Naughty behavior and sordid happenings in the Gilded Age


>You beat me down with your bag of mind tricks!

Expecting you to converse like an adult in his thirties, and not a teenage brat, is not a mind trick.

And, Arun, don't be sorry about posting on Holborn. One interesting thing about this thread (BEYOND its revelation of how firmly people like to cling to a "nice story" for few reasons beyond "because I want it to be so") is the number of board members, male and female, who are lurking and who have enough faith in me (and my ability to remain confidential) to discuss, via phone and email, their OWN encounters with "trusted figures" who, in retrospect, should not have been trusted. It is interesting, but depressing, to see EXACTLY the same pattern assert itself time and again, among our own friends and colleagues here on ET. "He seemed nice." "He was my parents' friend." "He was friendly and we had no reason not to trust him." "It all seemed perfectly harmless until all of a sudden it wasn't."

These people, suffice to say, were rather....surprised.... at the vehement defense of Holborn's behavior that broke out here. Since, on the surface, the story so frequently seemed to parallel parts of their own experiences.

So, you've revealed a sad but seemingly universal truth, which is that a large number of young people find themselves in situations that an ADULT would have trouble controling, when the Benign Stranger proves not to be so benign.

Seven ET members addressed this point with me in two days. So, extrapolate a bit and think of the actual number reading along with this who've had a creepy experience with The Benevolent Stranger who did NOT feel in their comfort zone about discussing it with me.

Odd schism isn't it? People who haven't met this character may very well be thinking "what a prick" about me and my manner of expressing in this discussion. Yet, people who HAVE met a Holborn-like character, have been supportive enough to take a chance and discuss potentially embarrassing, enfuriating, painful events with me.

On that note, there is really nothing more to say. We've established, firmly, that your (plural) defense of this seemingly odd behavior rests ENTIRELY on "Because I say so."


>I wonder how many other people you have ticked off on this board in the past

According to the counter Phil now maintains, the number stands at 1732. I am hoping for an even 2000 by Christmas, yet with work pressures and a heavy research schedule we're not sure that I can do it. Since I am not now, nor ever have been, playing for mass market popularity, this is rather like an Oscar or Emmy nod to me. I'd far rather reach ONE person who gets it, and enfuriate 500 idiots, than have a circle of 500 idiot admirers and be looked down on by the smart guy. So, with enough abrasiveness, sarcasm, and factually correct arguments, I hope to tick off 2000 by the New Year, and win three new friends who get it.
 
As I've said before, of course predators existed in 1912. But society did have a different attitude then, which allowed the non-predators (ie the vast majority) to interact with children benevolently and actually protect them - you just try that now.

Peter Ustinov, the actor, regularly walked across London, aged 4. His parents were not worried apparently. My mother, aged 11, was sent alone to a convent in Belgium for her education, involving a long journey with railways, ship and hotel. She managed it perfectly well.

I don't know how you balance risk against the great life benefit of trusting your fellow-humans. Maybe Arun knows. But I think we do have it wrong now, because strangers are wary of protecting children in case their motives are misinterpreted, and they get arrested.

And I still don't think Jack Thayer was an innocent abroad. He'd been educated privately, for goodness sake. Maybe he liked Milton Long and knew exactly what the score was - if there actually was one. And maybe he knew he could call the shots, despsite the presence of his parents? It's not always the older one who's in charge.

Don't know anything about the others - i.e. the young girls etc., or Professors. Frankly, I always thought, when a young student, that a couple of ghastly profs were just par for the course. And that they very rarely succeeded. Horrible, but hopeless. Just life. But you can get over it.
 
Matthew: Regarding your two cents worth!

Your outlook IS a product of our era. BUT, it was also an outlook that was very au courant in 1915.

I'm trying to think of ANY era, post 1900, in which benevolent strangers were viewed as benevolent. Parental 'vigilance' seemed to wax and wane over the years but, by and large, the Victorian era seems to have marked the end of the mindset in which paternalistic men could interact freely with children of either sex, on a one-on-one basis without eyebrows going up.

I am forever on the lookout for new "windows" into how people's minds worked regarding sex, violence, and ugliness, back during The Good Old Days.

I just read an interesting cache that highlights WHAT KIDS KNEW and HOW THEY EXPRESSED IT during the 1950s...era of conformity and innocence. Back in 1953, teenaged babysitter Evelyn Hartley vanished on the night of the big football game. She was the sort of Nice Girl who would telephone her parents to check in with them while she babysat. She was so punctual that when she missed a phone call, her parents grew vaguely worried and went to check on her at the house she was minding. Her glasses were on the living room floor, there was a large pool of blood outside the house, a second splash of blood on a garage about a hundred feet away, and that was it. Evelyn was never seen again, and the crime never solved.

A school mate of hers, away in a hospital elsewhere, saved the tons of letters she received while laid up in 1953. Interesting; the pre-kidnapping letters are filled with gossip about classmates who got pregnant and had to leave school to get married. The letters about Evelyn are filled with speculation about sex maniacs, rapists, white slavery, and teachers who opined that she'd be 'better off dead' than alive with memories of being raped.

Why I bring this up at all, is because how an era is PERCEIVED is never how it actually was. People of Evelyn Hartley's generation ( that of my parents ) maintain WE JUST DIDN'T THINK LIKE THAT THEN. But, letters written by high school juniors in 1953 about the abduction of their friend show an amazing grasp of various evils. They knew. They thought like that.

So, one has to be vigilant, and never accept a 'nice story' at face value. One has to read, and research, volumously and relentlessly. And if the end result causes you to be perceived as cynical, then so be it.

I'm glad that you found the tale creepy. Welcome aboard.
 
>>I did not expect this to flare up into the sort of passionate exchange that it has become. But then some people simply believe that THEY are right and others are wrong and will not see any other point of view.<<

Uhhhhhhh...physician, with all due respect, heal thyself. The reason I'm saying that much is because your advocating your own position with equal passion and it's really not even necessery to have a position at all. A study of history if truly objective, acknowladges all the possibilities and probabilities as far as the evidence will allow, however unpleasant some of those possibilities may be. One doesn't have to agree or disagree with them, just acknowladge that it's there.

Reading back at the points Jim made, I don't see him argueing passionately that he's right, all others are wrong, and that he just won't see others point of view. What he is doing is pointing out that the behaviours and interactions of the individuals in controversy is suspicious, and he's dead nuts on right about that much.

Could he be misreading the situation?

Of course he could.

The question remains: is he misreading the situation?

Given the in depth research he's done on historical crimes and particularly sex related offences, I wouldn't bet against him. If he smells a rat, that's a good time to bait a trap with some industrial strength D-CON.
 
>But society did have a different attitude then, which allowed the non-predators (ie the vast majority) to interact with children benevolently and actually protect them - you just try that now.

Didn't work then, either. A fair number of cases in which people who were trying to help a crying child were set upon by mobs, or arrested for attempting to "tamper" with said child (the arrest was usually intended as a way of extricating said Benelovent Stranger from Mob Justice) are in my files.

>Peter Ustinov, the actor, regularly walked across London, aged 4. His parents were not worried apparently.

Yes, and during the 1970s I regularly walked to and from my parents house, into town, and back again, along isolated but at the same time heavily trafficked country roads. Starting at about age 10. And my dad dealt in child murder cases! Nothing ever happened to me, but a classmate of mine, Jill Garrett, was set upon by a man who had just argued viciously with his live-in. Upshot is, he killed Jill by beating her head in with a rock. On the same road WE walked uinsupervised with such frequency. So, I can represent my childhood as an idyllic time in which I could fearlessly meander along country roads intio town. Which it was. But I am honest enough, and have good enough memory, to temper my bucolic stories with the knowledge that one of my neighbors had a fight with his common-law wife and ended up beating a schoolmate of mine to death with a rock.

Similarly, I walked around East Vvillage NYC f*cked up out of my mind, all night, every night, at age 17, during the crack years, and nothing ever happened.

My point is, you can't accept Peter Ustinov's perambulations, or mine, as evidence of safety. He survived. I survived. At roughly the same time as Ustinov's childhood, in another European City, a benevolent stranger was taking in poor children, feeding them, giving them a bed, then raping them, killing them, and converting their remains into black market sausage. At least 30, as many as 80. Their family's perceptions would have been a bit different than those of the Ustinovs.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
>>>>>>> It is interesting, but depressing, to see EXACTLY the same pattern assert itself time and again, among our own friends and colleagues here on ET. "He seemed nice." "He was my parents' friend." "He was friendly and we had no reason not to trust him." "It all seemed perfectly harmless until all of a sudden it wasn't." <<<<<<<

It is a question of perspective. If I say that 1 in 20 (an imaginary figure, just used to illustrate the point) men are pedophiles, it sounds horrifying. On the other hand, an assertion that 19 out of 20 men are nice, normal people sounds reassuring. Of course, you can see that they are saying the same thing.

The trouble is, no one reports or even remembers the 19 men who have been 'normal' simply because that's the accepted norm. The 1 deviant messes up the works because he makes the headlines. It only takes a drop of poison to make the entire jar of milk undrinkable.

Until recently, being a GP was a respected position in the UK, as elsewhere. But a nice old gent named Dr Harold Shipman decided that he wanted things to be different a few years ago and all of us are now bearing the consequences in terms of the draconian new regulations that have cropped up. They do not seem to be benefitting anyone, but are there to stay.
 
These people, suffice to say, were rather....surprised.... at the vehement defense of Holborn's behavior that broke out here. Since, on the surface, the story so frequently seemed to parallel parts of their own experiences.
I never defended the behavior but the individual himself, Prof. Holbourn!



Expecting you to converse like an adult in his thirties, and not a teenage brat, is not a mind trick.
Well that's your side to it and I have mine. I guess that means we're done. Keep on trucking Jim.
 
THE EXPERTS CHIME IN: Part 1.

I forwarded Holborn's account, and some interpretations by post 1915 authors, to various disintersted parties. Did not provide any initial editorial comment of my own, other than WHAT DO YOU THINK? A response:

"Any adult male who wants to spend a lot of time around a 12 year old girl he isn't related to needs to be on medication. And I'm not saying that because he's a predator. Unless you are her parent, why would you want to spend large amounts of time around a 12 year old? That's the point where hormonal changes start kicking in. Moodiness, drama, tantrums, loss of focus. Even their parents frequently don't want to be around them. Beyond the question of 'What would you talk about for four days?' there is also the factor of 12 year old girls being so obnoxious that sometimes their own parents dump them out of cars because they can't stand it anymore, to consider. (jk- a reference to a current local case in which a lawyer/mom snapped under the strain of her rampaging pubescent daughters and forced them out of her car in downtown White Plains after listening to them fight for two consecutive hours)

"This reminds me of the many cases of which I know you are aware, of middle aged men who get that obsession- they used to call it "The Thunderbolt"- about minors, become unreasonably attached, and hover around them long enough for them to become legal. At least one nineteenth century presidential marriage followed that pattern, with the man marrying his ward when she became of age. It was relatively common. Did the professor keep in steady contact with her afterwards? You can read into this several ways.

"This reminds me of those very weird Shirley Temple films. You remember what happened to that critic who suggested that her characters always had a sexual component to them, back when her films were new. She always had middle aged and older men following her, obsessively. That one film was really strange, where her father dies and she has to scrub floors at the boarding school, and then the man who has been spying on her thru the windows for quite some time steps in and saves the day. That Lusitania account has the same it is cute yet it is repulsive quality.

"I'll stress this. Any adult who wants to spend a lot of time around a 12 year old who isn't his daughter has something wrong with him.

~Jim's mom.

(Now you see where I get it from. Both parents)
 
That's your view and others views! I never said there was anything nice or healthy about an adult wanting to spend time with a 12 year old girl! My beef was that it was implied Holbourn was and almost every male who spent time with a younger girl was a pedophile!

(Now you see where I get it from. Both parents)
That doesn't surprise me! My cousin is the son of a police officer and he would probably be suspicious also of Prof. Holbourn's motives in befriending Avis Dolphin!

Parents should be cautious although I have never heard of an account of Avis relatives being cautious of Prof. Holbourn's involvement with her.

Now Stanford White and Evelyn Nesbit is another matter and a completely different example! More is the pity Jim, that you weren't there to protect Evelyn from a horrible fate after getting involved with Stanford White! Her life just went right down hill after her involvement and after she showed such early promise!
 
There's also the case of Natacha Rambova and her russian dance instructor Theodore Kosloff who according to one author is a classic pedophile! read Michael Morris's "Madame Valentino" 1991 for the shinny on that! Kosloff supposedly also took her costume drawings for the Silent " The Woman God Forgot" 1914 and claimed they were his to DeMille who was the Director of that film!
 
Oh....Kyle.

*urrp*

not only is she singing her way into the hearts of pedophiles everywhere, but she looks like Shelley Winters as Belle Rosen. Same hair, same facial structure.

But, give Shirley credit. Could any other actress have played a character who ran away from a dysfunctional situation and took up with an elderly black man who lived in a shack, and NOT have movie theaters from Maine to Arizona burned down as a result?

*urrp*

Check out That Hagan Girl, if u can stomach it. Very Holborn-esque. Shirley, 16, plays the town bastard girl who everyone shuns. Love child love child never meant to be. Love child scorned by so-ci-ety! Etc. Ronald Reagan plays the man who left town at just the very moment that Maw Hagan discovered that she was eating for two. Natch, all the gossips think that he was the father. He returns to town as a thirty-something lawyer. Folks gossip something fierce. Then this happens, in the very room where Shirley started her life in that old, cold, run down tenement slum where father left and never even married mom:

MAW HAGAN: Your real father is...is...is...*gack* (and dies before she can get the sentence out)

and worse, far worse, Shirley gets fired from the high school production of Romeo and Juliet 'cause the town folk don't want a bastard child playing Juliet! She tries to drown herself in a lagoon, but fails. THEN, the I.D. of her father is learned, Ronald Reagan VERY suddenly declares that he loves her, she forgets that up until three minutes before she had spent her entire life assuming that he was "dad," and they marry and board a train heading out of town. Dont think that she dont need him. Dont think she dont wanna please him. But no child of hers will be bearing the name of shame she been wearing, love child love child never quite as good....

It's a weird, sick film that Ronald Reagan, to his credit, hated making. But, thematically, it takes the standard Shirley Temple plot to its next level...THIS time the smitten older man COULD have sex with her.

All so very Holbornian.
 
>>Matthew: Regarding your two cents worth!<<

And here I was feeling like crap on a cracker because nobody had replied! ;)

>>Why I bring this up at all, is because how an era is PERCEIVED is never how it actually was.<<

Oddly enough, it was actually 'Titanic' (1996) that burst my, 14-year-old at the time, bubble on the "Gilded Age" being this time of bliss and ignorance with that rape scene and me asking Dad "did men REALLY do that to women back then?" Up until then I had really believed for some reason that things like that just didn't happen back then.

>>People of Evelyn Hartley's generation ( that of my parents ) maintain WE JUST DIDN'T THINK LIKE THAT THEN.<<

My own parents and grandparents all did a fine job of keeping me sheltered from the darker side of real life in the "good ole days", which is probably why at the age of 15 I was actually surprised to learn that women were actually raped back then. It wasn't any shock at all to turn on present-day news and see about 3 rape/murder cases be showcased in a 30 minute period, but to think it happened in 1912?? Surprise, Matt!!

I really grew up with a very innocent outlook on the world and it wasn't until I was in my late teens - being out on my own as an adult that I really started to learn (a lot of it the hard way) about and appreciate the uglier side of life, both in Titanic's age, or earlier, and in present day life as well.

Through all that though, I learned a very valuable lesson, which is exactly what you're trying to get across, Jim. It's a mistake to just take and accept everything at face value, especially when the face value seems too good to be true. Some view skepticism or cynicism as a bad thing, I look at it as being realistic. I catch a lot of flack in my social life by being too "negative" or "looking at the dark side of things" myself, but the way I see it is I'm simply questioning the reality.

Sorry, I didn't mean for this to turn into a personal profile.

>>I'm glad that you found the tale creepy. Welcome aboard.<<

Personally, I don't see where anyone over the age of 18 wouldn't find it a little creepy. There's just something about a 43 year old man approaching and keeping such close tabs with a 12 year old that just doesn't sit right with dinner.

And honestly, when it comes to whether or not anybody thought or noticed anything about Prof. Holbourn/Avis on the Lusitania and not mentioning it later...well...if you were on the Lusitania, which would you likely remember later? The odd thought about an older man and a young girl, which wasn't his, dining together in a seeming harmless manner, or would you be more likely to remember nearly choking on a bite of food when a torpedo slams into your ship at lunchtime and the events that take place after?

Sorry for all the babble.
 
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