New Phase of the Bloomer Question.
A new phase of the bloomer question is disclosed by the dispatches from San Francisco.
According to these Mrs. Annie Kirk, of that city, has brought suit against Dr. W.A. Atwood, a dentist, for $250 damages because he refused even to examine her teeth after having agreed to put them in good condition. Dr. Atwood offers a decidedly novel defense. He says that when Mrs. Kirk visited his office to have her teeth overhauled she wore bicycle bloomers instead of skirts, and that he therefore declined to have any dealing with her in his professional capacity.
Has such a defense any force?
At first blush — if there are any blushes left in this bloomer age — one would say no. Most assuredly no business or professional man has any right to prescribe any code of dress for his customers — least of all his feminine customers. What concern is it to a man how a woman dresses — unless he pays the bills? What do men know about woman’s dress, anyhow? Whence the arrogance that prompts one dentist to regulate woman’s dress when all male creation could not regulate it if they abandoned everything else and combined in one great fusion for dominating the fashions?
At first blush, therefore, Dr. Atwood’s action in refusing to fill the teeth of Mrs. Kirk because she was not dressed to his liking was preposterous and utterly without justification. But some consideration must be given to the particular style of Mrs. Kirk’s costume. It was bloomers, a garb which defies both classification and justification. No dentist is obliged to fill the teeth of a whang-doodle*, or a jibjib**, or a dodo, and it is questionable if any jury would mulet him in damages for refusing to operate upon bloomers.
Dentistry requires skill and patience and steadiness of nerve, and it is safe to say that with most men a nightmare is hardly less contributive to these than a pair of bloomers.
Mrs. Kirk will doubtless have trouble in winning the suit she has instituted against Dr. Atwood. — Louisville Courier Journal.
Daily Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Sep 13, 1897
*From: A DICTIONARY OF SLANG, JARGON & CANT
Compiled and Edited by Albert Barrere and Charles G. Leland, M.A., Hon. F.RS.L.
The Ballantyne Press 1890
Whang-doodle (American). This eccentric word first appeared in on of the many “Hard-Shell Baptist” sermons which were so common in 1856. “Where the whang-doodle mourneth for her first-born.” It refers to some mystical or mythical creature. It was subsequently applied to political subjects, such as the Free Trade, Lecompton Democracy, &c.
**A “jibjib” is someone who is chatty, loquacious or nonsensical. (I had found an online reference for it, but lost the link and can’t find it again.)
Read about Amelia Bloomer and the Bloomer sensation in my previous post, “Amelia Bloomer, Dress Reform and Bloomers.”
Here is Annie Kirk’s obituary:
Annie S. Kirk
Final rites will be held in Memory Chapel at 2 p.m. tomorrow for Mrs. Annie Summers Kirk, who died Tuesday in a rest home in Fair Oaks, where she had lived for the past two years. Born in Germantown (Philadelphia), Pa., Jan. 21, 1869, she would have been 86 years old in two days from the date of her death.
Mrs. Kirk had lived in Placerville for about 45 years, and for a number of years had made her home on the Kirk ranch on Sacramento Hill. Although in years past she had taken part in social activities in the community, for the past several years she had been inactive due to failing health. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star for 55 years, having transferred from San Francisco to the Fallen Leaf Chapter in her early days of membership. She had received her 50-year pin some time ago.
Although unable to take active part in club work, she was always willing to help financially in the organizations with which she was affiliated. She was a member of the Placerville Shakespeare club for at least 10 years, belonged to the Daughters of the Nile, Sacramento Temple, and was a member of the Episcopal church in Placerville.
Mrs. Kirk was the widow of William S. Kirk who passed away 16 years ago. He has been remembered for having been an early publisher of the Placerville Republican, a daily newspaper, the El Dorado Republican, a weekly, and even earlier, the Nugget. He became the first Ford Motors dealer in El Dorado county and maintained that dealership for many years. When he also attained the Dodge dealership and it conflicted with the Ford policy, he sold that one and retained the Dodge Brothers’ dealership, thus becoming the first Dodge dealer in the county and the founder of the Placerville Auto Co.
In 1938, the year before his death, Mr. and Mrs. Kirk celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary by taking the Shrine Cruise to Honolulu.
Mrs. Kirk is survived by a daughter, Gertrude Cornelison of Clearlake Highlands and Placerville; a granddaughter, Gloria Kirk Smith and two great-grandchildren, Kirk and Belinda Smith of Placerville; her brother William J. Graft, who has lived with her for 16 years; and a number of nieces and nephews in New York and Philadelphia.
Funeral services will be conducted under the direction of Victor Leonardi of the Episcopal church, with the Order of Eastern Star officiating at the cemetery. Burial will be in Union cemetery.
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jan 20, 1955
In researching Annie Kirk, (who seemed to me to be rather progressive or inclined somewhat toward feminism, given the fact that she wore bloomers,) I also ran across some articles about her daughter, Gertrude Kirk. She seems to have taken a bit after her mother. She worked for her father in the newspaper business and also at his car dealership, where she taught customers to drive! AND, she was the first woman to register and vote in El Dorado County. When World War I broke out, she enlisted with the YMCA as a canteen worker and went to Europe to help the war effort, as you can read below:
50 YEARS AGO
OCTOBER 26, 1918
Miss Gertrude Kirk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Kirk of this city, who enlisted three months ago for overseas service, has received her appointment from the Women’s Division for work in the canteen and automobile service in France, and is awaiting her passport from Washington, expecting to leave in three weeks.
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Oct 24, 1968
CANTEEN WORKER: The work primarily involved supporting the soldiers by serving hot coffee and chocolate to the men in the trenches, visiting and writing letters for the wounded, and organizing recreational activities.
From the Biography of Emma Young Dickson
Honor Returned War Workers
Mrs. W.W. Irish entertained several Placerville friends Friday afternoon of last week in honor of Miss Gertrude Kirk and Mrs. Geo. Pavey, lately returned from Europe.
Automobiles called for the ladies early in the afternoon and conveyed them to the beautiful country home of he hostess in Missouri Flat, where the time was spent in needlework, games, ‘Jumbled Cities,’ conversation and reviewing war pictures and relics sent to Mrs. Irish by her sons, Archie and Wilburn, while in the service. Both boys have lately returned from overseas with fine war records.
At 4 o’clock tea was served, after which Miss Kirk and Mrs. Pavey, who were dressed in their uniforms, gave interesting accounts of their canteen work in France and Germany.
Those present: Mesdames B.E. and N.H. Burger, L.M. Leisenring, F.W. Rohlfing, W.S. Kirk, L.J. Dormody, J.H. Snyder, W.W. Irish, Geo. Pavey and Miss Gertrude Kirk.
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Aug 24, 1919
Funeral services for Gertrude Kirk Cornelison, 85 of Placerville were held Tuesday, July 9 at Chapel of the Pines. Father John A. Wright of the Epsicopal Church of Auburn conducted the services. Interment was at Placerville Union Cemetery.
Mrs. Cornelison, a widow, died July 7 at a local convalescent hospital. She was born in Pennsylvania and lived 75 years in California the past 65 years in El Dorado county.
She was a housewife and an active club member in later years. Mrs. Cornelison was a 60 year member of the Order of Eastern Star and a member of the American Legion auxiliary and the Shakespeare club.
Mrs. Cornelison was the first woman to register and vote in El Dorado county. Her parents, the William Kirks, owned the Daily Republican in Placerville where she worked with her father. She also taught new car owners to drive when her father owned the Ford agency. She went overseas during World War I as a member of the YMCA serving in American Expeditionary Forces.
She is survived by a daughter, Gloria K. Smith of Placerville; two grandchildren, Kirk Smith of Washington D.C. and Belinda Foster of Placerville, and one great-grandchild.
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jul 11, 1974
*Look for at leat one future post about canteen workers from WWI.