Saturday, February 9, 2008

On February 9, ...

... 1819, Lydia Estes was born into a Quaker family in Lynn, Massachusetts. In her early adulthood she worked as a midwife, nurse, and schoolteacher. She was active in the Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society and the temperance movement, and the pseudoscience phrenology She married real estate tycoon Isaac Pinkham in 1843; 30 years later, under the name Lydia Pinkham (right), she started a business making and selling tonics for women. Made
of black cohosh, life root, unicorn root, pleurisy root, fenugreek seed and a substantial amount of alcohol, Lydia's Vegetable Compound claimed to bring relief to women during the menstrual cycle by alleviating menstrual cramps, and also during menopause by counteracting depression, hot flashes, and other symptoms.
Likewise noting the high (20%) alcohol content in her tonic -- at 1st blush odd considering Pinkham's professed affinity for temperance -- the website of the Museum of Menstruation & Women's Health notes that at the time such nostrums were
often the only way respectable women were able to enjoy the intoxicant. And during the banning of alcoholic beverages in America, especially in the 1920s, the Pinkham 'medicine' enjoyed its greatest success.
Thanks to her good timing and her skill in marketing directly to women in an positive and information manner, as in the pamphlet at left, Pinkham became one of the top businesswomen of the 19th century.
... 1964, on the "Ed Sullivan Show," in what's been voted rock's greatest TV moment, a quartet of mop-headed Liverpudlians, The Beatles, made their U.S. debut. They strum and sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to the screams of what sounds to be an all-screams-all-the-time, all-female, studio audience, in the video below. Another 70-million-plus watched at home. The rest, as they say, is history.

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