Thursday, September 19, 1889

Thursday the 19th.

We took the children today to the Exposition to see the dolls, and you never can imagine their excitement and enthusiasm. The dolls were the most fascinating things that ever were seen. Hundreds of them from my size down to [Ed. note: unknown word has been erased] tiny babies, all dressed in the height of Parisian fashion. They were all in large glass cases posed in every posture and position, some swinging in hammocks, others riding bycicles, promenading, fanning themselves etc. One case particularly attracted our admiration. A large octagonal glass case, representing a Theatre or summer garden,a Punch and Judy just like Louis Palmer’s for the stage and miniature trees all about especially around the stage. The trees were filled with boy dolls who had evidently gotten in without paying. The miniature benches were filled with ladies and gentlemen dolls, and in the rear the audience standing up, all evidently in the gayest state of hilarity and mirth, clapping their hands, nodding at each other. The dowagers fanning themselves and the gentlemen cheering with their canes. The costumes were of the most elegant brocades, laces and feathers. Hats large enough for real children and all as fine as we would pay in America $10 or $15 for, so you can imagine a little about what they were. No description, however, can give you the least idea of the beauty and extravagance of these little creatures. They were so life like, dressed in such perfect taste. Some with high coffures, some with long curls down their backs. Another case contained a large number of dolls in the Louis XV1 costumes. One doll as large as a child was crying, great tears rolling down its face, so real that everyone in passing involuntarily exclaimed “poor thing”. It took nearly all the afternoon to see them, and we left the Exposition rounds at hal fpast five, only to wait nearly an hour before getting a conveyance, and then walking nearly halfway home. There are not half enough conveyances to and from the grounds to accommodate the thousands, and the street car system is so miserable that there is always a perfect mob of people rushing after each car waiting for their number which they get on a ticket, previously in a stand. The conductor howls in french, the numbers, and you have no idea in which tramway you belong, so you rush into the crowd, after every car you meet, hoping it is the one your number calls for. Tonight, we rushed into the crowd after four cars and finally reached home at half past seven. Such abominable arrangements these Europeans have for travel is enough to disgust one with everything were it not for the beautiful things in other respects they have to offer us.

The crowds at the Exposition do not diminish.

[While I am not sure, it appears that Addie’s reference to Louis Palmer’s Punch and Judy show may be a reference to Lew Palmer, who performed a Punch and Judy show at a number of American theaters in the 1890’s and the first years of the 20th century, including in the Midwest. While my source, p. 193 of Ryan Howard’s Punch and Judy in 19th Century America: A History and Biographical Dictionary (McFarland, 2013), does not include any references in the 1880’s, if this is the same person he must have been performing by 1889 for Addie to know about him. The book focuses on the tremendous rise in popularity of Punch and Judy shows in 19th-century America, allowing Addie to understand the French reference.]

[I tried to locate a photograph of the doll exhibition, but after 20 minutes of web searching I gave up for now.]

[Addie is here using “conveyance” as per the following definition from the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary: “2. The instrument or means of carrying or transporting anything from place to place; the vehicle in which, or means by which, anything is carried from one place to another; as, stagecoaches, omnibuses, etc., are conveyances; a canal or aqueduct is a conveyance for water.”

 

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