Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Lady with The Alligator Purse

Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in West Grove near Adams, Massachusetts, the oldest of seven children. Under her mother’s influence and her father’s open-mind, this precocious child grew up to be a lasting inspiration as a rights leader extraordinaire. (Abolitionist, prominent player in the temperance movement, women’s rights activist, suffragist for blacks and women, and more!)

She lived most of her life in a brick house located at 17 Madison Street in Rochester, NY, sharing it with her mother and sister, while other extended family members lived next door and across the street. This house is also the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.

This house is only a few blocks from where longtime friend Frederick Douglass had lived during his time in Rochester, when he was publishing his abolitionist newspaper The North Star. A block away from the Susan B. Anthony house and halfway to where Douglass’ house stood there is a sculpture in a park-like setting of Douglass and Anthony having tea, which represents the cordial relationship that they had in real life. (Can you imagine the conversations they must have had?!)

Another tidbit about Susan B. Anthony …
Did you know that Miss Anthony carried an alligator purse with her everywhere she traveled? It’s on display at the Susan B. Anthony house in Rochester. Could she have been ``the lady with the alligator purse’’ chanted about in clapping games and jump roping? So say the guides at the Susan B. Anthony house.

Miss Lucy called the doctor,
Miss Lucy called the nurse,
Miss Lucy called the lady with the alligator purse.

Mumps, said the doctor,
Measles, said the nurse,
Vote! said the lady with the alligator purse.

This isn’t how I remember it … it’s not even how I recall imagining an alligator purse. This is how I imagined the purse …

Oooo ... is the blog starting to prove how my mind and imagination works? Oh well, you can see I fully enjoy humor (and I have no real fashion sense)!

I first learned of Susan B. Anthony when she was mentioned in a ditty called Sufferin’ til Suffrage on my favorite childhood program, Schoolhouse Rock. You can view it here:


  1. My beloved Aunt Alison had allifgator shoes & matching purse-the shoes wouldn't fit but I would LOVE to have the purse. Unfortunately I think it probably went to St.Vinnies or the Op Shop!
    I tried a red jasmine tea today while wandering around the Biltmore shopping center- very nice, what is the significance of "red teas"?

  2. She sounds like a very classey lady...tho your bag is more ecologically friendly...

  3. Hi Roslyn,
    Red tea is known to the world as two different varieties. To the Chinese, red tea is Keemun (a strong Chinese tea we think of as black tea). Calling it red tea is a reference to the brew color, which is far different from that of green teas or oolongs.
    Red tea is also the incorrect term used to define a South African herbal tisane called rooibos. Rooibos is a delicious, healthful herb that is a caffeine-free, immune boosting brew that is higher in antioxidants that green tea, or even white tea.
    I'm not sure what kind of tea you were enjoying, but I suspect it was likely the Chinese red tea.

  4. Hi Chrisy --
    I think she would have been capable of Thinking Outside the Bag (or alligator purse as the case may be), but I'm not sure she would have been taken seriously had she carried my version of the alligator purse!
    Thanks for reading!

  5. Hi, DonnaLynn --

    Great story! Just wondering if you received a comment I sent a while ago with a question in it. If not, please email me at Thanks!


Feel free to comment