Smash a Masher

We here at Forgotten Stories are known for being a trifle dense when it comes to the travails of being a woman. As gentlemen of the old school (at least we think we are), we aren’t particularly aware of what the modern woman calls a “creeper.”

But, we were struck the other day by the tale of a young lady of our acquaintance who, in great and exhaustive detail, reviewed the efforts of creepers to get her attention. Another young lady described how, when walking the streets of New York, she listened to her IPhone and wore sunglasses to avoid hearing catcalls and making eye contact. So we did a little digging, and there is nothing new under the sun. Our grandmothers were tormented in the 1940’s by their version of creepers “wolves,” and our great great grandmothers of the early 1900’s had their own tormenters, “mashers.”  Our illustrious forbearers fought back against the mashers, and over the next few days we’ll be detailing their efforts.

Here is Miss Ann Tracy, niece of J.P. Morgan. After she was accosted one too many times with “Aren’t you lonesome little girl?” she started bringing her German Shephard, Luchs, with her everywhere she went. 

When a pestiferous masher groped Tracy in Central Park, Luchs was let off the leash, and a masher was tree’d until police help arrived. A press photographer caught the whole thing on camera.

Not everyone could afford protection like Luchs, and several women took matters into their own hands. Elizabeth Mayne, a San Francisco show-girl in 1911, received a particularly vulgar note from a Dr. Weiss. Mayne reported the matter to the police. Setting up a sting, she agreed to meet Weiss on the street corner, and he was nabbed by an undercover police officer when he approached. It wasn’t because it was a mash note,” explained Miss Mayne, “that I had him arrested. We get lots of mash notes. Some are amusing, some silly, and some pathetic, but this one was entirely too vulgar and that’s why I had him arrested.”

Dorothy Watson had her own run in with an E.J. Simpson, a masher in Los Angeles in 1912. “I had just come of watch at the telephone office and stepped into the doorway to adjust a garment. Simpson approached me as I came out and insulted me. I spurned him, and he attacked me, blackened my eye and hit me on the side of the head. I didn’t see anyone to protect me, so I protected myself.” Watson started beating Simpson over the head with her handbag, and when he ran away she chased him down. Once she found out where he’d hid, she called an officer. Simpson was arrested and convicted, although the sentence is unknown.

The judges of the day weren’t enthused at the verbal affronts to the women of their cities. Judge Charles E. Foster (shown here)  of Omaha, Nebraska had a “masher schedule.”

According to the judge “For calling a girl ‘a chicken’ the fine will be $5; ‘honey bunch,’ $10; ‘turtle dove,’ $15; ‘baby doll,’ $20, and woe unto the master that addresses any girl as Little Cutie.’ I’ll give him the limit, $25.”

Foster was true to his word. Masher J.T. Sullivan approached a young woman and called her “some cute chicken.” She responded with several well placed jabs with her hat pin, before Sullivan was arrested by an police officer who’d heard the whole thing. “I don’t care who you are or who your father is.” said Judge Foster “The officer heard you call the girl a ‘chicken.’ She punished you some, and I am going to let you off with a fine of $5.” Sullivan was lodged in jail until he could raise the $5.

More masher smashing to come, so stay tuned!


Follow Up:

Smash a Masher pt. 2  –

and pt. 3 –

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  1. This is great! Thanks for bringing it to my attention! I’ll definitely pass it on!

  2. A fascinating read – and as you say – there is nothing new under the sun!

  3. Can you imagine that now? I don’t think you could take someone to court now for calling you much worse things than a chicken. Re blogged this.

  4. Reblogged this on Kerry Dwyer and commented:
    “For calling a girl ‘a chicken’ the fine will be $5; ‘honey bunch,’ $10; ‘turtle dove,’ $15; ‘baby doll,’ $20, and woe unto the master that addresses any girl as Little Cutie.’ I’ll give him the limit, $25.” And today?
    This article fascinated me.

  5. Oh – I promised that if I reblogged anyone I would award them the versatile blogger award. The details are here . You have been duly awarded 🙂

  1. Blogger awards – Versatile and Leibster « Kerry Dwyer
  2. Congressmen Behaving Badly « Forgotten Stories

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