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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, November 11, 1935, Image 10

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“Sob Sister” Revealed as
Writer of Tragic Tale
of Widow.
By the Associated Press.
A bizarre tale of a newspaper
Woman who flitted in and out of the
Civil War White House and wrote
the inside story of an effort by Mary
Todd Lincoln to sell secretly the rich
. clothes she had worn as first lady
Was unrolled yesterday by researchers.
David Rankin Barbee, a close stu
dent of that period, has found evi
dence that Jane Swisshelm, Washing
ton's trail-blazing newspaper woman,
wrote the book “Behind the Scenes”
Which set the Capital agog in 1869.
On its title page, the book was at
tributed to Elizabeth Keckley, a col
ored modiste, “Thirty Years a Slave,
gnd Four Years in the White House."
V. Vola Parma, curator of the rare
book room at the Congressional Li
brary, called the discovery “a truly
ligniflcant contribution to Lincoln
Has Jane s Autobiography.
Parma now cherishes Jane’s auto
biography. ‘'Half a Century,” written
years later, alongside the Mme. Keck
ley book—and the two dovetail as
Closely as the grain of the wood in
the Lindbergh ladder was said by the
expert to match the attic board.
Barbee said he was browsing in old
Civil War newspapers in the library
when he ran across a description of
the Congressional Galleries wherein
George Alfred Townsend, a corre
spondent who knew the Capital, men
tioned among those present ‘‘Jane
6wisshelm, the author of the Mme.
Keckley book.”
Further research convinced him
Townsend was right.
The book told the inside story of
Mary Todd Lincoln's last tragic days
In the White House; of the $27,000
•tore bill she had piled up as first
lady, all unbeknown to her hus
band; of her incognito trip to New
York in her tragically impecunious
widowhood, for that sensational and
futile attempt to raise money by sell
ing the clothes she had worn in the
White House.
The ex-slave cloak about the author
was received with ribaldry at the time.
Parma showed a lampoon on it titled
"Betsy Kickley's ‘Behind the Seams.’ "
Read in the light of the Barbee
discovery, the ill-starred gown-ped
ding exploit logically became just an
other manifestation of Jane's journal
istic enterprise.
She was the able abolitionist sob
•ister, writing with a woman’s rights’
elant, who first crashed the Senate
press gallery in 1859, sitting there for
one day only as a stunt for Horace
Greeley’s New York Tribune.
‘‘I became interested in Mrs.
6wisshelm's work through my research
Into the death of Lincoln.” said Bar
bee. who has piled up 2,000,000 words
of notes on that single subject.
Fraises Her writing.
"She wrote the best piece of de
scriptive journalism done on the
Bootl} trial. Beautiful writing! Both
she and the author of the Olivia let
ters had the confidence of the im
portant men in the Republican party
of their day. They had no secrets
from them. No woman writing now
In Washington follows the same tech
nique that they did."
Barbee said his researches had con
vinced him there was "no such per
son at all” as Elizabeth Keckley. Jane,
In her utter devotion to the anti
slavery cause, invented an ex-slave
who made Mrs. Lincoln’s dresses.
Jane herself had been a dressmaker.
Jane’s book told how she started
dressmaking to support herself and
husband in Louisville, Ky. Mme.
Keckley told how she made dresses to
support herself and husband, in St.
Louis, Mo. There were lots of little
coincidences like that.
Jane told how Mrs. Lincoln took a
fancy to her at first sight, when her
own attention was centered on pity
lor a handshaking President at a big
White House reception.
“May the Lord have pity on you,
my poor man,” said Jane to Lincoln.
“For the people have none.”
Mme. Keckley was so Impressed
by this same presidential phenome
non that.she begged from Mrs. Lin
coln the glove from his right hand,
soiled by the shakes of the second in
augural; later begged the very blood
stained opera cloak in which he was
shot—and gave them both to a col
ored bishop to be shown in Europe to
gain funds for a colored college.
* Leave Washington, daily at 1:50
P.M. and 2:40 A.M. for the Car
olinas, Georgia and Florida re
* aorts.
Leave Washington, daily at 1:50
P.M. and 10:40 P.M. for Athens,
Atlanta and Birmingham.
These trains have coaches, sleep
ing, dining, lounge cars.
relumes daily service December 42.
' For information nnd reservations
consult your local ticket agent or
714 14th St., N. W. Washing ten, D. C,
Ttl. National 0637-31
Washington Wayside
Random Observations of Interesting
Events and Things.
EMEMBER the size turkeys
people used to have at Thanks
giving 40 years ago?
They were great, big 30
pounders and were cooked, in a great,
big oven that exuded lovely fumes
of roast turkey throughout the house.
Well—times have changed. Even
if the wife could be persuaded to buy
one of those mammoths of the fowl
yard you couldn’t cook it in the aver
age kitchen stove nowadays. Most
of them will only accommodate one
weighing about 18 pounds.
BUI turkeys Hie suu giuwuig inigc
so the United States Government is
going to do something about that.
Researcli is in progress at the Agri
culture Department's Beltsville farm
to develop a smaller turkey to fit
modern ovens.
* * * *
Some there are who say alcohol
and gasoline do not mix; but there
is advertising evidence in Prince
Georges County that the two do
meet on equal footing. Nailed to
an automobile repair shop at
Largo this sign was noted yester
day: “Whisky, Wine and Beer
Sold in Garage.”
* * * *
A -WAYRARING went a prominent
1 Washington woman. ,
And wayfaring, even in a motor car,
makes one hungry. By the time this
same Washington ••woman reached
Romney, W. Va„ she had decided
nothing would taste quite so good as
a juicy slice of good old country ham.
And right in the ham country, too.
It ought to be good and it ought to
be cheap.
So into a restaurant she went. She
seated herself and took up a menu. A
I steak dinner was 50 cents. Roast beef
j was 50 cents. But ham—yes, lowly
ham—was billed at $1.00 flat. A ham
sandwich even was 30 rents.
| A note affixed to the menu gave in
! explanation putting the blame on the
1 noble experiment of the A. A. A.
Here it is:
I “Country hams are hard to get—
are high priced, and we have to pay
1 a process tax of 4.36. Also have to
j waste the ends and the fat. You
j figure it out.’’
The 4.36 means $4.36 paid Uncle
Sam in a processing levy for each
100 pounds of cured ham.
* * * *
Maybe they’re only kidding, but
the young, irrepressibles in the
press room at headquarters have
written in huge red enamel letters
across the window panes, “Please
Clean These Windows." The Po
lice Department, no doubt, feels
that clean windows would be out
of harmony with the interior deco
ration scheme of the walls and
ceilings as conceived and executed
by the reporters themselves.
* * * *
'T'HE late William A. "Billy’’ Sunday
1 was a wonderful story teller.
During his revival campaign in Wash
| ington many years ago he included
a special address to college students.
i .
To be really successful in life you
must develop great enthusiasm for
your work, he admonished. Be like
the salesman on a street in a Western
city. Standing on a box, he declared:
"Here is the finest soap ever made
in the history of the world. Why.
listen, the other day a farmer bought
one cake of this soap, took it home,
took a bath and his own dog bit him!"
* * * *
There's a sign above a doorway
on the north side of K street, be
tween Vermont avenue and Fif
teenth, that contradicts geography.
In large gold letters the sign says:
"The Panama Canal."
* * * *
'T'HAT old gag about the engineer of
a country railroad stopping the
train to shoot a rabbit was almost
equaled on the Harrisonburg, Va„
branch of the Southern the other day.
A herd of cattle escaped from pens
at a small station not far from Wash
ington and were grazing along the
track when the local came up.
The engineer halted the train, and
the entire crew, conductor and all,
got off and drove the cattle before
the locomotive to the next station
nearly 2 miles away.
* * * *
'T'HAT warning to owners of tropical
1 fish to beware of using spray In
secticides in rooms where fish tanks
are located is not due’to the oil likely
to be deposited on the surface of the
water, but to the same poison used
by South American Indians to stun
their fish instead of catching them
on a hook.
A Washingtonian on an expedition
into the Interior of Ecuador writes
that every Indian along the streams
has a patch of plants from which the
poison is extracted. Lately it has
been adopted as an excellent Insecti
Fish in this area of Ecuador do not
appear to bite on a regular baited
hook. The Indians drop the poison
into the streams. It kills the smaller
fish and stuns the large, which float
on the top and can easily be caught.
The poison does not appear to affect
the edibility of the fish.
Stop Sonny’s
• When your youngster
sneexes, it’s Nature’s warning
that a cold la on the way.
Apply Penetro Drops ancf
give your child prompt re
lief. Famous for th«ir“bal
! a need medication.” 25c, 50c,
1 $1 bottles. At all druggists.
I airisanasset«iwf//
A GOOD head of hair is indeed an asset worth keeping. It is
proof that its owner has sufficient pride in his own per
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More than a quarter-million men have selected The Thomas’
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Perhaps you have been dreaming...doping...antici
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Your own Licensed Master Plumber can arrange the
financing, Kelp you select the 'Standard" Plumbing
Fixtures that suit your purse and purpose, assure you
the skilled workmanship so essential to satisfactory
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'Standard" Distributors are showing a wide variety
of'Standard" Plumbing Fixtures. Visit the nearest
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1823 Arlington Ridgo Rd., Rosslyn, Va.
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long to old age! Laughter and
love belong to youth! And nothing
warms up hands... and hearts, so
much as “young ideas”!
That’s why it means plenty when folks
. * K
• v i !
say, “Light an Old Gold for young ideas!”
It means that the appealing taste of a
smooth Old Gold adds to the joy of living.
It means that Old Gold’s finer tobaccos
(ripened and mellowed by Nature’s sunshine)
gently stimulate young ideas.
Try a pocky and you’ll know what we mean!
^ A,
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^ We GUARANTEE that Old Golds contain
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any price. Only such fine old tobaccos
can give that natural aroma and fra
grance of Old Gold cigarettes.
* A

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