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. For full image: http://www.shorpy.com/node/4521?size=_original#caption

However, the young men who come wooing are not all treated thus. Jimmie may have been escorting Mamie to picnics during the season. This is a public acknowledgement that he is deeply interested in her. She has permitted him to kiss her; she has fallen asleep with her head against his shoulder when returning from the picnics on boat or car in the early morning hours.

Finally, one evening as they are chatting in the front doorway, the only place Miss East-Side has to see her friends, Jimmie exclaims: “Hay, Mame, I’m stuck on yer! Kin we get married?”

But Mame is wary and inquires if he has work, and if he has ever been arrested. Her investigation resulting satisfactorily she is prompt to reply. “Yer wait here till I go up’n tell me old woman and see if she’s got any kicks comin’. If she has it’s all right, for they don’t go. I’m doin’ the marryin’.” And thus Miss East-Side becomes engaged to be married.

—Charles T. Brodhead, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1899, with illustrations by L. L. Roush

**Pronounced “broom” or “brohm”. Per Merriam-Webster’s: a light closed horse-drawn carriage with the driver outside in front

Categories: Brodhead, Manhattan, Miscellaneous, New York City | 4 Comments

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “Charles T. Brodhead in 1899: NYC’s Lower East Side girls are “saucy” and “self-reliant” (Part II of II)

  1. NY girls are STILL saucy and self-reliant. (Although some people describe them a with stronger adjectives these days.)

    Like

    • I haven’t been to that part of NYC in ages and have no idea what the lower east side is like today. When last there, I had a delicious meal in a Ukrainian restaurant. Lots of hardworking folks in the Big Apple!

      Like

      • I haven’t been there in a long time either, now that you mention it, maybe I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.

        Like

  2. Imagine ‘real money’ being ‘four dollars a week and upward’! Times have certainly changed!

    Like

Leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

kelleysdiy

Where Creativity and Imagination Creates Wonderful Ideas for Your Home!

Chaotic Shapes

Art and Lifestyle by Brandon Knoll

thedihedral.wordpress.com/

Climbing, Outdoors, Life!

MaritimeMac

Go Explore

Dusty Roots & Forgotten Treasures

Researching, Preserving, and Sharing Genealogical Information For Future Generations

WitzEnd Family History

Adventures in Genealogy of the Witzel and Kroening Families

American in Korea

Everything International

The Genealogist's Craft

My aim is to tell interesting stories of how genealogical information comes to be. Please pull up an armchair ...

omordah.wordpress.com/

Art by Susan M. L. Moore

Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus

Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective

Story_Trails

Family history in stories recalled by Edie and Leo. Edith GAYLORD Allen, Leo ALLEN, Jr

Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar ....

Sits down with The Two Doctors and .....

MarileeWein.com

DOUBLE GENEALOGY: the ADOPTION WITNESS

Tastes of Health

Passionate about Health, Fitness and easily prepared Delicious Food

Applegate Genealogy

Helping others discover their roots

allenrizzi

Sempre in Movimento! Published Every Monday and Friday at 12 PM EST

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

THEVYPEFFECT

all about travelling in korea

My Descendant's Ancestors

Tips, Tools and Stories for the Family Historian

Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES

Walk and Bike in France and Europe www.walk-bike-camino.com

The Lives of my Ancestors

Lives, Biographies and Sketches of my Family History

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sir LeprechaunRabbit

Serious about Genealogy? Let this Olde Grey hare show you about

Diggin' Up Graves

Genealogy and family history, dirt and all.

Momoe's Cupboard

Low Budget Meals and Ideas

Generations of Nomads

On the Trail of Family Faces, Places, and Stories Around the World

Your daily Civil War newspaper [est. 1995]

All the Civil War news fit to re-print

Author Adrienne Morris

The Writing Life at Middlemay Farm

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

Genealogy Technology

Family history for the 21st century

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

%d bloggers like this: