17 April, 2014

Chicago's Scandalous Anklet

Throughout the years, time and again, as I do research on Edith Rockefeller McCormick I read the stories that have become folklore. There's the "Reincarnated Wife of Tutankhamen" tale. Also the (cruel and inaccurate) account of her reaction to first-born son John Rockefeller McCormick's death; nodding to the servant who whispered in her ear at table, then proceeding with the dinner party as if nothing happened.

That aside, most of the tales are lighthearted and novel - some accurate, and some not.  The $1 million choker/necklace for her dog is fun - except that she never owned a dog. In her obituaries, mention was always made of the actuality that Edith was the first woman in Chicago to wear an ankle bracelet. Some reported it as scandal - perhaps there where those who considered it such, but this morning I happened upon the source: 

Mrs. Harold McComick has been wearing a new style anklet which she itends soon to show in society functions, The anklet consists of five gold strands hung with gold bangles. There are no jewels set in the ornament.  (Chicago Daily Tribune, April 19th, 1911)

I wonder what the reaction would have been had she worn it set with  baubles? The venerable New York Times decided to report on the matter in greater detail:

   "Mrs. Harold F. McCormcik, daughter of John D. Rockefeller, has set a style for siciaety women of Chicago and other cities. 
     She possesses a gold anklet, especially made, worn so far only to the exceeding interest of a few intimate friends, who have been moved to a general discussion of the novelty in fashion.
     Mrs. McCormick bears the reputation of leading Chicago in presenting new styles, but an attempt to lead the world is so far as known a new venture. 
     The anklet is not of the sort commonly pictured, a heavy hoop of metal resembling a handcuff. It is made of five tiny gold strands, loosely caught together and forming a sort of ribbon from which hang a number of gold bangles. There are jewels set in it.
     The owner was reserved in her discussion of the ornament yesterday and would not express an opinion on the probability of Chicago's adoption of the style. She considers it a purely personal matter. 
     A search of the jewelry stores failed to discover any anklets of any type on sale. One goldsmith said the April 1 had passed some time ago, and another advised going to an oriental establishment. He said he had not carried them in stock for something like 1,700 years. 
     The success of the anklet is dubious, it is said by some. Since the change in styles several months ago, bringing short, close fitting skirts into fashion, the great problem of women gifted with not such small feet as they wish has bee the concealment of the feet. 
     The hope the anklet may concentrate all attention on its design. They fear it may call their feet into greater prominence than ever. 
    'If the anklet will distract attention from my shoes,' said one woman who would not be quoted, she explained, for two apparent reasons, 'I shall buy one, or a pair, if that is the style. But until I am satisfied of that result I shall try to draw the popular eye by new necklaces or earrings.'"

1 comment:

Thomas Jackson said...

Thank you! I feel the same way about my ring. It’s my gift for me, and no matter what happens, it will be on my hand. I also think it’s therapeutic to take something that used to symbolize hope (until it didn’t) and trade it in for something that will always symbolize hope.
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