Monday, March 02, 2009

Weird stuff that happened 90 years ago

My next novel may be set in 1919. I REALLY wanted to set it in the mid-1930s but I can't reconcile a few plot points.

So I Wikipedia'd 1919. Lots of bizarre and/or monumental stuff happened. Some highlights:

Jan. 6: Teddy Roosevelt died in his sleep at age 60

Jan. 15: The Boston Molasses Disaster. A wave of molasses from an exploding storage tank swept through Boston, killing 21 people and injuring 150. No I am not making that up. Look! I found a picture:

OK that actually looks really devastating.


Jan. 16: Prohibition began! On my birthday!

I could say something here about the likelihood of any lips wanting to touch theirs at all, or the increased likelihood of their lips getting touched as proportional to the amount of liquor that touched the other person's lips...but I won't.

Jan. 25: League of Nations founded in Paris.

Feb. 23: Mussolini founded the Fascist Party. Good move, Benito. We know how that turned out.

April 13: Amritsar Massacre, when british and Gurkha troops killed 379 Sikhs in the Punjab.

May 29: Einstein's Theory of Relativity confirmed.

June 4: Congress approved the 19th Amendment, which would give suffrage to women!!

Thanks Susan B. Anthony!

Unfortunately you died before you saw women get the vote, but we remember you as awesome. You rock those puffed sleeves, girlfriend.

June 28: Treaty of Versailles signed, ending WWI. (Treaty of Saint-Germain signed Sept. 10, which ended WWI w/ Austria...because apparently they wanted their own treaty?).

Aug. 31: American Communist Party established.

Oct. 2: Pres. Woodrow Wilson suffered massive stroke and was partially paralysed.

Oct. 9: White Sox throw the World Series. Cincinnati Reds "win." Major scandal! Cursed with no World Series wins until 2005. Apparently Shoeless Joe Jackson was on the cursed team. His is the only team member name I recognize.

He actually looked like this:

but I remember him looking like this:

Oct. 28: Prohibition't I just read...ok, I guess it really began.

Nov. 30: Spanish Flu pandemic is over!

Additionally, Pancho Villa was doing some crazy stuff; lots of drama with the Soviets; people striking in Canada and England and America; fighting going on in Hungary, Estonia; race riots in America (even then).

Famous birthdays: J.D. Salinger, Nat King Cole, Sir Edmund Hillary (Mount Everest conqurer, who died LAST YEAR), George Wallace (one-time governor of my fair home state who had a problem with integration), and Liberace!

L. Frank Baum died in 1919, as did Renoir and Emiliano Zappata.

I'm also VERY insterested in the movie industry (may play a small role in the book) so I've been looking up films from 1919. Mary Pickford was like the Angelina of the time. Wasn't she gorgeous?


beth said...

Isn't amazing how actresses from that time period have such a distinct look? I love the play of shadows that those black and white pictures always seem to use.

writtenwyrdd said...

People still say that on a hot day you can still smell the molasses in the right parts of Boston.

My granddad, born in 1910, grew up on a ranch in New Mexico. The story was that Pancho Villa and crew would come galloping down and if the ranchers didn't have a big barbecue spread for them they'd go in for some mayhem and madness. So the local ranches had lookouts to watch out for them so they could get the food on.

Who knows how true this was, but it's a cool story.

Bevie said...

Love the walk through history.

Hall-of-Famer, Eddie Collins, was on that White Sox team. He was not part of the conspiracy.

Marty said...

A fun post - thanks, don't forget the Chicago riots in 1919.

Crimogenic said...

oh white sox, you shame me! arhhh :)

The Boston Molasses Disaster is unreal...

I agree w/ Beth the actresses definitely have a distinct look.

Justus M. Bowman said...

Very neat post.

I think I know where the blob idea originated. ;)

I'll say it straight: those gals are more likely to make people want to drink. Sad but true.

I too received a history lesson from Field of Dreams.

Robyn said...

Oh Mary Pickford was gorgeous! And probably sans make-up too.:)Life was soo much easier then.

Cindy said...

Don't you just love researching for a book? To me, it's daunting before I start and then downright impossible to stop once I do.