And she was smokin’!

21 Jan


Hello patient SK fans.


I know. I know. I know. It’s been awhile. We have lots of excuses, but none of them good enough, so we won’t even bother. We’ll just get on with it.


Today, Jan. 21, marks nearly one month since I last blogged, and the anniversary of NYC’s 1908 ban on women smoking in specified public places.


We certainly do not condone smoking, though (and you did NOT hear this from me) My Publicist once took up the filthy habit back when a pack of Marlboro Lights was less than 75 cents. We know. Smoking is BAD, BAD, BAD. JUST THE WORST!!!! But really, banning only women.


Well, the reason behind this ban was not because the NYC AlderMEN cared dearly about the health of the fairer sex. In fact, an 1897 article in the NYC press declared that smoking – especially after dinner, was optimal for digestion. Who can argue with that?


The law was passed because BIG TIME INFLUENTIAL politician Tim Sullivan, known to suffragettes and feminists as “Little Tim,” fancied himself as one who knew best how others should conduct their lives.


Little Tim declared that witnessing a women light up a fag in the theater, restaurant or some other highfalutin place was “offensive to those who looked on and detrimental to the female character.” We can only guess who “Those who looked on” were.


Little Tim went further to imply that “when it comes to permitting women to smoke in miscellaneous public assemblages, then it is time to call in the police.”


We so agree.


The law did not prevent women, from lighting up in “places frequented by persons with liberal liberties.” I.E., you could smoke your brains out in the corner dive.


The ban was vetoed two weeks later by the Mayor, but not before Katie Mulcahey was fined $5 for lighting up in a place frequented by persons without liberal liberties. She refused to pay. Yay Katie!!! So, she spent a night in jail, a fitting punishment, I must say.


Here are some fun facts about women and cigarettes back at the turn of the 20th century.


  • Only two classes of women were likely to smoke: The High Society and the Low Lives.
  • High Society never bought their own cigarettes. Their husbands, brothers or most likely their servants, would order custom, aromatic trim Turkish butts stamped with their monograms or family crests and tipped in silver and gold. These cost $2.50 for 100 cigarettes.
  • Low Lives paid 5 to 10 cents for a pack of foul-smelling American tobacco, which High Society deemed less healthy than imported nicotine.
  • Women did not smoke much, according to the news of the day. The average female only smoked 100 cigarettes in 10-days.
  • Outside of tobacco salesmen, jewelers were the next to notice the increase in women smokers, as sales of jeweled cigarette cases took off like wildfire.
  • My Pub stopped smoking 30 years ago, after burning a hole in a gorgeous leather skirt. She went onto write about the dangers of smoking – aside from damaging cherished wardrobe must-haves –  which earned her a prestigious award from the American Cancer Society.
  • She has no idea where that award is. It triggers haunting memories.
  • After delivering her acceptance speech in a crowded Harvard University auditorium, she got back to her seat and realized her blouse was unbuttoned in a BAD, BAD, BAD place the entire time she was on the podium.
  • You could say she was smokin’!
  • Sadly, there are photos, but you will NEVER see them.
  • Like “only women” bans, some things are best left in the past.

Thanks for reading and we’ll be back real soon.


xo, LMA


13 Responses to “And she was smokin’!”

  1. liz feltham January 21, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

    Bahahahahahahaha, whatever the reason, good on your Pub for quitting. I’m glad I never took it up because I’d never have the willpower to quit. Are you sure there’s no chance for pictures? And does your Pub have that paper anywhere us admirers of her work can read it? XO

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Hi liz! Don’t know about posting pics. Pubs mother reads this blog after all and the podium shots are kinda racey. I’m glad you had a good laugh. Maybe pub will look back and laugh at this one day xo LMA

  2. roughwighting January 22, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    Fascinating historical info on women and smoking. Never knew this. Fabulous that your publicist quit smoking – no mean feat – but I agree with Liz. For history’s sake, you should post the pictures – it would be a good ‘lesson’ to us all.

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 24, 2015 at 11:49 am #

      Should I uncover the pics stored away in some Rubbermaid container in the Attic somewhere, I may, meanwhile pub never regrets quitting. Truly. Smoking is a disgusting habit. Though she had no trouble giving it up, she feels for those who have trouble kicking the habit, xo LMA

  3. Bruce Thiesen January 22, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    We are all so happy to see more from SK and her pub.

    I don’t want to stir up haunting memories for Pub or anyone else. We are all capable of doing that for ourselves on our own. I suppose Pub is no different. So, if any of those slipped out of the shoe box with the photos, help her put them back in. Tell her she was smokin’ that day long ago on the Harvard podium and that she is still smokin’.

  4. Boomdeeadda January 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Crack me up! Some things that are horrifying at the time, make for great stories in the future. You’ll probably still be laughing at that one at your 95th birthday 😀

    I really can’t imagine why anyone would continue smoking these days. They’re worth a kings ransom and you’re practically a piranha. I see people standing out in the snow at local restaurants and think they must be mad. I actually used to be one of these part time party girl smokers in my youth. About once a month I’d get into them, sharing a pack with a girlfriend, then getting totally ill and swear them off. Until next month, new party, new pack, LOL Young people are very silly aren’t they? I think a smoker will always look way older than a non-smoker too. A lady I knew had a twin sister who smoked. Leeda looked half the age of her twin sister. It was really startling. If good health isn’t enough of an incentive, perhaps vanity will do it for some. LOL Cheers

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 24, 2015 at 11:45 am #

      We like that term ‘part-time party girl smoker.’ It’s a more fitting description. Yes, for both economical and climatic purposes, one has to be crazy to smoke these days. BTW, do you really think we’ll be laughing about the wardrobe malfunction someday? It still feels somewhat traumatic. Sigh. xo LMA

      • Boomdeeadda January 24, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

        Hey, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’re taking life far to serious. I crack myself up on a weekly basis 😀

  5. Boomdeeadda January 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    PS, I laughed when I spotted Princess Leah in your lineup of worldly women in your Header. So fun!

  6. LB January 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    YAY! You’re back!
    I too was a member of the Marlboro smokers club, and clearly I am older than your pub as I used to pay 50 cents!

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 24, 2015 at 11:47 am #

      You’re the one I bummed a cigarette off of when I was down your way. I think we’re closer in age, you got a better deal because you were closer to the tobacco fields. How’s the campaign? xo LMA

  7. The Canadian Cats January 25, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    My grandma must have been rather daring to smoke but then again she smoked in the 30’s. Mom smoked for 45 years and then decided…that was enough, and quit. Of, course, it wasn’t quite that easy but she hasn’t really been tempted. We enjoyed the article…thanks my friend.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Poetry, Inspiration and a platform for Global Issues

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.


Practical Daily Devotions for the Real World

Open the Vox

Jester Wisely


Child of the human condition

Toast and Tea

Express Yourself in Beautifully Webbed Words

Disrupted Physician

The Physician Wellness Movement and Illegitimate Authority: The Need for Revolt and Reconstruction

%d bloggers like this: