Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snakes and Brothels

Sewing machine from Eaton's catalogue, 1909.

Yesterday I spent more time looking at the Montreal Gazettes from the 1910 archived online and, boy, what fun.

Now, I have decided that two or three more installments will end this part of Flo in the City: I will end with a scene with brother Herb, in a Montreal brothel. So the first chapter begins on the verandah of a respectable street in the town of Richmond and ends at de Bullion Street. That is quite reasonable, as this parallels the trek of many a young girl.

I found some scintillating information in the newspapers, about the efforts being made to clean up the de Bullion Street, which wasn't too far from where Marion had her new digs. Christian socialism, they called it, which was better than the other socialism. As a speaker put it, Christian socialists tell the poor "What is mine is thine." And those other socialists tell the poor "What is thine is mine." I don't think The Nicholsons would have agreed. They were religious, but also considered themselves 'the working class.'

I found so much info, last might, my head is spinning. One VERY interesting tidbit. I found a Sherbrooke Record for 1910 that revealed that there was a great need for teachers in the Eastern Townships, in 1910, but they had to have a diploma. Not that they were getting great pay...25 dollars a month, compared to the 50 Marion was getting in the city...But Edith couldn't apply, she had no diploma.

I also found out a great deal about Dominion Park, all about the acts and such. It half burned down in November 1907, but seemed to be going strong again in 1908. On Victoria Day 1909 they had a huge crowd, 30 thousand the paper says. So I will have Marion visit on that day! Apparently, the place had an act where a man wrestles with snakes in water. I think I will include that scene. What is that famous sculpture, Lacoon or something? It's all very archetypal and sensual. Flo sees the archer at Wellsley and is riveted. Marion will see this man...I looked it up...It's Laocoon, a Trojan Priest killed by sea snakes sent by Zeus. Well, if the image of that statue has stayed in my head since I was in my 20's, taking art history at McGill, Marion can get the image stuck in her head!! One thing I learned in that class, snakes are a symbol of femaleness, not maleness. Hence Medusa. I think that was mentioned in that lesson about Laocoon. It's easy to see why, if you look at the baroque style statue in the Vatican museum.