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electric Baltimore Sun, December 10, 1889. Before the vampire auto, there was vampire electricity. electric2

“Get this man to a saloon, stat!”

“Delicate condition” is a particularly delicate way of saying enceinte.


  1. Two great electricity-related deaths in American popular fiction: the death of Lydia Emery’s electrical engineer husband in Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s *The Squirrel Cage* (1912)–he gets it after a fight with Lydia about why she isn’t doing a better job of advancing his career through dinner parties and flattering his boss–and Donald, the father of Lolly Cameron’s illegimate baby, who is killed by a dynamo before he can make an honest woman of her in Gene Stratton Porter’s almost unreadable *The Keeper of the Bees* (1925). Clearly there’s some historic association of sex and electricity that’s not just cheap novelistic shorthand.

    • See also Henry Adams’s “The Dynamo and the Virgin” (1900)?

  2. I was about to say that I’m shocked at the lack of fundamental understanding about electricity in its early days, but then I realized what a terrible pun that would be. Instead, I’ll say I’m surprised how little average people seemed to know about electricity, and particularly about electrical safety. You’d think they would have figured those things out before they deployed a grid through the city.

  3. What sensitive reportage!

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