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c. 1941

Scenes from a women-only ‘smoker’ in 1941

Introducing the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut.

What infernal den of iniquity is this? Who are these appalling young ladies — smoking, gambling, carousing and, in general, ‘carrying on’? They are none other than that dreaded group of reprobates: the Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut.

The event you are witnessing occurred, slightly surprisingly, on a Tuesday night, May 20, 1941. It was held as a women-only version of the traditionally masculine evening, the “smoker.” On this occasion, attendees could enjoy a striptease, games of poker, musical performances and — in LIFE magazine’s words — “other masculine enjoyments.” 

Oh, and also vast amounts of tobacco. The voluminous blue smoke clouds were the product of 20 cartons of cigarettes, 48 pipe-bowls of  tobacco, and 30 cigars. Hard core.

Why it was held, we don’t know. Presumably, once the costs of nicotine had been accounted for, it was a fundraiser. According to LIFE, the Republican menfolk of Milford were “flabbergasted,” and most took themselves off to the Democrat club for the night.

Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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