1920 Flappers Took the Country by Storm – But Did They Ever Truly Go Away

Women of the Roaring Twenties had a lot in common with today’s millennials

By Linda Simon Smithsonian Magazine September 2017

Flappers Atop Chicago Hotel

She was the sexy ingénue, spending evenings in jazz clubs hazy with her cigarette smoke. She cavorted, wild and willful, in the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who summed her up as “pretty, impudent, superbly assured, as worldly-wise, briefly-clad and ‘hard-berled’ as possible.”

The glamorous, shimmering flapper in her slinky dress and stylish bob seemed to emerge into American life out of nowhere after the First World War, but the term was already familiar by then. In 1890s Britain, in fact, “flapper” described a very young prostitute, and after the turn of the century, it was used on both sides of the Atlantic for cheeky, prepubescent girls whose long braids, the New York Times reported, “flapped in the wind.” Soon, a flapper was any girl or woman who defied convention—girls who balked at being chaperoned, suffragists, women aspiring to a career, and those, as the Boston Globe put it, “expert in the arts of allurement.”

Unlike their mothers and grandmothers, flappers tended to go to high school and even college, and they devoured new books featuring confident, fun-loving adolescent heroines who hiked and camped and solved mysteries. Flappers biked, played golf and tennis, and strove to emulate the flat-chested and hipless physiques of the adolescent boys whose freedom and lack of domestic responsibilities they envied.

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Barney Oldfield

American race car driver Barney Oldfield was the first person to drive an automobile more than 60 miles per hour.

When he drove the car pictured below at 131.25 mph (1910), it was the fastest a human had ever traveled. [For reference: in 1913 airplanes had a average top speed ranging from 45 to 75 mph. The airspeed record was 126.67 mph.] 

At age 16, Oldfield began bicycle racing in 1894 when he entered his first race. Following the race, officials Dauntless bicycle factory asked him to ride for the Ohio state championship. Although he came in second, the race was a turning point and he was hired as a parts sales representative for the Stearns bicycle factory, where he met his future wife, Beatrice Lovetta Oatis; they married in 1896. By 1896, he was paid by Stearns in Syracuse New York, to race on its amateur team.

Oldfield was lent a gasoline-powered bicycle to race at Salt Lake City, which led to a meeting with Henry Ford, who had readied two automobiles for racing, and he asked Oldfield if he would like to test one at Ford’s Grosse Pointe track. Oldfield agreed and traveled to Michigan for the trial, but neither car started. Despite the fact that Oldfield had never even driven an automobile, he and fellow racing cyclist Tom Cooper purchased both test vehicles when Ford offered to sell them for $800. One of them was the famous “No. 999” that debuted in October 1902 at the Manufacturer’s Challenge Cup. Today it is displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village. [Source Wikipedia]

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Molly Lambert’s Grandmother

My Grandmother, the Nazis, and the Shadow of the Olympics

by Molly Lambert Oct 1, 2017 The NewYorker

My (Molly Lambert) grandmother Margaret Bergmann was a born athlete. Self-taught and hyper-talented, she excelled at every sport she tried. She played sports with the boys, and they accepted her because she was by far the best athlete among them.  She did not think much about her Jewish identity until she was in her late teens, when the Nazis began their rise to power.

The Nazis

Suddenly signs reading “NO JEWS OR DOGS” were openly posted in windows. She was banned from athletic-training facilities she’d formerly had access to, and the kids at school began to beat up her younger brother for being Jewish. The family moved to London.

The 1936 Games were awarded to Weimar Germany, in 1931. Five years later, the National Socialist Party had seized full control of the German government, and Adolf Hitler inherited the ceremony. He was not initially sold on the Olympics—he thought that it was “an invention of Jews and Freemasons,” and that it was vulgar to let inferior races compete with the superior white one. But the German sports administrator Carl Diem convinced Hitler that the Olympics were a grand opportunity to showcase Nazi propaganda and demonstrate Germany’s growing power.

Recalled to Germany, Margaret Bergmann wanted to demonstrate that Jews were not inferior, and she wanted to win because she was the best high jumper alive. But, shortly before the Games, the Nazis dropped my grandmother from the roster, convinced that they no longer needed token Jewish athletes. Bergmann received a letter from the Nazis, telling her that she was being cut because she was not up to par—a lie, as scores from the time demonstrate. The letter was signed “Heil Hitler.”

Bergmann was furious that she would not be able to prove that she was the superior Jewish body that the Nazis did not believe existed. She was also glad to get out of Germany immediately.

She worked as a maid while trying to get her parents safely to New York, and she was thrilled when Jesse Owens won gold in Berlin: a black athlete, from her newly adopted country of America, proving that the Nazi ideology and all white supremacy are built on bullshit. She competed in America for a few years, winning American titles in the high jump and shot put. She wanted to train for the 1940 Olympics, but she chose to stop competing after the outbreak of the Second World War.

Margaret Bergman Lambert lived to a hundred and three years old, which is a great way to say “Fuck you” to Nazis.

The Shadow of the Olympics

During the 1984 Games, the Los Angeles Police Department, led by Chief Daryl Gates, swept neighborhoods and arrested hundreds of black and brown youth, “ostensibly to minimize gang crime during the Games.” This was a landmark moment in the militarization of American police.

Now ICE is conducting raids in Los Angeles. These raids began before Trump became President, but they have become bolder, more aggressively public.

There is a climate of fear now in Los Angeles: people are encouraged to snitch on their neighbors; families are separated by police in front of a school in broad daylight. I (Molly Lambert) think of the stories my grandmother told of being exiled from her own home town, a place she’d truly loved.

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Warner Brothers – 1932

How The Warner Brothers Fought To End the Chain Gang System

The Daily Beast 

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The movie is based on the life of Robert Elliott Burns. Read more.
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Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company

1930 Studebaker President

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     Studebaker was an American wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852, the company originally produced wagons for farmers, miners, and the military.

     In 1902, the company entered the automotive business with electric vehicles sold under the name “Studebaker Automobile Company.” In 1904 they introduced gasoline vehicles. 

      The first gasoline automobiles to be fully manufactured by Studebaker were marketed in August 1912. Over the next 50 years, the company established a reputation for quality and reliability. Source Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studebaker

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Mantrap 1926

The above clip is from Mantrap a 1926 American black-and-white silent film based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis.

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951), better known as Sinclair Lewis, was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. Source Wikipedia

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Book Review: Vallejo

Vallejo native (Brendan Riley) pens book on Vallejo’s old ‘barbary coast,’ holds book signing Saturday

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

POSTED: 08/14/17, 3:11 PM PDT | UPDATED: 1 WEEK AGO

“There’s a chapter on Baby Face Nelson that was really fascinating for me,” Riley said. He came as a “guest” of  Tobe Williams, an old safe cracker, who ran Vallejo General Hospital. According to FBI reports, though (Nelson) “committed no crime here that we know of, there was a murder during that time that was never solved.”

Nelson and his wife felt safe enough in Vallejo to “walk around town like anybody else, going to the movies, and so on,” despite being, at one point, the most wanted man in the United States, he said.

“The technology we have now didn’t exist which is why he came out to the West Coast; because the FBI was doing most of its searching in the Midwest,” Riley said.

Nelson wasn’t just hanging out in the Bay Area, but ran a bootleg liquor operation from Marin and San Francisco, while on the lam, he said.

Nelson returned to the Chicago area from Vallejo, and was soon killed in a shootout with two FBI agents, Riley said.

“At that time, he was Public Enemy No. One, after John Dillinger died in July 1934,” he said. “Nelson left Vallejo in October 1934 and died that November.”

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President Herbert Hoover 1930

Hoover seeks in vain to combat tough times, Aug. 15, 1930

 
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On this day (August 15th) 1930, President Herbert Hoover held a news conference in which he set out his plans to help people affected by a series of devastating droughts. The droughts, combined with a stock market crash in October 1929, led to a downward economic spiral that lasted throughout much of the 1930s and came to be known as the Great Depression.

In response to widespread drought conditions, the president called for a mass mobilization of aid workers. He called on governors to draft ideas on how best to provide relief to the rising ranks of the unemployed. He ordered the War Department to provide artillery-range land to Montana farmers where they could graze their parched cattle and sheep. Read more.

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On this day (August 15) 2017, President Donald Trump held a news conference in which he …

… At a stunning press conference Tuesday (August 15, 2017), President Donald Trump essentially took back his delayed, tepid denunciation of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists who incited Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. He even described some as “very fine people.” …  Read More

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Book Review: Flappers

Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper by Linda Simon

With bobbed hair and flat chests Flapper Fanny and her friends were the scourge of polite society, says Ysenda Maxtone Graham

The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925
The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925GETTY IMAGES

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I (Ysenda Graham) always thought flappers were mainly a 1920s phenomenon. This book shows how wrong I was. As long ago as the 1890s the term flapper, already being used to mean “young prostitute”, came to be generalised and sanitised to describe thin, long-legged adolescent girls who were “flapping their butterfly wings”. By 1910 the flapper movement was going strong, much to the horror of mothers and the despair of clergymen. Read more.

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