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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
a greater license of demeanor; they sit, drink and
chat familiarly with the frequenters always with
an eye to stimulating demands for liquor, which,
if spirituous, proves to be of unusually bad quality.
Like those previously described, they vary in phy-
siognomy from positive beauty to downright
ugliness.  There are girls fat and girls lean, girls
dirty and girls clean, girls with dark hair, light
hair, thick hair, scanty hair, wild hair, curly hair,
hair in braids and tails and tendrils, and no-hair-
to-speak-of altogether; girls in blue, in red, in
scarlet, in yellow, in green, in dresses like bed-
ticking; in wreaths, in bows, in ribbons, in flowers,
in rouge, in pearl-powder, in whiting the three
last-mentioned articles being especially promi-
nent.  Two sisters are the belles of the establish-
ment, one of whom is more than pretty.  The
average conversational ability of the young ladies
in general appears to be limited to common-
places, pertnesses, and vulgar iterations of the 
dreariest and most melancholy description.
  Listening and wondering what extraordinary
hallucination or perversity of taste could induce
the frequenters of the place to find any pleasure
in their society, we overheard one of them an
obese female and Balmoral boots and a dress re-
sembling pink blotting paper with ink-spots sprin-
kled over its surface engaged in conversation
with a dissipated-looking young fellow, about ten
years her junior, inquire  whether he didn t
want a private box?    What for?  he inquired.
The answer was suggestive:  To have some
fun.   Furthermore, for a bonus of $10 (!) she
proposed to secure to him the felicity of an in-
troduction to one of the female dancers.
  The stage entertainments of the Melodeon com-
prise the usual variety of ballet-dancing, singing, 
posturing, juggling and minstrel buffoonery; also
an exceedingly gross Irish comic vocalist, whose
speedy suppression, as well as that of his pictorial
effigy from the dead walls of the city, would be a
public benefit.  The establishment (which en-
gages  none but stars ) also advertises the 
speedy appearance of a lady  the range of whose
voice is greater than any vocalist (sic) in Ameri-
ca,  who  sings from her soul and moulds the
soulds of her hearers to her will  which, if it be
at all like the will of her probably hearers, must,
we opine, be a very base one.
  This, a second-rate and comparatively smaller
concert-hall than the two described, is on the
other side of Broadway, No. 616, adjacent to Hous-
ton street, on a block prolific of such places.  The
payment of ten cents secures admission and a

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
drink, ten more the limited privilege of an  or-
chestra-seat.   Its proprietors publish a weekly
bill of entertainment, duly printed by the Herald.
  The hall is a long and rather narrow room
with the usual bar on one side of the entrance;
its walls ornamented with paper of a theatrical
pattern; its area containing rows of transverse
seats, the back of each being accommodated with
a sort of wooden gutter to hold the drinking
utensils.  Owing to the moderate price, the place
is generally crowded, especially on a Saturday
night so much so, indeed, that a cluster of spec-
tators generally remains standing in the vicinity
of the bar, looking over the heads of those seated
at what is going on in front of the one set scene
on the small stage.
  There are here about a dozen female waiters,
mostly coarse-looking girls, who walk to and fro
with a defiant swing and swagger, drink, smoke
cigars, talk and sit with the audience at pleasure,
no apparent restriction with respect to time being
placed upon them; for we remarked one who
sat with her waist comfortably encircled by a
man s arm for at least half an hour.  As another
illustration of their free and easy behavior we
may mention an incident.
  There came in, during our visit, a rather drunken
Zouave, the tassel of whose skull-cap being play-
fully twitched by one of the attendant damsels,
induced him to attempt  humors of revenge  by
incontinently kissing her.  This was resisted on
her part, first by striking him in the face with her
waiter, then by discharging that article as a mis-
sile at his head.  The intention was unmistak-
able, the aim indifferent.  In the words of the
young lady, when relating the incident subse-
quently,  the waiter hit another feller over the
snoot  whereupon something of a row ensued.
The ticket-seller espousing the cause of the in-
jured gentleman, the young lady requested him to
go to Pandemonium, following up that remark by
a personal assault terminated at length by the
interference of the bar-men, by whose efforts peace
was presently restored.
  The feature of the evening s entertainment
seemed to be the performance of a certain  Miss
Louise, the wonderful Lady Drummer, who made
such a SENSATION TEN YEARS AGO as a child (sic
in bill), and more recently in Europe, where she
was honored (like Mrs. Jarley s wax work) with
the presence and approval of the Nobility and
Crowned Heads, and now returns to her native land
in the blushing bud of lovely womanhood, to en-
trance her hearers as much by her beauty as by
her wonderful powers on the DRUM.   Of this
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen: page one hundred and twenty-nine
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn regarding various concert saloons in New York.
Subject:Brothels; Clothing and dress; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Louise, Miss; Melodeon (New York, N.Y.); New York evening post.; New York herald.; Novelty (New York, N.Y.); Theater; Women
Coverage (City/State):[New York, New York]
Coverage (Street):616 Broadway; Houston Street
Scan Date:2010-06-14


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of the scene in New York at the commencement of the Civil War, his visits to military camps in and around New York City as a reporter for ""The New York Evening Post,"" boarding house life, the shooting of Sergeant Davenport by Captain Fitz James O'Brien for insubordination, and Frank Bellew's marital troubles.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Military; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.