Minor Characters: A Young Woman’s Coming-of-Age in the Beat Orbit of Jack Kerouac

Joyce Johnson (nee Glassman) reveals life as a woman on the beat circuit, “as a female, not quite part of this convergence… merely being here, she tells herself, is enough… It’s only her silence that I wish finally to give up.” Joyce grew up in NYC, a straight arrow, good Jewish girl living on 116th Street, beginning to live a double life in 1949 aged 13 when she begins to sneak down to Washington Square Park with pal Maria, hanging out in the square with the people singing and strumming guitars, drinking coffee with them in diners. She lives this double life until heading to college at Barnard, giving up her downtown ways for more polished collegiate ones. At Barnard, she meets Elise Cowen who becomes a lifelong friend. They both fall for Alex, a PhD candidate teaching at the school, who was connected to Allen Ginsberg at Columbia (Alex sets up Ginsberg & Cowen on a blind date in 1953 and Elise falls head over heels). After graduation in 1955, Joyce moves out of her parents’ house and supports herself with secretarial work while she works on her novel. She details the terror of obtaining an illegal abortion after her therapist refused to order her a therapeutic abortion. During this time, Kerouac is living as a hermit on a mountain in Washington for a few months, then descends and heads back to San Francisco where Howl has taken the world by storm. Joyce gets a job at a literary agency and borrows their copy of Kerouac’s The Town and the City.

In November 1956, Kerouac arrives in NYC with Ginsberg and his boyfriend Peter. Elise gives Ginsberg and his lover a place to stay, and Joyce hopes to meet Kerouac. Finally Allen tells Kerouac to call Joyce in early 1957, she meets him at a Howard Johnson’s and buys him dinner then takes him back to her place. He moves in the next day, needing a place to stay. “I’ve never bought a man dinner before. It makes me feel very competent and womanly.”

But Jack can never stay in one place long, always itchy feet to travel, grass is always greener (or more potent) on the other side. He sails to Tangier, then Paris, then London, then homesick heads back to New York for a few days before heading to Orlando to live with his mother (a constant theme). Joyce is constantly taking care of Jack whenever he’s in town, and mails him $30 to buy a bus ticket from Orlando to do an interview with Time magazine in September 1957 to coincide with the publication of On The Road. Jack slips back into town on Sept 4, and on Sept 5 Gilbert Millstein’s New York Times review catapulted Kerouac into the stratosphere of fame. Joyce now struggles to help Jack deal with intense and immediate celebrity:

Fame was as foreign a country as Mexico, and I was his sole companion in its unknown territories. He’d quickly learned it was a country with sealed borders. You couldn’t leave it when you’d had enough of it, though it could cast you out when it had had enough of you. It feted you and stoned you, flattered you and mocked you–sometimes all in teh same day. It demanded your secrets and whispered insulting innuendos behind your back. It corrupted your life with its temporary excitements; it invaded your dreams. The night he read Millstein’s review, Jack dreamt of being followed by a parade of children chanting his name. With a wound in his forehead, he escaped with his army into Mongolia. But inside the Victory Theatre, the fame police had nearly caught him….

[Jack goes on a talk show called Nightbeat] Jack sat on a swivel stool with a spotlight on him like a suspect awaiting the third degree, his hair tangled and wet, his face gone slack. I knew exactly how much wine he’d had to drink to get himself there, and I felt scared for him.

“Tell me, Jack, just exactly what you’re looking for,” John Wingate asked in his smoothly supercilious announcer’s voice.

“I’m waiting for God to show me His face.”

It was the truth, but somehow not the right kind of truth for television. Much as your host seemed to prod you toward a striptease, you were not supposed to show yourself naked. That night Jack knew he’d crossed some dangerous line. He’d failed to protect that deep visionary part of himself that had to remain in darkness, that could only reveal itself in dreams or books. For the next two days he stayed in the apartment and hardly spoke at all, even to me.

I remember trying to turn my twenty-one year old self into an instant expert on fame. Someone had to put it in the right perspective for Jack… “Why don’t you say no to things you don’t want to do?” I advised him.

***
Discovered through Shopping in Space

Alcatraz! Alcatraz!: The Indian Occupation of 1969-1971

The “Rock” was taken over by Indian occupation for almost 19 months in 1969, a fact that has floated on the periphery of my brain but more recently demanded getting more information. And so I sought out what I assumed was a first-hand account of an occupier, but Adam Fortune Eagle was more involved in tactics on the mainland during that time, negotiating press and supplies and all the logistics to support the effort. All that remains today are fading bits of paint that proclaim Indian Territory, and I recently read that the preservation folks at the island are carefully retouching these artifacts to keep them fresh against the weather???

The first invasion occurred about a year after the notorious prison closed, on March 8 1964, lasting four hours, by a group of Sioux who claimed under a 1868 treaty that Alcatraz was their land, the treaty permitting non-reservation Indians land the government had once taken for forts and other uses then later abandoned. The media was heavily involved in getting the word out, not only about the invasion, but also about its underlying goals to test the validity of the 1868 treaty and to call attention to the 600+ treaties broken by the U.S. government.

Two events made the 1969 occupation come to life after the 1964 attempt. The SF Board of Supes voted in favor of a ridiculous plan to commercially develop Alcatraz as a huge apartment and restaurant complex… a “space-age colossus, complete with an underground space museum.” Yikes. This helped draw support for the Indians once they occupied, by everyone with a brain who didn’t like the commercialization of the bay. Also, the SF Indian Center on Valencia St. burned down on Oct 10, 1969 (arson? accidental?). Everyone looked toward Alcatraz as the redemption for this disaster.

At least in Fortunate Eagle’s account, the Indians were super-savvy about the media. He was at a party with a bunch of media-types where he broke the news of the upcoming Nov 9 invasion, issuing an embargo that the news not be broken until that time. Fortunate Eagle credits this tipping off about the takeover to an investment that paid off by supplying the media with background information and alerting them to the scoop.

The attempt by day on Nov 9 ended up failing, with them only able to charter a boat to take them in circles around the island. A few brave souls jumped off the boat and attempted to swim to the island, but it was mostly a failure. Later that night, a fraction of the original group landed on the island: fourteen people. Lovely sexism: “One was Richard Oakes; three were women.” Unnameable, of course, although I later dig out that one of the women was LaNada Means (War Jack). These were eventually pulled off the island the next day.
The third and final attempt happened on Nov 20, lasting almost 19 months. The launch party convened at No Name Bar in Sausalito, 90 gear-laden Indians waiting for Peter Bowen to ferry them across to Alcatraz. Successfully installed, the government attempted to blockade the island, only to find that the local citizenry loved nothing more than to sneak supplies past the blockade.

Finally, we get some recognition for the women. Dr. Dorothy Lone Wolf Miller was a Blackfoot Indian and also the director of the Scientific Analysis corporation, opening her offices on California Street for a temporary headquarters of Indians of All Tribes, maintaining accounting/finances/records/grant proposals/education/health care for the island occupiers. The first Thanksgiving dinner that year was catered by a restaurant in Ghiridelli Square– Bratskellers, who ferried over food and tables for the celebration.
Creedence Clearwater Revivial donated a boat which was critical to shuttling people, food, supplies to and from Alcatraz. The boat mysteriously sank soon after two mysterious fires were set on the island (hello FBI).

Fun and games were over on June 11, 1971, when the U.S. government stormed the island then wrapped its shores with chain link fences and guard dogs. U.S. Attorney Browning claimed that the theft of copper wire on the island amounting to $600 was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Delightful account, although I’d like to supplement with words from women that are completely suppressed from this account, perhaps from LaNada Means. And now I’ll probably think twice about wanting to join the sunrise celebration on Alcatraz by the natives, not wanting to trespass on their ceremony but always having been curious about it.

Random bits:
* There’s a great photo in the book of a map of the U.S. with a headress-wearing chief proclaiming that Indians discovered America.
* The United Council fundraised during the first Memorial Day picnic and campout at the Hayward Bret Harte school, and convinced the superintendent that they needed the front lawn to pitch tents. In the middle of the night, it was raining “from the ground up” into tents when the sprinkler system went on.

We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction

I never imagined I’d love a book so much about women trying to break into the construction industry. In the early 1990s, Susan Eisenberg (also a tradeswoman) interviewed thirty women about their experiences across ten states as the first women in their union locals in the five trades: carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, painters, and plumbers. 1978 was a watershed year, where President Jimmy Carter set goals and timetables for hiring women on federally funded construction project. These goals (never mandated) suggested the workforce should include at least 6.9% women within three years. I believe it never got above 2.5% and has remained there due to crushing unwillingness, terrible and unsafe work conditions, lack of encouragement, hostility, harassment, and lack of real economic opportunity. Women were selected for federal jobs and then let go, just so they could check the box. This book is filled with great interviews of what it was like to tap that sexist ceiling with their hammers, to try and “infiltrate” a man’s world of construction. Fascinating stuff.

Notes from the Second Year: Women’s Liberation

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Published in 1970 with writings from the previous year, it can be read entirely online. I don’t do well with reading things on a screen, so I opted to request a precious print version via the miraculous LINK+ system that connects me to libraries across multiple states within days. Last Saturday I made my pilgrimage to the library, and was handed a large brown folio, cautioned by the librarian to take care of this fragile object. I found a Xerox’d copy of the publication inside, one copied from a copy from a copy from a copy to the extent that pages were faint. At least this lives on, in the archives of the Occidental College library in LA. Edited by Shulamith Firestone and Anne Koedt, it contains excerpts from Firestone’s soon to be published Dialectic of Sex along with Kate Millet’s competing (and more highly respected by critics) Sexual Politics. The best thing I got out of this read was a sense of glee about the year 1969, so much bubbling up in the air, so much hope, so much work to be done. Ellen Willis had a few great essays, along with Ti-Grace Atkinson and Carol Hanisch. Kathie Sarachild had a great piece, a program for Feminist Consciousness Raising, brought out in outline form and fully warning people in step D about daring to see, or taking off the rose-colored glasses. I sometimes wonder if it’s not better to be less aware, but there’s no turning back once your conscious has been raised. Overall, this is a great resource for original source material about the 2nd wave, but if you’re looking for steamy intellectual feminism, there are better sources.20816_NotesFrom2ndYear

All the Light We Cannot See

As much as I liked this book, I got nauseated by the yanking yin-yanging of the ending, the way that all of today’s crop of novels seem to hummingbird hover over the end point but seesaw back and forth, coating layers of frill and fuss and loose end tying. That said, it was otherwise a quickly digested read, although not sure worthy of Pulitzer Prize. The story follows a German boy who’s a whiz with radios and engineering and a blind French girl whose father builds locks for the Parisian Natural History museum, all during the lead up to and daily muck of WW2. Like all tidily told stories, these two disparate threads weave together both at the end and also much earlier, when Werner listens to Marie-Laure’s grandfather broadcasting from the French coast on a radio he assembled in the orphanage. Naturally, there’s a MacGuffin involved, a precious diamond sent from the Nat History museum under the care of Marie’s father, with three fakes also headed out into the world. A greedy yet deathly ill Nazi is desperate to find it, and Marie broadcasts a signal reading from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with gasps of “he’s downstairs, he’s going to kill me” that eventually get Werner trotting up to her doorstep for the rescue. Short punchy chapters (lots less than a page long) round out this painfully modern story.

How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman

Frances Willard gives a charming account of learning to ride Gladys, her bike (named for the “gladdening effect of its acquaintance and use on my health”), at age 53, despite the ridiculous proper clothing of the time (long skirts flapping in the wind and getting caught on everything). This volume contains an intro by Edith Mayo where I discovered that Willard had a brief engagement that she didn’t mention in her autobiography, Glimpses, and that it was with the guy who later gave her so much trouble at Northwestern college, resulting in her quitting and discovering her life’s work at WCTU. Mayo also bringing up that the temperance praying in front of saloons was a pioneering form of picketing.

Willard describes the bicycle as “the steed that never tires… full of tricks and capers” and hopes to inspire many of her army of women to take it up as well, to discover newfound freedom. Side benefit would be that they dress “more rationally than they have been wont to do.” She goes on to quote a doctor who warns that if a woman “persists in riding in a tight dress… it will be quite possible for her to injure herself.” It’s also good to breathe fresh air and to get exercise, Willard bemoaning that as soon as she turned 16 and had to wear the long skirts that hindered her, she hasn’t enjoyed walking.

The volume ends with a short essay by Lisa Larrabee about Women and Cycling: The Early Years, quoting an article in Lady Cyclist that slammed the murderous corset, “Nothing short of death seems to make the apathetic woman of fashion recognize that her life is one long suicide. Hers is a living death; fainting, hysteria, indigestion, anemia, lassitude, diminished vitality and a host of other sufferings arise from interference with the circulation of the blood and the prevention of the full play of the breathing organs. Such is the woman of old, now happily dying out. Dress reform is one of the great factors in this result, and the cycle is an aid to this reform. ” Also quoted is an 1895 article declaring bicycles to be “just as good company as most husbands and when a bicycle gets shabby or old a woman could dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.”

The Argonauts

If you must read about parenting, it’s best to read Maggie Nelson, who melds the weird things that happen to your body when preggers with philosophy, art, literature. I dredged this book up via the NYC Bluestockings reading group, and enjoyed it thoroughly. The title refers to the Roland Barthes quote that the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Nelson describes her relationship with Harry, “You’ve punctured my solitude… It had been a useful solitude, constructed, as it was, around a recent sobriety, long walks to and from the Y through the sordid, bougainvillea-strewn back streets of Hollywood, evening drives up and down Mulholland to kill the long nights, and, of course, maniacal bouts of writing, learning to address no one.” She weaves in quotes from D.W. Winnicott (of course), Gilles Deleuze/Claire Parnet, Foucault, Emerson, Anne Carson, etc. and notes the perversity that the most cited and respected books about babies are by men (Winnicott, Spock, Sears, Weisbluth) before chiding herself for not seeking out child-care books written by women. “Am I unconsciously channel-surfing for the male weatherman?” in reference to the fact her mother used to look for this figure on TV since men’s reports seemed more reliable despite both genders working from the same script.

Her relationship with Harry delves into the emotions that come along with a female-to-male transition, the need to write about their relationship but the hurt that Harry has when he views early drafts, and the perils and joys of raising a step-son (and then their own son). On being annoyed by ‘same-sex’ marriage: “Whatever sameness I’ve noted in my relationship with women is not the sameness of Woman, and certainly not the sameness of parts. Rather, it is the shared, crushing understanding of what it means to live in a patriarchy.”
She analyzes the relationship of Mary Colby and George Oppen, how Mary marries Oppen’s fake name David Verdi to give Oppen’s family the slip and make it ok that they slept in the same hotel room across America. They were married for fifty-seven years, “fifty-seven years of baffling the paradigm, with ardor.” Mary writes an autobiography (on my list!), which Nelson mentions seeing on Amazon with a single review by a guy who hated it, complaining, “Purchased this book hoping to gain insight into the life of one of my favorite poets. Very little about George and a lot about Mary.” Nelson then rails, “It’s her autobiography, you fucking moron.”

On babies, “I cannot hold my baby at the same time as I write,” and “I’m an old mom. I had nearly four decades to become myself before experimenting with my obliteration.”

Some great words on the fearlessness of teachers:

“It’s like she’s pulling Post-it notes out of her hair and lecturing from them,” one of my peers once complained about the teaching style of my beloved teacher Mary Ann Caws. I had to agree, this was an apt description of Caws’s style (and hair). But not only did I love this style, I also loved it that no one could tell Caws to teach otherwise. You could abide her or drop her class: the choice was yours. Ditto Eileen Myles, who tells a great story about a student at UC San Diego once complaining that her lecturing style was like “throwing a pizza at us.” My feeling is, you should be so lucky to get a pizza in the face from Eileen Myles, or a Post-it note plucked from the nest of Mary Ann Caws’s hair.

As she travels the country promoting her book, The Act of Cruelty, while pregnant, she encounters terrible questions, “I can’t help but notice that you’re with child, which leads me to the question–how did you handle working on all this dark material [sadism, masochism, cruelty, violence, and so on] in your condition?” Her response:

Ah yes, I think, digging a knee into the podium. Leave it to the old patrician white guy to call the lady speaker back to her body, so that no one misses the spectacle of that old oxymoron, the pregnant woman who thinks. Which is really just a pumped-up version of that more general oxymoron, a woman who thinks.

Learned: Gertrude Stein’s Q.E.D. tells of a love triangle with May Bookstaver, and Alice jealously omitted every appearance of the word May or may when she re-typed it.

Well-Tempered Women: Nineteenth-Century Temperance Rhetoric

As you can tell from the previous handful of entries, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole studying up on the events leading up to Prohibition. Carol Mattingly’s book pulls a lot of the disparate threads together for me with this book: “Alcohol became the primary woman’s issue of the century, because it came to symbolize and gave vent to frustrations about women’s powerless and precarious situation.” She also suggests that today’s feminists could take a page or two from WCTU’s playbook, with their success in recruiting the “average woman” to their cause and abandoning complex academic jargon. One of the strengths of the WCTU that’s missing today is an effective network of local, county, district, and state unions.

The first two sections of the book look at 19th century temperance women’s oral rhetoric. It’s frankly amazing that these women were able to bust through the stigma then (and now) existing of a woman speaking in public. These women cloaked themselves in the righteous coat of duty, and focused on the temperance message while almost covertly pushing for women’s rights as well. Wisconsin’s Mrs. Ostrander gives a clear example of this in her 1853 speech where she scoffs at those who accuse women who take public action of unbecoming behavior, but in the next sentence reassures the more timid in her audience that her focus is temperance, not women’s rights. These women made it more difficult for opponents to attack them by lecturing in churches wherever possible, although ministers were known to hoot them down with cries of “Shame!” Some speakers could not come out publicly for women’s rights because of fear of hurting their families, like Caroline Severance’s “I have in this city [New York] venerated grandparents, whose feelings I greatly regard, and would not willingly or unnecessarily wound… [so could not take] an active part in what will seem to them an antagonistic position for woman and uncalled for on my part.”

The Ohio Crusades of the 1870s required the women participating publicly to have great courage since they were ridiculed in the press and in the streets, jostled and spit upon, doused with dirty water and beer, dragged through the streets, covered in paint, hosed with water, rotten eggs/stones/boots/bricks hurled at them. This crusade wasn’t the first of the smashing and praying kind, though, with an event in March 1852 in Mount Vernon, OH, and a 1853 event in Ashland, OH where 30 women smashed up a grocery that was serving liquor, and then moved on to a woman tavern owner (Mrs. Witz or Mother Yonkers) to spill out all her whiskey.

Newspaper reports focused on “unfeminine” appearance instead of substance of lectures, and vegetarians are poked fun at as usual:

Anniversary week has the effect of bringing to New York many strange specimens of humanity, masculine and feminine. Antiquated and very homely females made themselves ridiculous by parading the streets in company with hen-pecked husbands, attenuated vegetarians, intemperate Abolitionists and sucking clergymen… Shameless as these females–we suppose they were females–looked, we should really have thought they would have blushed as they walked the streets to hear the half-suppressed laughter of their own sex and the remarks of men and boys. The Bloomers figured extensively in the anti-slavery amalgamation convention, and were rather looked up to, but their intemperate ideas would not be tolerated in the temperance meeting at the Brick Chapel. (New York Courier)

On the subject of dress:
* “Willard campaigned for a more ‘reasonable’ dress for women, but those efforts were combined with a pragmatic belief that members must present an acceptable appearance. Willard even had appropriate dresses and skirts designed specifically for WCTU members.” (p 66, with examples shown in plates 17 & 18)
* Mid-century speakers began wearing the modified dress adopted by Elizabeth Smith Miller and most famously worn by Amelia Bloomer. The dress was “a short skirt (usually knee length or hemmed at mid-calf) over Turkish trousers.”
* “Reports that emphasize the Bloomer attire are especially revealing because reporters never commented on or suggested the inappropriateness of other kinds of frivolous and revealing dress worn by some women; the fear obviously arose from the Bloomer’s deviation from cultural expectations for women. Bloomers covered women fully, while other ‘stylish’ dress left women’s bodies, at least their upper torsos, greatly exposed…” (p 103)
In the last section, Mattingly’s points out that little attention has been given to writers of temperance fiction, and she mines the archives for us. This provided me a list a mile long of forgotten women writers. She notes that the nation’s first “best-seller” was Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World in 1850. Maria Cummins (The Lamplighter, 1854) was another of the most popular novels of the century.

Random bit:
* Frances Willard learned to ride a bike at age 53, and named it Gladys.

The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation

Despite being deemed “as lucid as a swamp” by an amateur historian writing about Prohibition, I enjoyed this primary source material about Carry Nation’s vivid contribution to the prohibition movement. Okrent tries to discredit her by disparaging her appearance and mentioning the state of her mother’s mental health, but Nation’s own words are worthy of reading. Her preface defends her writing, “I do not send this book into the hands of the public as a literary production. I am neither an experienced or proper writer when it comes to diction. There are higher merits than these.” Contrary to her warning, I found her writing to include surprising sparklers, like, “I settled with the court at Topeka for the ‘Malicious destruction of property,’ when in fact, it was the ‘Destruction of malicious property,'” and calling the Bible “the Hatchet of Truth.”

The account includes way too much Biblical quoting for my taste, but if you can push past that, you get a clearer picture of this anti-alcohol warrior who took it into her own hands to begin smashing saloons, first in Kansas, then around the country. The Kansas saloons were illegally selling alcohol, and Nation was tired of lack of police action, actual complicity in the continuance of the dive bars. But before we get to the action shots, we get a long wind-up of religiosity. She was banned from teaching Sunday school in a few places because she insisted on teaching the Bible, not the catechism. Fellow church goers complained that she made too much noise praising God in church, that it disturbed them.

At the beginning, she takes us all the way back to her old Kentucky home, pre Civil War, and thus some terribly patronizing words about racial differences. “The race question is a serious one. The kindly feeling between black and white is giving place to bitterness with the rising generations. One reason of this seems to be a jealousy of the whites for fear the negroes will presume to be socially equal with them. The negro race should avoid this, should not desire it, it would be of no real value to them.” Yikes.

Nation is nothing if not unexpected. “I shall not in this book speak much of my love affairs, but they were, nevertheless, an important part of my life. I was a great lover. I used to think a person could love but once in this life, but I often now say, I would not want a heart that could hold but one love.” Her first husband is a drunk and dies of the disease. Nation then takes care of his mother Mrs. Gloyd for the rest of her life; the two live as companions for over twenty years, Gloyd helping to raise Nation’s daughter and keeping house while Nation found work then eventually married Mr. Nation.

She enjoys the wordplay of her name. “I do not belong in the ‘can’t family… C.A.N are the initials of my name, then C. (see) A. Nation! And all together Carry A. Nation. This is no accident but Providence.”
A voice comes to her, telling her to go to Kiowa, KS to smash up a saloon. “Note this reader, that I did not think of smashing, God told me to do it.” So she starts picking up brick bats and rocks, hiding them under her apron, wrapping them in newspapers, collecting an arsenal. She hits the road, going straight to a saloon operated by the brother of a sheriff, announced her intention, and began her campaign: “I threw as hard, and as fast as I could, smashing mirrors and bottles and glasses and it was astonishing how quickly this was done. These men seemed terrified, threw up their hands and backed up in the corner. My strength was that of a giant. I felt invincible. God was certainly standing by me.” She attacks five bars with rocks before she starts using her signature hatchet, realizing that stones can only be thrown once, but a hatchet can be wielded over and over.

She begins spending a lot of time in various jails, paying fines by selling off miniature hatchets and giving lectures. “I never explained to people that God told me to do this for some months, for I tried to shield myself from the almost universal opinion that I was partially insane.” Upon release from jail, she’s pelted with eggs: “In going to the train that night there seemed to have been some one hiding on every corner throwing eggs. My dress was covered with them.”
Nation started up a magazine, Smasher’s Mail, wonderfully digitized here. Her second attempt at magazine publication was called The Hatchet.

Her list of arrests: Wichita – 3 times, serving 53 days; Topeka – 7 times, 103 days; Kansas City – 1 time, partial day; Coney Island – 1 time, partial day; Los Angeles – 1 time, San Francisco – 1 time, Scranton – 2 times, Pittsburg – 3 times; Philadelphia 1 time; Bayonne NJ – 1 time; Nova Scotia – 1 time. Her San Francisco arrest was for destroying a bottle of whiskey at a saloon where she’d been invited by the owner as a way of drumming up business. “This was done to advertise this man but the way that I advertise has never done the whiskey business any good.”

Why smash? “The effect of smashing has always been to cause the people to arouse themselves… The smashing in Kansas was to arouse the people. If some ordinary means had been used, people would have heard and forgotten, but the ‘strange act’ demanded an explanation and the people wanted that, and they will never stop talking about this until the question is settled.”

Random note: she mentions that Teddy Roosevelt went on a tour around the country while president exhorting women to bear more children??

Woman and temperance: or, The work and workers of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

Whoo-ee, another gripping page-turner of a book about prohibition! There’s something a bit disconcerting about the lavish praise heaped on Frances Willard by her adoring minions of the WCTU… they devote an introductory chapter of this book to describing in great detail St. Frances’ upbringing (“sprung from that strong New England stock which, when transplanted into Western soil, often finds the best conditions of growth”). Skip the encomiums and get right to the heart of the beast, Willard’s attempt to describe the history and advocates of the WCTU. It’s fairly dry stuff, pun partially intended. With all the praying and hymnal singing and speech-making, there’s not a lot that my brain wants to linger on here. Part of the reason this section of the prohibition story remains under-appreciated is because the characters are all too good and godly. Where’s the scandal? Where’s the drama? Instead, we have chapter after chapter (punctuated with grim line drawings) of the ladies involved. My head nearly bursting with Jesus picnics and earnest entreaties, I began to focus only on the stories of those ladies labeled Miss, not Mrs, hoping for something of more interest (nope). On page 227 there is a recipe for unfermented wine, should you be in the market for such a thing (crushed grapes and water boiled then strained, sugar added). With this, I leave my Willard wanderings and hop onto more colorful characters.