avfm-holiday-alimony-ornament

Holiday in debtor’s prison – 1930

Robert St. Estephe–Gonzo Historian–is dedicated to uncovering the forgotten past of marginalizing men. “Gonzo journalism” is characterized as tending “to favor style over fact to achieve accuracy.” Yet history – especially “social history” – is written by ideologues who distort and bury facts in order to achieve an agenda. “Gonzo” writing is seen as unorthodox and surprising. Yet, in the 21st century subjectivity, distortion and outright lying in non-fiction writing is the norm. Fraud is the new orthodoxy. Consequently, integrity is the new “transgressive.”

Welcome to the disruptive world of facts, the world of Gonzo History.

•◊•

The term “alimony club,” dating from the late 19th century, was an ironic reference denoting jail, often a special section of same reserved for alimony debtors. As the early Men’s Rights movement developed in the 1920s, the term was sometimes used to describe formal anti-alimony organizations, some which opened offices and published periodicals.

•◊•

Thanksgiving 1930

FULL TEXT: New York, Dec. 12 — Stocks may decline, husbands may lose their jobs and take their place on the bread line, but like the brook, alimony goes on forever. Despite repeated efforts of the famous Alimony Club, through its lawyers to protect the rights of the male, when married, the moan is still “alimony” and it looks as though it would stay there forever.

Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the Alimony Club, known as the little Big House on West 37th Street, New York City, by 33 members – inmates. These men who are unable to pay alimony were truly thankful on the day set apart for universal thanksgiving. They have nice warm beds, plenty of good food and congenial company. They have a yard in which to play the national game. For indoor recreation, all the comforts of modern times— radio included — good time as there was much talent to entertain them.

The gay company consisted of George Walsh, the debonair, devil-may-care pianist of Broadway who held the key to Myrna Darb’s heart for so long. He is a “member” because he couldn’t pay his estranged wife, Josephine Davis, the $5,828 she claims he owes her.

This is the second time George has taken a suite in the “Hotel de Alimony.’ The first time was in 1929, but Josephine relented then and let George out.

He is not the only celebrity gracing Alimony Retreat. There is Luigi Bambosschek, a Metropolitan conductor whose wife stepped in as he was about to start a 20-weeks’ contract with the Met and compelled him to take up his residence in the Alimony “hotel.”

Rather than pay his former wife, Lililan, $3,600 back alimony, Al St. Johns, for 17 years famous as a movie comedian, went to jail in August of 1929 in Los Angeles. The judge said St. Johns could stay on the rockpile until he pays, even if it’s the rest of his natural life. So far as we know he’s still there.

To escape compulsory residence in the famous “hotel” Ned Jacobs, well-known Broadway producer, had to disappear, which made it impossible to serve him with an order to compel an increase of a bond guaranteeing that his wife’s $35 a week alimony is paid. If this bond is not executed Mr. Jacob’s wife can send him to the Alimony Club.

He has married another woman, which makes the former wife still more anxious to collect. Wives have the legal power to make love so expensive that only a very wealthy man can afford to indulge in more than one marital experience. Still there are few wives who will not soften toward their mates if they are willing to hand out a little soft soap.

A few days ago, William P. Ferguson, whose wife had sued him for divorce, found himself in jail for non-payment of alimony.

When she went to see him, Ferguson made love through the jail bars so effectively that her heart melted. She fell in love with him all over again and the divorce motion was dismissed. They are now on a second honeymoon. This is one solution of alimony evil—when the wife isn’t really a gold digger.

But unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any redress for the husband whose wife determines to profit to the full extent of the law, for him nothing remains but “membership” in the Alimony Club until financial conditions permit his meeting the demands imposed on him.

[“Alimony Club Members Give Thanks – Although Residence in “Hotel de Alimony” Is Forced by Wives Seeking Financial Balm, Arduous Love Making Through Bars Brings “Member” Freedom.” Logansport Pharos Tribune (In.), Dec. 23, 1930, p. 9]

***

Christmas 1930

FULL TEXT: Chicago — Alimony row in Cook county’s Bridewell, the meticulously guarded gathering place for matrimony’s bad boys, faces a bleak Christmas. In addition, its president, the small, dark, neat Jimmy Kalcerzzity, was checking out. However, Jimmie had a substitute.

Today’s arrival was Daniel S. Beebe, former president of the Vitrolite company, in for the usual six months because he was $24,800 in arrears in alimony payments. Despite his plea for holiday clemency Mrs. Etta Marker Beebe, his divorced wife, insisted that he be locked up because he had given her but $300 in the last three years.

As a president, Jimmie Kalcerzzity has no place in jail. His environment prohibited his acts from having much effect. For Mr. Kalcerzzity’s administrative duties have to do with the incorporated alimony club, an organization interested in reforming the state laws on that subject.

President Jimmie didn’t have much time to outline the progress of the club today.

“But you might stick around a while,” he said. “My wife could have me sent back right away while I’ve been penned up, my alimony kept climbing. That makes me eligible for another six months.’

~ SHAKE HEADS SADLY ~

Christmas in the county hoosegow is a bleak prospect for all of President Jimmie’s clubmates. Made half-bitter, half-careless by their imprisonment, they shake their heads sadly, not because of themselves, they say, but because of their children. The 40 fathers counted 100 children among them.

“I’m an engineer on the B & O ,” explained Steven Wasilewski. “I’ve got two children by my first wife, and two by my second. The four live with my second wife, and my first wife had me thrown in here because I owed her $600. I can’t pay her off when I’m not earning anything — and here I got four kids and a second wife starving.”

Julius Turowetzky, auto tire dealer, is just starting his six months. “And my wife,” said he, “never did love my three children by my first wife. She has none of her own. And because she wouldn’t care for mine like she promised, I don’t speak to her two years; and even I gave her deeds to my property. But what difference? Rosey had me locked up. Can you imagine it?”

~ NO VISITORS ~

Sign painters, carpenters, clerks, and chefs scrub floors daily, make beds and serve food. During the last year there were 525 additions to the Alimony club. Sometimes they serve out all six months, sometimes less.

Christmas in jail? Yes, and there’ll be the ordinary prison fare — and no visitors.

The prospect is almost too much for Wallie Hendricks, who is very black [“black” refers to “black mood”] and also $400 behind on his ex-wife’s upkeep.

“Christmas in jail?” he murmurs gently. “Oh, I guess I might as well get used to it. I tell you what’s wrong with this alimony business — we shouldn’t ‘a’ got married in the first place.”

[“Bleak Holiday For Bad Boys In Alimony Row – Members of Club in Cook County’s Bridewell Shake Heads Sadly Because of Hundred Children, syndicated (AP), The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wi.), Dec. 20, 1930, p. 17]

***

About Robert St. Estephe

Robert St. Estephe is a deeply repentant former male feminist who has devoted a bit of time to the study of the history of the relations between the sexes. He posts useful historical documents on The Unknown History of Misandry for all to see.

Main Website
View All Posts
  • AVFM seeks app writer volunteer

    Are you an MHRA? Can you write apps for iPhone and Android? Are you willing to do that for AVFM on a special project? Please contact us.

    A Voice for Men seeks a volunteer with solid app writing experience to help us develop an app that will be linked to the AVFM brand. If you have the qualifications and are serious about following through, we would love to hear from you. Your efforts could be of great assistance to this website and to our cause. Please contact Paul Elam at paul@avoiceformen.com for more details...

  • Wikimasters, Editors, Translators, and Writers Wanted *Apply Now*

    Fight Wikipedia censorship! A Voice for Men and WikiMANNia are working to increase knowledge of men's issues through two wikis: the AVfM Reference Wiki for scholarly references, and WikiMANNia for general-interest men's issues. Volunteers needed for writing, proofreading, and organizing. Some knowledge of the German language will be helpful but *not* required.

    Please write to editorial_team@wikimannia.org...

  • http://manamongoaks.com/index.html Ray

    Then as now, Fatherhood is a political prisoner of the corrupt legal system.
    http://tinyurl.com/36xdzn

    • Robert St. Estephe

      But the resistance movement is growing. The Vichy collaborators (white knights and manginas) will be pushed aside and eventually the most corrupt of them will be impeached or arrested, then convicted and sentenced to prison. Yes, it is possible. Sam Adams did it. We can do it.

      • Jay

        Down with the white knights and manginas! Problem is there are so many manginas and feminists out there doing everything possible to stop fairness, and also making mangina porn too. So glad I was never a mangina.

  • feeriker

    I tell you what’s wrong with this alimony business — we shouldn’t ‘a’ got married in the first place.”

    A giant marble or granite tombstone, as tall as the Washington Monument and as wide as Mount Rushmore, needs to be erected somewhere, with this man’s words inscribed across its face in giant, luminescent letters.

    • Robert St. Estephe

      We just keep chipping away at the boated corrupt evil government, bleed it of taxes and ill-gotten loot and after it shrivels to its appropriate size (5% of what it is now, perhaps) we will all be able to afford to chip in and pay for the monuments of our choice.

  • Shortcircuit

    “When she went to see him, Ferguson made love through the jail bars so effectively that her heart melted. She fell in love with him all over again and the divorce motion was dismissed. They are now on a second honeymoon.”

    I hate it when women talk about men like they are animals, but so long as men subject themselves to this kind of thing those women will have a point. Woman decides to dispose of her dog. Sees him in the pound, and the pathetic creature melts her heart with his sad eyes and she takes him home again. Then, with this vile witch who is clearly incapable of true intimacy, he convinces himself he is happy.

    “Christmas in jail?” he murmurs gently. “Oh, I guess I might as well get used to it. I tell you what’s wrong with this alimony business — we shouldn’t ‘a’ got married in the first place.”

    This man, on the other hand, he is awesome. I don’t know anything else about him, but he wasn’t a dog. Not in his own heart anyway.

    • Shortcircuit

      Being a “very black” man in 1930 was likely not very easy, and yet he speaks as if his spirit is less ground down, that is to say he shows less significant signs of psychological abuse, than the other men quoted. That says a lot, none of which surprises me. The abuse men are subjected to from a young age starting with their own mothers is absolutely extreme. It takes a heck of a lot to render a person in the mental state men are seen in, clinging to whatever shreds of legitimacy from servitude and self-debasement they can. And that heck of a lot is exactly what I see being done.

      • feeriker

        I was also curious about the use of that phrase here, whether the original author used the word “black” to describe the man’s race, or whether he was applying the term metaphorically to the man’s mood, situation, or disposition, specifically in reference to the dire straits and loss of freedom resulting from non-payment of extortiomony. “Negro” was the most commonly used word at the time in conversation and formal writing in reference to African-Americans.

      • Robert St. Estephe

        A thoughtful observation. I do hope you communicate the insight you have articulated insight to others, many others. You have touched on a profound matter: deliberate measures designed to break the spirit of men through continuous demeaning training. Training: that is the word. Like dogs. Like slaves.

        But we are the ones that are possessed by the spirit of “drapetomania.” There is a major slave revolt going on here.

  • FrayedLace

    Every time I see stories like this I think back to my high school civics lessons. My teacher was a nice and honest man. He explained to us, with complete sincerity, that there used to be a cruel and inhumane thing called “debtors prisons” but that society had finally become more enlightened and banned them.

    Even today, I think nearly all people would agree that is the case. But, it´s not. Debtors prisons, for men, have always been here.

    • Robert St. Estephe

      And now you can make sure EVERY person you know learns this fact.

  • Robert St. Estephe

    Deleted