Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Utica's Reynolds Brothers...


(a short story: click most images to enlarge)

The Reynolds brothers led exciting lives. According to the source below, Richard Samuel Reynolds "was in Denver [CO] when six log cabins housed its population!"

The following three pages are from the resource above:

Bibliographic information for the excerpts above & below:
Title    The Union Army: Biographical
Volume 8 of The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States, 1861-65 -- Records of the Regiments in the Union Army -- Cyclopedia of Battles -- Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers
Publisher    Federal Publishing Company, 1908 p.386-7

Click the image to enlarge the business description below:

Bibliographic information for excerpt above:
Title    History and Commerce of Central New York: With Illustrated Supplement of the Columbian World's Fair at Chicago. Syracuse, Utica, Rome, Binghamton, Elmira, Horseheads, Auburn, Oswego, Ithaca, Owego, Ogdensburg, Canandaigua, Geneva, and Watertown
Contributor    A.F. Parsons Publishing Company
Publisher    A.F. Parsons Publishing Company, 1893
Original from    University of Chicago
Digitized    Dec 23, 2015
Length    234 pages p.91

Below is a selection of cards chosen by the Reynolds Brothers to advertise their business:
from the Arnold Collection
recent addition to the Arnold Collection
Stuart A. Lassen Postcard Collection, Willard Library Digital Collections

Item Information
Derived from Digital Commonwealth
Title: Reynolds Brothers fine shoes, Utica, N. Y.
Date: [ca. 1870–1900]
Location: Boston Public Library Print Department
Collection (local): 19th Century American Trade Cards.
Terms of Use: No known copyright or use restrictions.
    Publisher: Five Points, N. Y. : Donaldson Brothers
    Retailer: M. M. Joslyn, West Winfield, N. Y.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Summer Time

...and who says the living is easy?

Certainly not Lydia Pinkham, whose little recipe booklet is designed not just to inform and delight, but to cure you at the same time! Recipes for sandwiches, cool drinks, directions for table setting, a couple of household hints, canning instructions, an essay on lemons, cooking hints and instructions for serving 50 people are presented side by side with testimonials for Pinkham's various nostrums.

View as slideshow (5sec. interval: use pause to read slide)

Advertising first.
This is interesting ad copy. Persuasive techniques begin in the first paragraph with a variation of use this product because everybody you know already uses it. Most folks are sensitive to peer persuasion. Such a weak argument, but so motivating! Here's the antidote, a variant of the original thought from Olin Miller:

"You wouldn’t worry so much what people think of you
if you could know how seldom they think at all!”

Lydia Pinkham's perceptions of her gender were common for her time:

"Every woman needs a medicine now and then,
no matter how healthy she is in a general way."

For the still unpersuaded, "convincing testimonials" were presented, complete with names and addresses. These were printed directly below the recipes.

Finding the addresses above on Google Maps is challenging. "West" 4th St. in Pottsville seems to have vanished. Only North and South 4th streets exist. In Hutchinson, there is an E. 9th Avenue, a typical neighborhood mix of single family homes and duplexes, but there is no E. 9th Street.

"The bread should be at least 24 hours old." Easily calculated for homemade bread, the "sell by" expiration dates on loaves sold in stores give you only the opportunity to guess the date when the bread was made.

Immaturity has a lot to recommend it if the symptoms of maturity are "nervousness, irritability, increased desire to sleep and slowness of thought!" Lydia Pinkham wrote this publication for a female audience. Her observations are gender specific. How she views her role in society is clear throughout her booklet. Pinkham's role as a female proprietor, however, was exceptional. 

How many women in the 21st agree with Pinkham's observation that "the injurious effect of hard or heavy work on a young girl cannot be overestimated?" Disqualified for "hard or heavy work," what was left for women to do? Make sandwiches, for one!

"Nearly any kind of a sandwich may be toasted lightly on each side and made appetizing." If following Pinkham's suggestions for sandwich leftovers, be aware that the sandwich contents may not hold up over time as well as the bread.

No doubt many have heard of Hagerstown, MD. It's a big place. Brooksburg IN, however is very small town. I was surprised and pleased to see that Google Street View had visited. Mrs. J.M. Bruce probably got supplies from Brooksburg and might have attended church there, too. Here are a couple of Google Views of Brooksburg today:

That's all, folks! Brooksburg IN is a small town.
Some of the roads you see are just one lane wide, essentially paved driveways. 
There appear to be no stores, no Post Office, 2 churches & at least one dog in Brooksburg.
The center of activity and interest may the Milton Township Fire Department

76 South Sibley St. in Fond du Lac was not found, but 76 Sibley St. was:

Autumn on Sibley St., Fond du Lac WI

Avoiding unsympathetic doctors and painful hospital visits was a powerful argument for use of Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. While the Compound was essentially worthless as a cure for anything itself, the alternative was to put oneself at the mercy of male doctors who had no personal experience with menstruation or other "female complaints." Although they did have lots of opinions!

It is interesting to note Lydia Pinkham's admission above that "Testimonial Letters are often challenged as to their truth and genuineness." Presumably the challenges came from folks who had tried the product and not gotten better.

In 2017, although we need to be on our guard against self-promoting "scientific studies" funded by big drug companies, we do have independent testing groups such as Consumers Union which can give us unbiased information on many topics of interest to consumers. Such groups are constantly fighting against the rumor mill encouraged by the peddlers of ineffective potions (mostly "supplements") in our time.

Lydia tells us "Working Girls must work every day even if they do feel sick, as long as they are able to stand." Not much has changed since this was written. Strong industries and unions were helpful while they lasted in the 20th century, but there remains a group of people, both men and women, who essentially work themselves to death without the benefit of sick days or proper health care even if it is available.

Google Street View has not done a complete survey of populated areas in the U.S. yet, though Google cameras have been active for almost a decade. Though Black River Falls WI has been covered, Liverpool PA, a fairly large town, has been bypassed so far.

Chocolate! Fans know chocolate helps take one's mind off one's ailments, too. I suspect these recipes were and will remain among the most popular in this book!

Nervousness, a very gender-dependent condition it seems, was the target of many medications in the 19th century. By the 21st century, women seemed a lot less "nervous," even without the assistance of drugs to "treat" this largely imaginary condition.

Equality is a long road, but as a more equitable distribution of power between genders is achieved, many diseases characteristic of social oppression are mysteriously resolved. "Nervousness," like other derogatory slurs on the female gender, needs to be seen for what it is, a creation of social, not physical, forces. We men have never been "nervous," have we?!

You probably noticed. Here's a complete list of people who gave testimonials for Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound in this booklet:

Mrs. Sallie Siefert, 313 West Fourth St., Pottsville, PA (link is best guess)
Mrs. J. A. Stevens, 716 E. 9th St., Hutchinson, KS (another guess)
Mrs. J. M. Bruce, R.F.D. No.3, Brooksburg IN
Rhoda E. Carbaugh, R.R. No. 1, Hagerstown MD
Mrs. L.D. Quinly R.F.D. No.2, Shelbyville, MO
Mrs. Mary E. Wagner, Box 759, West Palm Beach, FL
Mrs. Lester E. Warner, Route1, Box 69, Onalaska, WS
Mrs. G.M. Grandall, Converse IN
Mrs. Catherine McGlove, 304 24th Street, Guttenburg, NJ
Mrs. Arthur J. Kade, Box 71, Dante, SD
Mrs. Paul J. Papenfuse, 1540 Clinton St., Sandusky OH
Mrs. Henry Lauver, R.F.D.1, Liverpool, Perry Co., PA
Mrs. A.W. Binzer, Black River Falls, WS
Mrs. William Cl Werner, 1216 Van Hook Street, Camden, NJ (street renamed?)
Mrs. Jules Bero, Jr., Route 1, Box 99, Casco, WS
Mrs. S.F. Randolph, Box 18, Cokesberry, FL (Google unable to find)
Mrs. Edward Pitts, 2 High Street, Newburgh, NY (street renamed?)
Mrs. Delvina A. Pilotte, R.F.D. No. 2, Box 64, Whitefield, NH
Mrs. Vina Plummer, Naples ME
Mrs. John Libirini, Woodford, VT
Mrs. Levi Boucher, 50 Baker St., Gardner, MA
Mrs. M. Theall Bessey, 464 Central St., Lowell, MA
Mrs. H. M. Coleman, 2328 North 62nd St., Omaha, NE
Mrs. G. Schoonfield, 87 Cedar St., Muskegon, MI
Mrs. Wm. Reiss, 304 Willow St., Chicago IL (street renamed West?)

While this may be a list of women very distinguished and admired in their communities, no celebrities or doctors endorsed. It made no difference. The Compound sold very well as long as its name remained prominent. Once Lydia Pinkham passed away, however, advertising diminished and the public gradually forgot about it.