Scandal!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Autobiography Of An Unimportant Person by Minnette Slayback Carper was published in 1937 and provides a picture of everyday life in late 19th century St. Louis. Minnette, pictured above, was born in St. Louis in 1868 and lived there until 1902. Her autobiography was based upon the diary that she had kept since 1870.

In April of 1888, the young Minnette Slayback met a "gentleman" of dubious morals who proposed a rather scandalous outing. "...(That) evening Paul Rossire, a friend of Talbot Simpson's came to call, with a letter of introduction," she wrote. "He was a very handsome chap, - startlingly good-looking, with very black hair and beard, and beautiful teeth that enhanced a humorous smile. Devoted to singing, and playing the piano; brought me a box of candy - quite astonished us by wanting us to go to the base-ball game. We did not know any women who went to a base-ball park! We would have to ask Mama."

There is no record in the autobiography of whether or not she took Mr. Rossire up on his offer. Given the shocked tone of the diary's entry, it's unlikely that Mr. Rossire ever got to first base with Minnette. One would have to assume that he struck out with the fetching Miss Slayback.

In all seriousness, Minnette Slayback Carper was a member of a rather wealthy and prominent St. Louis family. Her statement about not knowing any women who went to baseball games says more about her upper class, Victorian upbringing than it does about the popularity of baseball among 19th century women in general.

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