Thursday, July 15, 2010
When ‘respectable’ employment garnered women one or two dollars a week and even low-end whoring fetched twenty to thirty dollars, some turned to part-time prostitution to supplement abysmal wages...(Certain estimates suggest that perhaps 5 to 10 percent of all women between the ages of fifteen and thirty prostituted themselves at some point.)
The word ‘hooker’ may come from fishing, as in you catch a fish and reel it in. One mid-19th century painting, called “Hooking a Victim,” shows a prostitute pointing out to a would-be customer where she worked (the brothel, alley etc.), hoping that he would take her arm to seal the deal (and the deal was the point because prostitution paid).
There are a number of mid-nineteenth century references to Corlear’s Hook, the New York neighborhood of choice for ‘strumpets,’ ‘sailor’s trulls’ and an ungodly assortment of ‘houses of ill fame.’
“At Corlear’s Hook, adjacent to the shipyards, coal dumps, and iron works, droves of streetwalkers brazenly solicited industrial workers, sailors, and Brooklyn ferry commuters. So notorious was the Hook’s reputation as a site for prostitution that...local sex workers were nicknamed “Hookers,” generating a new moniker for the entire trade.” 1
Early 19th century Americans viewed hookers as “fallen women” forced by strained financial circumstances and/or unstable homes to turn to prostitution in order to survive. Some women did all right for themselves and worked for “better” houses, particularly women who were virgins before they “fell,” but most women—including Walt Whitman’s sister-in-law—had to ply their trade in the saloons, cigar stores, dance halls or streets of the town. Their average age was twenty-three.
But money alone couldn’t account for the mid-19th century expansion of the trade:
Hard times could not be the main factor creating the boom in prostitution for 1861-1865. Rather it was the mobilization of rival national armies which was the greatest casual factor...the Civil War was the primary cause of the largest increase in the sex trade in the nineteenth century, perhaps the single greatest spurt of growth in our nation’s history.
Civil War prostitution gave rise to any number of euphemisms that speak to the morality of the times. In addition to the courtesans and mistresses there were: horizontal refreshment; riding the Dutch girl; waiter girls; femmes de pavé, femmes du monde; filles de joie; fallen angels, daughters of eve, gay young ducks, public women, painted Jezebels and unclean birds. The cities they gravitated to were: sordid places, pestiferous holes, Sodom and Gomoroah’s and meccas of filth. They appeared whenever and wherever the soldiers did; Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital had more prostitutes than Paris or New Orleans combined, according to one observer, and New York was “the most profligate city in all Christendom,” according to a noted diarist. 2
Women accompanied the soldiers of both armies in the field as well. Some were the wives and daughters of officers, nurses and volunteers in the hastily constructed field hospitals or bona fide cooks and laundresses. But others, commonly called “camp followers,” who often posed as cooks and laundresses (but did little of either), were whores who worked out of tents or abandoned houses. At times the invading Union armies would encounter semi-clothed women who had been with the now retreating rebel army and were ready to welcome their new clients. 3
The situations created by their presence were troubling to officers, who were justifiably concerned about sick leave and venereal disease (an estimated 250,000 Union soldiers suffered from it during the war). Sex could have dire consequences diseases aside: Two Union pickets who had left their posts when they were lured away by lewd ladies were executed for desertion.
In Washington, the Union capital, the prostitute population increased ten-fold over the course of the war in order to meet the city’s rapidly expanding incoming assortment of unattached civilian and military males. By “...1863, the women of the town were as much a feature of the Washington scene as the soldiers themselves,” and government officials were lending a hand by maintaining a list of ‘bawdy houses’ (separating colored and white) and rating each ‘inmate’ best to bad.
“...the densest concentration (of prostitutes) was in the bars and brothels south of Pennsylvania avenue...Police and newspapers called it “Hooker’s Division” because Brigadier General Joseph Hooker had herded many of those business women into the neighborhood so he could better control the off-duty doings of his command when they were stationed nearby.”
Tall and good-looking Hooker, who was known as “Fighting Joe Hooker,” took his red-light district with him when he was in the bush: His HQ was “a place no self-respecting man likes to go and no decent woman could go. It was a combination barroom and brothel.”
Bruce Catton, one of the top four go-to Civil War historians cleared up the confusion concerning “Fighting Joe’s” relationship with the word’s origins:
That business about Joe Hooker and the soiled droves of...Washington pops up every so often...the term ‘hooker’ did not originate during the Civil War, but it certainly became popular then, During the war years, Washington developed a large and segregated district...This became known as Hooker’s Division in tribute to the proclivities of General Hooker and the name has stuck ever since. 4
It was downhill from there. Added to his much-deserved reputation for gambling, drinking, and whoring was hopelessly unwarranted cockiness and scheming against his fellow officers, including his friend General Ambrose Burnside (see SIDEBURNS). Abraham Lincoln appointed him Commander of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that his plain spoken and profound advice would mitigate Joe’s overconfidence and sculpt him into the victorious general that he so desperately needed. It was not to be. At Chancellorsville Hooker, up against Robert E. Lee “...gave up the initiative to the boldest of gambles in this deadliest of games,” resulting in a humiliating defeat. On the eve of what would prove to be the pivotal battle of the war, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Hooker was relieved of command at his own request—a move that quite possibly preserved this nation.
By 1864 General Hooker was “red-faced...with a lack-lustre eye and an uncertainty of gait and carriage that suggested a used up man.”
Ironically though, a year later he led the long funeral procession to Oak Ridge Cemetery, where President Lincoln was buried.
1 The ever affable Mencken offers his two cents in an article entitled “Prostitutes and Criminal Argots”: “...prostitutes are so stupid and so little group-conscious that they never developed the technical vocabulary which characterizes other groups,” which is, let’s face it, not a nice thing to say about anyone’s argots.
2 who adds: “No one can walk the length of Broadway without meeting some hideous troops of ragged girls, from twelve-years-old down, brutalized already beyond recognition by premature vice, clad in filthy rag pickers’ collections, obscene of speech, the stamp of childhood gone from their faces, hurrying along with harsh laughter and foulness on their lips that some of them have learned by rote yet too young to understand it; with thief written on their cunning eyes and whore on their depraved faces.”
3 Some whores, like Annie Jones, practiced a more sophisticated form of prostitution. A Massachusetts orphan, she ran away, then approached Dorothea Dix, asking for work. Dorothea Dix turned her down (see CO-ED); she didn’t want nurses who were young or pretty (and seventeen-year-old Annie was both). Annie then traveled with the New York 135th and lived with a number of high-ranking officers (possibly including notorious Confederate Major John Singleton Mosby and probably including Union General George Armstrong Custer, who said that she had approached him for a position as a nurse, but he asked her to leave). As fate would have it though, a jilted general falsely accusing Annie of being a southern spy and landed her in jail (this was war time). The jail released her. She violated parole, returned to jail, got released again and all-but disappeared from history (the ‘but’ being an unconfirmed report that she ended up as a nurse in Vicksburg).
4 The other three go-to historians are: Allan Nevins, Shelby Foote and James McPherson.
Boatner, Mark; The Civil War Dictionary.
Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace; Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.
Clinton, Catherine; Public Women and the Confederacy.
Donald, David Herbert; Lincoln.
Foote, Shelby; The Civil War, Volumes I–III.
Furguson, Ernest B.; Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War.
Leech, Margaret; Reveille in Washington.
Lowry, Thomas; The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War.
Mencken, H.L.; The American Language: Supplement Two.
Massey, Mary Elizabeth; Bonnet Brigades: American Women in the Civil War.
McPherson, James; Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.
Smith, Page; Trial By Fire: A People’s History of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Volume 5.
Williams, David; A People’s History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom.
Topping, Elizabeth A.; What’s a Poor Girl To Do?: Prostitution in Mid-Nineteenth Century America.
Wiley, Bell Irvin; The Life of Billy Yank.
Winik, Jay; April 1865: The Month That Saved America.
“When respectable...” Burrows, 483
“At Corlear's hook...” Burrows, 484
“prostitutes are...” Mencken, 282
“Hard times...” Clinton, 9
“no one can walk...” Williams
“…1863, the women…” Leech, 260
“…the densest concentration...” Furguson, 207
“That business...” Morris, 295
“…red-faced...” Boatner, 409
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Thursday, July 1, 2010
By 1924 Caesar’s Place was the place of choice for Hollywood types who wanted to get out from under those lights and have a drink or two with their dinner.
What it was that prompted Caesar to invent his now famous salad is unclear, and as with almost all recipes/inventions/ideas subject to copyright, there are some disputes to Caesar’s claims to fatherhood (see DIXIE). His brother, Alessandro (a.k.a. Alex), and an Italian chef in Chicago said that they beat Caesar to the punch. The third story making the rounds is that Caesar stole the idea from one of his waiters.
Caesar’s methodology, however, is beyond dispute. First he washed uncut romaine lettuce leaves and put them in a plastic bag, which was placed in the fridge along with the plate the salad would be served on. Then he made the garlic-flavored croutons and combined the dressings:
or Romano cheese
Italian olive oil
Salt and pepper
The dish was tossed tableside with the leaves fanned out around it so that it could be eaten with the fingers and served as an entrée.
One satisfied customer was the queen herself, Julia Child, who went there when she was a child:
I was 10 or 12-years-old and my parents were so excited eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. An egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.
One thing was for certain: Soon Caesar’s creation was making the rounds, as the following article makes clear:
Nevada State Journal
“Broadway and Elsewhere”
Stomachs, start drooling. The Caesar Salad, which Mike Romanoff’ll let you have at a sacrifice—only 2 bucks—is glorified garlic. It’s garlic with glamour. The first time I heard of a 2-buck salad, I wanted to render under Caesar what was Caesar’s—a big, loud raspberry. Then my beautiful wife, Rosemary, pointed out that it was an aristocrat of foods. Like stone crabs in Miami, Oysters Rockefeller in New Orleans, lobsters in Boston, cream cheese and bagels in New York.
By the end of the decade, Manhattan restaurants were onto it; it was “in,” and the rest was, as they say, history.
In 1935 Caesar, his wife Camille and seven-year-old daughter Rose Maria moved to LA, where he opened a gourmet food store and concentrated on marketing his salad dressing (helped by Rosa who went with her father to the LA Farmer’s Market, where they sold his salad dressing from the back of the station wagon). In 1948 he patented “Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing,” and in 1953 the International Society of Epicures in Paris named his salad dressing “the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.”
In 1988 she sold the company and that company was bought by a corporation whose website today says:
After 84 years, the creator of the Caesar Salad needs a makeover. Cardini’s Salad Dressing recently underwent a label re-design and is proud to introduce 3 new flavors, Light Balsamic Vinaigrette, Light Greek Vinaigrette, and Light Caesar Vinaigrette. Look for Cardini’s in the specialty dressing section of your supermarket. Available in thirteen varieties.
Solomon H. Katz; Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
“I was….”; the New York Times, March 7, 2001
“After 84 years…”; T. Marzetti Company Press Release
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