Friday, April 26, 2013

16042. Floretta Vining


Well, if it isn't Floretta Vining, as I live and breathe. And she doesn't.

To be fair, I've spent a lot of time and energy poking fun at Floretta, but she brougtht it on herself. Floretta, who's memorialized on a stone with her father Alexander, mother and sister, inherited her dad's leather goods/hotelier's fortune and built a three-story home in Hull she labeled Vining Villa.

Everything about her was big, including her clothing. She once described herself as "the largest society woman in Boston," and she meant it just in the way you initially took it. She summered in Hull, wintered at the Parker House in Boston, had a third home in central Mass., where she kept her "country seat." She always had another scheme cooking - vegetables from her farm were sold in Hull each fall, she had her own ice pond to supply the hotels, etc. She was heavily involved with the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sorosis Club, women's press organizations, etc. And she owned nine South Shore of Boston newspapers.

And that's where she gets into trouble with me. I've read almost every one of her editorials. She once announced that all men over the age of sixty should be euthanized, as they were no longer useful to society. In a bombastic age at the end of the 1800s, when yellow journalism reigned, she stood out as an extreme voice.

But, and especially in Floretta's case this was a big but, for all of her wild opinions about girls chewing gum at train stations, housewives unable to properly fold bedsheets, etc., there was a modicum of good accomplished. She stood toe-to-toe with the Postmaster General and demanded that the Town of Hull, all 450 people, required twice a day rural delivery of mail. And she got it. She got sidewalks installed, train and steamboat schedules changed, and more.

So with this stone I can put a face with a name, one of the South Shore' most dynamic personalities. And I'll say this: I expected something larger, something more ostentatious, something more befitting the life of Floretta Vining.

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