Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday in Alimony Debtor's Prison - 1930

FULL TEXT: New York, Dec. 12 -- Stocks may decline, husbands may lose their jobs and take their place on the breadline, but like the brook, alimony goes on forever. Despite repeated efforts of the famous Alimony Club, through its lawyers to protect the rights of the male, when married, the moan is still “alimony” and it looks as though it would stay there forever.

Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the Alimony Club, known as the little Big House on West 37th Street, New York City, by 33 members – inmates. These men who are unable to pay alimony were truly thankful on the day set apart for universal thanksgiving. They have nice warm beds, plenty of good food and congenial company. They have a yard in which to play the national game. For indoor recreation, all the comforts of modern times— radio included — good time as there was much talent to entertain them.

The gay company consisted of George Walsh, the debonair, devil-may-care pianist of Broadway who held the key to Myrna Darb’s heart for so long. He is a “member” because he couldn’t pay his estranged wife, Josephine Davis, the $5,828 she claims he owes her.

This is the second time George has taken a suite in the “Hotel de Alimony.’ The first time was in 1929, but Josephine relented then and let George out.

He is not the only celebrity gracing Alimony Retreat. There is Luigi Bambosschek, a Metropolitan conductor whose wife stepped in as he was about to start a 20-weeks’ contract with the Met and compelled him to take up his residence in the Alimony “hotel.”

Rather than pay his former wife, Lililan, $3,600 back alimony, Al St. Johns, for 17 years famous as a movie comedian, went to jail in August of 1929 in Los Angeles. The judge said St. Johns could stay on the rockpile until he pays, even if it’s the rest of his natural life. So far as we know he’s still there.

To escape compulsory residence in the famous “hotel” Ned Jacobs, well-known Broadway producer, had to disappear, which made it impossible to serve him with an order to compel an increase of a bond guaranteeing that his wife’s $35 a week alimony is paid. If this bond is not executed Mr. Jacob’s wife can send him to the Alimony Club.

He has married another woman, which makes the former wife still more anxious to collect. Wives have the legal power to make love so expensive that only a very wealthy man can afford to indulge in more than one marital experience. Still there are few wives who will not soften toward their mates if they are willing to hand out a little soft soap.

A few days ago, William P. Ferguson, whose wife had sued him for divorce, found himself in jail for non-payment of alimony.

When she went to see him, Ferguson made love through the jail bars so effectively that her heart melted. She fell in love with him all over again and the divorce motion was dismissed. They are now on a second honeymoon. This is one solution of alimony evil—when the wife isn’t really a gold digger.

But unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any redress for the husband whose wife determines to profit to the full extent of the law, for him nothing remains but “membership” in the Alimony Club until financial conditions permit his meeting the demands imposed on him.

[“Alimony Club Members Give Thanks - Although Residence in “Hotel de Alimony” Is Forced by Wives Seeking Financial Balm, Arduous Love Making Through Bars Brings “Member” Freedom.” Logansport Pharos Tribune (In.), Dec. 23, 1930, p. 9]


For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts


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