Chicago Lightning is a romantic suspense novel that begins with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago on February 14, 1929 and ends around midnight two days later in Five Points, New York City.
What, exactly, defined the Roaring Twenties?
According to Dictionary.com—
The 1920s in the United States, called ‘roaring’ because of the exuberant, freewheeling popular culture of the decade. The Roaring Twenties was a time when many people defied Prohibition, indulged in new styles of dancing and dressing, and rejected many traditional moral standards.
Wikipedia tells us—
The Roaring Twenties…was a period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Europe…The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of novelty associate with modernity and a break with tradition. Everything seemed possible through modern technology such as automobiles, moving pictures, and radio.
NCPEDIA website explains—
The 1920s began with the last American troops returning from Europe after World War I. They were coming back to their families, friends, and jobs. Most of the soldiers had never been far from home before the war, and their experiences had changed their perspective of life around them.
I will add these additional live-changing events of the 1920s—
- accessibility of the telephone to the general population
- first radio broadcast on November 2, 1920
- Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight solo across the Atlantic (June 17, 1928)
- 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created the Prohibition Era and set the stage for organized crime to rise and profit
- 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote
- Stock Market crash in October 1929
While all of this is interesting and gives us a decent picture of the 1920s, the origin of the term itself is a bit elusive. Etymologically speaking, the term ‘roaring twenties’ was first recorded c.1930.
One explanation of the term is the faster automobiles of the era were reported to make a roaring sound as they passed by. Since more people could afford cars, more ‘roars’ were heard. Hence, Roaring Twenties.
However, I came across a more satisfying, and imminently more interesting, story in the trivia section of the 1939 crime noir movie The Roaring Twenties starring James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, and Humphrey Bogart. (I will blog about this movie in a few days.)
This film is responsible for popularizing the phrase “The Roaring Twenties” to refer to the historical decade from 1920 to 1929. Today, there is a misconception that this phrase was used during the decade itself. However, the phrase is a retronym which did not gain currency until the 1940s. During the 1920s, contemporary labels for the era were ‘the Jazz Age’ and “the Plastic Age’. Both were later purloined by Hollywood screenwriters to serve as film titles: The Jazz Age (1920) and The Plastic Age (1925). Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with popularizing ‘the Jazz Age’ as an era-specific label.
And there we are. Wherever its origin, the Roaring Twenties was certainly a decade that came in with a roar and went out with a crash.
Until next time,
Look for Kaye here –
Day 1 – Jan. 25th – Chicago Lightning – book video
Day 2 – Jan. 26th – Popular Songs of the 1920s
Day 3 – Jan. 27th – Notable Events of the 1920s – 1920 through 1924
Day 4 – Jan. 28th – Notable Events of the 1920s – 1925 through 1929
Day 5 – Jan. 29th – Chapter 1 Micro Excerpt
Day 6 – Jan. 30th – Slang – 1920s era
Day 7 – Jan. 31st – Pre-order
Day 8 – Feb. 1st – 1920s Kitchen
Day 9 – Feb. 2nd – ‘Roaring 20s’
Day 10 – Feb. 3rd – Chapter 2 – Micro Excerpt #2
Day 11 – Feb. 4th – 4 Roaring Twenties Movies
Day 12 – Feb. 5th – 1928 Phantom 1 Rolls-Royce
Day 13 – Feb. 6th – Speakeasy
Day 14 – Feb. 7th – Chapter 2 – Micro Excerpt #3
Day 15 – Feb. 8th – Pre-FBI – brief history
Day 16 – Feb. 9th – 1920s radio
Day 17 – Feb. 10th – Release Day, Micro Excerpt #4, and bullet resistant clothing
Day 18 – Feb. 11th – “The Hedge”
Day 19 – Feb. 12th – What did it cost? 1925-1929
Day 20 – Feb. 13th – Hello? Who’s calling?
Day 21 – Feb. 14th – 1920s reference books and book video