And Gutenberg Lived Here: “Miss”ing

I’m going to go outside of the holiday season just for a moment

Back to ho ho ho tomorrow, I promise,

but the prompt of the day,

according to Rubie’s Corner,

interested me

for the following reason:

most people don’t know about the importance of the word “miss”

in the German language.

Until 1977, Fräulein (Miss)  simply meant unmarried woman.

You had no choice-

legally married,  Frau (Mrs.)



What is the interesting part,

to me, at least,

is what went with the concept of Miss:



in Germany,

married women,

until 1977,

needed the written permission of their husbands to work.

And he could cancel her work contract,

without her permission,

any time her work as “helpmeet of the man”,

the legal concept here at that time,

didn’t meet hubby’s expectations.

Or those of the monster-in-law.

Miss was an honorable title,

meaning “I’m independent, no man tells me what to do.”

Just before her death, at 91,

an aunty of my husband’s,

who had worked as a lace and underwear maker for the Bavarian princesses,

nanny in a very very noble house,

with day uniform and evening uniform with lace forehead band,

the companion and nanny for a professor’s wife and children

on the Garda Lake in Italy in the fifties,

(she actually learned to drive a car from the chauffeur,

and did occasional  little spins through the town wearing the chauffeur’s cap)

before setting up a small beverage sales store

from the front room of her home,

told me how absolutely outraged she was,

that the officials in their town,

who should have known better,

had sent Aunty a letter

addressed to MRS!

(the mrs  (Frau)  for all women has become automatic here.

to avoid the societal stigma of “old maid”-

pushed through by those  women who  felt that the power of women is in manipulating


by using their children and homemaker entity as a weapon)

She was so outraged, I had to promise to go to the town hall,

letter from her in hand,

to straighten it out.

They looked at me like I was crazy,

agreed to change the header in all letters,

and then added,

“at least this generation is dying out.”

I sincerely hope not.

The world needs more Miss Seatons,

and Miss Marples,

and all the other dotty brilliant feisty  old ladies

with their heavy shoes,

and strong umbrellas,

and attitude of always swimming upstream.

For it was Aunty Emma, who,

when the others in the family tried to force me to wear my wedding ring

on my right hand, not left,

told me

“you’re an American. You wear it any way you want dear. They’ll get used to it.”

Being different

and free,

and doing your own thing,

as well as you can in the situation,

leads to tolerance toward others.

And, in my opinion, the world needs more tolerant excentrics.

So here’s to the “misses” of this world.

And all the Mrs who are great mothers,

and great household managers,

and don’t have to attack other women

to feel safe.

Oh, and of course,

to the misters,

and masters,

(officially up till about age 15-

which I find very ironic)

who love the misses.

And Mrs-es


of course, also,

the MIZ-es.

And as for the dementors:

expecto matronem.

(never underestimate the power of a quahog)

copyright 2016

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