Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poking Fun at the Infamous Heart Balm Racket: "To a Legislator" - 1935


In this 1935 Valentine’s Day offering, the famous political cartoonist Herb Block –awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1942 – epitomized public sentiment in support of reform efforts to curb the “love rackets” promoted by lawyers which lined the pockets of tort  lawyers specializing in domestic relations and their predatory female clients popularly known as “gold diggers.”  The ditty show how the three separate “Love Rackets” – Alimony, Heart-Balm, and Alienation of Affection – were seen as all of a piece. The famous novelist Theodore Dreiser called the combined group “The Infernal Racket.”

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To A Legislator.

This is a verse of love that’s phoney
A song of women whose hearts are cold;
Of breach-of-promise testimony
By girls who are out to get the gold;
Ladies with tidy little packets
Of letters loaded with phrases hot –
Letters employed in heart-balm rackets 
For putting boy-friends upon the spot.
This is a cry of loud objection
Against those ladies who fake their tears
Alienation of affection
And alimony-ous buccaneers!
Wretches who moan that love is fickle
– Here is the point about these squaws –
None of them ought to get a nickel!
   Curb this Cupid-ity! pass some laws!

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["To a Legislator," The Laredo Times (Tx.), Feb. 12, 1935, p. 8]

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For more on the Heart Balm Racket, see:


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