By the mid 1920s America had become obsessed with sex. There were many reasons for this. After the end of the war, the public went through various moods and wanted a release from the strictures of previous eras. Here are two of the major influences on popular culture during the time of The Roaring Road.
The Flapper Movement
Being a flapper was not just a way to dress, but a way of life. Take a look in "Flapper Humor" on this website, and read Chapter 5 in Franklin Lewis Allen's book Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s. Go to your local bookstore or to the Amazon book page and search for flappers. On Amazon there are several books near the top of the search results on flapperdom. Most of the flapper mystique centered around the newfound freedom that women felt after getting the vote, and especially the young people wanting to break out of the old ways. Smoking cigarettes, driving automobiles and even motorcycles was now acceptable behaviour for women, as was a certain freedom to have sex with whomever one wanted. Music and dancing were much more daring than before. No longer were women supposed to be chaste. There was even some opinion among men that a woman who had some sexual experience was more desirable than one who didn't. Automobiles became 'struggle buggies' and places for petting parties. You will find these things in The Roaring Road, and even Dan and Laure will do things that might surprise the reader, but these doings were in keeping with the social cultures of the era.
The mood of the country seemed to be very much in favor of Prohibition when it came into being. But that mood faded quickly when people realized they couldn't have their cocktail or glass of beer. Buying alcoholic beverages or going to a speakeasy (there were an estimated 10,000 speakeasies in Chicago alone) helped created a feeling that one didn't have to follow the old rules any more. See Chapter 10 in Franklin Lewis Allen's book mentioned above to see how fast things changed and some of the other unintended consequences of Prohibition. While most of the alcohol smuggling was beer and wine, The Roaring Road tells a tale of contraband wine. Smuggling almost always was a function of organized crime, and although this isn't a book about the mobs, their influence is felt everywhere in society in the 1920s. Murder was commonplace, and there were well over 500 gangland killings, most of them unsolved (although police knew who did it, no proof could be brought to court). In the latter part of the 1920s the federal agents got into the killing spree, frustrated because they were only able to catch about five percent of the contraband. In one instance, a federal revenue ship chased a Canadian freight shop 215 miles (unmistakably far from the 12 mile limit) from shore and sank it, merely on the suspicion that there was alcohol smuggling going on. The Canadian government was not amused by this and although there is no direct record of how it was settled, you can be sure that there were background machinations involved to prevent this from happening again.
The author is working on a Readers Guide for The Roaring Road which will be published as an ebook, either free or for a minimal charge of $ 0.99. It will be in ebook so it can be updated as readers ask questions, so everyone can learn about what really happened with Dan and Laure, and in America in general in the Roaring Twenties.
Johann C.M. Laesecke, author
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