happy birthday, kyknoord – from your three fangirls on the island of Lesbos.
George Hazeltine, a rich American who died at the age of 86, spent his last days in a Los Angeles hospital, where he became very attached to two of his nurses, Lillian Pelkey and Madeleine Higgins. So he announced his intention of making a new will, in order to leave $10,000 to each of them. The two nurses protested against this proposal, but agreed to humour the old man.
Since there was no writing paper available, Nurse Pelkey wrote the will on her underwear, which Mr Hazeltine signed, the Misses Pelkey and Higgins acting as witnesses. This resulted in them both being barred from receiving their legacies, but neither of them wished to do so in any case. The will was however, admitted to probate and a great niece who was also a beneficiary and under no disqualification, inherited the estate under its terms.
Lingerie also featured in the will of Ellen Collins of Philadelphia in 1932: “I bequeath my white flannel embroidered petticoat to Mr Albert Cummings.”Tragically, Mr Cummings died before his intending benefactress who presumably had some reason to believe he coveted her petticoat.
This will be my last post for a little while. I’m flying off to the south of France to meet up with Queenwilly and The King for a week or so, then on to Greece where Daisyfae and Dolce await. We three girls are going to scare the pants off Athens then head over to the Isle of Lesbos to laze about eating Greek salads and drinking retsina…… here’s to foie gras, truffles, mah jongg, blue skies, sandy beaches and good friends…. see you all soon…. xx
Not long after tobacco was introduced to Europe, snuff taking was developed.
A huge snuff user was the Emperor of France, Napoleon I (1769-1821). It was estimated that he would use three kilograms of tobacco monthly. He did it often during the day, as in his time, there was not yet a way of consuming enough tobacco to last a whole day. It was a year before his death that the snuff double barrel pistol was invented . The amunition chamber was filled with tobacco and the barrels were placed under the nose, the trigger was pulled, and the shot delivered enough tobacco to the nose to last for an entire day.
Not everyone was taken with the pistol up the nose method and different social classes used different ways to inhale.
The French historian Henri d’Allemagne aptly describes this:
“To take snuff, people of noble birth were meant to tap on the lid, take a few grains with the tip of their slender fingers, to make a slight gesture and to inhale the powder with ecstasy.
On the contrary, the countryman digged his thumb and forefinger inside the snuff box in order to take out a large pinch of tobacco, putting it on the back of his left hand and snorted it in a noisy way while rubbing his nose.”
In 1904 Margaret Thompson demonstrated her love for snuff by including these instructions in her will
“I Margaret Thompson being of sound mind etc. do desire that when my soul is departed from this wicked world, my body and effects may be disposed of in the manner following: I desire that all my handkerchiefs that I may have unwashed at the time of my decease, after they have been got together by my old and trusty servant Sara Stewart, to be put by her, and by her alone, at the bottom of my coffin, which I desire may be made large enough for the purpose, together with such quantity of the best Scotch snuff as will cover my Deceased body.
But I strictly charge that no man may be suffered to approach my body till the coffin is closed, and as it is necessary to carry me to my burial which I order in the following manner: Six men to be my bearers who are known to be the greatest snuff takers in the parish of St. James, Westminster.
Instead of mourning, each to wear a snuff coloured beaver hat which I desire to be bought for the purpose and given to them. Six maidens of my old acquaintance to bear my pall, each to wear a proper hood, and to carry a box filled with the best Scotch snuff to take as their refreshment as they go along.
modifications of the beaver hat
I desire my old and faithful servant, Sarah Stewart, to walk before the corpse and to distribute every twenty yards a large handful of Scotch snuff to the ground and upon the crowd who may possibly follow me to my burial place on which condition I bequeathe her £20. And I also desire that at least two bushels of said snuff may be distributed at the door of my house in Boyle Street.”
No snuff was required at King George V’s funeral cortege
In the 30s, 40s and 50s Dulcie Markham was the prettiest and most notorious woman in Australia’s underworld. Nearly all of her criminal lovers died violently after jousting with the jinx.
In 1934 she married hoodlum Frank Bowen. The marriage only lasted a couple of years but they remained friends until he was shot dead in Kings Cross in 1940. She left Bowen to move in with underworld figure Alfred Dillon but was soon having an affair with 21 year old Scotty McCormack. Dillon stabbed him to death and was sentenced to 13 years for manslaughter. As he was led from the dock he shouted out to Dulcie that he would always love her.
Her next lover, Arthur Taplin was shot dead at the Cosmopolitan in 1937. After that she took up with mobster Guido Calleti who was shot at a Kings Cross party in 1939. No one was ever convicted and he was given the most spectacular gangster funeral in Sydney’s history. Dulcie did not attend although she had been there to weep over the body as it lay in a Darlinghurst funeral parlour.
In 1940 she took up with Melbourne criminal John Abrahams who was shot dead outside a twoup school that same year. She promptly moved in with another well known gangster who was arrested a month later for Abraham’s murder.
The war years meant big earnings for prostitutes and Dulcie was no exception. Unlike others in her trade, her name was well known to the public as she was constantly in trouble such as the time she was arrested on a Melbourne Street clad only in panties and brandishing an axe at a client who argued about her fee.
Her reputation grew through the 1940s when two of her former admirers Donald “the Duck” Day and Leslie “Scotland Yard” Walkerden were murdered.
In 1951 she was drinking with friends when gunmen burst through the door and shot dead one of her companions and left Dulcie with a bullet in her hip. Below is an excerpt from an article by Brian Matthews detailing what happened next
The most famous resident of Fawkner Street was ‘Pretty Dulcie’ Markham, a gangster’s moll who married one Leonard ‘Redda’ Lewis in her Fawkner Street house. This was a doubly significant date for ‘Redda’. Not only was it the day of his delight, it was also the last of the seven days the local police had given him to get out of St Kilda. The occasion was attended by numbers of uniformed and plain-clothes state functionaries who, sensitive to the holiness of the proceedings, remained shadowy in their cars while thoughtfully blocking off both ends of the road.
About a month earlier, Pretty Dulcie’s Fawkner Street residence had been the scene of a very different ceremony during which ex-boxer, Gavan Walsh, was shot dead, his brother, Desmond, was injured and Pretty Dulcie herself copped a bullet in the hip. The matrimonial legacy of this was that the bride was able to set off her outfit with a white cast on one leg. She and ‘Redda’ were married in the very room where Gavan Walsh got his, which prompted a Truth reporter to ask, with the refined punctilio for which that paper was known, if she had any qualms about mixing marriage and violent death.
‘Not a fuckin’ one,’ said the bride.
Pretty Dulcie was not one for the niceties either of language or behaviour. My Aunt Tilly, walking out behind Dulcie from the ladies’ toilet of the Middle Park Hotel one afternoon and having no idea at the time who she was dealing with, noticed that Dulcie’s dress was accidentally hooked up at the back. Helpfully, my aunt flicked the offending bit down for her, whereupon, before a word of explanation could be offered, Pretty Dulcie turned and intimated her gratitude by saying, ‘You lay a finger on me again and I’ll have the boys break your fuckin’ arms.’ To which she added a number of other recommendations very difficult to carry out, even if Tilly had had the slightest idea what they meant.”
Yet again the union didn’t last, her new husband was shot on two different occasions by unknown assailants and they split up after 18 months. In 1955, after an argument with a visitor, Dulcie was thrown from the top floor of a block of flats in Bondi. Hospitalised with fractured ribs and internal injuries, she maintained she had ‘fallen down some stairs’.
Eventually Dulcie married again, living happily with her third husband until she died in 1976 in a fire caused by smoking in bed. Her husband told reporters “I loved her deeply, she was a wonderful housewife”.
In 1920s New York, actress Dorothy MacKellar was offered the lead part in a play depicting a marriage between a white woman and a black man – a partnership that was illegal at the time.
“She is said to have accepted the role on the condition that a white actor and burnt cork play opposite her. When she was told that it was intended to have a real Negro fill the bill, she retired without more ado.”
Around the same time the “Green Twigs“, a group of socially prominent middle class ladies, set out to choose a queen for a community fiesta via a popularity ballot. Early on, the tally showed 17 year old honour student Miss Dorothy Derrick was pulling ahead. This was a cause of great consternation as Miss Derrick was black.
Dorothy Dandridge NOT Dorothy Derrick
After another day of voting she had fallen to third place, having been overtaken by a Miss Violet Meyer. The Green Twigs were still not pleased as Miss Meyer was a Jew. The contest was abruptly cancelled.
Ultra Violet NOT Violet Meyer
Fast forward to the beauty contests of the 1950s. The catholic church was in an uproar about them and threatened to expel college students who participated.
Mrs Edward Belitz, whose daughter Mary Jean withdrew from the Miss Nebraska competition because her education was jeopardised said “I’m just sick. I’ve trained her so long.”
But in New Mexico, 20 year old Sue Ingersoll elected to remain in the Miss Universe contest despite being told she would be denied the sacraments for a period of time unless she withdrew.”
Now in Thailand pretty boys in Pattaya compete for the title of Miss Tiffany with the aim of creating human rights awareness and promoting a positive transvestite image to the world. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come but Marine Marine Monroe, Barbara Style Sand and Donna Summer are there to remind us.
2009 winners found here
A few years ago in Sydney, Boaz Stark published a book of inspired drag queen names.
“Having a Drag Queen baby but no idea what to call her? Uma Gawd! This Trudy Light of a book has literally hundreds of names to suit Drag Queens of every shape (Justine Ormous), age (Terri Daktil), race (Fu Ling Yu) and religion (Cath Lick). Your Drag Queen is destined to be the Bella DeBall with this Paige Turner!”
But my favourite will always be my son, Cherry Ripe.