Danville, VA: 1918 - 1920. Unpaginated, though 200+ pp. Album filled with 150+ momentos, including calling cards, dance tickets, ribbons, patches, cigarette wrappers, gum wrappers, botanical samples, &c, &c. 7-1/8" x 4-3/4". Black half-calf binding over pebbled black cloth, marbled endpapers. Some minor wear & bumping to corners, bit of scuffing, occasional toning, occasional creasing to a few blank leaves at rear. Overal a VG copy of this unique collection. Item #48345
This charming keepsake album documents not only the dating behaviors, and social life of a young woman in the World War I era, but also offers an outstanding historical record of the impact of the automobile in changing American courtship on the eve of the Roaring 20s. During the 20 years of the 20th Century, the automobile began providing young people, and courting couples with freedom for interactions and courting beyond the family parlor, and evolved into a system allowing both men and women increased opportunities for social interaction.
As a young well-to-do Virginia teenager, Johanna has collected many different souvenirs of her interested suitors, theatre visits, dances, and even samples from wheat stalks collected during a “Wheat Threshing” social in July, 1919. In 1918 while still in school, she began working with her sister Oriana as a clerk with Crowell Auto Co. in Danville, as well as her brother John Covington Jr. who was a mechanic with the company. She details her rides with W. Morris Shaffer and Malcolm Murray, and another in Reidsville, followed by a dance on Main Street; a memorable ride with Mr. William H. Langston of Culberson NC from the Wildcat Division in the AEF, who had presented her with the Company patch; “ a ride with Mr. Bob Harrison in his racer,” featuring a D. Auerbach & Sons Chocolate Raspberry Fruit Wrapper memento; Jack Slaughter of the Crowell Auto Co. complete with poem and Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum wrapper; as well as additional rides with her sister “Orie” and friends in Dodges, a “Lovers Lane” ride in a Studebaker, and even an “Oh Boy” Moonlight ride with Luther, Ernest, Jessie & Cliff in a Buick. Along with other salesmen and reps for the Crowell Auto Co., she caught rides with a Halvoline Sales Rep., Lieut. Joseph R. Pointer from the AEF, or Marving M. Jones, from the 341st Aero Squadron, with gum wrapper and notations of a dance in Semora, NC in May, 1919. She has also retained the program for the Pickert Stock Company production of “One Woman’s Way” at the Majestic Theatre. A memorable New Year’s Eve Dance for Crowell Auto Co. Dec. 31, 1919 is documented with a nice large patriotic theme napkin; along with many different cigarette wrappers for Chesterfields, Camel Cigarettes, and Reyno tobacco companies throughout the album.
Of special interest is the program and announcements for the Danville Military Institute Contest and Debate held May 24, 1920, with the subject as “Woman Suffrage Should be made Constitutional Amendment” supported and opposed by cadets. Johanna Covington was the youngest child of a Virginia tobacco buyer for the Indian Leaf Tobacco Co., who continued to work for a variety of automobile dealerships until her untimely death in 1939. Cf. Claude Fischer, Sex and the American Car, Made in America, A Social History of American Culture and Character (2012); Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America.
An invaluable window into the very active life of this vibrant young woman, which reflected the mobility and freedom of the newly emerging American car culture.