Countess Josephine

An Island Francophile with British roots rolled together with solid Americana, garnished with Asian/African heritage and a whisper of the Mediterranean, I love to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Throwing some Sunshine your way - Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coney Island - 1890

June 9, 1890

Brooklyn, NY



Dearest Diary,


I know I haven’t written in a couple of days but, I had the most exciting day of my 19 years. Today was the most pleasurable, most enjoyable and best of all - the most forbidden. Father was very agitated, no angry with me when I returned home, but I didn't care. Nothing could remove me from this state of nirvana and well, it was certainly worthy of the punishment he has prepared. After all who needs new dresses from Madame Buzenet of Paris anyway. Except maybe my younger twin sisters Theodora and Octavia. When we lived in London, they would never tire of the most mundane trips to Paris for latest in silk evening toilettes. I suppose it is only natural for them since the ball invitations have started arriving and New York City has so many possibilities for shopping. I absolutely have no mind for it right now.


So as I recall, a couple of days ago, I mentioned to Father of the CI&B's (Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad) plans to electrified the horsecar using trolley wire sometime this week. It sounded most exciting and adventurous. Announced in all the newspapers, the Brooklyn Eagle, the New York Evening Post and the Times, I merely suggested that we aught to witness this semi-inaugural event. But Father just peered up and over his tortoise rim glasses and from his dutiful labor at of the household accounting and made it quite clear that this mishmash was absolutely no concern of mine. It was unheard of and his face told me he was thinking that coming to America caused his children to go mad.


Being a young lady and all, I should be concentrating on my lessons, especially since it was costing him a fortune. How else will you retain the eye of your bethrode, he pointed out. He is of a prominent French family living in your beloved London and a proper gentleman, he went on, and I know he would not stand for all this nonsense of you reading newspapers and the like as well as traipsing around town alone. He then sent me off to practice my flower arranging. Really despicable, in my head I was screaming "I’m not just a girl, I have a brain too!" He continued to mumble under his breath something about being able to converse in a manner of utmost appropriateness.


As I left the room, I could hear him saying to Mother that I will embarrass him in front of the LeCaer family and Claude will mostly likely cancel the wedding. Mother must convince me to behave. He really does believe that I want to marry that awfully pompous cad. I mean honestly he and Mother selected this so called gentleman, whom by the way is always more interested in speaking with my sister Octavia. I am so uninterested and I hate being the oldest and having to set an example.


It is interesting though that Father had so much to say today, since he seldom does. Well today, I took the trolley from Prospect Park to Coney Island. Ohhh, what fun it was to feel liberated on the fast trolley car. Everyone stared at me with that "how indecent" look, but I didn't care. I felt, if I was old enough to marry I must be old enough to go out sans chaperon. I wore my favorite day dress; you know the one with the emerald silk ribbon laces, so avant-garde. Well, I went straight out to the carousel to have a ride, but had no money to purchase a ticket. Disappointed, I thought why waste a good day and headed towards the beach.


As I passed the carousel, the attendant showed me a small sign posted next to the ticket booth. It said, “catch the brass ring, win a free ride”. I missed. Disappointment again. The attendant shrugged his shoulders. A young man strode up next to me, tipped his hat and bought one ticket. With a sparkle in his hazel eyes, he handed it to me and walked away. Before I could respond to this kindness, the carousel operator motioned me to hurry for the next ride. I happily handed him my ticket and sat on the bench looking around. I really wanted to ride on one of the horses side saddle, but honestly I knew my bustle would get in the way. Always a lady. The ride came to a dizzying end and I looked around for my benefactor. He was no where to be found. I asked the booth attendant if he knew who this gentleman was, but he just fained amnesia.


I took the trolley car back to Prospect Park never to say thank you for such an unselfish act. Upon returning home, as I mentioned, I listened to my Father and then my Mother chastise me sternly. They reminded me of my priorities and manners. But to tell the truth, I cannot remember anything but the guilty pleasures of today, my good fortune and those bright dancing eyes.


Lovingly yours and missing London,

Josephine Walpole Snow

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