I have mentioned before that I love doing research for my books, but it can become quite addictive and a time waster if one is not careful. Then again, if you’re learning new things, is it ever a waste of time?
I spent much of yesterday working on my new Tinder Street book, knocking out another 2,500 words. I was aiming for twice that much, but at one point I needed to look up some things on the Internet about Roaring 20s gangsters. That was definitely the era of the gangster, and it’s a period of time I’ve always been interested in. From Al Capone and Bugs Moran’s feud in Chicago that led to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to Yonnie Licavoli, who played a violent role in Ohio and Michigan, there was a lot of bloodshed and mayhem spread around.
This was also the age of the flapper, when women wore dresses that were so short their calves showed and made their grandmothers’ hearts ache, and did scandalous things like drinking in public, smoking, and using language that just was not proper. We’re talking about big-time party girls.
Somehow in that research, a link led me to stories about flagpole sitting. This fad in the second half of the 1920s began when Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, a stuntman and former sailor, sat on a flagpole for 13 hours and 13 minutes in 1924. There’s some debate as to whether he did it as a publicity stunt or on a dare from a friend (or maybe he was just trying to get away from all of the gangsters and flappers). For whatever reason, it caught on, and soon records were being set, anywhere from 12 to 21 days. In 1929, old Shipwreck decided to reclaim his title and sat on a flagpole in Atlantic City, New Jersey for 49 days. A year later, a gentleman named Bill Penfield broke that record by sitting on a flagpole in Iowa for 51 days and 20 hours, only coming down when a thunderstorm forced him to.
I was running out of time or I would have done some more research because there are questions that just have to be asked. Of course, the first question is why would anyone do such a thing? But then I remembered that we have people these days who swallow Tide Pods, so there is that. But how do you sleep when you’re sitting on top of a flagpole? Who climbs up and brings you food? And how do you go to the bathroom? Look out below!
While there were a few other incidents of flagpole sitting, for the most part, the fad died out about the time the Great Depression hit. I guess all the flagpole sitters wanted to come down and join in the misery.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – I envy people who grow old gracefully. They age like fine wine. I’m aging like milk, getting sour and chunky.