The Story Behind Chapter Eight

              The Copperfield Review is an online literary magazine connected to a publisher of Historical Fiction called Copperfield Press. An excerpted chapter from my novel manuscript appears in their Summer 2016 issue. To read the chapter, click here. For more information on any of the places and things mentioned below, click on the highlighted text.

couple dancing

Photo from The Los Angeles Times

Emerald Ring

A 5.25 carat emerald, diamond, and sapphire Art Deco ring, circa 1925. Photo from georgianjewelry.com

 

The setting of this chapter is the historic Jefferson Hotel, in Richmond, Virginia. The year is 1924.

The Jefferson by markomundo

The Jefferson was built in 1895 and is considered a fine example of the Beaux-Arts Style of architecture. In 1969, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1924, when the scene in my manuscript takes place, the Jefferson was a hub of social activity.

Live alligators lived in the marble pools of the palm court. The Jefferson website tells me that the last one, called “Old Pompey” died in 1948.

Radio helped to popularize Jazz music in the early 1920s, and live broadcasts were extremely popular. Along with the changes in fashion, the changes in popular music encouraged dancing and dance contests. Dance marathons became a thing all over the country. To watch a video of a Charleston Contest, click here.

daredevil-1

Daredevil photo from urbanpush20s

Contests, fads, and publicity stunts—such as flagpole sitting, aeronautical shows, and beauty pageants—were tremendously popular.

flagpole02

photo from urbanpush20s

 

 

 

But not everyone approved of the new fashions or dance steps. “Social dancing,” wrote a female evangelist in the Portland Oregonian, “is the first step toward hell. The modern dance cheapens womanhood.” (P. 41, This Fabulous Century, VolTime-Life, Books, New York, 1969.)

Of course, in 1924, Prohibition was in effect so party-goers would have brought their own bootleg liquor or moonshine. I did not know, until I started doing research, the difference between a bootlegger and a moonshiner. I thought the terms were interchangeable, but they’re not. A bootlegger smuggled name-brand liquor into the country to resell it illegally. A moonshiner manufactures illegal liquor.

Photos- (left) from thejcconline.com and (right)  weebly.com.

During Prohibition, bringing liquor into public places was a challenge, but any clever flapper knew how it was done.

girl with flask

photo from victoriana.com

Chapter 8 of my manuscript tells the story of a dance contest at the Jefferson Hotel. My central character, May, is coming to Richmond from Keswick, Virginia, then over two hours away from the pulsing metropolis of Richmond. Her home, Keswick Farm, was built about 1825. It is the opening setting of the novel, and where I live now. The original inspiration for the story came from a shard of porcelain I found in the dirt here. It’s sort of spooky, isn’t it? I wondered whose doll it had been, and then I wondered about the little girl who owned it. What had her life been like at here, at Keswick Farm?008

Please read the chapter, and let me know what you think.

 

One thought on “The Story Behind Chapter Eight

  1. So excited to read! I must get ready to go out but will read chapter 8 tonight!! Btw when I went to a 20’s costume party here of course I had a flask strapped to my thigh! Wcl

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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