ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Twenties-Ain’t We Got Fun?

Updated on June 5, 2011

My most favorite times in history are usually the periods that are most stark from that which came before. The Twenties definitely qualifies. When I was twenty, I went to visit my Uncle Leonard as he was going to be the focus of my English composition assignment, as I was attending college at that time. He was well into his seventies living in Denver’s Capitol Hill area full of stately Victorian Era homes. By this time, he was the consummate gentlemen warning us young folks of our wayward ways and attending church every Sunday. I said to him, “I know that you are now being good and trying to get into heaven, but what did you do when you were my age, really”? “Come on now, you haven’t been a “goody two shoes” all of your life”? He told me that he was living in Harlem during the twenties and went to speak-easys’ with bootleggers. You have to check Webster’s to get the definition of these cryptic 1920’s era terms, there will be more coming. Think about that, while we were “streaking” in the 1970’s, he was listening to Boogie Woogie Jazz, while in full violation of the Volstead Act!

John Held, Jr., who illustrated many magazines during the period created much art work reflecting what it was like to be young during the time. He primarily focused on college boys and flappers. I have included an example of Mr. Held work. After all, this was the “Lost Generation”, post World War I, which was supposedly the war to end all wars. People were tired of the gloom and doom of the previous decade. You know, making the world safe for democracy and all that. It was time now to kick up ones heels and have a little fun. Literature reflected the mood of time through the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald. All Wars Fought, All Gods Dead. The change in hemlines and the social freedom women gained during the period was fitting as American women received the franchise early in the decade. See the picture of a well dressed flapper standing next to her fliver. Jazz was coming in to its own as an art form; George Gershwin was composing beautiful melodies. We had Rudy Vallee and King Oliver. The Twenties was cultural renaissance for the nation and for Harlem. Has anyone heard of Countee Cullen or Langston Hughes? What about the movies? Here is a clip from a 1927 film with Joan Crawford called 'Our Modern Maidens', showing 1920’s mores clearly on display. This was the time when Hollywood ascended and the term ‘movie star’ took hold, Rudolph Valentino, anyone?

Art Work of John Held Jr.

Typical Well Dressed Flapper Next to Her Car

Our Modern Maidens (1929)

1929 Photo of Vladimir Zworkin, television pioneer with well dressed flapper and crude television receiver

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
Anything goes…..

It was the first time in history where the term “pop culture’ could apply. Advertising of any and everything took off during the Twenties. Magazine publishing and circulation increased markedly from over the previous decade. The radio receiver was coming into its own; add to that the 78 phonograph records and everybody could get in on the action. In the mid 1920’s the first televised images were transmitted through the experimental medium of television. We cannot forget the liberating effect of the automobile on society, by this time it is well beyond a mere curiosity. Look at all the mobility and things you could get away with, ‘necking’ for example. Everybody who was anybody had a hip flask of hooch, and we know today that alcohol and gasoline do not mix well. The 1920’s is where it started and is truly modernity’s father.

What about all the colorful characters, mobsters most of them. I use to love to watch “The Untouchables” on TV with Robert Stack and narrated by Walter Winchell. It had that black and white ‘film noir’ look. I was always interested in the exploits of these gangsters. Robert Stack played Eliot Ness, the incorruptible Treasury Officer, who had a mission to bring down head mobster Al Capone of Chicago. The bad guys were bold and brazen. Imagine spraying your adversaries’ place of business with submachine gun fire, considered a “hit” during broad daylight. You had the legendary Jack ‘Legs” Diamond, who was remembered as indestructible as he survived multiple gunshot wounds. But eventually he was killed and so ended the legend. And then there was ‘Dutch’ Shultz of New York. The bad guys of today are no where near as colorful. The Thompson Sub Machine Gun was the tool of trade, fondly remembered as the ‘Tommy gun’ or a ‘chopper’. The women were known as gangster’s molls. So, it all culminated on Valentines Day, 1929, when Al Capone’s subordinate Jack McGurn masterminded the massacre of seven men in a Chicago garage who were working for rival Bugs Moran. It was truly a bloody valentine present for Bugs from Al. Fortunately, for Moran he missed the party and died in prison much later from natural causes. I know it wasn’t funny, but I got a kick out of the fact that Al always sent flowers to the funeral whenever he had a rival ‘rubbed out’, ain’t we got fun?

None of this would be complete without a mention of the barnstormers. How about those magnificent men in their flying machines? While we baby boomers growing up in the 1960’s were following the early exploration of space by NASA, in the 1920’s aviation was all the rage. Who could get across the oceans, over the continents, each dare was just that more daring than the last one. How about the Lindbergh flight from New York to Paris in 1927? It was the 1920’s technical equivalent of the 1960’s Gemini and Apollo programs.

The 1920’s were so similar to the 1960’s in many ways. But the social upheaval and broad discontent was not there then, except for the occasional scare from Bolsheviks and anarchists. Uncle Leonard and I had a great conversation and I recorded most of it. As a World War I veteran, he had seen a great deal. The sixties were unfathomable to him. It may very well be true that as you age you become more conservative. But, he kicked up his heels during the twenties, a period which at that time had no peer. To this day, I kept the recording and his courting letters to his future wife, dated 1916-1917. He died in 1980.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Credence2 

      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thanks for reading, D, Since I wrote the article I added a photo of picture of an early television set along with its inventor and a great look at a well dressed lady for the period. I often times go to the memory lane site and look at old high school yearbooks, to get a feel for the era from a youthful perspective. Anyway, I would have to write a book, but it was a fun time to be alive Regards, Cred2

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Wonderful article. Brought back great memories for me. (from the 40's, 50's and 60's of course). We did enjoy those old silent films, and the first 'talking' movies.

      Good choice of video and photos. All in all, excellent job.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)