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Jack the Ripper in St Louis — and a Contest!

Note: “Fedora Amis” is a long-time friend of mine. I read Jack the Ripper in St. Louis a while back and loved it! You will, too. Here we learn about Fedora and her love for all things old and cool! — Joanna

 By Fedora Amis

Ads from the past…
Call me strange, but I like to read newspaper
advertisements–from 1897.  For a mere three cents, I can paper shop to my
heart’s content.  A fine pair of Storm Queen winter boots cost
$1.37.  I could buy a living room sofa for $7.75 or have my hernia
repaired for under $20.
With no Truth in Advertising laws,  companies offered
miracle products. One boasted it would cure a cold in a single day.  Dr.
Dromgule’s Female Bitters promised to cure any and every female complaint.
These nostrums didn’t really cure anything, but the consumer would feel better
after taking a big swig. Most contained equal amounts of molasses, water and

Fedora Amis loves reading and writing about the past.

Recipes for cosmetics…

Before Revlon and Maybelline, ladies had to make their own
cosmetics. Here are two recipes–which I beg you never to use.

     For women’s hair: Was no oftener
than every three weeks using egg yolk and cold water.

     For men’s baldness: Rub scalp with
parafin. Stay away from fire.

     For the lady’s  face: Wash face seldom, and then with milk or salad
oil.  Sleep with cloth soaked
in strong lead lotion laid across the nose.   

     Thank heavens we now know that
lead collects in the body.  Lead poisoning leads to pain, confusion,
headache, seizures, coma and death. Suffering for beauty may be one thing–but
this is definitely going too far.

Dangers lurked…
With no pure food or drug laws, candy makers used arsenic
to color their confections green Morphine was the key ingredient used to calm
tots in Winslow’s Baby Syrup and Kopp’s Baby Friend. I’ll bet it worked wonders
on fussy babies–and opened many to lives of addiction. Drugstores sold
paregoric and other opiates over the counter–as they did a variety of poisons.

The late Victorian era was a time when the earliest child
labor laws reduced the working day for children under twelve years of age to a
mere 10 hours a day. Smoke from coal-fired factories so blackened the air
that buildings near the riverfront had to use artificial light at high noon
even on a sunny day.  Local streets were flowing or rutted mud for
three-fourths of every year. Shopgirls made 6 cents an hour. Trousers
were called “unwhisperables.” Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek,
Michigan, invented cornflakes in 1896 because he believed that a bland diet
would reduce unhealthy sexual desire. 
I revel in the delicious irony of those times. Atlanta
druggist John Pemberton cooked up a blend of cocaine and Kola nut in 1886. He
called it the great National Temperance Drink. Substitute addiction to cocaine
for addiction to liquor–what a concept! That’s why I love to read old

I like nothing better than to discover odd bits of pop
culture from the 19th century and to use them in writing my humorous Victorian


Amis,” author of Jack the Ripper in St. Louis, is the winner of the Mayhaven
Award for fiction, now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine

Fedora’s website at and follow her on Facebook at

Also online is a new interview


Fedora has kindly agreed to give away one copy of Jack the Ripper in St. Louis to a lucky commenter. Add your comment and we’ll choose a winner! 


You have until Sunday, September 8 at midnight to make a comment. We’ll choose one lucky commenter at random. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 9.

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