Title: The Independent: Kansas Citys Weekly Journal of Society
Publisher: Mrs. Glee Gaylord and the Creel Publishing Company
Date: October 4, 1941
Discovered at: Fairway estate sale
The cover promises: Sable Dyed Jap Mink = $545.00.
Representative quote: Among those putting in an appearance: the personable Norruth Grahams; the George Siemens in conflab [sic] with the Joseph Snyders; petite Mona Belle and Fire Chief Wornall wanting no alarms with such a good party raging; the Clinton Langworthys reporting their two sons latest taking a snake to school; the John Knights making a hurried exit, Doctor on call; the Ted MacDonalds coming in together, the femmes in fall outfits of slate blue and claret; sans husbands but rating plenty of masculine attention, Mrs. Milton Singleton and Mrs. Byron Schultz.
In our last installmant, your Crap Archivist bubbled happily about the musty Independent photo spread "Mission Hills' Chuck Wagon Round-Up," which found the fancy-pants set of Kansas City's past cavorting in boots, Stetsons and that joyous collective assurance held by those accustomed to believing they're the most important people of a most important city. That assurance shines through the rest of this Independent, too. Even the occasional reference to war abroad presents opportunity for gaiety.
Giles Cain opens his column "Petticoat Lane Levities" with wry thoughts on how inconvenient crossing London must be, now that the city has "received so many visits from German bombers." Cain goes on to list buildings that he hopes fail to survive the blitz: "I would not shed tears over the destruction of Madame Tussauds in Marylebone Road," he writes. Then, of "a certain hotel in Jermyn Street where dripping water eternally could be heard" (a hotel once frequented by Sir Isaac Newton), Cain sniffs, "It is barely possible a nice little bomb might have saved owners of the property the expense of preparation for repairs badly needed."
Yes, The Independent imagined this singular tragedy of modern history as an opportunity to eliminate the tacky. History had its revenge, of course: There's that Gap on the Plaza now.
The war also intrudes upon this write-up of Mrs. Ralph E. Stout's latest soirée. After a breathless account of the guests ("From semi-seclusion emerged Mrs. Edwin W. Shields who received the equivalent of an ovation") and the dinner ("I shall always believe tongues of Paradise birds were an ingredient of that delicious achievement"), The Independent toasts the fellows . . . and then immediately resorts to flattering the hostess: "Men! Plenty as inductees at Ft. Leavenworth, but Mrs. Stout, empress of the evening, and her coryphées constituted the clou of the performance, as they say in stagedom."
Amid these accounts of sumptuous gatherings come bursts of nasty gossip — blind items each labeled "I Wonder" and each seemingly crafted to police those who might trample upon established mores.
"I Wonder — If you have witnessed the triple dimming of the car lights — a signal that her playmate has arrived for an evening of pleasure while her husband toils."
"I Wonder — Why some 'best friend' doesn't tell her that the added poundage also adds to her years — a matronly figure replaces the former Dresden fragility."
Yet the war intrudes. In the years to come, "Dresden fragility" would come to mean something entirely different from "German beauty."
Twee as it may be, The Independent's chatter captures the vigor and romance of a city that used to be. Ads for department stores and the Muehlebach Hotel's Terrace Grill promise lively times downtown. One for Price's Restaurant at 10th Street and Walnut boasts, "Where town's best meet and sip"; another proclaims the Bluebird Cafeteria, at 3215 Troost, "Kansas City's outstanding suburban eating place!" Your Crap Archivist can't bring himself to take up again the sad tale of white flight, segregation and downtown's decline, except to wonder: Did Giles Cain ever suspect that, instead of hoping for Nazi bombs to blight the places he deemed beneath him, all that the "town's best" had to do was head south and not look back?
The Independent, established in 1899, continues to toast local society to this day.
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