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Monday, November 17, 2014

THE PROBLEMS OF ADVERTISING FOR A MATE by Andrea Downing



 MUSE MONDAY

Please join me in welcoming Andrea Downing to Muse Monday.
My latest book, Dearest Darling, is based on the premise that a love letter and a packet of tickets meant for one woman goes to quite another. The woman for whom they were meant was my hero’s ‘mail order bride,’ but my plucky heroine takes the tickets and ventures west.  Going west was an adventure; for men, there were lures of gold, huge tracts of land, wealth to be made.  Pioneer wagons did include women but few were single, and so by the middle of the 19th Century, men looked around and found something was missing from the life they had chosen—women!  What could they do about it?  Many wrote back home for introductions to eligible women in their old communities, possibly through Church organizations or just acquaintances.  Elsewhere, clubs formed to bring young ladies west and introduce them properly.  There was the Busy Bee Club in Tucson, AZ,  begun by six wives in order to stop the arguments over the few available females.  Up in Seattle, there were the Mercer Maids, and elsewhere in Washington, one man raised money to go back east and arrange for a ship filled with brides.  Unfortunately, the ship was hardly ‘filled’ and the venture not particularly successful, but it goes to show the lengths to which men went to find matrimony.

Finally, two newspapers, specializing in advertisements for mail order brides, appeared on the market.  Advertising was already fairly common, but these weekly periodicals were dedicated to procuring marriage for distant singles.  The weekly Matrimonial News was printed both in San Francisco and Kansas City from around the 1870s through the ‘90s,  and sent out to subscribers.  The advertisements it contained had to follow strict regulations and include information on appearance—including height and weight!, the person’s financial position as well as their ‘social position’ and, of course, the type of mate they were seeking. Gentlemen were charged for the privilege of advertising, women were not unless their ad went over forty words.  Nowadays, we hear stories of internet dating that has gone awry, of potential partners who turn out to be nothing like they advertise.  Imagine, then, writing long distance, having someone travel out to meet you,  and discovering your prospective mate was a dud.  In fact, several issues of The Matrimonial News contained a notice from one Judge that any man discovering his intended had artificially enhanced themselves could call their marriage null and void!

A slightly later magazine also dedicated to ‘lonely hearts’ was The New Plan.  Ladies had to sign an agreement to answer all letters with stamps included, even if it was just to say they were not interested.  What surprised me about these advertisements was the frankness about their financial situations and what they expected to inherit.   In my book, Dearest Darling, my hero really knows very little about the woman with whom he has been corresponding for a year; he has to trust she is as she presents herself.  And therein lies a problem with all correspondents.

But to find out what happens to Daniel, you’ll have to read the book.



Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.
Excerpt: “Who the hell are you?” he blurted out.
The woman took a step back. “My name is Emily Darling—”
“Darling?” His eyes narrowed as his hands went instinctively to his hips.
“I received your letter,” she continued somewhat breathlessly. “I know...”
“Stop. Just tell me where Ethel is.” The blood rushed through his veins, pulling anger and uneasiness with it. “What’s happened to Ethel?”
“I know it wasn’t meant for me,” the blonde continued, “but—”
“But? But. Lady, are you telling me you received a dang letter meant for someone else, and you went and hightailed it out here with a train ticket and stage ticket meant for that someone else?”
This impostor’s eyes widened. Emily’s eyes, not Ethel’s...
“You know how the hell long it took me to save for that trip? You have any idea of the cost of all that?”
“I...I thought—”
“I don’t give a good gosh damn what the heck you thought. That money was meant for...” Total disbelief swallowed his tongue. Daniel took some paces and struggled to control his temper before he shot off his gun. “Damn!” he said at last. “Damn!” He stomped back to her. “Well, what the hell do you expect to do now— now that you’re here, may I ask?”
“Well...” Emily visibly gathered herself and straightened up. “Marry you, of course.”
Bio:  Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. 
Links to Social Media:  WEBSITE AND BLOG:  http://andreadowning.com
Twitter:  @andidowning  https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124888740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

 


  

27 comments:

  1. Hi Brenda, just want to say a big thank you for having me here today. I enjoyed writing this piece.

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    1. Thanks for being my guest today, Andrea. Good post as evidenced by the activity.

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  2. Love the concept and setting. intriguing. Let's us fly there inside.

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    1. We fly in our imagination --- it's a heckuva lot cheaper. ;-)

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  3. What an interesting post, Andrea! I knew there were male order brides, of course, but I never knew there was industry built around the practice.

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    1. These people were desperate, Marin--and necessity is the Mother of Invention don't forget.

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  4. Interesting info on the newspapers and magazine. What intrepid women - facing hardship to pursue a new life!

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    1. They certainly had to be a certain kind of woman--wanting the adventure, wanting a new life--and this would be about the only way to make a new start for them. Many were disappointed, of course, but many got what they wanted…happily!

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  5. Remember this? Ist I'd heard of mail order brides. Westward the Women is a 1951 western film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Robert Taylor, Denise Darcel and John McIntire. In 1851, Roy Whitman decides to transport marriageable women west to join his lonely men, hoping the couples will put down roots and settle his California valley. Roy hires a skeptical, hardened trail boss, Buck Wyatt, to lead the wagon train along the California Trail. In Chicago, Roy recruits 138 "good women", after they have been warned of the journey's hardships and dangers by Buck. Telling the women about his valley, Roy encourages them to pick their prospective mates from pictures he has tacked to a board. Two saloon girls, Fifi Danon and Laurie Smith, hastily change their flashy clothes when others like them are rejected. Roy is not fooled by their disguise, but convinced of their sincere wish to reform, he adds them to the group.

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    1. Never saw that one, Eunie--but wasn't 7 Brides for 7 Brothers also on this theme? Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Takes a lot of courage...on both sides...to take that chance.
    Great post, Andrea :-) Know I'm going to love this one as I have your others!

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    1. Thanks so much Diane. Yeah, it did take guts and I'd bet a lot of people were deceived and there were ladies who had to fend for themselves.

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  7. So unfair to leave us hanging like that..! I would imagine people going to extremes for a new life. We do what we must but still it had to have been a hard life. Looking forward to reading the book.

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    1. Brenda, I'm laughing about 'leaving you hanging.' It's a very short book and a quick read, or so I've been told, so you won't have much trouble finding out the ending ;-)

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  8. I enjoyed this little slice of history. Thanks for sharing. Great blurb and excerpt too.

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    1. And thank YOU for stopping by--glad you enjoyed it.

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  9. Love this discussion! Can't imagine the courage it took on both sides. Lovely story Andrea!!!!!

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    1. A lot of courage! Not quite like meeting some computer date in a crowded cafe in your home town!

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  10. I enjoyed your snippet of history and your excerpt. What fascinates me, just like arranged marriages, is how people had the courage to do it. I wish we could have statistics about how many marriages of mail order brides actually lasted a life time. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Yes, that would be fascinating to know Judy. I've read of a lot of very happy marriages but also some disasters--it was quite a lottery I think.

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  12. I thought I was pretty up on Tucson history, but The Busy Bees is a new one on me. I'll try to find out more about it.

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    1. They are mentioned in a book I have but, unfortunately, I'm away from home at the moment and haven't got the title/author. I'd be interested to hear if you do find anything more on them. All the book said was pretty much what I've written here--that they were married women who started the club to stop the shoot-outs over the available women.

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  13. Hi Andrea, Interesting post! I enjoyed the blurb and excerpt...Dearest Darling sounds delicious. Joanne :)

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    1. Thanks Joanne, and thanks for your support. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  14. Brenda I don't see your kind comment here although I got notice of it--thanks so much for having me here today. I appreciate all the comments and everyone's interest in this topic!

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  15. Excellent post, Andi. So interesting...as is your book. I enjoyed your story very much!

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    1. Well that's always good to hear. Thanks Rolynn!

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