No. 483
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
August 04, 2020

A Substitute for a Wife.

October 27, 2014
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The Web of Arachne by Fernand Le Quesne (1856 - 1932) Colorized by Curtis Byrne (Click image to enlarge) HE WEB OF ARACHNE COLORIZED. It's great to see what this painting may have originally looked like.      As I recently hung my framed print of The Web of Arachne, by Fernand Le Quesne (1856 - 1932), in my new place, I wondered why the artist didn't colorize it? Then I
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 8/4/2020

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“Beach Scene,” by Samuel S. Carr, is your portal into what people looked like when they visited a pristine, boardwalk-free Coney Island in 1879. It won’t be long before placid beach scenes like this are replaced by throngs of city residents looking for fun and adventure, and Sodom by the Sea is born.
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Ephemeral New York - 8/3/2020

Chicago Defender, Aug. 11, 1928. Former Negro Leagues baseball player James Hugh Moss was electrocuted in Georgia on this date in 1928, along with a white man named Clifford Thompson. The threesome of Moss, Thompson, and Thompson’s wife Eula, were Prohibition bootleggers from Etowah, in eastern Tennessee. A year before almost to the day (August […]
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Executed Today - 8/3/2020
You have to admire the energy and endurance of those Victorian ladies.  Even in the sweltering heat of a July …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 7/24/2020
On January 6, 1873, Edward Stokes was sentenced to hang for the murder of financier and railroad magnate James Fisk. Stokes was well-connected politically and he awaited his appeal in a comfortably furnished cell in the Tombs with meals catered by Delmonicos. Stokes was granted a new trial, was convicted of manslaughter and senteneced to six years in Sing Sing prison. Read the full story here
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Murder By Gaslight - 8/1/2020

"Philadelphia Inquirer," November 16, 1919, via Newspapers.com Mary Ann Louisa Taylor (or, as she was known to her many fans, “Marie Empress,”) was a well-known actress of the silent film era. Her sultry good looks brought her much success in the “vamp” roles which were so popular in that period. She was also a talented singer, dancer, and male impersonator. Unfortunately, none of her
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Strange Company - 8/3/2020
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Bulldozing a Voter. | "It Costs Money to Fix Things."

A Substitute for a Wife.

Substitute Wife

A disconsolate widower secures a dummy, and dresses it up in his wife’s clothing, just to humor a “little fancy;” New York City. [more]

A Dummy Made to Fill a Wife’s Place.—The Force of Habit.

The breezy Captain Marryat relates in one of his novels an incident illustrative alike of the wonderful force of habit and the facility of substitution, so to speak, in human nature. Its awful to think that one’s place in the world may be filled by a scrubbing brush, and yet the captain demonstrates the possibility of such a thing. A worthy old salt, so goes the chronicle, has been in the habit of sleeping with his hand on his wife’s head. She wore her hare close cropped, it is narrated, yet to the weather-beaten hand the stubble cushion seemed of downy softness, such is the power of infatuation and perfect sympathy.

The worthy tar all too soon became a widower, and when he stretched out his hand in his bed and found only smooth pillow beside him he could not sleep. Long and deeply was he troubled and the physicians tried in vain. Finally, he one night took the scrubbing brush to bed with him, placed it upside down on the pillow next to him, reposed his hand upon it and nature’s sweet restorer came swift on downy pinions to light upon his tear-sullied lids. Now, another widower, who states that he lives in New York, has written a letter to this office to state that he has had the extreme felicity of burying his wife, and that he misses her well-dressed form in the house he intends, instead of getting an old maid for a companion, to purchase as dress-maker’s dummy and dress it up four or fives times a year in the newest flounces and millinery wrinkles and so replace his loss.

“So long as the bills from the dressmaker come in regularly,” he writes, “I can still feel like a married man.”

From some subsequent allusions in this purported widower’s letter the suspicion grows that he is not what he pretends to be, but is, in fact, a married man who has failed to subscribe for the new fall number now due, and his faithful wife has grown acrimonious.

 


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 23, 1880.