One Final Word (Or Two) About The 1920s

January 31st, 2014
By Kerry Lippincott, Executive Director
After spending the past few months living with 1920s and completing our Speakeasy event, I’m ready to bid a fond adieu to the Roaring Twenties.  But before I do, I want to do two things.  First, I want to thank everyone who made the Speakeasy and the programs leading up to the event possible.    From our program partners (the Smith Center for the Arts, Toeprints, Georgia Carney, and the Geneva Public Library) to our Speakeasy sponsors (Vance Metal, C.S. Burrall & Son, DeVaney-Bennett Funeral Home, Finger Lakes Partners, Geneva Awning and Tent, Geneva Club Beverage, and Phelps Sungas) to Kelly Towers and the staff at the Belhurst, Bill Greco and the Cool Club to my staff and board members who helped put the programs and Speakeasy together, I give you all a heartfelt thank you.  And, of course, thank you to everyone who came to the Speakeasy.    By the photos can tell that everyone had a good time.
Maybe it’s the nature of my profession (or just me) but I’ve assembled quite a collection of information about the 1920s.  It’s not just about having too much information but having information that too good (at least in my opinion) not to share.  So the second thing I want to do is share my collection with you.  Don’t worry I’m not going to share everything that I’ve discovered just some information about Geneva and some pop culture tidbits.   
Here’s are a few highlights about Geneva during the 1920s: 
  • 1920 –   Pultney Street Cemetery moved to Glenwood Cemetery 
  • 1921 – Geneva Kiwanis Club organized and Women’s Club Building constructed
  • 1923 – Construction begins on the new Geneva High School and the Experiment Station placed under the control of Cornell University
  • 1925 – Hobart’s centennial and bus service replaced the local trolley line           
  • 1926 – An airport is constructed at the junction of Routes 5 & 20 and 14A 
  • 1928 – The first Finger Lakes Outboard Motorboat regatta 
  • 1929 – DeSales High Schoolopens, sesquicentennial of the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, and Geneva Zonta Club organized
Though the following information may not help you on Jeopardy, they could be used as icebreakers.   
  •  Through Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald are now considered the voices of the era, the reading habits of mainstream Americaat the time preferred romance, historical fiction, westerns, and crime novels. 
  • The Velveteen Rabbit, Agatha Christie, and Winnie-the-Pooh all made their debut in the 1920s.
  • When it comes to fashion there is just one word – Chanel.  Along with Chanel No. 5, we can thank Chanel for costume jewelry and the must-have item in any woman’s wardrobe – the little black dress. 
  • On May 16, 1929 the first Academy Awards were presented.  Since the winners were announced three months in advance, the actual ceremony lasted about 15 minutes. 
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade debuted in 1924 with Macy’s employees in costume, floats, bands, and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. 
  • Cocktails were invented during Prohibition to mask the unpleasant taste of low grade alcohol.  
  • This is a sampling of the foods that were introduced in the 1920s– Lifesavers, Good Humor Bar, Wonder Bread, Klondike Bar, Mounds, Milky War, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly, Caesar and Cobb Salads, Wheaties, Goobers, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Gerber Baby Food, Twizzlers, 7-Up, Velveeta, and  Rice Krispies. 
  • Kool-Aid was originally sold as fruit syrups packaged in glass bottles.  However, with the bottles often breaking or leaking during transit a powdered form was developed. 
  • Betty Crocker didn’t really exist.  The fictional homemaker made her debut in 1921 to promote Gold Medal Flour.
  • The 1920s were filled with crazy fads.  Among them were mahjong (by 1923 there were between 10 and 15 million players), anything to do with Hawaii (ukuleles began extremely popular) or Egypt, crossword puzzles (the University of Kentucky even offered courses), miniature golf, and endurance contests (my personal favorite was noun and verb rodeos or nonstop talking contests). 
  • Kleenex (the first disposable facial tissue) debuted in 1924. 
  • With the passage of the 19thAmendment on August 26, 1920, women across the United States gained the right to vote. 
  • In addition to the Roaring Twenties, the 1920s has several other nicknames.  These include the Jazz Age, the Age of the Flapper, the Dollar Decade, the New Era, the Lawless Decade, the Dry Decade, and the Age of Ballyhoo.

 If you’re interested in exploring the 1920s, I highly recommend reading: 



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