When I get down in the dumps thinking about the awful attitudes Some People bring to their personal conduct on this sorry old planet today, I push "pause" on whatever I've been doing and take a little break in the archives of the Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat.
Having known people who were alive 100 years ago, I know that Arkansans were good enough people in those days, and they were human, so each and every one of them was different from every other one. But the archives always coughs up hard evidence that there were Some People in those days. Their Some People attitudes make our Some People attitudes look ... I almost typed "positively enlightened," but let's settle for "better."
The overt bigotry is harsh enough to bruise eyeballs. Recently, because Old News is making a slow march through 1919 and for 16 days in June 1919, the paper had a cartoon panel titled Buttermilk Luke, my eyes hurt. Ye gods. It's a daily joke at the expense of black people delivered by a cartoon grinning black man who natters in gosh-awrful dialect.
I can't even go there. But the battle of the sexes stuff is entertaining.
Take, for example, this headline from the June 27, 1919, Gazette:
Burdened With Hubby, Teacher Wants Position
Must be a delightful romp of a story, right? Well, let's see:
Anybody know where a woman with a husband can get a job teaching school?
John L. Bond, head of the Department of Education, yesterday received a letter from a woman who says she is a school teacher and who says she has a husband, and she asks if he knows where she can find a job.
The letter does not go into details. It fails to say whether the woman's "worser half" is a professor or what. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even say that the hubby wants to work. But why should a man want to work if his wife is perfectly capable of making a living?
The inquirer seems to be willing to accept most any kind of a pedagogical position or situation or job, provided remuneration is sufficient to make "both ends meet." She says she prefers a place where she can learn more about home economics.
Mr. Bond will appreciate your calling him at his office at the capitol if you know of a vacancy that the lady can fill.
If the poor woman had money to buy a newspaper I guess she figured out by reading that it would be no use to follow up with Bond.
Somewhat less heartbreaking is the story of the determined dentist, from the front page of the June 26, 1919, Gazette:
Jail Has No Terrors for Doc; He's Been Married
"I will go to jail for the rest of my life before I pay alimony and attorney's fee to my wife," Dr. J.G. Vaughn, a young dentist of Crossett, told Chancellor John E. Martineau yesterday morning.
"All right," answered Chancellor Martineau.
As George B. Rison, deputy sheriff, leads the young dentist out of the courtroom, his wife runs after them. Outside the jail door, she begs her husband to go back and try to straighten things out with the judge. "I didn't mean for it to go as badly for you as that," she cries.
He refuses and, what's more, insists he never will give in.
As he enters the sheriff's office, he announces that he's just survived a "third degree" even more strenuous than the one the judge gave him upstairs. He says he is absolutely through with Mrs. Vaughn and he will never pay her a cent.
This dentist was arrested at Crossett on a citation of contempt of court but allowed to spend the night on his own recognizance in a hotel. The reporter notes that he was waiting at the hotel at train time, just as he'd promised Rison he would be.
Members of the sheriff's office say Dr. Vaughn is a very pleasant prisoner to have around. He is stubborn on only one point, that is on paying alimony and the attorney's fee of his wife.
So why did Katie Vaughn want a divorce? She'd been granted the legal separation in January. She alleged that she had put her husband through dental college, covering all his expenses, amounting to about $4,000 and had bought his "dental outfit."
Although he was making from $500 to $1,000 a month, she said, he refused to support her.
She must have made a case in January, because Martineau awarded her $100 a month and $50 for her attorney, which the Gazette had reported in a legal briefs column Jan. 3.
Vaughn had not contested that. He ignored all court orders and a notice to appear in court to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. Then came the citation of contempt.
On the way to jail he told Rison that, sometimes, he didn't make $100 a month.
He said he had agreed to pay his wife $30 a month for the remainder of her life if she would not sue him, but that she had brought the suit and so he had firmly decided that he would never give her anything.
The reporter checked back June 27 and was told Vaughn was still adamant. But on June 29 the paper reported his second court appearance. While not exactly contrite, the Gazette said, he was more subdued. Dressed in overalls and a khaki shirt another prisoner had given him rather than the "trim blue suit" he'd worn June 26, he explained to the judge, "boyishly," that he had been ignorant of court procedure and that he had been "mad clean through" and just had to get out of his system his feelings about the matter.
All the officers who had any dealings with Dr. Vaughn liked him.
One deputy sheriff liked him so much he stepped up to represent him.
The court agreed to let him pay her $2,000, the amount she spent giving him a dental education. He could write promissory notes to cover that amount. Then he was to pay her $30 a month. Any month he couldn't come up with $30, he was to notify her attorney.
Of course newspapers never tell the full story and we have no idea about the true personality or character of man or wife. But here comes the Some People bit:
Mrs. Vaughn, who is a trained nurse, is said to be several years older than Dr. Vaughn.
Oh. Well, in that case.
Style on 06/24/2019
Print Headline: Some People didn't behave in 1919