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Category Archives: “Decency”

mac tel 12 17 03-1Macon Telegraph, December 17, 1903. To be fair to this dude, there were no established guidelines for negotiating a three-way in the Edwardian era.

Chicago Tribune, December 2, 1903. The pleasure I take in these cartoons is generally inverse to the number of references I understand. So this one is pretty awesome.
The Encyclopedia Chicago tells us this about the Irving Park Woman’s Club:
“Rich or middle-class, the population of Irving Park was generally native-born, Protestant, and white-collar. They participated in community events and activities of a literary and musical nature. Both men and women were active in neighborhood organizations. The Irving Park Woman’s Club formed in 1888 with an agenda of cultural and reform activities.” So, basically we’re talking about a legion of Margaret Dumonts. But WTF is “the kangaroo walk”? Are “side talks with girls”? And why does the no-breakfast dude look just like William S. Burroughs?

cartoon violenceChicago Tribune, December 6, 1900. A straight-shooting Southern pastor lays down his life for decency. Of course there’s nothing like a well-wrought cartoon to turn cultural warfare into the real thing.

sisters2Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1907. Interesting that this little party should have required the legitimating presence of at least one man. Inferably that’s because it would have been improper for any of the women to strip Hubbard of his clothes. Let’s hear it for standards of decency maintained in the heat of mob passion. Also notable: Women seem not to have required masks for their vigilante actions.

effigy 1 16 1900Washington Post, January 1, 1900. The line between a giddy student prank and an outrage against decency can be such a fine one. Sometimes the distinction comes down to a placard bearing an opprobrious reference to the superintendent. But you can understand how these high-spirited kids got a little carried away on a fun place like Blackwell’s Island, with its small pox hospital, charity hospital, penitentiary, almshouse, workhouse and lunatic asylum.

cheekWashington Post, November 27, 1879. I’m guessing that photographs weren’t yet admissible as evidence, even though the art of photography was more than sufficiently advanced at this time to serve that purpose.

rough musicChicago Tribune, January 2, 1881. While the majority of Southern lynchings in this period were racially motivated, white ruralites could also get their coupons clipped if they played their cards wrong. This incident strikes me as a rough music that got out of hand: had the mob intended to kill Mr. Dove, the masks wouldn’t have been necessary. Wifebeaters and men who abused their children and horses were routinely targeted for this kind of correction back to colonial times, as was just about anyone widely regarded as an asshole in the surrounding community.

corpseABaltimore Afro-American, April 2, 1910. Horrifying story about every mother’s worst nightmare. It was a different world in which 16-year-old girls went alone to unvetted job interviews like this. I’ll try to do some followup on Mr. Wolter and find out what the legal disposition of his case was. Offhand I’d guess he’s headed to the chair. Read More »

cowChicago Tribune, September 26, 1859. I’m dying to find out more about this obscene handbill issue. References to “quacks and harpies” and “public morals” make me wonder if we’re not talking about the advertisement of abortion services. As for the “cow nuisance,” it’s regrettable that the locavores of the day didn’t hold their ground against these busybody reformers. Read More »

RawlinsAThe New York Amsterdam News, April 11, 1923. Here’s more anti-jazz moral panic from E. E. “Uneasy” Rawlins, M.D. Seems the good doctor had no Hippocratic scruples about recycling his prose from one year to the next. Tsk tsk! But this piece is actually a bit more shrill then its 1925 sequel. Basically he’s calling for God’s wrath (aka “History”) to punish a wicked jazz-besotted nation and bring it back to moral bedrock. By 1925 he’s saying “Safe–when used in moderation.” Read More »