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The American Type

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

American Impressions #2 Social Functions in the West >>

The American Type is the first article of the series American Impressions by Miss Conan Doyle written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, in the Los Angeles Evening Express on 10 may 1920.

The American Type

Los Angeles Evening Express
(10 may 1920, p. 13)

(Miss Conan Doyle, daughter of the celebrated English novelist, has consented during her sojourn in Los Angeles to write a number of articles for the Evening Express. The first appears herewith.)

It's distinctive. The American woman's glory lies in her — feet! In face and figure English and French women can hold their own, but when it comes to feet she's got it all to herself.

Take the average crowd on a streetcar — always the fine ankle, or the narrow, exquisitely flexible foot — and in deference to this fact American manufacturers have evolved ideas on shoes and stockings which are unsurpassed. Despite the republic and the fact she prefers to be styled "woman" to "lady" the American is an unconscious aristocrat. Witness the aforesaid foot. You will find the woman of vulgar origin is terrified of length. Her idea is to crush her foot into a small shoe. "Small" signifying any breadth, but a minimum number of inches from heel to toe. I mention this first — and lay stress on it — as it's a physical perfection and national — as complexion is with English girls. But when it comes to the subtler qualities of the American type we have to look within. She has a touch of elegance quite distinctive from either English smartless or French "chic," and it is largely a mental quality.

The American woman is a very quiet dresser. She relies on her personality and her perfect grooming to make its impression rather than any startling scheme of color or line. She's not a "tea-gown" type — the sort of languid personality that suggests a divan and cigarets! Everything about her is free and alert. She must be able to think and move unimpeded, for she is the right hand of "poppa," besides which she drives a car and runs a club, not to mention all the work she gets through in her home these servantless days. And it's all native "pep," for she's not a big, strong-built woman, like the English type but all keyed-up and high-strung — a little thoroughbred.

It is fortunate she is so interesting, because she's very, very numerous! It strikes one immediately — anyway here in the west, the singular dearth of men. Particularly coming front a land that has been so terribly depleted, for in spite of it one sees more of the male species about the place at home than here. The American men must be all incarcerated in these high buildings making dollars and too busy to be seen.

But their efforts are not wasted. Nowhere are bigger fortunes made and nowhere more wisely and profitably spent.

It is "each for all" and the result is a very high standard of community life. Nothing in the world is achieved but through the dual mind of man and woman. Therefore all honor to the American type — the women we see — and the men we don't see.