“White Wings: When the suffragettes get control of the street cleaning department”
from Puck, April 14, 1909, p. 4.
I’m trying to figure out this joke. Here’s what I know:
“White wings,” or NYC sanitation workers, were called so because of their all-white uniforms.
Suffragettes were fond of Col. George E. Waring, who was head of the white wings (and decided on the all-white uniforms), but who died in 1898. I haven’t found anything that implies that he was pro-woman suffrage. It seems like maybe they just liked him because he had a reformer’s spirit - he was really good at his job and cleaned up the city without allowing any political interference. In this article they talk about how things have really gone downhill since Waring was replaced (because people have to wear rubber boots to walk through the snow and muck again) and how one of them once baked Waring a cake to thank him for being so dreamy and good at getting rid of snowpiles.
The white wings had annual parades with contests for cleanest borough and best-kept stable. Suffrage supporters used these as opportunities to hand out pamphlets and give speeches to the white wings and spectators from their cars - or at least they did in 1915. There was also an instance in which some suffragettes were angry that they didn’t have reserved seats at the parade held in June 1909. It’s not clear why they felt entitled to reserved seating, unless they were working with the sanitation department in some way.
I can’t quite figure out what the connecting thread is - there seems to be an implication that the suffragettes have some sort of power over the sanitation department, but how and why? Or is this just a dumb joke about how women want to work outside the home that I’m reading too much into?
Anybody know about this stuff?