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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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: 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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Five Things You Didn’t Know About 1920s Gangsters in Chicago

A new book offers some surprising glimpses into the city’s early 20th century underworld.

BY HANNAH NYHART  This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Chicago magazine.

 

ONE: Cicero, not Chicago, was dubbed the “wettest spot in the United States.” Agents discovered 20 separate large-scale stills in a single series of raids, reports John J. Binder in Al Capone’s Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition (June 6, Prometheus Books). Crackdowns had forced the alcohol underworld into the western suburb, where the Torrio-Capone gang roughed up voters to sway the 1924 election and keep certain friendly politicians in office, thus securing itself free run of the town.

TWO: A sign of how cozy gangsters were with elected officials: After Capone’s mentor, James “Big Jim” Colosimo, was killed in 1920, his pallbearers included eight aldermen, three judges, and a U.S. congressman (shown above).

THREE: Gangsters weren’t all to blame for the murderous era. Of the 729 homicides in Cook County between 1919 and 1933 classified as “gang-style” killings by the Chicago Crime Commission, Binder found that 43 percent were actually not related to organized crime but to personal feuds and other private matters. A 1932 newspaper ad for a local textile shop read: “Bullet Holes Rewoven Perfectly in Damaged Clothes—Low Price.”

FOUR: Chicago’s 6,000 illicit slot machines temporarily disappeared in the late 1920s after a vigorous state’s attorney was elected, but gambling as a whole never really died down. By 1930, there were roughly 10,000 illegal locations, from barbershops to newsstands, to wager on horses or place other bets. You could find a spot to lose money about as often as you can find a bus stop today.

FIVE: Capone’s gang was pulling in “tribute” payments—a cut of profits for protection—from two-thirds of the city’s labor unions, but the milk wagon drivers refused to be controlled, even after Capone affiliates kidnapped their union’s president for a $50,000 ransom. Instead, they bombproofed the union office and bought a bulletproof car. Plan B: Capone opened a rival dairy, staffed trucks with his own men, and sold milk two cents cheaper. Read more

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Donuts, WWI, and the 1930’s Depression

WWI 1914 to 1918 

Nine million combatants and seven million civilians died.

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The following is from an article by Michael S. Rosenwald Washington Post Fri., June 2, 2017,

A century ago, not long after the United States entered World War I, the Salvation Army deployed hundreds of volunteers to France to soothe and bolster American troops.

The boys were homesick. They were hungry. They wanted a slice of apple pie.

But that, of course, was impossible. The many indignities of war include this undeniable one: A fox hole is a terrible place to bake.

So the Salvation Army troops improvised, frying dough in soldier helmets, producing such delicious donuts that when the war was over, when the troops finally came home, the government produced a guide for veterans to open donut shops.

Salvation Army volunteers (mostly women) who comforted the boys were called, “Donut Lassies.”

“As they dipped donuts for their boys, they dispensed motherhood,” John T. Edge wrote in “Donuts: An American Passion,” a seminal volume in the genre of historic deliciousness.

The recipe called for:

– 5 C flour;

– 2 C sugar;

– 5 tsp. baking powder;

– 1 ‘saltspoon’ salt;

– 2 eggs;

– 1 3/4 C milk; and

– 1 Tub lard.

The most important instruction: “Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.”

“As the nation slid into economic depression, the industry feared that donuts might go the way of the street corner apple,” Edge (a food historian) wrote. “So they aligned themselves with America’s emerging aristocracy, the ladies of gentlemen of Hollywood.”

Frank Capra put donuts in his movies. There’s that scene in “It Happened One Night” where Clark Gable teaches, as Edge puts it, “donut etiquette.” On Shirley Temple’s list of works is this: “Dora’s Dunking Donuts.” Laurel and Hardy posed for photos holding donuts.

And you know what?

Donuts survived the Great Depression. Hooray for donuts.

While their nutritional value is questionable, their patriotic value is as certain as the round hole at their center, through which eaters can look back through time and see not just food history, but the story of America – of our boys fighting for what’s right, fueled by what would become the country’s favorite pastry. Read more.

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Snow Storm 1920

1920 Video Shows How Chicago Dealt With Snowstorms Nearly 100 Years Ago

By Kelly Bauer | March 14, 2017

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This footage was filmed Jan. 24, 1920, for a news story by Fox Movietone that would have been shown in movie theaters. The snowfall came in what was described as a 32-mile-an-hour Nor’Easter that “whistled around Chicago’s ears” the day before.

The Tribune reported that the city used “seven new motor snow plows” it had recently bought and described how 500 men were scheduled to go through the Loop with hand shovels to scoop up the piles the new plows had created.

The winter of 1919-1920 had about 32 inches of snow in Chicago, about as much as last winter’s (2016-17) snowfall.

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“The Gold Rush” 1925 (silent film)

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush is a 1925 American silent comedy film written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin in his Little Tramp role. The film also stars Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, and Malcolm Waite. Chaplin declared several times that this was the film for which he most wanted to be remembered. Though a silent film, it received an Academy Awards nomination for Best Sound Recording.

Plot: The Lone Prospector, a valiant weakling, seeks fame and fortune with the sturdy men who marched across Chilkoot Pass into the great unknown in the mad rush for hidden gold in the Alaskan wilderness. The Lone Prospector, his soul fired by a great ambition, his inoffensive patience and his ill-chosen garb alike made him the target for the buffoonery of his comrades and the merciless rigours of the frozen North.

Caught in a terrific blizzard, the icy clutches of the storm almost claim him when he stumbles into the cabin of Black Larsen, renegade. Larsen, unpityingly, is thrusting him from the door back into the arms of death when Fate, which preserves the destinies of its simple children, appears in the person of Big Jim.

The renegade is subdued by Jim in a terrific battle, and the Lone Prospector and his rescuer occupy the cabin while their unwilling host is thrust forth to obtain food. Starvation almost claims the two until a bear intrudes and is killed to supply their larder.

Cast: Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp (labeled as The Lone Prospector) Georgia Hale as Georgia Mack Swain as Big Jim McKay Tom Murray as Black Larsen Malcolm Waite as Jack Cameron Henry Bergman as Hank Curtis

In 1953, the original 1925 film possibly entered the public domain in the USA, as Chaplin did not renew its copyright registration.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gold…

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Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin born in London, loved by his audiences and the ladies. He was married four times and had eleven children.

Sir Charles Chaplin 1920

Quotes:

  • Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.
  • Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.
  • We think too much and feel too little.

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Flappers In Focus

The Economist 1843

BY KASSIA ST CLAIR | SEPTEMBER 28TH 2016

Asked what women wore during the 1920’s, most people would picture the same thing: a drop-waisted dress, low-heeled Mary Jane shoes, a long string of pearls and a headband decorated with a diadem and a curling feather.

Designers were making clothes that reflected profound social and cultural change. The corseted silhouette of Victorian and Edwardian times was already becoming looser before the first world war, as simpler fashions and the drive for women’s suffrage caught on. The war, which forced women to enter the workforce in greater numbers, sped up the revolution: long skirts and trailing sleeves were serious impediments around factory machinery or on the farm.

Once the war was over, many women returned to their old lives, but the spirit of emancipation persisted. Women were gradually gaining political as well as economic power: over-thirties were given the vote in 1919 in Britain, and with fiancés and husbands killed on the battlefields, would-be housewives were forced to become financially independent. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the old social order and the growth in the retail sector meant that women that might once have gone into domestic service became shop girls, living in cities with a disposable income to spend on travelling, make-up, clothes, fashion magazines and cinema tickets.

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Yale University Library

Yale University

From the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Solomon Sir Jones Films, 1924-1928

The Solomon Sir Jones films consist of 29 silent black and white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928.

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