One of these women is turning 94 today and the other is my great-granddaughter and thus her great-great-grandaughter.
So, in honor of the occasion, here are some cartoons my grandfather might have read in the newspaper when he wasn’t pacing the floor on September 1, 1924, which is what expectant fathers did in those days.
(Editor’s note: Because these old comics tend to be hard to read on line, I have found a workaround for the embiggening issue. If you click on the Embiggenator link, you will be taken to a larger version and, in fact, if you then click on that, you will even further embiggen it. However, this was labor intensive and, while I may use it in one or two special cases in the future, I will generally continue to count on you to follow the links to the original comics if you want to see them in larger forms.)
On with the show:
My mother being a considerate child, she was born on Labor Day so that her dad didn’t need to take time off from work. Ding Darling, who knew a fair amount about lying under a tree, enjoying the sunshine and maybe catching a few fish, offered this tribute to the holiday.
And he also knew something about farming, judging from that little fellow in the background.
Mom was born into a world in which American women had only voted in one Presidential election, in which Warren G. Harding defeated James Cox and Eugene Debs and then, two and a half years later, dropped dead, leaving Calvin Coolidge to clean up the mess from the Teapot Dome Scandal.
The various conspirators and malefactors are on the feathers of this Bob Satterfield ostrich, and it may have seemed like a good time for Silent Cal to live up to his nickname, but two months later, he would be given a full term of his own, so Satterfield’s opinion was apparently not in the majority.
Meanwhile, Germany’s economy was hobbled by the dictates of the treaty that had ended the World War, but on August 31, the Reichstag had agreed to accept the Dawes Plan for rebuilding it, for which Dawes received a Nobel Peace Prize and Europe received a re-constructed Germany that was now able to prepare for a rematch.
At the moment, of course, nobody realized it was going to be necessary to start numbering their world wars, though Dorman Smith appears to have been a bit cynical about the financial aid program.
The other part of the world my mother was born into involved an awful lot of “Boy, is my wife dumb/a spendthrift/vain!” cartoons, and, while George McManus was more prone to depict Maggie as a social climber, he comments here on fashion, and Dorman Smith offers this commentary on commentary on fashion.
While only a few papers had full pages of comics, I would assume a good hospital would have more than one newspaper in the waiting room, so my grandfather may have seen several of these strips:
However, that Toonopedia entry is quite specific that she was a college student and not a flapper like Fritzi Ritz (Blondie Boopadoop still a half-dozen years in the future), and so she would mirror my grandmother, who had a teaching degree from Columbia and whose daughter would, a week or so before turning 16, toddle off to Radcliffe.
My grandmother’s sister, Bernice, on the other hand, was a flapper, and Chicago was not a bad place in which to flap. When I would visit her nearly a half-century later, as a college student myself, she was a delightful hostess who made a stiff, generous Manhattan and, in fact, more than one, her motto being “You can’t fly on one wing.”
Then she’d take you out on the balcony of her 30th floor Marina Towers balcony, hand you a pair of binoculars and let you know which rooftop was which, never leaving out, though discreetly not quite recommending, the Playboy Club.
But perhaps pointing it out more often, and more cheerfully noting that it could be used for sunbathing, than she did the Sun-Times building, which was closer but could not.
Every family should have one of each type of child.
And every boarding house should have a Major Hoople. In fact, as the 20s rolled on, several did, but there was something about the original that was unsurpassable.
It occurs to me that this particular strip might have gotten more of a laugh from my grandfather than from his wife at the moment.
Nor, for all their attempts, did anyone manage to duplicate the warmth of JR Williams’ “Out Our Way,” which had the advantage of shifting locations and themes, including not just the home where siblings made their mothers’ hair turn gray, but of a factory floor and a Western ranch and more.
And, if my grandfather did see this cartoon as he was waiting, he’d have chuckled, since he loved to tease about the proper pronunciation of “wash,” contrasting the Midwestern “warsh” with the East Coast “waash,” which they moved early enough for my mother to have grown up with.
He would also, I suspect, though I never specifically heard, have been a fan of Ring Lardner, though this isn’t a particularly strong strip. Well, never mind. He had better things coming that day anyway.
They even had Juxtapositions of the Day in 1924
I’d never heard of Dorothy Darnit, but the Comics Kingdom archivist offered a very low opinion of her creator, Charles McManus, the lesser brother of “Bringing Up Father” giant George McManus. Perhaps this day’s strip is atypical, because it made me laff.
As for Freckles, that strip was a tremendous hit, and notable because Freckles himself began as a very small kid and grew until he hit his teens, at which point he stopped. However, this particular day, it’s his little brother Tagg carrying the burden.
And I suppose that, in a world with far more ice boxes than refrigerators, frequent trips to the butcher shop made a juxtaposition of butcher-shop jokes a little less striking than they’d be today.
One more thing I know about my grandfather is that, a few years from this point, when they were living in Mount Vernon and he was working in New York City and commuting on the train, he would carefully tear the Burgess Bedtime Story from his newspaper and tuck it into his jacket pocket so that he could take his little daughter in his lap and read it to her that evening.
Not sure even embiggening it will make the full story of what Peter Rabbit saw Jimmy Skunk doing as legible as you’d like, but here it is if you want to try.
Everybody should read to their kids. Here’s a nice lady reading comics to the mother of that kid in the picture above.