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- Moving Day in Literature -

The most famous piece of literature involving Moving Day took place in a form of letters from the New Englander Major Jack Downing, the pen name of Seba Smith, who came to live in New York. Moving Day takes him by surprise and in the end, as he writes to his aunt Kaziah, “it has used me up worse than building forty rods of stone wall, or chopping down ten acres of trees.” In the rest of his letters, Jack recounts the difficulty that he has had in finding an apartment for a decent price and then, how he had to cope with a vociferous tenant who moved into his apartment before the May first deadline, raining havoc on Jack’s things.
  


Seba Smith, May-Day in New York or House-Hunting And Moving, New York: Burgess, Stringer and Company, 1845.

 


“The Moving Day,” in Cincinnati Mirror, and Western Gazette of Literature, Science, and the Arts, June 6, 1835; Vol. 4, Issue. 32, p. 254
(Image published with permission of ProQuest-CSA LLC. Further permission prohibited without permission)

 

For some, Moving Day was better than for others as this poem attests. One bright spot of being a bachelor was that at the very least, one day a year, on Moving Day all married men would envy the bachelors due to their ease in moving.


The Bachelor’s Moving Day” in Punchinello, May 7, 1870, p. 83
(Image published with permission of ProQuest-CSA LLC. Further permission prohibited without permission)

 


Berton Braley, “Moving Day,” in Puck, April 27, 1910; Vol. 67, Iss. 1730, p. 0_3
(Image published with permission of ProQuest-CSA LLC. Further permission prohibited without permission)

 


Gorton Carruth, “May-Day,” in Puck, April 28, 1909; Vol. 65, Iss. 1678, p. 0_5
(Image published with permission of ProQuest-CSA LLC. Further permission prohibited without permission)

 

Moving Day was looked on not only as a necessary occurrence but as part of life itself. Life consisted in moving from one place to another and to do so required a certain amount of courage. New Yorkers were so courageous that they repeated the process year after year. While some might have been lucky or unlucky, depending on how you look at it, living in one house for their entire lives, everyone was united in the fact that they would have to make the same journey in the end of their life, which is what the last part of this poem is referring to.


L.H.R. “May Day” from “The Times In Rhymes” in New York Times, October 2, 1927, p. xx5 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

 

As the 20th century progressed, more and more people were forced to remain in their domiciles not because of a lack of desire to move, but because of an increasing housing shortage and poverty.


L.H. Robins, “Be It Ever So Humble” from “All In A Week” in New York Times, October 5, 1930, p. xx2 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

 

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