The 1920s were a good time to be a femme fatale or a real broad. This is, at least, what movies tell me and that’s always a great starting point, right? But, you were just as likely to be called a doll, twist, muffin, kitten ( I actually wish people would call me kitten), or—literally—a frail. These ladies were no frails, they were boss burglar fighting broads.

August 16, 1920­—Attacked in her apartment, Mrs. Elizabeth Eldridge, age 55, fought back and kicked the shit out of the young man trying to rob her. He was so disoriented that he ran away without his coat or his hat. Two hours later, the police arrested her 23 year old neighbor. His mother and step-father, with whom he lived, IDed the coat.

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July 21, 1921—This is my favorite. Hearing a drawer in the front room being stealthily opened, Miss Maguerite McDonald rose from her bed, slipped into a kimono, and talked to the burglar for 20 minutes until the police showed up. She even frisked him to make sure he didn’t have her jewelry. The burglar literally stood next to an open window talking to her the entire time. “The only explanation the prisoner gave for failing to take advantage of the open way to escape was: ‘I must have been vamped by the girl.’”

April 17, 1924—A burglar thought twice after being cold cocked by Mrs. Catherine Gonbrole of New Jersey. “‘I fear no man in the daytime or at night. I don’t need a gun. My fists are good enough protection for me.’”

December 10, 1924—Mrs. John M. Collins of Laurel heard a noise outside a bedroom window and ran to the balcony to grapple with an intruder. She snatched off his cap and once he got it back and tried to make a break for it, she bashed him in the head a few times with a broom handle. The Collins home was a big deal as it had already housed two Delaware governors.

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May 21, 1925—All this boss crime fighting action wasn’t exclusively doled out to male burglars. Vera Comfert, an alleged Patterson, NJ burglar, found herself trapped by Mrs. Cornelia Cox, who attempted, Jerry Springer-style, to kick some burglar butt. Mrs. Comdfert had already spent a term in “Clinton reformatory for robbery.” Because of course she did.

September 2, 1925—After refusing initially to leave her bath and answer the doorbell, Mrs. Mabel Jandro of Brooklyn relented after the third ring. As she got close to the door, she saw the handle turning and heard someone jimmying the door. What’s a recently bathed lady to do? She called the cops and retrieved a family heirloom: an old, rusty sword. She stood behind the door with the weapon and the burglar avoided tetanus by being caught by the police before entering.

All this crime-fighting exercise is probably why housewives were pumped by the 50s.

*Fun Fact: In 1967, the “broad jump” was changed to the “long jump” in order to avoid offending women.