I was reading an article about jazz in the Time-Life special edition on the Roaring Twenties  that I recently purchased when I read about a band in Chicago that was tantamount to the rise of that particular music genre.
Of course, that got me thinking about my W-I-P, as all things related to that era do, and my character Charlie Brockway.
You’ve seen Charlie in some previous posts , but he is still a relatively unknown character for me. I know he’s originally from Chicago; that’s there’s some big secret in his life; and that he’s a musician. But this Time-Life article got Charlie talking about his past a bit.
One thing I’ve learned while writing is that I have a terrible visual imagination. I can describe how something feels. Or smells. And I’m pretty good with emotion. But ask me to describe how something looks and if it’s not right there in front of me, I go totally blank.
Maybe I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong? Without looking at it first?
Take my mythical town of Henderson…
I’ve never been a gardener. In fact, I usually tell folks that “I don’t kill plants; I just make ’em wish they were dead.”
So, it’s fitting that, as I plan what flowers I’ll be planting this spring, I’m thinking about Rose, who also wasn’t much of a gardener.
I’ve been considering bank closings, and the panics that ensued,1 and how that would have manifested itself in the small town where Rose and Harold lived?
We’ve seen pictures of the mobs that rushed banks in New York after the big stock crash in ’29. But stories about smaller crowds, smaller towns, smaller banks, are harder to find.2
It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to sleep without air conditioning. Why is it that the A/C has to wait until mid-July to conk out? Couldn’t it have done this in April???
But, as I notice the little runnels of sweat forming on the back of my neck, I can commiserate with Rose. Summer is a hot and sticky time of year. Sometimes, we of the A/C generation forget that.
Not that I’ve always had air conditioning. No, you young whippersnappers;
We take lighting for granted.
The sun goes down; we flip a switch. Instant illumination. Sure, sometimes the power goes off and we have to “rough it.” Candles or hurricane lamps for a few hours, a couple of days, sometimes longer if you live on the Gulf Coast and it’s hurricane season (there’s a reason they’re called hurricane lamps).
And while urban America was almost completely electrified (eek! that sounds painful) by 1929, it would be well into the mid-30s, and even the early 40s, before electric power found its way to the farms.
So poor Rose
Yikes! That’s not from the 1930s!!!
And yet, that first line expresses Harold’s sentiments perfectly.
In the late twenties and early thirties, there seemed to be two main pastimes: dancing and going to the pictures (and even the picture shows featured dancing). Practically every little town hosted a Friday or Saturday night dance… in the armory, in a barn, at a local church, wherever space allowed.
Imagine how that would be for a fella with two left feet! Especially since Rose loves to dance. Poor Harold. Even the “simple” dances of the era–foxtrot, waltz, castle walk–were challenging. But that didn’t stop him. If dancing was what Rose wanted, well… Continue reading