Anecdotes ~ Can be amusing or historical tales, urban myths or legends. There might be a fable, an allegory, a yarn about a character in my book.
During the 1920’s, the U.S. population let out a sigh of relief with the horror of WWI behind them. The automobile increased mobility.
Radio and motion pictures started a new set of values. Hemlines rose. Loose and flowing clothing, colorful and free-spirited, ushered in the revolution of freedom in dress and morals. Women powdered their nose, rouged their cheeks and bobbed their hair. The Nineteenth Amendment passed giving women the right to vote. Corsets be damned. The archetypal female was now a flapper, not a suffragist.
The Twenties, full of crime and prohibition, introduced the blues and a casualness toward sexuality reflected in speakeasies and avant-garde society until the nonchalance of The Great Gatsby gave way to The Grapes of Wrath.
Hearts and minds closed as the U.S. in the Thirties turned away from a decade of optimism and entered the Great Depression. Hemlines dropped to mid-calf or just above the ankles. More modest, form-fitting styles with high necklines and wide shoulders were designed to enhance the often-elusive tall and slender look of the “ideal” Thirties woman. Surprisingly, during the hard economic times, cosmetic sales doubled.
The 1930s saw the tenth anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, but not equality. Women remained under represented in positions of political power. With a growing number of college graduates, women with degrees were often overlooked in business and academia.
Ada Comstock was the first Dean of Women at the University of Minnesota in 1907 and later President at Radcliffe until 1943. She reminisced in a 1940 speech about her early days as a Dean when, the efforts of women seeking higher education was still regarded more or less as a humorous thing, and an occasion for jokes.
The controversy over women attending college created a dilemma in an era where the proper role would have been marriage and children. Some folks believed that college-educated women made better wives. Almost always totally dependent on their husbands, an educated woman was thought to better complement a man as he progressed in his profession. Others felt that educated women were less likely to marry and would have difficulty supporting themselves with their education. The majority of women seeking to broaden their horizon turned to traditional professions in education, nursing or home economics.
Women who wanted to heed the motto of Smith College: Education is the key to the future, needed gumption. She needed moral support. She needed money.
Ruth and Gisela, characters in my novel The Winter Loon, meet at the University of Minnesota in 1932. Ruth pays her tuition with money she earns as a cowgirl on a traveling rodeo circuit.