Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cartoons from the 1888 Ypsilanti Commercial

For a while in the summer of 1888, the Commercial ran a series of small syndicated cartoons in its front-page "Local" section. What strikes Dusty D, though this may be a banal observation, is that people dressed so formally for everyday business. I doubt the concept of casual clothes even existed except for the so-called "wash frock." It's also interesting to note that whereas men's clothing is nearly identical to today's men's formal clothing, women's clothing has changed far more radically--imagine being corseted all day and schlepping around yards and yards of fabric...not sorry I missed that. Anyways, let's take a peek.

(From an era many decades before car seats and urban assault strollers).

Here is a caricature of a German immigrant, and the cartoonist found it acceptable in that day and age to print the conversation in dialect. The dialogue: I. "Officer: Look out there man! Don't you see that runaway coming?" II. "Spagmeyer (as everything comes up standing) Dey's geddingbooty gareless mit deir horses in this town, ain'd id?"

Now, I frankly don't get this one. You can see that the pictures hanging on the wall in the background mirror the names of the couple. Is it funny because "Butch" was regarded as a coarse or low-class moniker? Was "Butch" a slang term for a pig? (Tried to find that out, no luck). I just don't know.

Oh, the horrors! Note the cushion on the floor for Mama's feet. The Ypsilanti Historical Museum has a Victorian-era footwarmer. It's a fabric-covered box in which one can place coals. Just another reminder that homes were COLD! Uninsulated, poorly and unevenly heated...central heating, except for the very wealthy, wouldn't become common until well after the turn of the century.

And a humorous jab at an airheaded lady who just can't restrain herself from peeking at the big ending without bothering to read the entire book. Note her complicated dress complete with bustle--phew, what an ensemble to have to tote around each day. And so ends our peek at some bits of humor from the past.


cmadler said...

"...[M]en's clothing is nearly identical to today's men's formal clothing..."

I've got to disagree with this; from the hats on their head to the spats on their feet, men's clothing of the 1880s was quite different from what is worn today. Although many (but not all) of the elements are the same, the fit, fabrics used, colors, and garment structure are quite different.

By the way, it's not unlikely that a full set of men's clothes from the period, including shirt, vest, coat, and trousers, could take about as many yards of fabric as most dresses, it's just arranged differently (layered rather than bunched/gathered) so it doesn't necessarily look like as much.

Dusty D said...

cmadler: A fair comment; yes, I was really thinking of elements, and not details. You're right.

TeacherPatti said...

"urban assault strollers"