Boarding House Blues

Tag: 1920

15 July 2023
An unsung heroine who soared

Bessie Coleman is not exactly a byword in most homes, but in some circles she's a glittering star. Born in Atlanta, TX, in 1892, Coleman became the first African-American/Native American woman to hold a pilot license. Her sharecropper father was of Cherokee descent and her mother African-American. She earned her license from the French Fédération […]

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1 July 2023
I scream, You Scream, We All scream for …

School is out, the temperatures are soaring, and the lines at the ice cream stand are out the door. It’s a summer rite of passage. In the first decades of the twentieth century, street ice cream was usually sold from pushcarts. The quality (both of raw ingredients and end product) left a lot to be […]

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1 June 2023
Life imitating fiction or vice versa?

Closed Room mysteries appear regularly in mystery novels, but what about real-life examples? On June 12, 1920, around 9 a.m., a housekeeper unlocked the front door to the West Seventieth Street apartment of self-made millionaire Joseph B. Elwell. There, inside the living room, she found a body sitting in a chair with a gunshot to […]

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15 May 2023
The Fight Against Technology

The decade of the 1920s saw rapid advances in technology, both in and out of the home. Most Americans were quick to adopt of radio, television, vacuum cleaners, electric blenders and toasters,  and telephones. Most, but not all. One small segment of the population began debating the dangers of these new technologies: the Amish. In […]

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15 April 2023
Deja Vu All Over Again British Style

Princes William and Harry were not the first British princes to marry non-royalty. On April 26, 1923, Prince Albert, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary, wed Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, at Westminster Abbey. Years earlier, Albert had formed a romantic connection with […]

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3 April 2023
Beware the Ides of April

The Ides of March are behind us, but the Ides of April await – aka Tax Day. The first attempt to tax income in the US occurred in 1643, when several colonies instituted a "faculties and abilities" tax. Early tax collectors went door to door, asking if the individual had income during the year. If […]

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15 March 2023
Coming Full Circle?

Michelle Yeoh’s well-deserved Oscar/Golden Globe wins have been all over the news lately, but what about those who came before her? Have you even heard of Anna May Wong? Wong, nee Wong Liu Tsong, was the first Chinese American movie star. And while she may not have won an Oscar, she appeared on silent film, […]

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1 March 2023
Crime "Down Under"

I’m just back from three weeks “Down Under”, so I thought I’d post about the notorious gangsters of Australia’s Roaring Twenties. 1920s Melbourne wasn’t all that different from New York or Chicago when it came to crime. Gangsters abounded, and their criminal endeavors kept the police jumping and Victoria Prison full. The US had Al […]

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1 December 2022
Mmm Mmm Good, Campbell’s soup is Mmm Mmm Good!

What does that jingle evoke in your mind? Chicken noodle soup and a tuna sandwich (my fave as a teenager)? Tomato soup and grilled cheese? Whatever your favorite, you have John T. Dorrance to thank. Dorrance, Pennsylvania-born and an MIT graduate, received his PhD from the University of Göttingen, having specialized in chemistry, mathematics and […]

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15 November 2022
1920s Unsolved Mysteries - “Diamond Jim” Colosimo

Italian immigrant Vincenzo Colosimo was gunned down on May 11, 1920. Between his arrival in the US at age seventeen, and his death, Colosimo — aka James "Big Jim" or "Diamond Jim" for his obsession with the gems — carved out a criminal empire in Chicago built on prostitution, gambling, and racketeering. He also led […]

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