This is almost Connections-worthy, or would be, if she'd had her way.
Miss Elisabeth Achelis: a perfect name for someone who believed that everyone was in error and the world would be better and more sensible if they simply took up her idea. Or rather, the idea of her Association.
She'd been at it a while: this Google Book concerns an address she gave to the League of Nations in 1931. The idea has a wikipedia entry. She does not.
The idea has a website that continues to fight for the Sensible, Logical calendar.
What you don't see in the picture is the sleight-of-hand they used to balance the calendar: two "W" days that belonged to no week or month, and were intended as holidays. One was "Worldsday." Oh, happy Worldsday!" "Thanks, but you know, it's really for the kids."
She left behind a foundation, funded perhaps in part by the proceeds of her father's business:
Her father, Fritz Achelis, was the president of the American Hard Rubber Company.
This line from the official site is rather poignant. She discovered the simplified calendar, and
. . .instantaneously knew that her five-year search for something to help the world in which she lived had come to an end.
The need for a cause, perhaps, preceded the cause itself. Then this:
In 1929, the year scientist Edwin Hubble announced that the universe was expanding, Elisabeth Achelis determined resolutely that the world needed a calendar that would unite people all over the globe. She embraced a calendar with fixed dates that would be the same every year, and with a kind of fierce, new-mother pride she pronounced it "The World Calendar."
New-mother pride? Let us read between the lines:
Elisabeth was an attractive woman with stern, gray-blue eyes, meticulously-chosen clothing, who always wore her straight hair in a neat plait or bun. Normally reserved and quite shy, she became robust and assertive when talking about her favorite subject, calendar reform.
Elisabeth wanted to journey along a different path from that of her identical twin who traveled extensively and leisurely with her husband and child. While her sister Margaret chose a life of simple domesticity and lavish dinner parties in her Connecticut home, Elisabeth Achelis was far from content to remain yet another New York millionaire heiress on her affluent neighborhood block.
It is possible that a touch of monomania entered the effort
At social banquets and teas at high profile New York establishments such as the Colony Club, she captivated the table by speaking about her scheme in well-modulated, forceful tones. Even if her audience consisted initially of socialite wives who took to calling her affectionately the "Calendar Lady," they were startled by the obvious passion in her normally reserved manner.
At one such dinner, as reported in the New York Herald Tribune, she followed her regular course of propagandizing her dinner partners on the neatness of her calendar. Across the table from her, one dinner guest listened intently, then commented: "Interesting, but no one would die for such a cause." With complete sincerity, Elisabeth replied, "I would."
That's from the site that's dedicated to her work.
She didn't marry or have children, as far as I can tell.
Her sister? Well, this page suggests the family sued the hell out of Germany when some land was expropriated. It gives her twin's married name as Sansome. There's someone out there right now who doesn't give a thought to a five-dollar cup of coffee because he's still living on the family money, I'll bet.
By the way: every guy has had, at one time, one of these. As the product's webpage says:
"In 1851, the world's first hard rubber comb was born. Used by generations of history-making men, immortalized by James Dean and Elvis, even making cameos in 'Spaceballs' and NASCAR's victory lane, the black 'back-pocket' comb would go from everyday accessory to an American icon. The name ACE was established in 1924 and the spade trademark becomes synonymous with the back pocket comb. A true men's brand from day one, the ACE name has become synonymous with quality, strength, and durability."
Get that? HARD RUBBER. The ACE trademark belonged to the Calendar Lady's father's company. Her entire life of calendar-evangelizing - which included a meeting with Gandhi - was made possibly by the money that flowed from the comb.
And also bowling balls.
An update I think you’ll enjoy: an update of an old site. Meaning, “something you may have seen, now slightly larger” - but there are so many recesses to this site I’m not sure you have seen it, especially since it went up over ten years ago. I redid the site because I found the original photographs fro 2000, and because it’s cited on a wikipedia page about the place. So: click and enjoy.
If you enjoyed this page, and the Thunderbird site, well, there's a new feature down in the lower right hand corner. I blush to mention it.