Naughty behavior and sordid happenings in the Gilded Age

Bruce Harwood

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Sep 2, 2008
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Kyle: I have learned from posts on other threads that it was the custom at that time for a gentleman to offer his protection to unaccompanied ladies. Had to do with noblesse oblige and chivalry. These are concepts which, while almost forgotten nowadays, were honoured by many at the time. I have a feeling they, along with the people who held them, died in World War One.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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ANOTHER VOICE FROM THE ROGUES GALLERY: from an old college friend came this analysis:

Jimbo: Interesting account you sent. I cant be objective, sorry, I read your thread after I read the account. However, I can say that if you added 5 years to Avis’ age and Da Professor behaved like did, he would have been considered what our grandmothers called a common pest. A man who intruded into the personal space of a 17 or 18 year old woman because she looked lonely was a pest, or a masher, depending on the sort of attention he gave to her. Men offered their service to protect unescorted women from men who presumed to intrude and entertain them. So, even if you cant say he was a lecher or a “deve”￾ as you used to say about your many admirers, you CAN say that he was a pest. I hope this helped.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Kyle... as you will recall, WE offered our services to a lady of high repute who was being stalked by a cad, while on a transatlantic crossing. With rather hilarious (for us) results. So, the custom of chivalry at sea still exists. You were every bit as dashing as Major Butt as you beat the guy senseless with your walking stick.
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I'll never forget this gem, in the cabin corridor:

"Gentlemen thanks. I'll take it from here."
"No you won't"

Seriously...although I phrased it humorously, the story is true. I've seen MANY examples of what might be called chivalrous behavior at sea, not all with men as the central character. BUT, mercifully, the offensive phrase "noblesse oblige" passed from usage even before "What will the neighbors think?" and "Is he from good people?" began to wane.

Know what, though? In 23 years of crossing and cruises, I've never felt the urge to approach and enertain a lonely 12 year old. No one I've ever crossed with has ever observed a lonely minor and said "That kid needs to be cheered up." I've never seen an adult strike up a conversation with a previously unknown 12 year old while on a ship. It is REALLY out of the loop as far as shipboard behavior goes.
 
K

Kyle Johnstone

Guest
Too funny Jim, thanks for the reminder...
ahhh... good times...
The best part of all was that the lady loathed the cad and wanted nothing to do with him.

Which was probably quite common in the Age of So-Called-Chivalry.
Let's call it what it really was, and is. Hooking up. Same thing, different phrase.
I wonder how many unattractive women were ever offered "protection" by a gentleman who was simply being chivalrous?
I think it's been romantised and Hollywoodized beyond recognition. Too many Jane Austin film adaptations.

There's nothing wrong with the whole thing, amongst adults, but all it is, is hooking up. Two people who for whatever reason want each others company.
 
May 27, 2007
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ANOTHER VOICE FROM THE ROGUES GALLERY: from an old college friend came this analysis:
Still picking away at it aren't you, Jim? I wonder if you would of been so quick to share your college friend's post if he or she had disagreed with you? Sounds like your gloating so I'll leave you to it!
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A few more things before I go!

"I try to keep an open mind" is code for "I have no interest in what you are saying."
You may think that cute but I think it's very petty! I do try to keep an open mind and apologize for any mistakes or errors I make! Be they mistakes about a person's character and I made a big one there and I'm not talking about Holbourn either! Plus an Open mind is better then a Closed one! I sincerely hope you get your just deserts but remember that you reap what you sow! Remember that the next time you feel the need to be petty or manipulative at someone else's expense!
 

Jim Kalafus

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>The best part of all was that the lady loathed the cad and wanted nothing to do with him.

I sensed that in the subtle way she mouthed "Get me away from him." A faint, but never the less visible clue that a lady is not enraptured. And when he bought her that first drink and she left it at the bar, and he followed her with it "humorously" saying "Hey! You forgot something." I ALSO recall, that on day #1, when I said to her "Madame, I wish to offer you my protection for the duration of the voyage" while doffing my hat and offering my calling card, you put me on the champagne cut-off list for the next 45 minutes.


>I wonder how many unattractive women were ever offered "protection" by a gentleman who was simply being chivalrous?

The Titanic's first class was awash in unattractive women. The woman who had repeated offers of protection, coincidentally, was borderline attractive. Something of which I WISH someone had informed her when she refered to herself as "the prettiest girl" later in an account.
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"Pretty is relative, dear. Yes, in that crowd you WERE the prettiest. But dont get a swelled head. In that crowd, ca 1970 Ruth Gordon would have given you a run for the title."

Funny to note. The Lusitania was equally awash in women travelling single who did NOT resemble Jack Dempsey, Ray Bolger, or Babe Ruth, in drag. And a number of equally single male travellers. And there was a war on. Yet, not a single one of those who survived to write volumous accounts, or died with diary-style letters on their person, mentioned gentlemen formally offering their services.

Come to think about it, I can't recall any of the other unescorted female survivors of the Titanic ever mentioning gentlemen making formal offers of protection. Hmmmm.... maybe Gracie et al knew something about "The Prettiest Girl" aka "Among the Least Masculine Looking Women" not preserved by history.

I jest, somewhat, but agree with you that, in many ways, the Formal Offer of Service seems like just a means of getting a leg up over other men.

Evelyn Nesbit. Opportunistic whore who played her psychopathic husband and lover off of one another with fatal results. There. We've discussed her.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I wonder if you would of been so quick to share your college friend's post if he or she had disagreed with you?

Yes, I would have. A good researcher examines and presents ALL evidence, not just that with which he or she agrees. Which is why, for instance, I haven't eliminated either "one explosion" or "two explosions" accounts from the coming piece. I have a firm opinion, but want the reader to develop one of their own based on the evidence presented. If one of my friends disagreed (and you will notice that he opted to offer no comment. He made the mistake of reading the thread and therefore could not be impartial since he knew where I stood. He neither agreed nor disagreed, but offered a point that had been left unaddressed) I'd have been obligated to place it online.

You see, part of being intelligent is possessing the desire to learn. Which is why I keep asking, with no success, if this strong defense is based on anything other than "Because I want it to be so" and "Because I say so." There are a NUMBER of ways I would LIKE to be contradicted, circling around as-of-yet-undiscovered details of this affair:

*Was there some previously unknown link between Holborn and her parents? Extended family? Miss Smith and Miss Ellis?

*DID Holborn extend his 'services' to other bored children?

I can go on, but you get it. Given that sort of primary research discovery, I'd be more than willing to say that the creepiness factor has been substantially reduced or eliminated. As a mutual friend of ours will tell you, he who spent 8 months doing a line-by-line rewrite with me, I am more than glad to listen to intelligent criticism. However, input that boils down to "Because that's how I want it to be" is not intelligent criticism. And when someone introduces the element of personal observation, however correct those observations may be (I proudly agree with them, having cultivated those very points)that person has opened himself up to something potentially QUITE unpleasant. Petty? Don't go there, Missy. I've been quite restrained with you, and have purposefully omitted any parallel observation. But be aware, and grateful, that I COULD have made quite a number and have opted not to.

Back to my friend's point. If Avis had been an adult, his behavior would have been grossly inappropriate, since a gentleman who presumed that a woman stranger was bored and needed "entertainment" would have been dismissed in one of two ways. So, quite apart from creepiness, there were etiquette issues at play.
 
May 27, 2007
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I've stated my reasons for my defense of Holbourn's actions and my reasoning behind my actions! I was and am done arguing about Hobourn! I don't care if you have 50 people read this account and agree with you! Go to it! I've apologised for any errors or inappropriate remarks and for losing my temper although how anybody can keep their temper in an argument with you I don't know!

I wasn't aware we had already discussed Evelyn Nesbit Thaw! Although I see you have formed a rather mean opinion of her! I'm not going to argue with you about it! You seem to have a very dark view of people! Far be it from me to debase you of it!

I think you are gloating! That is what I was taking issue with it! Well Gloat away then!
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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Let it go, George; why get your blood pressure up? Banging your head against a brick wall will only hurt it more. Holbourn himself would have chuckled and walked away from all this.