From the LOS ANGELES TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE March 28, 1938 by Kae Krysler
THIS is a small world…to me! It’s been getting smaller and smaller for a long time. I am 21 and am now hitting a new high–in altitude–six feet three inches into the substratosphere! I come from a tall family, including several generations of six-foot aunts, uncles and cousins.
Almost every small woman would rather be too tall than too short. The first thing they think about is how they would exercise the art of wearing fashionable clothes. Few realize that altitude can be as much a disadvantage as it may be an advantage. Most of the advantage and enjoyment is a matter of attitude. When you find the humorous side to the situation–either large or small, then you’re hitting the high road to happiness. As I write I will point out a few experiences and thoughts that arise on the subject: A Daughter of the Gods, divinely tall…
Dying by inches would certainly be the plight of height. I am grateful I wasn’t born during the Roman era, when Christians were made into human torches. I would have been a Roman candle for such a long time!
Summer beach parties are fun…but I remember one that wasn’t! Ten yards from the tide line I stepped into a deep hole and disappeared. Such a shock…I didn’t think I could disappear. Finally I got my wits together and came up for air. Then I tried a surf-board, but had to jack- knife myself to stay on-which wasn’t long. So after setting it aside I sought peace by folding up on a rubber raft.
I guess I’ll never need a body or lifeguard. It’s no pleasure for me to shout for a lifeguard as I sink beneath the sparkling foam of the blue Pacific. When the guard arrives we soon discover he is some degrees less my size so we reverse the usual procedure…I save him instead! Neither am I particularly fond of swimming pools. My high dives make such tidal waves in the water. And by the time I unfold my pedal extremities for a full scissors kick, it’s time to turn around.
For years, one of my great ambitions has been traveling. My only hope has been that of being a stowaway. But alas! I have walked deck after deck and cannot find a place to hide myself. Does anyone have some suggestions? A few years ago another ambition was to be an airplane hostess, but had to forfeit the idea when I passed the five-foot-eight mark at the age of 15.
Buying ready-made clothes that fit is unheard of in my life. It has become a matter of routine to put down hems and sleeves; then add cuffs and braid of some sort. Shoes are the most trying items to purchase. Since there are fewer calls for large sizes, anything above size 10 costs extra besides being out of date. The salesmen soft-pedal them as specialty health arch-preserving lasts. Now how many young women buy shoes primarily to preserve their arches? Not many. A shoe must be smart first, even if it kills your foot in the most vivid moments of metatarsal madness. My only consolation for the past several years has been the open-toe sandals. These styles afford the pleasure of wearing several sizes smaller than usual. Then there are those wretched knee-high stockings. I have only to turn the tops over thrice…for shin-warmers. I once asked a silk stocking company to make some special pairs of hosiery…size 12! They were perfectly willing to do it, but couldn’t. Why? Because the machines can’t be set up that high!
Attempting to make progress through a crowd of shoppers on a rainy day almost incapacitates me. It’s a wonder I’m not blind in both eyes! Just at my eye level everybody of normal size swings her umbrella points into my physiognomy. I have a cleft in my chin and still insist it was planted there by somebody’s misguided parasol.
Mother Nature has also provided other handicaps for her celestial sons and daughters. For example: Not infrequently I forget my longitude and join a gay group of equestriennes. But it is not long before I rediscover that horseback riding was not meant for tall people. The stirrups, trump me. I drop them to the limit but even then it is not enough. So I just have to let my feet dangle into space and pretend to be a “rough rider!”
When attending a theater, I try to arrange in advance to secure the last seat in the last row on the aisle. Any other location cramps my style, besides infuriating people who try to pass. They seem to think I try to deter their progress, the best I can do is to close up like an accordion to please the passing parade of people. The would-be passer-by gives me a pickle-puss look or else he trips and lands in my lap. I’ve bounced more than one off my knee.
And do you suppose I very often have the pleasure of dancing with a man cheek to cheek? Oh, no! It’s chin to cheek! My chin …his cheek. For years I was mad at myself for being so tall. Now I’m mad at men for being so small. If spinach has anything to do with it, then I advise the young men of America to start munching it immediately. I have always eaten lots of it, and find that most of the tall people I know like it too.
So many people go to a parade or premiere …two hours early with chairs and sandwiches, hoping to hold an advantageous place to view the performance. I go the last minute and see everything. I fact, I’m in my greatest glory when I have to tangle with a mob scene. Alone I’m stared at, midst a mob, I’m envied. Glory be!
I can’t wait to build a house! The first specification will be: “No chandeliers.” I’ve never failed to hit them. I don’t mind hurting the lights, but I’m tired of hurting my head. My mother declares she never crashed my cranium for me, but I have crashed it myself fourscore and seven times on suspended objects. The table in the nook will be so wide I can’t possibly grate my knees of those of the person opposite. The bed will be unbelievably long: one in which I may lose myself. I’m tired of having to sleep criss-cross under the covers.
There is a great disadvantage in sitting at a fountain or lunch counter. Having to sit diagonally on the chair is unattractive and uncomfortable for both myself and persons seated next to me. The person on one side gets my elbow in his salad, the one on the other side will get a skinned shin as I unwind for my take-off. Then again when invited out to a dinner party, the hostess invariably places me at the end of the table. She knows I can reach everything and pass everything with the greatest of ease. For that reason I seldom enjoy such occasions. Everybody takes advantage of my super-boarding house reach. Not realizing, they ask me a dozen times such questions as “Oh, Kae, you can reach the parsley, can’t you please?” All I do is spend my time passing the food around. I’m lucky if I even get a breathing spell to drink my tea. So I prefer to entertain rather than be entertained.
Another great handicap to altitude is not being able to deceive people by wearing dark glasses or other disguise. It is no use to go to a costume ball with the idea of surprising somebody. Regardless of regalia and mask my camouflage is detected immediately. Only once was I able to remain unrecognized for a short time and that was by using clever make-up with putty nose, etc.
Very often my smaller friends accuse me of overlooking them. All tall people, have this same difficulty. Our eye level is on a much higher plane, so naturally we aren’t looking downward all our lives to see who’s who. Numerous times when walking along the natural way, I have brushed elbows with some small friend without even knowing it. Later I am violently scored by the friend for “snubbing.” Ask any tall person about this.
We tall girls do not like the idea of being taller than most men. To be specific: Once, a young man 5ft. 4in. tall, asked me for a date (I think it was part of his fraternity initiation.) I decided that if he had the nerve to ask me, then I should have the nerve to accept the date. If he could stand it…so could I. We appeared at the races and naturally were looked upon as big sister and kid brother…but then he asked for it. He didn’t seem to care. Neither did I, but was, nevertheless, relieved when the date was over.
Anyway, men want to be the all powerful, the all mighty, both mentally and physically. It isn’t enough for them to know it, they’ve got to see it. This is unlucky for the tall girl. When a man has to look up to a woman, it ruins his illusion. Plenty of men would buy my height if I could sell it. Although I would not sell it now, I would have gladly given it away during my college days. At that time, my desire was to be the cute little feminine type, and not the tall, suave, subtle kind. I wanted to put flowers in my hair and be irresistible.
Why is it when a small person accidentally trips he appears only awkward, yet when a tall one trips he looks clumsy? The taller you are the farther you fall the more footage you cover. Such spills are often terrifying to big people. For instance, take ice skating. Thus far, I’ve been on the ice only once and that was enough. Everyone who forgot how to stop used me for a brake. I suppose I looked big and stable enough to stop anything. It is true I can stop a lot of things but there are exceptions. There are other sports like archery and golf which also do not fit favorably into my life. I never find golf sticks long enough, thus I forever miss the ball and fan the air. As for archery the only time I ever hit the bull’s- eye was when I accidentally released the arrow as I broke the bow. But oh, how popular I am with the girls five feet ten. They think they’re tall, so they feel like dwarfs around me. If any young people above my height are reading this article they should communicate with me. We could form a longfellows’ club.
When I arise for introductions I am given the question mark look. That “how tall is she” look. For the benefit of the ever-curious public, I have a notion to pin a placard on myself stating full particulars. Age, 21: weight, 160: height, 6ft. 3in. Then in parentheses (“I don’t mind it.”) Thus far I’ve been fortunate in making a few friends of my own size. We like to get together…dash down the street…create a sensation. Becoming acquainted with tall girls isn’t difficult. We flag each other down as we appear on the horizon. I would like to meet more tall men, too. I see many of them around but don’t meet any. It’s just like a broken neck…lots of people in this world break their necks, but you don’t meet very many of them.
Oh yes, I must say that altitude is such a blessing in the kitchen. Nothing is out of my reach. I have only to shout “Tally-ho,” then everybody clears out while I go into action. I can open the syrup on the sink with one hand while I swing the waffle iron into position on the table with the other hand. Some fun! Try it!
Kae (Sumner) Einfeldt used the nom de plume of Kae Krysler for this article. On May 1, 1938, forty-one days after this article appeared, Kae and eight others who responded to her request met in Kae’s home and thus the tall movement began with the founding of California Tip Toppers Club.
Thanks to Roy Ivey, St. Louis Tip Toppers, for keystroking this.
(Ed. note – graphic edited for legibility 12.11.10)