Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Mysterious Madame Eks

Where was she from?
Was it a pseudonym? Or did she bear the Finnish name Eks? Or maybe the Hungarian name Ekso? On March 22, 1914, the Washington Herald, the Evening Star, and (in a somewhat abbreviated form) the Washington Post told of the most recent meeting of Internacia Klubo, one of the city’s (apparently many) Esperanto groups, and of its visitor “from abroad,” Sinjorino Ekso. I have found no travel records for a Mrs. Ekso arriving in the U.S. in 1914.

Our only source for this visit seems to be the Internacia Klubo itself, which sent the same text to each of the Washington newspapers, and seem to have omitted such information as her country of origin, and what other places she had visited in her travels in America. Was it playacting, with an Esperantist pretending to be a foreign visitor, affecting incomprehension should a question be posed in English, and talking only Esperanto? “Ekso” is suspiciously close to “ikso,” the name for the letter X in Esperanto. Was Sinjorino Ekso a Madame X?

The news report is all we have to go on.

Internacia Klubo Esperanto
At the regular meeting of La Internacia Klubo, Esperanto, at its rooms in the Stewart Building, corner Sixth and D streets northwest, last week, the president, Mr. N. S. Guimont, invited attention to the fact that the club had outgrown its present quarters, as was evident from the large attendance at the club meetings lately as well as the great number of visiting esperantists who attend the meetings. At his suggestion, the club decided to seek larger quarters. Sinjorino Ekso, a visiting esperantist from abroad, then spoke tothe club and assembled esperantists about the comfort which esperanto has been to her in her American travel, and expressed her pleasure at being ablt oe meet so many fraternal friends here. She said that the wonderful progress being made in Esperanto here clearly indicates that American will be in the future optimum of Esperanto.
I’m sure N. S. Guimont knew the identity of “Sinjorino Ekso,” but there seem to be no clues to her identity. Amerika Esperantisto seems to have made no mention of this particular meeting of the Internacia Klubo.

Nicholas S. Guimont, the president of the Internacia Klubo, was a Minnesotan of Canadian parentage. He was born on February 26, 1869. At some point in his late 30s, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a clerk in the Post Office Department. At the time of the visit of “Sinjorino Ekso,” he had been married for just under two years. There seems to be no evidence that Ethel Guimont was also an Esperantist. She predeceased him and by 1940, he had moved to Long Beach, California.
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