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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chicago Society Gals Throw Japanese Party

Proving that I have no clue how newspapers used to work 100 years before I first became a newspaper reporter comes this wonderful story from the May 3, 1895 edition of the Daily Inter Ocean, published in Chicago (a paper that ran between 1865-1914). In a  convoluted manner, I suppose it still lives on as the Chicago Tribune

On page eight… on what I suspect was the society page, we have an article describing some wacky rich White folk having themselves a Japanese-style wedding… done mostly for fun, rather than for any sort of functional reason - which is pretty cool, in my opinion.

Here it is… presented with one headline and four sub-headlines… which is the part about the old newspapers I simply don't understand.

If you see (brackets), it's me asking a question or making a point. The real newspaper article is in italics and in yellow - so you can just read the yellow bits and ignore my perhaps not-so-witty banter.

(For example, I don't understand why there are periods and commas in headlines!)

In Japanese Attire.
Novel Entertainment at the First Congregational Church.
Marriage a La Mikado.
Mrs. W.P. Rend, of Ashland Boulevard, Entertains.
Last of the Weekly Dinners at the Union League Club—Woodlawn Woman's Club—Notes.

(It's like the whole thing was sent via telegram: "In Japanese Attire Stop Novel Entertainment at the First Congregational Church Stop Marriage a La Mikado Stop Mrs. W.P. Rend...")

I also think it is interesting that this daily Chicago newspaper makes it a point of adding the party starter - Mrs. W.P. Rend - as well as her home address, as though we simply must know who she is. Aside from the fact that maybe we know who her husband is - Mr. W.P. Rend, the nameless Mrs. Rend is not ever again mentioned in the article!

Click HERE to check out a society page from 1891 courtesy of Google. I will note that she does appear to have a daughter named Minnie - who doesn't gain any attention from this article. 

She there in the headline just to lend it credence as a 'society story')

(Who were the Rends? Well... I do know that back in 1902: "It is reported that the Continental Coal Company of Pittsburg, recently organized for the purpose of engaging in the lake traffic in Ohio coal, yesterday completed negotiations for the purchase of the large holdings of W. P. Rend Co. of Chicago, the largest independent operators in the Hocking Valley." - so the Rends must have had some money - that and the fact that Ashland Boulevard in Chicago was a very rich neighborhood 100-plus years ago. Nowadays? It appears as though many of the old buildings have either been torn down or re-purposed into condominiums.)

(Okay… here's where the story begins)

There was but one prominent wedding sodomized in this great city yesterday (I'm pretty sure my Auto Correct altered it from 'solemnized' - maybe), and that one took place at the First Congregational Church, corner of Washington boulevard and Ann street. (Wow… choppy writing and non-capitalizing of the latter part of the street name.)
Interest centered in the affair because it was a Japanese ceremony and doubly note-worthy because it was only in fun.
It was an entertainment given by the Young Ladies Missionary Society Of The First Congregational Church
(I've been part of a one-person missionary society involving young women nee ladies), and called a Japanese tea in lieu of any other name.
This is an organization of young ladies, with some twenty members, of which the officers are: President, Miss Grace Busbey; vice president Miss Agnes Mead; secretary Miss Dora Eaton; treasurer, Miss Gwynne Price.

(Call me a busy bee, but I've eaten and drunk mead for a price.) (Seriously, is it really necessary to note that EACH one is a Miss? Not so seriously, then again, I suppose it helps the prospective bachelors who are utilizing the newspaper Society Pages like I used to use my hockey cards - "Fannie - need'em, Grace - need'em, Fanny - got'em, Cherry - got'em.")
For the sake of amusement the young people arranged a Japanese wedding ceremony.
The parlors were decorated with Japanese faces, parasols, umbrellas, and fans, and looked quite attractive.
(Wait… WTF? Japanese faces? That guy… he looks Japanese - cut off his face and hang it on the wall!)
The groom of the occasion was Eugene C. Fisher and the bride Miss Ruth Peabody. (Any joke I add here is not funny.)
The "midman," or "go-between," was a real Japanese gentleman, Mr. Yoschi Hirose (Who had no face… that's also no way to spell Yoshi).
A Japanese ceremony is conducted in silence (so I'll just shut up now). There is a wine-drinking ceremony that accompanies it (Merlot, please - oops… shhh, right), three flat wooden cups of different sizes, and as many saucers being used. each of the three personages drinks from all the cups.
That is practically the ceremony.
(I'm sure I could have used a drink when I got married. And after, too.) Of course all the young people interested in the affair wore Japanese gowns (I think they mean 'kimono' - though who really knows what goes on in these orgies of rich folk parties?) and added to the picturesque quality of the occasion.
The bride was attended by the Misses Franny Brinkworth and Florence Peabody as bridesmaids.
Later there was a Japanese illustration of receiving and calling.
In the receiving party were the—
Mattie Cooke,       Elizabeth Brinkworth,
Fannie Roberts,  Cherry Zimmermann.

In the calling party were the—
Fanny Brinkworth,       Grace Boughton,
Ruth Peabody,             Florence Peabody.

Every caller had to bow once for every member in the receiving party, so there were sixteen bows necessary on the part of the callers.
During the evening, there was  Japanese song by Mr. Hirose.


Okay… I tried to keep quiet… but failed miserably. I've been on a date where the woman was quiet - even though she was enjoying herself, while I was jabbering away like an excited chimp with a bag of peanuts. However, she started talking after I removed the gag. Just kidding about the gag. Anyhow, some people can endure the silence better than others who see it as being as awkward as (add joke later - something about how to keep people in suspense).

So… did you notice that there were at least two women named Fannie/Fanny in the party… two different spellings, of course. I wonder if they were ever the butt of someone's jokes?

And Cherry? Leaving the three jokes in my head, I'll just state that the only woman I every said hello to with that name was a redhead would dance for you for $20 a pop. I don't think it was her real name. I later saw her at another spandex ballet joint going by the name Amber - and now she was a blonde.

It appears that aside from the groom and the Japanese faceless singer, if there were other men there, they weren't worthy enough to mention.

Does the whole thing just sound like a great way for rich people to dress up in some cool clothing? I'm not against it, of course - I'd like to be rich enough to do fun stuff like that.

Does it seem like the writer of the article - unnamed, as far as I know - was trying to stretch the article out and lacked enough writing skills to draaaaaaaaagggggg out the story? I mean why else was it deemed important to explain to the reader how many times one had to bow over the course of the meet and greet?

They could have explained WHY they had to bow- that could have taken up a couple of lines, or if it was me a couple of day's worth of blogs…

The article was found courtesy of the, a damn fine reference library with newspapers and other ephemera that is older than Canada.

Andrew Joseph
And nope - I have no idea why I have been writing like this lately.

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