Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Count Marco

Ah, research in the old newspaper archives! An alternate universe, in which Martin Luther King is still alive and Barry Goldwater might be elected president.

Actually, when I'm doing research I don't pay too much attention to really big historical events. I'm looking for the small stuff, the little things that make up ordinary life. Sleazy films at the drive-in ("Child Brides," "Slave Empress"). Fancy downtown stores like Ronzone's and Chic Hecht's vs. Penney's and Kresge's.

And Count Marco's column. I speed up the microfilm machine and try to avoid getting sucked in by Count Marco and somehow I can't.

Count Marco -- supposedly he was Italian -- ran an advice column in the San Francisco Chronicle which was widely syndicated in the 60s and early 70s. (His claim to modern day fame is involvement in the Zodiac killer case.) And basically, he makes Dear Abby seem like a hippie.

Count Marco's sole target is women. Women are lazy. They sit around all day buffing their nails and look like hell when their men come home. They give their husbands tv dinners instead of bothering to cook. They won't date a man unless he has a large pocketbook. They have no sense of responsibility and they teach their daughters to be just like them. Probably most interesting (poignant?) is a column that scolds women for continuing to date men who don't propose right away. "Remember, you can love any man," Count Marco says, "Be open-minded..." (I don't know why, but I hear a hint of wistfulness in that tone.)

At first it kind of startled me that stuff like this could run in newspapers all around the country. But then, if the Time magazine article above is to be believed, Count Marco was something of a joke even in 1959.

As far as research goes, Count Marco, like a lot of forgotten figures, is not very useful. I'd have to explain who he was if I introduced him by name and he's so obscure it just wouldn't be worth it. But as an example of the times he's invaluable.

1 comment:

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Interesting history lesson. "You can love any man." right... So self-righteous to sit in judgement. Or, is it fear?