Tag Archives: street car

No Fare for the Doll: 1890

Kestner lord fauntleroy doll

JD Kestner porcelain doll. Former Ruby Lane listing.


Innocent Childhood Utterly Disconcerts a Washington Car Conductor.

A rather small girl of perhaps eight summers got on board an F street car the day before yesterday, says the Washington Critic, with a doll thrown over her shoulder as big as a four-year-old child, under the weight of which she positively staggered.

It had on a real little boy’s hat and it was not until the passengers had had time to observe the fixity of its round-eyed stare and the unnatural hue of its porcelain complexion that they realized it was not an actual infant.

It even had on a thick coat for protection against the weather, made in the latest fashion, and its hair hung in golden ringlets over its shoulders.

The little girl seated herself near the forward end of the vehicle and placed the doll beside her in the attitude of looking out of the window, as children do, kneeling upon the seat. Presently the conductor came along for fares and she handed him a single ticket.

“You must pay for your little brother, too, if he is to occupy a seat. That is the rule of this line.”

“But this is not my brother,” replied the small girl, sitting with one hand holding onto the doll, which was still apparently engaged in gazing out of the window.

“Well, he maybe your cousin, for all I know; but yer gotter pay fer him unless you take him on your lap.”

“All right,” said the small girl, philosophically. “I’ll take him.”

And with that she lifted the doll into her lap, so that it faced the conductor, who, after gazing at it for eight seconds by the watch, rushed out upon the platform amid the tittering of the other passengers, and in his agitation, recorded four extra uncalled-for fares.

The little girl got off at Ninth street, the doll over her shoulder, and staggered towards Pennsylvania avenue.

The Evening World [New York NY] 4 June 1890: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Porcelain dolls, particularly the “character dolls” by German firms, were extraordinarily life-like, with their exquisitely-painted complexions, glass eyes, and real eye-lashes. Even a doll-collecting enthusiast like Queen Mary had some difficulty distinguishing life from art.

Boy Like Doll Surprises Queen.

London, March 6. A boy she mistook for a doll gave Queen Mary a surprise at the British Industrial Fair. Six-year-old Basil Stoddart was dressed in white shirt and Highland kilt and told to stand at attention when Queen Mary came along. He stood for 10 minutes, so immobile he fooled her Majesty. Then she said: “Oh, I am sorry. I thought you were a little doll.” Said the “doll” politely but firmly, “No, I am Basil.”

The Ottawa [Ontario Canada] Journal 7 April 1939: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Kissing Bug Incident: 1899

Mrs Daffodil has been alerted by the Two Nerdy History Girls that today is National Kissing Day and was reminded of this


A Young Kindly Disposed Man’s Recompense for Gallantry on a Street Car

A young man wearing a blue linen suit walked with a perceptible limp into a Canal Street cigar store a few nights ago and carefully examined his reflection in the mirror above the lighter. A purple circle surrounded his left eye, his lips were slightly swollen and there was a strip of sticking plaster on the bridge of his nose. “Why, hello, Charley!” exclaimed a friend at the counter. “Watevy’ been up’gainst?” “Been up against a kissing bug,” replied the young man, gloomily. “A kissing bug!” said the friend, in surprise. “Why, I didn’t know a kissing bug would mangle a fellow like that!” “The bug didn’t exactly do the mangling,” responded the victim, “but it’s responsible all the same. It happened like this,” he continued: “Last night I was standing on the street corner waiting for a car, when I noticed a horrible-looking bug crawling up a lady’s shoulder. I knew right away what it was, and saw that I’d have to act quick and explain afterward, so I reached over with a folded newspaper and hit Mr. Bug a swipe that knocked him into the next precinct. As I did so I grazed the lady’s ear, and, not knowing that I had just saved her life, she let out a terrible screech. ‘How dare you slap me with that paper?’ says she, mad as fury. ‘Excuse me, miss,’ says I, ‘but I’ve—‘ ‘Don’t you dare to speak to me!’ says she, and at that up rushed a big two-fisted chap and grabbed me by the coat. ‘Did you strike that lady with your paper?’ says he, all out of breath. ‘Very lightly,’ says I, and before I could get another word out he gave me these pretty decorations. ‘Now, you g’wan,’ he says, when I picked myself up, ‘and don’t let me hear a word from you, or I’ll have you run in for insulting ladies on the street.’

“Well, what could I do? I knew if I got arrested nobody would believe my story, and I would be ruined forever. If I tried to explain I was certain of another thumping. So I simply sneaked off with murder in my heart and blood all over my new 75-cent necktie. That’s what a man gets for performing a heroic act and saving a human life. Next time I see a kissing bug making a beeline for a lady’s lips he can go right ahead on his mission of crime. I wouldn’t molest him for two quarts of diamonds.”

Daily Herald [Biloxi, MS] 16 December 16 1899: p. 2 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “kissing bug” was the mystery insect sensation of 1899. The epidemic began in June with reports from Washington DC and quickly spread up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. The odd part was that nobody actually saw the insect, only experienced the painful bites which made the victim’s lips swell. There were many theories: the bug was a common bed bug, it was an assassin bug, it was a kind of super bed-bug, it was a sign of the impending Apocalypse. Amateur disease hunters captured all types of insects that they believed to be the kissing bug.  But by early August, the true origin of the kissing bug was “revealed.” 


Originated in the Brain of a Washington Newspaper Man

The kissing bug is a myth. There is no such creature in existence as the much advertised melanolestes picipes. [Not true—there really is an assassin bug with that nomenclature.] The whole thing is a hoax, started by some bright young newspaper men in Washington when there was a scarcity of real news, and swallowed by the gullible public as many a hoax has been before and will be hereafter. The Washington boys started the yarn as a hot weather fake to relieve the tedium of a summer with no congress in session, and the enterprise of journalism did the rest. Pictures of the mysterious bug have been published, and telegraphic dispatches have told of its serious and occasionally fatal, ravages. And now the truth is out, and the public will have to laugh away its discomfiture at having been fooled again.

A Washington correspondent of the Pittsburg Dispatch tells the origin of the kissing bug, but probably the exposure of the hoax will travel neither as far nor as fast as the hoax itself and many people will continue to live in mortal terror of the winged osculator.

It was in the early part of June that the wonderful creature was first heard of. At that time many complaints were made with sore and swollen lips, and it is not hard for a newspaper man to exaggerate the swelling and make it any size desirable. The victims presented to the reading public by the originators of the yarn in Washington were unknown, and perhaps fictitious, colored persons. The story being well established in the national capital, it was pushed northward by the gentlemen in the conspiracy. The boys of Baltimore threatened to stop the fun, however. They would have none of it; knowing it to be a fake, and the kissing bug did not invade Baltimore and create hysterics there. The Washingtonians says that the newspaper men of Baltimore are entirely too conscientious for this world. The kissing bug, however, extended itself and carried its devastations northward into New Jersey and to Philadelphia and New York, and has worked into New England. The summer resorts have seen it. A supposed specimen or two has even been captured in this city and doctors have diagnosed its “kisses.” And now the bottom drops out of the whole hoax, and everybody will proceed to laugh. It was time to crash the kissing bug. He was making people nervous, and his effect was especially bad on hysterical women. The whole thing shows the power of journalism, and while all journalists may not be proud of this illustration of their power, it is to be wished that the press were never used for a worse purpose. Concord Evening Monitor.Omaha [NE] World Herald 6 August 1899: p. 18