C is for Cocktail: Celebrate the Savoy with a Classic 1920s Cocktail by Forgotten Bartender Ada Coleman

This July, the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in London earned a slew of coveted cocktail awards at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans: Best International Bar Team, Best International Bar, and World’s Best Bar, an award they won last year as well, not to mention in 2016 and 2015.


bartender at Savoy American Bar London CNN travel

A bartender shakes it up at the Savoy bar in London. Source: CNN Travel


For those already familiar with the history of cocktails, such accolades will come as no surprise. Since it opened its doors in 1898, the Savoy American Bar has been churning out classic cocktails, thanks in no small part to its talented staff, many of whom have gone down in history as some of the best and most creative bartenders in the world—chief among them, of course, being Harry Craddock, one of the most important bartenders of the 20th century.


harry craddock tends bar

The legendary Harry Craddock pours a cocktail at the Savoy’s American Bar.     Photo Source: Alchetron


Born in Gloucestershire, Craddock immigrated to America in 1897, where he became a U.S. citizen while honing his bartending skills at places like New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. When Prohibition hit, Harry fled for England—but not before supposedly mixing “the last legal cocktail in the United States.”1

It was the Savoy’s American Bar in London, however, where Craddock really took off. Attracted to his flashy American-style cocktails—and his novel accent—Craddock’s innovative drinks and personal flair drew huge crowds and turned the Savoy into an epicenter of cocktail creation. Known as the originator of the White Lady and the Corpse Reviver #2, Craddock claimed to have created over 240 drinks during his lifetime. However, he’s most famous today for a different creation: The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930).


abe books savoy cocktail book cover 1930

The original cover to the first edition of The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). You can buy a first edition today for around $500 here at Abe Books, too!


Created at the request of the Savoy Hotel, Craddock’s gorgeous Art Deco book features over 700 recipes and is still considered the gold standard of London’s bartenders—not to mention nearly everyone else. Craddock’s book is revered among cocktail afficionados, and not just for its recipes. As PUNCH notes, it’s also “a snapshot of an era,” with its “dry observations, art-deco cartoons, and ruminations on the culture of drinking” giving today’s readers a good idea of the time period in which it was made. If you’ve got the time, I’d definitely suggest either taking a peek at it here, or watch a video review here, or even purchase it on Amazon (it hasn’t been out of print since 1930, so it’s easy to get your own copy).


corpse reviver from savoy cocktail book pg 80

A sample illustration and a dash of wit from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), page 80.


There’s another Savoy bartender, however, whose legacy has been lost in Craddock’s shadow—one that might have been put there deliberately by Craddock himself.

Ada Coleman, the Savoy’s first woman bartender and an inventor of famous cocktails in her own right, first started mixing drinks at the age of twenty four, when she joined the bar staff of Claridge’s Hotel in London. Talented, charismatic, and quick to learn the trade, Ada soon found more work at the Savoy’s American Bar, where she became head bartender in 1903.

Considered “an icon of her time,” Ada was beloved by her customers for her personality just as much as her drinks. Nicknamed “Coley” by her regulars and a devotee of musical theater (she even held musical entertainments in her home), Ada’s vivaciousness managed to charm the pants off her rich and famous customers, who included everyone from the Prince of Wales to Mark Twain. The Earl of Lonsdale wrote of her that “the kindness and energy displayed by Miss Coleman was marvelous and she was so nice…so kind and…full of life.” Customers flocked to her. As cocktail historian Ted Haigh notes in his excellent book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, “not only was…she…a woman in a world of male bartenders, it was she who made [the Savoy] famous.”2


ada coleman 1

Ada Coleman behind the bar of the Savoy. Source: Sipsmith


Yet, despite all her fame and skill, Ada may have been fired due to straight up misogyny—specifically that of Harry Craddock himself.

According to Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown’s 2013 book The Deans of Drink, Harry started actively campaigning against Ada as soon as he arrived at the Savoy for a variety of unsavory reasons. Freelance writer Keith Allison, writing for The Alcohol Professor, sums up Craddock’s campaign rather well:

“Craddock didn’t just think that he shouldn’t be subservient to a female bartender; he didn’t think women belonged behind a bar at all (a silly opinion given the fact that, since the earliest days of taverns, women played key roles as both drink makers and owners). According to Craddock, citing his experience in America as an American, his fellow countrymen would be put off by the presence of a woman behind the bar.

There is absolutely nothing in the career of Ada Coleman as the head bartender at the American Bar to back this up. She was, by all accounts, supremely popular and her skill as a bartender much praised by all for whom she mixed a drink, Americans included. But Craddock was a persuasive voice in the ear of the hotel’s management, convincing them that they would be better off with an American — and a man — in charge. By 1924, he had successfully forced Coleman and Burgess out of the American Bar. Fearing that such foul treatment of a beloved icon of the Savoy in particular and London in general would result in blowback, The Savoy convinced Ada to frame it as a retirement. In 1925, Harry Craddock was promoted to the position of head bartender at the American Bar. Ada Coleman was transferred.

To the hotel’s flower shop.” —Spies at the Savoy, Part Three

While this Daily Beast article offers other theories, and Wikipedia insists that she never worked at the Savoy’s flower shop, the fact is that she did leave, and with her went seemingly all of her fame. It didn’t help, either, that out of his 700 recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Book, Craddock only credits one of them to her by name: her signature drink, the Hanky Panky.

While today the term “hanky panky” conjures up some naughty fun, in England at the time it referred to “something closer to magic or witchcraft,” and it was in that spirit that Coleman invented the drink. She did so at the request of her friend, the famous actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, mentor to Noel Coward (NOT this Carry On guy, by the way). In a 1925 newspaper interview, Ada described the drink’s creation in detail:

“Charles…was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when I was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ and Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.”3

A large part of the drink’s “punch” comes from the unusual addition of Fernet Branca, an Italian herbal liqueur with an “aggressive bite of menthol” and a “black-as-night and bitter-as-winter” cast to it that is “not for the faint of heart,” according to author Orr Shtuhl in An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails.4 But for those who can handle the fernet, it’s agreed that the Hanky Panky is worth it. Interested in trying it for yourself? Recipes for vintage and modern versions can be found below.



This vintage recipe comes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). As I said earlier, it is the only drink in the entire book which Craddock credits to Ada—a highly unlikely scenario, given the fact that she worked as head bartender there for twenty three years before him and was well-known for experimenting with her wares. I suppose we’re lucky, then, that he kept it in the book at all :p.

hanky panky with jiggers

A Hanky Panky cocktail with jiggers and a decorative orange peel. Source: Imbibe Magazine

2 Dashes Fernet Branca.

1/2 Italian Vermouth.

1/2 Dry Gin.

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top. (The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930, page 80).



This modern-day version, which comes from Lesley Blume’s book Let’s Bring Back: the Cocktail Edition: A Compendium of Impish, Romantic, Amusing, and Occasionally Appalling Potations from Bygone Eras (2012), increases the vermouth and gin but otherwise doesn’t deviate much from the original recipe.

1 ounce Italian vermouth

1 ounce of dry gin

2 dashes fernet-branca

Ice cubes

1 orange peel twist for garnish

Shake with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass.

Garnish with an orange peel twist and serve with a spanking.5


These days, innovation at the Savoy American Bar continues, both in drinks and in bartenders. The current cocktail menu, called “Every Moment Tells a Story,” is inspired by photographs of iconic celebrities that have adorned the bar’s walls since the 1980s. As a result, it features cocktails created in honor of David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Mick Jagger, and many others.

Soon, however, the Savoy’s cocktails will be crafted by new hands. Respected master bartender Eric Lorincz, who was nominated last year at Tales of the Cocktail for International Bartender of the Year, stepped down in May of 2018 to make way for Maxim Schulte, a German-born rising star of the bartending world with experience in Asia and the Middle East. Regardless of who is at the helm, it will be fascinating to see what the Savoy American Bar comes up with next.


Works Cited:
  1. Nancy, R. “Winter Tempered to London by Newest in Drinks–Hot Cocktail.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 30, 1925. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180739888?accountid=3688.
  2. Haigh, Ted. 2009. Vintage cocktails and forgotten spirits: from the alamagoozlum cocktail to the zombie and beyond : 100 rediscovered recipes and the stories behind them. Gloucester, Mass: Quarry Books. Page 160.
  3. Blume, Lesley M. M., and Grady McFerrin. 2012. Let’s bring back: the cocktail edition–a compendium of impish, romantic, amusing, and occasionally appalling potations from bygone eras. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. https://www.overdrive.com/search?q=78FBAEF9-3334-4C75-A963-8FCE5611E6C6. Page 83.
  4. Blume, Lesley M. M., and Grady McFerrin. 2012. Let’s bring back: the cocktail edition–a compendium of impish, romantic, amusing, and occasionally appalling potations from bygone eras. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. https://www.overdrive.com/search?q=78FBAEF9-3334-4C75-A963-8FCE5611E6C6. Page 117.
  5. Blume, Ibid.
Posted in 1920s vintage recipes, C is for Cocktail series, drink recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This 1931 Chicago Gangland Map Could Be Yours…For Only 20,000 English Pounds!

gangland map 1931 funny

Looking to own a colorful piece of Chicago history? This amazingly intricate and humorous map of Chicago’s 1930s gangland, entitled “A Map of Chicago’s Gangland from Authentic Sources,” is going on sale this June at a London auction house. The bidding will start at a mere 20,000 pounds, or roughly $26,500 U. S. dollars.

Why so much money? Well, it turns out that real vintage copies of these particular maps are actually quite rare. While they were clearly made to capitalize on Hollywood’s glorification of gangsters during the early 1930s (think Little Ceasar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), and Scarface: Shame of a Nation (1932)), most of the originals were destroyed prior to Chicago’s 1933 Century of World’s Progress Fair, and event which is also depicted on the map itself. Unfortunately, Fair promoters saw the map as “not painting the picture of Chicago they wanted,” according to auctioneer Daniel Crouch, who will be auctioning off the map from London-based Daniel Crouch Rare Books. As a result, most were destroyed, which makes the remaining ones worth quite a lot.

It’s a shame that it’s rare, however, since the map is definitely worth a look in spite of the image of Chicago it promotes. It’s a wonderfully intricate piece of illustration, with every inch jam-packed with famous gangsters, nods to famous gangland events like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, tons of cheeky macabre humor (like all the little skulls-and-crossbones that mark where criminals died), plus hundreds of tiny gangsters, bootleggers and coppers running all over the place. There’s even a short glossary of gangland terms!

Check out some of these fun, colorful details in the images below:


empty prison 1931 map

This caption of the city prison, “the only empty jug in Chicago,” offers a pretty solid example of the kind of humor found in this map. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


four deuces at wabash 1931 map

Unsurprisingly, Capone dominates in many parts of the map. Here is a snapshot of The 4 Deuces, where Al got his real start in Chicago. The red lights indicate brothels, while the skull-and-crossbones refer to where gangsters were killed. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


gangster funeral 1931 map

A small illustration of a lavish gangster funeral, complete with trucks full of flower wreaths. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


st val massacre 1931 map

Al’s massacre is marked as Site 11 of famous gangland slayings. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


gangster hedge trimming 1931 map

Another wry bit of humor from the map. LOL! 😉 Source: CARLI Digital Collections


gangland dictionary 1931 map

While many of these will likely already be familiar to you, dear readers, some were new to me—particularly the term “cold meat” for a corpse. Fairly solid otherwise, though. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


gangland map title Capone

The full title of this map is a pretty clear indication, I think, that the map makers were mostly just having fun here and not taking this too seriously—too bad the Fair promoters did. Source: CARLI Digital Collections


While these images are certainly fun, in terms of real Chicago gangland history much of the map is woefully inaccurate. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, John Binder, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois of Chicago on organized crime (and author of numerous books on Chicago history, including his latest on Al), explains some of the more blatant mix-ups:

“Gangs are in the wrong territories, territories are mislabeled and despite a label saying the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal was a “favorite” place to dispose of them, there are few recorded instances of bodies being dumped in the river during the era of the map…They’re showing the West Side O’Donnell gang as being around Douglas Park. That was controlled by the Valley gang.”

canal for body dumps nt 1931 map

The canal label that Binder objects to. Source: CARLI Digital Collections

For lovers of Chicago history, however, such discrepancies only add to the charm of the piece—and it’s value.

If you’re not in the mood to hop on a plane to London and take a stab at bidding, however, you can check out the entire map in great detail here at the CARLI digital collections. Or, if you must have your very own copy (and don’t want to fork over 20,000 pounds for the privilege), you can pick up a cheap reproduction for around $20 here at Transit Tees. 

If you’d like more info on the map itself, plus more historical commentary, check out this fun CBS news clip regarding the auction.


Posted in 1920s criminals, photo post, resource spotlight | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A Word of Explanation

bottomless well intertitle

Intertitle from an “unidentified Captain Corri film”, according to the seemingly defunct Tumblr blog Silent Film Intertitles

Hello again, dear readers! 🙂

I’d like to apologize for my unexpected disappearance from the blogosphere for the past couple of months. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and what became a week of being unable to find time to produce content for this blog became two weeks and three weeks and then before I knew it, it had been more than a month since I’d posted anything here! 😦

So, I’d like to formally apologize to all of you that have been kind enough to follow my blog so far, and to let you know that this blog is NOT dead—but thanks to my current circumstances, it might take me a few more weeks before I can start posting regularly again. After that, though, I’ve got a few things in mind, starting with a book review of one of the new Al Capone bios that came out last year, plus a few more fun things relating to Big Al.

Until then, let me offer you a series of interesting 1920s links to check out, thanks to the endless stream of Google Alerts I receive every day…


Learn why female bartenders took so long to catch on in America at The Daily Beast


Do you love cocktails and live in Chicago? Then sign up here for vintage cocktail classes at The Violet Hour, one of Chicago’s premiere cocktail bars, which features a cool pre-Prohibition vibe and some rather explicit rules of conduct


Why do people order rum and Coke, rather than rum and Pepsi? Learn about the 1920s soda wars over at Vinepair


Or for something more timely, check out back when the NRA actually supported banning automatic weapons—thanks to Al Capone and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, no less!


Remember how big the KKK was in the 1920s? Women were a big part of that, says author Linda Gordon—much like they are today


Disney World has a new speakeasy-style restaurant called The Edison which actually looks pretty cool


Check out these newly colorized photos of 1920s beauty pageant winners, or these colorized mugshots from the UK. Personally, I find digitally coloring old photos to be kinda wierd. What do you guys think?


Want to add some vintage flair to your summer wardrobe? Try these 1920s inspired unisex bathing suits that look great on men AND women!


Learn how REAL Ceasar Salad was made back in the 1920s—and where you can eat it today, no less


Apparently a funny note from 1925 about men and women has gone viral across Twitter and beyond


Learn how speakeasies paved the way for women drinking publicly over at JSTOR Daily



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Some Old-School Superstitions for Valentine’s Day

Valentines? Why, I never get a valentine,” said a teenage debutante to a Tribune society reporter in 1931.1 “Young men don’t even know that Feb. 14th is Valentine’s Day anymore.”2 Her counterpart in 1922 agreed. The practice of sending and receiving valentines, whether gifts or cards, was considered pointless, quaint, and unnecessary for such Bright Young Things, especially in the face of “such agencies as the telephone and automobiles.”3

Yet while teens and twenty-somethings were openly snubbing the holiday, many more were embracing it, particularly in Chicago. In 1929, an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 was spent on Valentine’s Day gifts in the city, with around one million cards sent by the mail.4 Kids “sat with bated breath” all school day, ready to pounce on their “elaborately decorated box” full of classroom valentines.5 And throughout the 1920s and 1930s, places like the Art Institute and the Chicago Historical Society featured exhibits of early valentines, mostly from the Victorian age—exhibits which were well attended by both young and old alike.

Superstitions from “ye olden times” (mostly rural England) abounded during Valentine’s Day in the Roaring Twenties as well, and many pieces of “ancient lore” were repeated in magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals of the day, adding a touch of magical fun to the holiday.

In that spirit, here are some fun old-time Valentine’s Day superstitions for you, dear readers, on this lovely day. 🙂 ❤


Behold, how e'er the Birds of Air Bow to the Power of Love, Divine

During the Middle Ages, birds were said to mate on St. Valentine’s Day. Source: Cardcow.com


Birds of Love:

“If a maid walks abroad in the morning of St. Valentine’s day, she may decide her future husband’s position by the aid of…[the] birds…she sees,” wrote Doris Blake for the Tribune.6 If she spies…

…a blackbird, she will marry a clergyman.

…a [robin] redbreast or a bunting, she will marry a sailor.

…a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire.

…a “yellowbird” (probably a yellow warbler), she will marry a rich man.

…a sparrow, she will find “love in a cottage.”

…a bluebird, she will marry a poor man.

…a crossbill, she will have a quarrelsome husband.

…a wryneck, she will never marry.

…a flock of doves, then she will be lucky all year.7


Warding Off “Tainted” Love:

If a woman wishes to ward off evil in love, she should wear a yellow crocus on St. Valentine’s Day, for it is “the saint’s especial flower” and will protect her all year.8

Crocus-Beautiful Ever

Another CardCow.com


Count The Animals:

If a girl looks out into the street at first light on Valentine’s Day morning, “the number of animals she sees will tell her just how many years it will be before she marries.”9

A couple with Pig

This card echoes an old English folk verse about Valentine’s Day. Source: CardCow.com


Never Sign:

Never sign a valentine, for it will bring you bad luck and “will not be successful” in winning your sweetheart! 10

Cupid Carrying a Heart

What a cute postman! CardCow.com


A Valentine Spell:

If you receive an unsigned valentine today and you wish it came from a certain special someone, you can write their name down on a slip of paper, along with your own, and then tuck it under your pillow. Just before you fall asleep, recite the following verse:

“If he who sent this Valentine,

Is named above with mine;

I pray, good saint, that by this line,

I may his name divine.”11

gorgeous 1910s val card 40 bucks

This beautiful early 1900s card is on sale at CardCow right now for around $40!


Dreaming of You:

If you want to dream of the person you’re destined to marry, on the eve of St. Valentine’s day take 5 bay leaves and pin them to your pillow. Attach one to each corner and the last in the middle, then go to sleep. Whoever you dream of that night, you will marry them within the coming year.12

A St., Valentine Pipe Dream

Trippy, eh? Wonder what’s in that pipe… 😉 From CardCow.com


Eggs for Love:

If you want to make sure that the person you dreamt of on St. Valentine’s day will actually marry you before the year is over, boil an egg before bedtime, remove the yolk, fill the ensuing hole with salt, and then eat it, shell and all—and don’t speak a word until morning. This odd superstition dates back to 1756.13


Don’t Peep:

If you expect to be visited by your true love on Valentine’s Day, don’t open your eyes until they show up. If you see someone other than your sweetheart, it might mean you’ll lose their love!14

gute girl eyes val.jpg

Another cutie from CardCow.com


Fate of Clay:

Try this small fortune-telling game for Valentine’s day: write your friend’s names on pieces of paper, then roll them up, coat them with clay, and throw them into a dish of water: the first name that floats to the top will be the person you marry.15

Valentine Greetings

Valentine greetings for a friend. From CardCow.com


Blessed Union:

Marrying on Valentine’s day will bring “happiness and success” to the lucky couple.16

Cupid in Chains

Guess that’s one way to ensure your marriage… 😉 From CardCow.com


Spot Your Beloved:

The “first unmarried person of the other sex whom you see” on the morning of St. Valentine’s Day is “destined” to be your wife or husband by the end of the year.17


Gifts of Love:

When a man and a women meet on St. Valentine’s Day, whoever says “Good morrow, ’tis St. Valentine’s Day” first wins a present from the other person. This practice dates back to Shakespeare’s time. Even this guy wrote about it.18

boy gift girl val.jpg

A boy brings a girl a gift. CardCow.com!


❤ ~ What about you, dear readers? ~ ❤

Has anyone ever told you an old  Valentine’s Day superstition? Did you recognize any of the ones here? Or is there anything special you do on Valentine’s Day to bring luck in love? Feel free to share in the Comments below! 🙂


Works Cited:
1. Cass, Judith. “Young Society Forgets about Valentine’s Day.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Feb 14, 1933. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181388520?accountid=3688
2. Ibid.
3. Mme, X. “NEWS OF CHICAGO SOCIETY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 12, 1922. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174936623?accountid=3688
4. “WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE? CITY HEARS OLD QUERY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Feb 15, 1929. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180987410?accountid=3688
5. Ibid.
6. Blake, Doris. “VALENTINE LORE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 13, 1921. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174710416?accountid=3688
7. Ibid.
8. “A Friend in Need Sally Joy Brown.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 11, 1920. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174576570?accountid=3688
9. Blake, Doris. “VALENTINE LORE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 13, 1921. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174710416?accountid=3688
10. Ibid.
11. De Young, Ruth. “ST. VALENTINE’S DAY FESTIVITIES OF ROMAN ORIGIN.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Feb 13, 1931. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181161455?accountid=3688
12. Cielo, Astra, 1861-1957. Signs, Omens And Superstitions. New York: G. Sully & company, 1918. See it here at HathiTrust on Page 37.
13. McSpadden, J. Walker 1874-1960. The Book of Holidays. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell company, 1917. See it here at HathiTrust on Page 47
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Devereux, G. R. M. The Lover’s Dictionary Containing a Vast Amount of Information of Interest to Those In Love … London: Pearson, 1903. See it here at Hathitrust on Page 112.
18. Walsh, William Shepard, 1854-1919. Curiosities of Popular Customs And of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, And Miscellaneous Antiquities. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1925. See it here at Hathitrust on Page 956.
Posted in holiday post, Social Customs of the 1920s | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Roaring Twenties TV Shows Coming Out in 2018

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m a sucker for period dramas. If there’s a lavish set, gorgeous costumes, and tons of tiny historical details, I’m there with bells on—and that goes double for anything set during the Roaring Twenties!

If you feel the same, then this will be a great year, especially if you’re interested in what the 1920s were like around the world. This year features new dramas set in Germany, Canada, Australia, with returning series from Spain and England.

Let’s take a look, shall we? 🙂


Explore the Seedy Side of the Wienmar Era Republic

with Babylon Berlin:

babylon berlin promo 1

Setting: Berlin, 1929

Where to Watch: Netflix  or Sky Atlantic

Personally, I can’t wait to start watching Babylon Berlin, which hits Netflix on January 30th! Set during the Wienmar Republic in 1929, it looks gorgeous, dark, and risque—and it’s taken Germany TV by storm, rivaling Game of Thrones in terms of ratings and average number of viewers, not to mention cost. The entire thing took over $45 million to produce, which is currently the largest budget ever for a TV show. Plus it’s got great period music and tortured WWI vets. What more could you possibly want? 😉

Check out the trailer below:

You can learn more about the series here, including the  famous German novel which it’s based on.


Tap Into the Lives of Telephone Operators Again in Cable Girls:


Setting: Madrid, 1928

Where to Watch: Netflix

While the official release date has yet to be announced (it’s getting filmed this February), this year Cable Girls is set to go into its third season on Netflix. If you’re not already familiar with the Spanish melodrama, it follows the lives of four women telephone operators as they work for the new telephone exchange in Madrid during the late 1920s. While I’ve never seen it myself, it’s gotten great reviews, and apparently features strong feminist overtones, with each character reflecting different problems still facing women today. You can read a review of the show to date here at Bustle.

Here is the promo for Season 2, which became available on Netflix in late December 2017:


Solve Crimes in 1920s Toronto with Frankie Drake:

frankie drake promo header

Setting: Toronto, 1920s

Where to Watch: The Canadian Broadcasting Company has a website with episode clips, but right now I think you need to have access to CBC to see it in full, unless it’s on YouTube somewhere

This new mystery series, which follows a female private detective in 1920s Toronto, has been described as “silly as all get out“—but it’s also witty, breezy, full of gorgeous period details, and generally pretty fun, if a bit heavy-handed with the feminist messaging. While it was filmed in 2017, it’s actually airing now.

The following YouTube clip is from Episode 1:


Peaky Blinders Returns in 2019…

To Tangle with Al Capone???!

peaky blinders woot

Setting: Birmingham, England, 1920s

Where to Watch: Netflix, BBC Two

Okay, so it isn’t happening THIS year, but it’s worth repeating here: Peaky Blinders, the stylish crime melodrama about English gangsters in Birmingham during the 1920s, will be back in 2019 with it’s fifth and possible final season…which just might feature Al Capone!

How is this possible, you ask? It sounded ridiculous to me, but according to this Bustle interview, it’s actually more historically accurate than you’d think. While it’s unlikely that the actual Peaky Blinders gang ever interacted with New York mafia, there were some loose connections between american and European gangsters, so, it’s at least within the realm of historical possibility.

Either way, I’m sure it will be highly entertaining, especially since actor Stephen Graham may be reprising his role as Al Capone from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. If so, that’d be pretty terrific!

And if you happen to be tuning in to Peaky Blinders somewhere in the UK, you can enjoy it with some show-themed booze, too: English brewer Sadler’s has an entire line of products dedicated to the TV show, with whiskey, gin, and rum, each one deliberately crafted with the show in mind. And if you’re not in the UK, don’t worry: you can also buy some on Amazon.


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Returns

in Movie Form with Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

fisher tiny

Setting: Australia, 1920s

Where to Watch (the TV show): Stream it on Netflix, buy it on Amazon, or buy it from the BBC

The wonderful Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries may have ended in 2015, but a new movie trilogy may be on the horizon this year. The creators of the series recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Miss Fisher back in a movie trilogy a la Indiana Jones, with lots of international intrigue and pizazz! If you’re a fan of Phryne Fisher and her adventures, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campagin here, or check out the IndieGoGo funding page here. And if that’s not enough, there was talk last year of a possible prequel series as well.

If you’ve never heard of Phryne Fisher, may I suggest you start with the books instead of the TV show? They’re terrific, quick reads, and Kerry Greenwood is a lovely writer—and they’re a great way to get into the TV show, which is also wonderful in a completely different way.



What about you, dear readers? Are you looking forward to any of these shows? Are there others you feel should be on this list? What other period dramas set in the 1920s have you enjoyed in the past? Please share in the Comments below! 🙂



Posted in link post, TV show review, video post | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ring in the New Year With Some “Dry” Prohibition Drinks

Want to ring in the New Year with an unusual 1920s twist? Why not try a Prohibition cocktail…without any alcohol?



A Happy New Year

What you won’t find in this post: actual alcohol! This cute postcard from 1907 is on sale now at Cardcow.com, however.

While New Year’s Eve in the Roaring Twenties tends to call up images of glittering  high-class speakeasies dripping with champagne, New Year’s Eve in Chicago during the 1920s was actually fairly tame. While some people went out for a night on the town full of booze, or partied hard at home, many more had a nice, quiet, and dry celebration.

When asked what they’d be doing for New Years in 1920, many Chicagoans answered that they were going to spend a quiet night with family and friends, rather than have a night on the town. “In former years the thing to do was to reserve a table at some downtown cafe and enjoy whatever entertainment it might furnish, but I guess since John Barleycorn died people have gotten out of that habit,” observed Mr. Merrill when asked what he planned to do for New Year’s Eve.1 His fellow Chicagoans seemed to back up his statement, with few of them planning to go out and “see a show” that year.2 The following year seemed to cement the new trend. When asked if their New Year’s Eve was “wet” or “dry” in 1922, all of the people asked said they had “a very ‘dry’ New Year’s Eve” in general, with many saying they spent a quiet night home with family instead of going out.3 Yet by 1928, public opinion had started to change. When asked if they missed New Year’s “before the country went dry,” three out of the five Chicagoans surveyed said they wanted the old New Year’s celebrations back, citing “no good” liquor, increasing bootlegger violence, and a general lack of “whoopee” as reasons why a “dry” New Year was no longer wanted.4

Those people had to wait until 1933 to get their regular New Year’s back, but for most of the duration of Prohibition, most folks didn’t spend their New Year’s Eve drinking to excess. What did they drink instead? All kinds of things—and many of them actually sound pretty good, too! Check out the recipes below. These cheerful, non-alcoholic drinks would be sure to please any teetotaler on New Year’s Eve.


mock champagne cocktail 1 with raspberries


” C H A M P A G N E ”   C O C K T A I L   ( 1 9 2 9 ) :

1 pt. sparkling grape juice

1 pt. of carbonated water

1 tsp. angostura bitters

1 sprig of mint, roughly chopped, for garnish

Combine items in large punch bowl, taking care not to add any extra fruit juices. Then add “a bunch…on top of the ice in the pitcher or bowl” and serve.5

This unusual recipe comes from the Chicago Tribune‘s Jane Eddington, whose recipes have been featured in many of my previous posts. It came, she said, from a maitre’d at “one of our grandest hostelries” who had served it at many a debutante ball, and many of the underage guests thought it was “a great lark.”6

Jane assures readers that it tastes just like “an old-fashioned champagne cocktail and goes equally well with a fine, balanced meal.”7 As for what an old-fashioned champagne cocktail was, she’s probably referring to this Jerry Thomas recipe for a Champagne Cocktail. In modern terms, it means a drink like this one. Either way, one likely ends up with something both sweet and sour, and actually sounds pretty good! 🙂


Jerry Thomas’ creations acts as inspiration for another of Eddington’s drink as well, a kind of brandy punch—minus the brandy, of course ;). Eddington modifies this Jerry Thomas recipe below.


fruit citrus punch nonalc.jpg


 F R U I T   P U N C H   ( 1 9 2 9 ) :

1 tablespoon raspberry syrup

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small orange, juiced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of water

1 slice of pineapple, crushed

Combine ingredients and shake together, then add lump ice to a tall glass and pour mixture over ice. Sip through a straw.8

Eddington also recommends Thomas’ Milk Punch, but I think a classic Tom & Jerry cocktail is better if you’re looking for something hot to ring in the new year.

Spiced, hot drinks like cider were another popular choice for Prohibition-era New Year’s Eve revelers. Here are a series of recipes from 1931, all of which involve spices, fruit juices, and zero alcohol content…



Okay, so this is really a hot toddy with booze, but the picture’s still valid, more or less, even without the cherries.



1 can pitted cherries

2 tbsp grated orange rind

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup boiling water

2 tbsp sugar

 1 qt. grape juice

4 cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Drain cherries from juice and chop them. Soak orange rind, lemon juice, cherry juice water and sugar for 15 minutes. More sugar may be added if needed. Add grape juice and spices and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve hot or chill and serve with shaved ice.9


mint julep fancy

Just because your drink doesn’t have any booze doesn’t mean it can’t look fancy! (This one does though)



1 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1 bunch fresh mint

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 pt. ginger ale

Add mint leaves, sugar and water to lemon juice. Let stand 30 minutes. Pour over a large piece of ice and add ginger ale. Serve in small glasses.10


cider punch fall

Technically this is Ambrosia Punch, but the image works.



2 oranges, juiced

3 lemons, juiced

1 qt. cider

1 qt. grape juice

1 cup sugar

2 qt. water

Add a little of the grated rind of the orange and the lemon to their respective juices and stir in the sugar and cider. Place in punch bowl over block of ice and serve in sherbet glasses. Makes about 4 1/2 quarts.11


wassail punch

Here we come a-wassailing, among the leaves so green…this lovely punch has a modern recipe here as well at Taste of Home


WASSAIL (1931):

4 tart apples

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ground cloves

4 two-inch sticks of cinnamon

4 oranges, juiced

2 lemons, juiced

1 cup sugar

2 qt. cider

Remove cores from apples and cut into rounds. Bake until tender but not too soft. Add spices, fruit juice and sugar to the cider and bring to boiling point. Put the baked apple rounds in a punch bowl and pour the hot cider over them. Serve hot.12


These vintage recipes aren’t the only New Year’s Eve mocktails available, however. There are tons of different reasons not to want to drink alcohol on New Year’s Eve, from not wanting to deal with a hangover the next day, to pregnancy, to being heavily medicated. Whatever your reason for not drinking, a lack of alcohol doesn’t mean you don’t get to have fun! There are tons of great festive drinks out there just waiting for you to try. Here’s a quick list of modern mocktail recipes, specifically tailored for New Year’s Eve:

Tablespoon offers 9 Non-Alcoholic Cocktails to Party Down With on New Year’s Eve, including Pear Tree Punch, Raspberry Frost Soda, and a Noel Spritzer, among others.

Bustle offers 13 drinks to help you ring in the New Year, featuring unusual drinks like a Pear Rosemary Spritzer, a fake Moscow Mule, a Lavender Cardamom Fizz, and a Pomegranate Chai Ginger Fizz.

Martha Stewart has 11 different non-alcoholic offerings for a dry New Year’s Eve.

Delish offers 16 different kinds of mocktails, both adult and kid-friendly.

Taste of Home has a ton of different mocktails, though not all of them are tailored to New Year’s/

Spaceships and Laserbeams offers 29 different drinks with tons of pretty Pintrest-ready pictures.

Is This Really My Life has 12 of the prettiest New Year’s Eve mocktails to serve to your guests.


What are YOU drinking this fine New Year’s Eve, dear readers? Share your picks or recipes in the Comments below. Cheers, and Happy New Year! 😀

Works Cited:
1. “The Inquiring Reporter.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 29, 1920. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174755802?accountid=3688.
2. Ibid.
3. “The Inquiring Reporter.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 02, 1922. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174929232?accountid=3688.
4. “The Inquiring Reporter.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 31, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180980273?accountid=3688.
5. Eddington, Jane. “Here are Cups that Cheer but Don’t Inebriate.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 29, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180940437?accountid=3688.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Potter, Paul. “NEW YEAR’S EVE GIVES IMPETUS TO FRUIT SALES.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 30, 1931. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181263359?accountid=3688.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
Posted in 1920s vintage recipes, drink recipes, holiday post, link post | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Books for Every One”: A Christmas Gift Guide from 1928

merry xmas book cardcow.jpg


Scrambling for a last minute Christmas gift?

Why not try a book recommendation from 1928?


What do you think was the most popular Christmas gift in 1928? If you said “a book,” you’d be right! 🙂

Books were extremely popular as Christmas gifts throughout the Roaring Twenties, of course, much like they are today—and it’s easy to see why.

“Books are the ideal Christmas gift,” stated a Chicago Tribune article in 1928.1 “Those who enjoy reading are more thrilled with a book than any other gift one could choose, and those who don’t like to read are flattered anyway.”2 That’s because giving a book as a gift can imply all kinds of things about its reader—and with so many different kinds of books available, a giver was almost guaranteed to find something appropriate for their recipient.

As a result, books were considered as a “safe” gift for young men and women of the 1920s to give to one another. Such gifts were particularly important for young people who were “courting,” as giving or receiving an expensive or extravagant gift of any kind could potentially embarrass, drive away, or signal the wrong intention to the other party. Books, however, were considered exempt from this social consideration. For example, one Tribune article stated that young women should be “most careful” when giving anything to man they weren’t “betrothed to” for Christmas—unless it was a book: “Books, of course, she may send—that goes without saying—and it’s just one more nice thing about books.”3

Books were considered equally “safe” for anyone else on your Christmas list, too, as they could be personal or not and covered so many topics you were sure to find something eventually. As a result, books were also popular gift choices for everybody else in your life, too—just like they are today.

In light of that, then, imagine my joy and surprise when I ran across a Christmas book guide from 1928 while digging through the Chicago Tribune archives! 🙂 Not only did it suggest over 100 “popular” book titles as possible Christmas gifts, but each book list was created with a different kind of recipient in mind, from fathers who consider themselves “collegiate” to old women who have, ahem, “delusions of Sixteen” (instead of admitting their age).4 Most of the descriptors of each recipient were quite funny and sarcastic, and the books they suggested for each of them were very interesting.

Here are the possible book recipients given in the article:

Father,” who is either “a nice solid soul” or “inclined to be collegiate.”

Mother,” who either “wears gray and glasses and likes to whip up pudding for Sunday night supper” or “wears French models and a bob.”

Sister,” who is either “a romantic” or “thinks the peaches in the gardens of life are lemons.”

Brother,” who is either “collegiate” or “isn’t.”

Her,” who is “proud of her mind” or “has spent her life trying to prove she hasn’t one.”

Him,” who “still thinks the West is wild” or has brains “in his head and not in his feet.”

An Old lady” who either “admits she is one” or “has a delusion of Sixteen.”

An Old Gentleman” who “plays pinchole, doesn’t dance, and smokes cigars” or “plays bridge” and “does the Varsity drag” (sorry, I couldn’t resist… 😉 ).

Tessie, aged 13, who knows all.”

Angie, aged 9, who still believes there is a Peter Pan.”

Cuthbert, aged 12, who has a quiet little smoke occasionally.”

George Alfred, aged 6, who lies on his stomach when he reads.”

“The baby, aged 3, who will probably be President some day.”5


While there were far too many books in the 1928 article for me to list all of them, there were some notable trends throughout the selection:

Most of the suggested books were published in 1928.  The Tribune article sourced “Chicago bookshops” for recommendations, so it’s not surprising they’d want to sell new products).6

Volumes of poetry were popular gifts for everyone, no matter the age or gender. Carl Sandburg, Dorothy Aldis, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mother Goose (hah!), and A. A. Milne were all recommended as poets. This suggests a society with a greater appreciation for, familiarity with, and daily exposure to poetry as a valuable form of literature…something we lack today, sadly.

“Classic” literature from the Victorian Age was a big hit. While there were some books on the list that would be considered classics today (Bambi and Orlando were both recommended, as were some Wodehouse books and Agatha Christie), most of the classic literature came from the late 1800s or early 1900s. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the Tom Swift series, and books by A. A. Milne were all listed.

The same book was recommended for every adult on the list: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley. Sort of an intellectual Who’s Who of the 1920s, Huxley’s longest novel covers a philosophical conversation between a large cast of characters, many of whom were based on prominent real-life figures of the time. Sounds like a book that would prompt lots of discussions around the Christmas dinner table at the time!

Women’s book choices reflected women’s changing position in society. Depending on what “type” of women the bookshop owners were suggesting for, their book choices veered wildly from intelligent to catty to downright childish. There was everything from Bambi (which was suggested for the “gray” mother AND children), to The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, to a matter-of-fact book about having extramarital affairs. Not exactly the best grouping of stereotypes, is it?


Below you’ll find a selection of books from some of the “recipients” in the Tribune article. Each book has a small summary, links to where you can find a vintage or reprint copy, and a modern-day read-alike. Take a look. Perhaps you’ll find the perfect last minute Christmas gift here after all! 🙂




Who is either “a nice solid soul” or “inclined to be collegiate”:

Father’s tastes seem to run to biographies of famous people (Lincoln and Grant being particularly popular), drinking guides (for reliving college days), and staid religious titles, with the odd adventure book thrown in. Here are few picks for him:

abraham lincoln vols beveridge

Vintage Suggestion (for “solid” dad): Abraham Lincoln, Vols. 1-4 by Albert J. Beveridge and Meet General Grant by W. E. Woodward

While the books on Abraham Lincoln are considered classics in their field, the book about General Grant contains some racist leanings, but seems to offer a pretty fair general picture of Grant as a person, in spite of being written by a Southerner.



grant chernow

Modern Read-alike:  Grant by Ron Chernow has made the New York Times Book Review Top Ten List for 2017, and is purported to be an excellent study of a complicated presidential figure.  There’s also a new biography on the underrated President McKinley as well.







bon vivants hardcoverVintage Suggestion (for “collegiate” dad): How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion by “Professor” Jerry Thomas

I was both surprised and amused to find this book listed here, under “collegiate” father’s book list, especially considering how Prohibition was still going strong in 1928, when this list was compiled.  At the beginning of Prohibition, most booksellers were forced to remove books like these from their shelves, and could be fined for selling them. Interesting, then, that the Tribune would actually recommend this…

Modern Read-alike: Why not try a reprint of the original? As most cocktail aficionados know, it’s got some great drinks and has tons of historical value, so why mess with what already works? And if you don’t want to shell out any cash, there are tons of free online versions too.


hounds of god sabiniVintage Suggestion (for “solid” dad): The Hounds of God by Rafael Sabatini

Rafael Sabatini, the same Italian-English adventure novelist who penned Scaramouche, The Sea-Hawk, and Captain Blood, offers a stirring adventure novel about a shipwrecked Spaniard who falls in love with an English lady while pursued by the Spanish Inquisition.

count of monte cristo classic coverModern Read-alike: While Dumas isn’t exactly “modern,” he came up consistently on Novelist Plus as a similar author to Sabatini, probably because both feature swashbuckling heroes on daring adventures.  May I recommend one of my favorite Dumas books, The Count of Monte Cristo? 🙂









who either “wears gray and glasses and likes to whip up pudding for Sunday night supper” or “wears French models and a bob”:

Traditional “gray and glasses” mother favors historical fiction, the lives of the rich and famous, and Methodist religious texts. Modern mother, however, apparently likes to cheat on her husband, plans to take over Hell in the afterlife, and enjoys Gothic mysteries. What a pair! O.o

mary lincoln review Vintage Suggestion (for “gray” mother): Mary, Wife of Lincoln by Katherine Helm

Written by the niece of Mary Todd Lincoln, this book purports to be an insider’s view of Lincoln’s famous wife. According to Goodreads reviewers, it’s quite biased (she was family, after all), but worth it if you’ve already read a lot of other books about Mary and want a different take on things.  If you’re interested, there are used copies available for sale on Amazon, or you can read it all for free here online.

mary todd lincoln revisionist cover

Modern Read-alike: Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography by Jean Harvey Baker

Considered a “definitive” work, this book offers a readable, sympathetic, and more balanced portrait of Mrs. Lincoln’s life and times.

If you’re more interested in fiction, try Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. Based on a true story, it chronicles the friendship between dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, and Mrs. Lincoln throughout the most tumultuous period of her life.


jealous gods reviewVintage suggestion (for “modern” mother): The Jealous Gods by Gertude Atherton

Getrude Atherton was a popular Californian writer with strong Feminist views. Her book The Jealous Gods appears to be a piece of historical fiction, but I couldn’t find out much about it beyond the first sentence, which begins thusly:

The last thing that Alcibiades had wanted was to marry, but one day on a wager he slapped the face of the father of his friend Callias, and the wealthy and genial Hipponicus was so charmed with the grace of his apology that he offered him his daughter and ten talents as a marriage portion.”

…And based on the ad to the left here, it looks like it also involves an Egyptian princess! Sounds interesting. Unfortunately, it also seems to be out of print. But then, there’s always Worldcat…

Modern Read-alike: NovelistPlus suggests Edna O’Brien as an alternative to Atherton, since her work also focuses on women’s struggles. Why not try her most recent book, The Little Red Chairs? Set in Ireland, it features a mysterious healer who comes to a small village and woos a local woman. When she finds out that he’s a wanted war criminal, however, her world is shattered, and she must find a way to pick up the pieces.




who is either “collegiate” or “isn’t”:

Brother seems to be an adventurous soul, with broad interests in war, early science fiction, booze (The Bon-Vivant’s Companion is also recommended for “collegiate” brother), mysteries, and the occasional book of essays—one of which I talk about below.

whiter mankind review

Vintage Suggestion (for “collegiate” bother): Wither Mankind, edited by Charles A. Beard

This collection of essays explores what it means to live in a “modern” world, with an emphasis on man’s relationships to machines. At least one Amazon reviewer argued that these 1928 essays still have relevance today. While I haven’t read them myself, they do sound interesting—and you can read it all for free here.

thinking machines coverModern Read-alike: These days, everyone seems to be discussing the future of artificial intelligence, and there are a number of new books out this year that try to imagine what that future will look like—and if humans will still be a part of it. Check out these three books:

Thinking Machines by Luke Dormehl covers the history of A.I., from its beginnings in the Cold War to the advances being made today—and predicts where it might be going next.

Heart of the Machine by Futurist Richard Yonck discusses how incorporating emotions to A.I. could be the next big step in human-robot interactions.

Renowned MIT physicist Max Tegmark imagines what will happen to human societies after A.I. reaches singularity in Life 3.0.


raiders of the deeep cover Vintage Suggestion (for “collegiate” brother): Raiders of the Deep by Lowell Thomas

Listed as a bestseller in 1928, this book by renowned reporter Lowell Thomas offered a sympathetic, behind-the-scenes look at the German soldiers who risked their lives in U-Boat crews. That’s because, rather than offer some kind of history or context, he simply asked German soldiers to tell their stories—and frankly, after what I’ve read about life in U-Boats, I have no doubt that it’s just as gripping as the goodreads reviewers say.



dead wake coverModern Read-alike: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Luistania by Erik Larson

A terrific read (and one of the few books on this list I’ve actually read), Larson covers both the side of the victims and the Germans with aplomb, and his descriptions of stressful, cramped life in a U-Boat are excruciating to read. Can’t recommend this book enough! 🙂







blue train christieVintage Suggestion (for the “isn’t” brother): The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

When an American heiress is strangled on the French luxury train Le Train Bleu, detective Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate. While many people on Amazon don’t consider this her best work—and a precursor to her classic Murder on the Orient Express at best—it’s still an Agatha Christie mystery, and as such, it truly can’t be all that bad. Christie was a master for a reason, after all! 😉

Modern Read-alike: Just go read anything by Agatha Christie. Seriously. She’s wonderful! 😀





who is either “a romantic” or “thinks the peaches in the gardens of life are lemons”:

These sisters are another interesting pair. “Romantic” sister seems to be young and naive, as many of her book selections are rather childish and have some crossover with “gray” traditional mother, too—not exactly the nicest insinuations there. The bitter sister who thinks only of “lemons,” however, has more racy titles, such as the autobiography of Isadora Duncan.

Strangely, though, both of them got the same recommendation: a copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry collection, The Buck in the Snow.

The title poem goes like this:

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.

Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding the snow. 

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing, a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks, that as the moments pass,
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow –
Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.

——–Edna St. Vincent Millay

Cheery, isn’t it? :p Not sure why they both got that one. Some of the kids even got it, too. Here’s a tiny ad for it, too:

buck in the snow reviewI guess the fact that it was her first book in five years was a big deal, but I digress.


silver slippers cover

Vintage Suggestion (for “romantic” sister): Silver Slippers by Temple Bailey

Largely forgotten today, Temple Bailey was a popular and prolific author in her time who produced quite a number of short stories, novels, and articles for famous magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, McCall’s, and Good Housekeeping, to name a few. As for novels, she mostly wrote sweeping romances, and according to this goodreads review, it sounds like Silver Slippers is definitely in that vein: Joan Dudley, orphaned as a young adult, is forced to live with her wealthy aunt and must decide if she will marry a middle-aged man who seems to only want her aunt’s money. Whatever will Joan do? Unfortunately, aside from buying antique copies, it doesn’t seem too easy to find a copy of this book, except on Worldcat of course.

Also, a fellow WordPress blogger has apparently reviewed some of her books. Awesome! 😀

regency buck georgette heyeModern Read-alike: I’m not much of a romance reader at all, but Georgette Heyer is constantly being recommended to me as a good historical fiction writer who focuses on romance. She’s known for excellent historical research as well as gripping romantic plots. Why not start with her first Regency romance, Regency Buck? Not only does it feature romance, but a mystery as well! (Heyer was also a prolific mystery writer, which was the other reason she was recommended to me).






fall flight vintage cover

Vintage Suggestion: Fall Flight by Eleanor Gizycka

A thinly-veiled fictionalized account of the author’s broken marriage, Fall Flight chronicles the life and loves of a “shy, lonely, passionate” girl who marries a Russian prince, then flees his estate—and her failing marriage—with the help of the prince’s sexy English stable manager.  The author’s real name, however, was “Cissy” Patterson. Not only was her grandfather the owner of the Chicago Tribune and former mayor of Chicago, but her brother Joseph founded the New York Daily News, and she herself went on to start the Washington Times-Herald. Not a bad read according to the few reviews I could find, but frankly, Cissy’s real life sounds MUCH more interesting than this.

newspaper titan coverModern Read-alike: Okay, so this isn’t really a read-alike per se, but Cissy’s life really WAS interesting, if only in that it intersected in some way with pretty much all of the major historical events of her lifetime. Famous, rich, demanding, and always on the cutting edge of the news, Cissy’s life was full of famous people and events of the 1920s and 1930s, which is good for history-loving folks because outside of that she was apparently a really awful human being—and Amanda Smith’s Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson gives you both in spades!




BOOKS FOR THE CHILDREN, who consist of Tessie (age 13), Angie (age 9),

Cuthbert (age 12), George Alfred (age 6), and Baby (age 3):

With the kiddies, it’s a much broader mix, and titles seem more dependent on the recipient’s age, gender, and attitude. Thirteen-year-old Tessie features a mix of serious titles and sweeping romances (Silver Slippers appears on her list too). Nine-year-old Angie gets a host of children’s classics (The Wind in the Willows, Dr. Dolittle in the Moon, Arabian Nights, etc). Cuthbert gets a mix of war books, survival books (Boy Scouts and so on), adventure novels and some classics too (like Tom Sawyer).  Six-year-old George gets Winne the Pooh, Oz, and Uncle Remus stories. Three-year-old baby gets multiple Mother Goose rhymes, as well as Dorothy Aldis poetry. All in all, an interesting mix!

harriets choice cover shelf

Vintage Suggestion (for Tessie): Harriet’s Choice by Jane Abbott

A girl goes to New York to live with her aunt and “Harriet found a deep mystery at Aunt Marcia’s city home – and the road to her heart’s desire!” was pretty much all I could find to describe the plot this book, though based on the cover I’d peg it for a romance, perhaps in the same vein as Silver Slippers. Apparently, when she’s not reading serious stuff like The Crock of Gold, Tessie likes to read romances (yeah, right! :p).

Bridge_to_Terabithia wiki coverModern Read-alike: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Based on the other books recommended for Tessie, she came off as an intelligent tomboy, so I’d vote for giving her this excellent book instead. It chronicles the growing friendship between a young artistic boy and a rich, tomboyish girl who create an imaginary world together called Terabithia. The ending is quite the tearjerker, but it’s a good one!





kimo cover

This vintage copy is for sale at abebooks.com

Vintage Suggestion (for Angie): Kimo by Alice Cooper Bailey

It was hard for me to find much about this book, save for the following summary from Goodreads, which was the most complete one I could find anywhere: “Kimo, a boy from Honolulu, goes to stay with his aunt in an isolated village on another island. Here, the people have been untouched by modern civilization and still live following the old ways. But, to his dismay, he isn’t accepted by the grandfather of the little village. Mysterious letters, a talking bird, unknown histories — by the end of this tale, Kimo and young Lani learn a lot about their families and their country.Also, according to a different Goodreads user, the boy’s grandmother is thedoomedQueen of Hawaii. Maybe he meant this lady?

bomb cover taylorModern Read-alike: While it’s hard to confidently suggest anything not knowing fully what this book is about, but if you want to discuss the exploitation of islanders with kids, maybe try The Bomb by Theodore Taylor. While the book isn’t meant for very young children (so Angie, who is 9, is off the list), teens and older preteens will be touched by the poignant, heart-wrenching ending that encourages them to think about the exploitation of indigenous peoples.


historic airships

Vintage Suggestion (for Cuthbert): Historic Airships by Rupert Holland

Aside from being a “general history from hot air balloons through Lindenberg” plus other forms of air travel, I couldn’t find much on this book….except for a picture of the inside title page, which included gorgeous color plate!

Check this out:

historic airships inner pgs

Looks great, doesn’t it??? 😀 I bet the pen drawings inside are great too, based on that insert there. WWI planes are the best, after all! 😀

wings coverModern Read-alike: Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age by Tom D. Crouch

Written by a former curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., this book attempts to cover the entire history of commercial aviation in one volume—and does so admirably. He covers everything from early gliders to the Wright brothers to the rise of commercial aviation in the 1920s to stealth bombers and beyond. Engaging, well-written, thoroughly researched, and still in print!



aa milne set pooh

This first edition set is also on sale…

Vintage Suggestion (for George Alfred): The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

The second collection of Pooh stories by famous writer A. A. Milne, this book was recommended along with Now We Are Six, a book of poetry for children. This particular collection is notable for introducing this guy.

pooh box set disney

Modern Read-alike:  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, some things are classics for a reason! So why not give a set of his books to your favorite young person?

And if you’re looking for an adult, you could always try one of Milne’s mystery novels. Did you know Milne actually wanted to be a mystery writer, but his adult work was never taken seriously? Apparently it infuriated him to no end. If you want to give his adult work a try, start with The Red House Mystery, one of those classic locked-room scenarios.







here there and everywhere cover color cover

Vintage Suggestion (for the Baby): Here, There and Everywhere by Dorothy Aldis

Dorothy Aldis was a famous children’s poet during the early 1920s. She was also a Chicagoan, being raised in the city and settling in nearby Lake Forest, IL. Her rhymes may be simple, but her imagery is quite nice, and many of her poems are still included in modern children’s poetry collections.





fox sox abridgedModern Read-alike:  Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

An abridged version meant for toddlers, this popular Dr. Seuss book is full of rhymes and tongue-twisters that are great for little kids and their parents to try together.



So what do you think of these book lists, dear readers? See any books you like? Have you read any of the vintage books on this list? If so, would you recommend them, or not so much? Please share in the Comments below! 🙂


Happy holiday reading, everyone!

May you have a lovely holiday season and a happy New Year! 😀 ❤

A Merry Christmas - Volumes of Good Wishes - Books and Holly

This cute vintage postcard is for sale here at Cardcow.com! 🙂

Works Cited:
1. “Christmas Books for Every One are Listed here.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 08, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180993473?accountid=3688.
2. Ibid.
3. “How to Reduce Your Christmas Shopping to its Easiest Terms.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Nov 22, 1925. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180707135?accountid=3688.
4. “Christmas Books for Every One are Listed here.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 08, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180993473?accountid=3688.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
Posted in book list, book reviews, link post, list post, primary source review, Social Customs of the 1920s | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Turtle Soup and Oyster Stew: A New England Jazz Age Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! As you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and American tables will be overflowing with mashed potatoes, turkey, and pumpkin pie, to name but a few…though sea turtle soup, oyster stew, and broiled lobster probably won’t be on the menu!

While poking around for images for my Halloween How-To series, I came across some charming vintage Thanksgiving postcards from the 1920s. Each one contains a small illustrated menu, with suggestions for soups, entrees, sides, desserts, and drinks, as well as a short toast for guests to use. All the postcards were mailed during the Jazz Age, so it’s likely that many of these dishes wouldn’t look out completely of place on a Roaring Twenties Thanksgiving table—especially one in New England.

Check out the menus below. Notice anything different from our modern-day feast?


Thanksgiving Menu

Succotash is a traditional New England dish. On sale at CardCow.com


Thanksgiving Menu

I like how this is the only one that contains salad. On sale at CardCow.com


Thanksgiving Menu

Green sea turtle? Really??! On sale at CardCow.com



Mmmm, lobster! On sale at CardCow.com


So what’s different about these menus? The seafood! As you can see, some kind of sea creature is on every single one of these menus, from oysters to lobsters. Why? Well, it’s likely because these menus are meant to evoke a Colonial New England Thanksgiving. Heck, there’s even succotash, and that’s a traditional New England dish as well. It’s not necessarily inaccurate either, as lobster, clams, oysters and mussels were part of the first Thanksgiving—but it’s doubtful that people in, say, 1920s Ohio were eating boiled lobster with their turkey. Oyster stew, maybe, but not fresh lobster. So why send these menu postcards to their friends?

Well, it’s probably part of the general trend throughout the Roaring Twenties to hearken back to “simpler times” during the holidays, choosing to emphasize tradition over the new modern age. And with its position as a uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving became a time to emphasize a particular vision of America’s Colonial past, whether through reviving old recipes, making children put on pageants, or sending postcards like these.

Incorporating some seafood into your modern Thanksgiving feast, however, isn’t necessarily a bad idea. While fresh oysters aren’t as plentiful, cheap, or easy to obtain as they used to be (there’s a reason they used to be considered common workingman’s food), they’re still worth your time.

For example, the idea of stuffing a turkey full of fresh oysters is utterly foreign to me as a Midwesterner, but it’s not only part of New England’s food history, it also supposedly tastes great. Serious Eats assures me that its “just really freaking good,” with the brine from the fresh oysters making “deliciousness guaranteed.”

So, even though we’re no longer able to get fresh oysters as easily as our forefathers, let me offer you this vintage recipe for oyster stuffing, which is paraphrased from Hospitality (1922) by Mary M. Wright:


Oyster Stuffing (1922) :

1 qt. bread crumbs

1 pint oysters, fresh, shucked and drained

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon butter

Mix all ingredients together and stuff the bird, increasing amounts as needed for a larger turkey.

—paraphrased from page 46 of Hospitality (1922) by Mary M. Wright.

Or, if you’d rather try something with a bit more flavor, try this modern recipe from Serious Eats.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and no matter what’s on your table, I hope you enjoy it! 😀


Now back to carving the turkey… ;). On sale at CardCow.com 


Posted in 1920s vintage recipes, holiday post, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hallowe’en How-To: What Food to Serve at Your Vintage Halloween Party

Congratulations, dear readers! What with the invitations mailed and the house decorated, you’re almost ready to hold your vintage Halloween party! Now you just need one more thing: food! Lucky for you, vintage Halloween fare is simple to prepare…though not all of it is the kind of stuff you’d see on a party tray today. No need to worry, though—there are all sorts of recipes to choose from below. But first, you’ll need to…


Step One: Decorate Your Table

No matter how simple or elaborate the decorating in the living room, the table itself must be a bright spot of color,” says the 1926 version of the Dennison Bogie Book. While that generally meant that everything should be covered in as much orange and black crepe paper as possible…

1922 Bogie book witches supper table 1

Even the “moss” hanging from the ceiling was made of crepe paper! 😮 From the 1922 Dennison Bogie Book

…many hosts and hostesses from the early 1900s through the Jazz Age took a different decorative tack, incorporating vegetables, flowers and fruit to create an “old-fashioned,” rustic decor that evoked the Autumn harvest, with pumpkins, apples, dried corn stalks, autumn leaves, fall flowers like chrysanthemums and various nuts all making an appearance.

A 1905 book recommends this layout for an “old-fashioned” buffet-style table set up, which incorporates many of the aforementioned items:

“Refreshments should be served on a highly polished oak or mahogany table covered with fall leaves arranged as mats. In the centre of the table put a small table mirror on a mat of brown chestnut leaves. In the center of the mirror stand a large brown jug or pitcher filled with tiny old-fashioned chrysanthemums, red and yellow. Towards the end of the table make large mats of leaves and pile on them beautifully polished apples. Cut sheets of tin in squares of about nine or ten inches, roll the corners to give the appearance of flat cake dishes. Fill these with doughnuts, ginger cookies and sand tarts. At one end of the table, on a large tray, place a jug of cider and glasses or stone mugs. Have plain brown bread and butter sandwiches, a large wooden bowl full of cracked nuts. Another filled with smoking hot boiled chestnuts will be brought in during supper. Serve on wooden plates…and…use brown paper napkins.”—Mrs. Rorer’s Every Day Menu Book (1905), page 242 and page 243

By the 1910s, pumpkins took center stage as table decorations. In a 1914 article, for example, Jane Eddington of the Tribune says a pumpkin can “be carved into baskets for fruits—brilliant clusters of grapes and rosy apples and pears being the most suitable…with autumn leaves, perhaps” and thus turned into a fine centerpiece.1 She also mentions in passing an entirely different way to decorate a pumpkin that doesn’t involve much carving, but does involve using extra vegetables in interesting ways:

“In carving a pumpkin and fixing it up, a question that faces us is as to how grotesque we shall make it. I think that to make the jack-o-lantern too grotesque is to lose some of the real charm we might put into it. Therefore, instead of a red pepper for a nose, as is common, we cut out a carrot, allowing for an ample Roman quality. Little discs of carrots were also used to make the eyes expressive, and carrot pegs for teeth.”2

Even shop-keepers got involved in this act, apparently: “The grocers last year did some wonderful carving with cranberries set in for eyebrows, red cabbage leaves for tongues, teeth of kernels of corn, or other vegetable decorations.”3

A 1910 Tribune article suggests a similar set-up as well:

“in the center of the table be placed a large jack-o-lantern or a large pumpkin hollowed out and filled with fruit. Another good center piece is a small sheaf of wheat surrounded by all sorts of harvest vegetables, and in the center, peeping saucily out, a small jack-o-lantern. A candelabra made of apples raised on a standard and streamers of strung pumpkin seeds for a canopy over a jack-o-lantern head makes a good center piece…”4

Other table centerpieces were interactive, offering guests party favors or fortunes along with their food. Check out this example from a 1904 copy of The Good Housekeeping Hostess, which incorporates fortune-telling:

1904 halloween centerpiece good housekeeping

The actual centerpiece in question, from The Good Housekeeping Hostess. Photo Source: The Good Housekeeping Hostess (1904), p. 253

“An appropriate centerpiece for the Halloween supper table may consist of small paper mache jack-o-lanterns and splendid chrysanthemums arranged alternately around a mammoth pumpkin carved into a basket. The basket is filled with the shells of mandarin oranges, and is passed to the guests. Each shell contains an article—a penny, a heart, a bachelor’s button, tiny china cat, etc., etc. These are supposed to carry a meaning prophetic of the recipient’s future.”—The Good Housekeeping Hostess (1904), page 250

Another 1910s centerpiece also involved fortunes, but used a cabbage and flowers instead of a pumpkin:

“The centerpiece was made by placing a cabbage, which had curling leaves, in a shallow glass dish, and into the leaves of the cabbage sticking flowers, on the stems of which were curled slips of paper containing a ‘fortune’ for each guest.”5

dame curtsey halloween centerpiece candles 1911

This centerpiece is less about the pumpkin and more about the candles. So many candles.—From “Dame Curtsey’s” book of novel entertainments for every day in the year (1911), pg. 94

For a children’s Halloween party, Tribune reporter Ada M. Krecker suggests another fortune-telling centerpiece in the form of a pumpkin, something called a “jack-o-lantern surprise”:

“…select a large, round turnip pumpkin, and carefully remove the top, keeping it whole for Jack’s hat. Next hollow out all of the inside possible, and cut triangular eyes, nose, and mouth. The favors will suggest the future lot of the boy or girl who receives them; a ring for the one who will first be married, a horseshoe for good luck, a thimble for an old maid, a penny for riches, etc. These favors are wrapped in yellow tissue paper, tied with long strands of raffia, and packed in the pumpkin. The raffia is used instead of ribbons for pulling the gifts and gives the effect of hair.”6

kids halloween party omg candles pumpkin center

See the pumpkin in the center with all the ribbons coming out of it? What do you want to bet it’s some form of the “jack-o-lantern surprise” game? Photo Source: Vintage Everyday

Other hosts eschewed food entirely, however. One clever hostess (the same one who gave secret invitations) surprised her guests with a very different kind of feast:

“The supper table drew quantities of attention, especially as it became evident that it held absolutely nothing to eat, despite its generous burdens of cakes, pies, and fruit. There were apples and oranges of silk and paper with printed fortunes pinned to their stems or buried inside; there were cups of chocolate, as they seemed, but which proved to have cotton cream on top and fortune beans below. There were tomato pin cushions and emery strawberries and sachet crackers, all in plates and baskets. A big pie at one end held brooms of fortune, which were wee wisps of straw with silver handles.”7

By the 1920s, however, most hosts had given up on such time-consuming, homemade table decorations. Instead, they preferred to use exciting new mass-produced items that could be bought in stores and put together with ease. As a result, Halloween supper tables were less about presenting the autumn’s bounty and more about cramming as many matching place-cards, patterned napkins, candy holders and die-cut cardboard centerpieces on the table as you could.

This 1929 Tribune photo depicts a typical Halloween supper table from the Jazz Age. Note the large amounts of commercially made decorations, many of which were selected to match some kind of theme (in this case, a black cat):

Dennison’s Bogie Books reinforced the trend towards store-bought materials with their highly coordinated table decorations. Check these out. A bit eye-watering, aren’t they? 😉

1920 bogie book house party table dec

Photo Source: 1920 Bogie Book

1920s bogie book table decs business party

Photo Source: 1920 Bogie Book

1920 bogie book table favors decs

This selection of candy cups, serving cups, and various wrapped food (number 1 is wrapped around a doughnut, and number 6 involves an orange somehow) shows some different ways people could adapt pre-made items into their decorations. Photo Source: 1920 Bogie Book

1926 bogie book table decs plus menu cutout

These 1926 table suggestions, as well as a menu, feature some interesting centerpieces. Source: The Bogie Book (1926), pg. 10

1926 bogie book candy holders cutout

These candy holders get weirder and weirder… Photo Source: The Bogie Book (1926), pg. 15

…But table decorations are only part of the meal. You still need the most important part: the food! 🙂


Step Two: Set Your Halloween Menu

In the past, Halloween parties were considered highly informal affairs, where “normal” dinner rules were suspended in favor of serving simple foods that could be eaten while playing a game or dancing. As a result, most celebrations included the following foods:

  • Pumpkin was always on the menu in some form, often as a pie or custard
  • Apples and nuts (particularly walnuts and chestnuts) were always on the table somewhere. Besides being tasty and easy to eat, they could also be used to play a large variety of fortune-telling games
  • Apple cider was a traditional offering at most tables, as was coffee
  • Doughnuts were also pretty common, with candy coming later on. Candy was often part of each guest’s place setting, presented in a cute holiday container of some kind
  • Sandwiches, rather than elaborate dishes, were a mainstay throughout the early 20th century even for fancier parties, with many different and unusual fillings
  • Orange and black foods, particularly carrots and mushrooms, were frequently served for their festive color rather than anything else (after all, your food had to match your decorations! 😉 )

Most of this food was presented buffet-style as well. Since most parties emphasized boisterous group games, fortune-telling, and dancing, it made sense to give guests foods that were easy to eat while doing something else. The fact that a lot of these foods could also be used for many fortune-telling games (the apples and chestnuts in particular) was an added bonus for the host.

Suggested holiday menus of the time reflected this kind of informality as well. While the earlier menus were slightly more elaborate due to the tastes of the time period, there is a definite trend towards simpler and simpler fare as things progress. Note the relative simplicity of the following holiday menus, from 1904 to 1926…

For a 1904 children’s party:


Chicken sandwiches.

Baked apples, jellied with whipped cream.

Doughnuts, gingerbread animals.



Jack-o-lantern surprise.”8

Decorated apples were part of this 1907 Halloween menu:

“There was chicken salad, served in apples made into jack-o-lanterns, sandwiches of finely chopped chestnuts, with mayonnaise, ham sandwiches, sweet cider…and coffee.”9

For a rustic Halloween party in 1910, this menu was suggested:

“…the menu should be as simple as possible, with piles of doughnuts on old fashioned blue plates…bread and butter sandwiches, old time pumpkin pies…tankards and pitchers full of cider. Coffee may be served, too, if desired…if a salad is served, place it in the hallowed out head of a cabbage.”10

For an “informal” 1915 Halloween party:

“Creamed chestnuts in ramekins.

Peppers stuffed with veal.

Hot rolls. Celery.

Apple salad with cheese wafers.

Pistachio charlotte russe. Walnut cake.


For a 1915 Halloween luncheon, things get a bit fancier:



Creamed oysters in cases.

Curried eggs in rice.

Chicken breasts with Italian chestnuts.

Potato croquettes.

Orange sherbet.

Plum salad.

Cheese straws.

Sunshine ice cream and cake.


By the 1920s, however, things were even simpler, with sandwiches becoming a common menu item. Note the large amount of sandwiches in the following 1920 menus from one of the Dennison Bogie Books:

“Chicken pie

Stuffed apple salad

Nut bread sandwiches

Hot gingerbread



“Vegetable salad

Brown bread and cream

Cheese sandwiches

Pumpkin pie


Cider.”—1920 Bogie Book

This menu from 1922 is also pretty simple, and still includes sandwiches:

“Cold Ham

Potato Salad




Doughnuts, Cider.”—-The Bogie Book (1922), pg. 10

A suggested Halloween buffet supper from 1926:

“Cream cheese and nut sandwiches.

Preserved ginger sandwiches.

Cold meat.

Potato salad.



Ginger Ale.

Salted nuts.”—The Bogie Book (1926), pg. 10

But just because your menu was simple, that didn’t mean you had to skip out on the presentation! Many vintage Halloween recipes have a strong playful element to them, like sandwiches with little cat faces, tiny pumpkin cakes, and other fun decorative elements. See what I mean by checking out the unusual recipes below.


Step Three: Get Cooking! Vintage Halloween Recipes

What shall we serve at the Halloween party this year? It must be new and different, yet at the same time appropriate to the occasion. Unique refreshments, with something in the nature of a surprise, are being sought by every hostess who is planning to entertain on Halloween,” writes Alice Fewell in volume 24 of American Cookery, circa 1915.  Such surprises abound in the following vintage recipes, which could easily add an element of whimsy at your own party table.



Unlike today’s parties, Halloween parties of the past rarely featured appetizers or dips. Instead, meals would start with soups and salads, often presented in a festive manner. Here are some fun examples:


This Halloween Salad from  The Good Housekeeping Hostess involves hollowing out a cabbage, decorating it with cloves, and filing it with an apple and nut salad similar to a Waldorf Salad.


The Tribune’s own Jane Eddington (whose recipes have appeared on this blog before) contributed this simple egg salad with a “devilish” twitch in 1921:


Eddington contributed another recipe for a black bean soup, in keeping with an orange and black color scheme.

“Thin slices of carrots cut in fancy shapes” would also be an appropriate garnish, and in keeping with the orange and black theme.13


As Tribune reporter Sally Lunn notes, “an appetizing salad could be made in the semblance of a witch’s face,” if one was clever with their ingredients.14 “The black hat” could be “a triangular shaped piece of toast…spread with caviar,” and “a slice of tomato spread with cream cheese and marked with green pepper” could make the face.15



As evidenced in the menus earlier, what constitues an “entree” in a vintage Halloween menu is a bit up for grabs. While sandwiches predominated, cold-cut meats and even barbecue were potentially on the menu as well. One popular way to jazz up any food item, as was hinted at in Eddington’s Witch Salad, was to “devil” it by adding some kind of hot spice to it. Eddington cautions against this, however, saying that “all of these things are more or less indegestible or injurious. Too hot dishes call too much blood to the surface of the stomach” and cause stomach ache.16 If one must have something spicy, Eddington recommends “horseradish sandwiches, small but not too biting” instead of adding something like Cayenne pepper to a dish.17 One example of a “deviled” food, however, follows in this 1921 recipe:

Sandwiches, which were easy to eat and could be filled with all kinds of sweet and savory spreads, were a popular item at any vintage Halloween supper table. Besides being easy to make for busy hostesses, they could also be decorated in fun ways to add to the festivities. Here are a few vintage sandwich options:

Chestnut Sandwiches: Roasted chestnuts were a popular Halloween item, seeing as they could be used to predict future lovers in certain fortune-telling games, so it’s no surprise that they’d also end up in a sandwich. This 1916 recipe is a good example of this kind of sandwich:

Cinnamon Sandwiches: Selected for their “dark” color, cinnamon sandwiches were to be toasted quickly to be soft in the center and crispy on the edges. The filling consisted of powdered sugar, “one part cinnamon to eight of powdered sugar,” which was sprinkled over buttered toast and then combined into a sandwich. Cinnamon drop candies were sometimes added as well for extra flavor, or as a decorative element, like for making a “face” on the bread.18

“Deviled” Cheese Sandwich Filling: This cheese filling was submitted to the Tribune by a school principal, and actually sounds pretty good. You could probably make something similar today with Velveeta, I imagine. The recipe is as follows:

1 pound of soft yellow cheese

2 to 3 well-beaten eggs

1/2 cup of cream

Salt, pepper, and paprika

  1. Mix the cream and eggs together, then grate the cheese and combine in a pot.
  2. Put contents over stove and cook until melted.
  3. Remove from stove and add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.
  4. Pour into a jar and allow to cool. Should have a consistency of “soft butter” and should keep for 1 week if refrigerated.19

Deviled variation: Add “a little mustard,” some red pepper, or “some grated horseradish” to make the filling “sharper,” if desired.20

“Fortune” Sandwiches: Simple sandwiches, such as brown bread and butter ones, could be made to tell fortunes in different ways, either by cutting them into different shapes to stand for different outcomes (for example, a ring-shaped sandwich might stand for the next person to wed, just as finding an actual ring in a Fortune Cake would stand for the same), or by wrapping them in papers with fortunes written on them, such as “health, wealth, happiness, good luck, wisdom,” or “long life.”21



A multitude of sweet items adorned past Halloween tables, from apples to sweet chestnuts to candy, popcorn balls, cake, pumpkin pies, doughnuts and cookies. It would be impossible to list all the recipes I’ve found for all those here, but here are a few of the more interesting ones.


Popcorn balls were a common offering at Halloween, particularly at children’s parties. The recipe for these balls comes from a 1915 volume of American Cookery:


Eddington recommended this dessert, which is essentially a baked “sweet” apple that’s been deliberately browned on the top, as “an eminently appropriate child’s dish.”222 Interestingly, while she wrote an entire article on how to organize a children’s party with this apple at the center, she never actually explains HOW to make them, though she says that recipe is quite old and ultimately English in origin, while also popular in New England.23 I dug through a number of vintage cookbooks and couldn’t find a recipe, but The Guardian has one on its website that could be modified in vintage ways.

Jane Eddington, for example, suggests that the baked apples should be served on a stick in order to appeal to children. In one article, she suggests adding “marshmallow decorations” to the apple.24 In another, she suggests inserting “a stick of red clove candy” while the apple is still hot, so it will melt and “flavor” the dessert, and then top it all with whipped cream, in an attempt to remind a child of a caramel apple.25 Either way, they sound pretty good.


halloween cakes 1915 american cookery

Cute, aren’t they? 🙂 Photo Source: American Cookery, Vol. 20, c. 1915, pg. 216

These little nut cakes seem fairly easy to make and are also very festive, given the small almond-paste pumpkins and the variety of different food coloring used:

halloween cakes 1 american cookery 1915



Naturally, I just had to end this post with some drink recipes! 😀 Only one of them is actually a real drink, sadly, but both of them are pretty interesting—and one of them involves lighting stuff on FIRE! 😀 😀 😀


Sadly, this isn’t something you can actually drink, but it still sounds pretty cool, especially if you’re going for an eerie party effect and you like fire. Check this out:

“Cut the skin of the mandarin oranges around the middle, turn up the upper half, forming a cup, loosen skin from lower half without removing fruit. Fill cups with brandy and alcohol and turn out all the lights, have room dark, and set fire to the contents of the cup just before guests enter dining room. The one whose cup out-burns the others will have a year of good luck.”26


This odd recipe comes from an ad for A&P, which was promoting coffee as part of one’s Halloween celebrations. As a result, they offered this bizarre cider recipe, which involves…hot coffee! I can’t decide if it’d taste good or not. What do you think?

I wish I had some alcoholic drinks to offer you all for your vintage party, but none of the archives I dug through mentioned any of them—even the pre-Prohibition ones! 😦

I figured there’d at least be a punch recipe, but there was nothing. So, if you guys have any favorite Halloween cocktails to recommend, I’d love to hear them! 🙂


Works Cited:
1. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 27, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174409793?accountid=3688.
2. Ibid.
3. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 25, 1914. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173828514?accountid=3688.
4. Farrar, Addie. “Hints for Halloween Frolics; Informality the Chief Mark.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 23, 1910. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173504792?accountid=3688.
5. “Goose and Barn Parties make Fun for the Halloween Guest.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 27, 1907. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173360001?accountid=3688.
6. Krecker, Ada M. “Household Hints.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1904. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173206314?accountid=3688.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. “Goose and Barn Parties make Fun for the Halloween Guest.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 27, 1907. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173360001?accountid=3688.
10.  Farrar, Addie. “Hints for Halloween Frolics; Informality the Chief Mark.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 23, 1910. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173504792?accountid=3688.
11. Whitaker, Hazel. “How to have Fun on Halloween.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1915. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173964083?accountid=3688.
12. Ibid.
13. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 27, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174409793?accountid=3688.
14. Lunn, Sally. “Halloween is Grand Time for Giving a Party.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Oct 25, 1929. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181039554?accountid=3688.
15. Ibid.
16. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 25, 1914. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173828514?accountid=3688.
17. Ibid.
18. Eddington, Jane. “THE TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 26, 1919. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174531865?accountid=3688.
19. Eddington, Jane. “TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 23, 1920. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174726835?accountid=3688.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 27, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174409793?accountid=3688.
23. Ibid.
24. Eddington, Jane. “THE TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 23, 1921. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174864091?accountid=3688.
25. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 27, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174409793?accountid=3688.
26. Eddington, Jane. “The TRIBUNE COOK BOOK.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922),Oct 25, 1914. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173828514?accountid=3688.
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Hallowe’en How-To: Decorate Your Home for Halloween With Vintage Flair

“A paste-pot, some orange and black cardboard and crepe paper, white and black ribbon and a lively imagination can produce wonders in the way of creating a spooky atmosphere” for your Halloween party, assured Tribune reporter Sally Lunn in a 1929 article.1 Using these humble materials, anyone can make impressive Halloween party decorations—including you, dear readers! 🙂



Halloween Greetings Haunted House

This lovely 1910 Halloween postcard recently sold on cardcow.com. The message on the back reads: “How are you [?] and how are the Hobgoblins? Look out for a box of Hallowe’en tricks for the children.–Maura.” Cute. Photo Source: cardcow.com

Halloween parties in the early 20th century were all about giving your guests a thrilling, fun, and atmospheric experience—and for many, that began right at the front door. Here’s some advice from the Tribune regarding how to decorate your home:

“A unique way to decorate the house is to have nothing but pumpkins for lights when the guests first arrive, with a witch in the hall or on the stairs to direct the guests where wraps may be removed…”2

Or instead of jack-o-lanterns, why not try greeting your guests with nothing at all? Remember those elaborate invitation instructions I mentioned in my previous post, where the guests had to keep their invitation a secret and not speak to one another? Well this is what they found when they arrived to the party:

“…the side door…seemed to open of itself, no one appearing. They filed in silently through the dark hall, one by one, into a little ante-room, where only one person was at a time and where each was given a card. From here they passed into the dining room, where the light was so dim that they were just able to find the first chair to hand without recognizing any of their companions. No one said a word, no one knew who else was there.”3

Most parties, however, had some kind of spooky greeter to guide guests into the home. For one children’s “ghost party,” guests were admitted by:

“…a figure draped in white with a white mask over her face, who silently pointed to the stairs; when they reached the top of the stairs another ghostly figure pointed to the rooms where they were to leave their wraps.”4

Some hosts got a bit more creative. One reader who wrote in to the Tribune described his notable entry into a Halloween party, with tons of great sensory details:

“The house was dark except for a couple of jack-o-lanterns on the porch. On entering, one shook hands with a ghost with cold, clammy hands. On going farther, a multitude of hands reached out and tripped you, shapes flitted about here and there, and a vacuum cleaner in an adjoining room made a weird noise which was…startling…”5



Spookiness isn’t everything, though. Maybe you’ve decided to go with a themed party instead, rather than trying to scare your guests. If you’re doing that, then to be truly vintage, you’d better be sure all your decorations match! Check out this elaborate description of a harvest-themed Halloween party that was held in a barn in 1910:

“The floor of the barn was a roomy one, and had been swept clean…Across the entrance was hung a row of lanterns imitating witches’ heads, that were most effective when lighted. Gay bunting and flags, branches of brilliant autumn leaves, standards of corn, and sheaves of wheat, piles of rosy red apples, and yellow pumpkins were so placed about the walls and floor as to give the barn a festive appearance, while the entire place was lighted by paper lanterns imitating pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, and hanging from a small tree that was placed in each corner of the big room a rustic log lantern glowed comically at the guests.”6

Not all Halloween parties were elaborate themed affairs, of course. Most people (i.e., not the rich) had much more low key parties where the decorations were a hodgepodge of store-bought and homemade.  This exhaustive 1915 list of decoration ideas contains both kinds of items, and gives a pretty good idea of what a middle-class Edwardian parlor might have looked like during Halloween:

“Decorations next! Let them be as grewsome as your imagination, assisted by suggestions, can conjure up. Pumpkin and skeleton lanterns furnish the proper amount of light for such an evening….spider webs…are easily constructed out of white cord and from these made spiders should be suspended. Just stuff crepe paper spider shapes with cotton and use hat wire for their legs….buy some 5 cent fish globes. Hold over a lighted kerosene lamp and blacken inside. Draw grotesque faces in them by rubbing off the soot. Light by dropping in an electric bulb, and the result will be weird enough for the bravest. A marvelous witches’ cauldron can be made from twigs and a real black kettle. Cover the electric light with red paper and by the least stretch of imagination you can feel the warm rays. Instead of the regular curtain drapes, use yellow cheesecloth…besides the pumpkins, witches, cats, and spiders, apples form a needed article both for decorative and entertainment purposes.”7

adult party halloween masks Edwardian definitely

This Edwardian era Halloween party features some nice table decorations, some odd costume choices (what the heck is on that guy’s head on the left?), and a lot of commercial decorations in the form of streamers and paper lanterns. Photo Source: Vintage Everyday

As you can see from the photo above, during the 1910s many party-givers started incorporating new commercial items, like paper lanterns, into their Halloween decorating, often combining them with older staples, such as in the following example:

“The mantel in the first room was decorated with yellow crepe paper covered with black cats and owls, and piled with ears of corn. Queer little Halloween figures were placed amongst the corn. The mantel in the other room was draped with Halloween paper napkins, at each corner were two small pumpkin lanterns, and scattered over the mantel were more of the queer little figures…”8

donnelly creepy party favor

This little creature certainly fits the “queer figure” bill. His little basket was probably meant to hold candy. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

It would take until the Jazz Age, however, for the mass-produced decorations to really take over in a new and crazy way.



By the 1920s, people were already bemoaning the lack of originality in Halloween decorations. “There is little novelty in decoration for Halloween parties,” whined a Tribune reporter in 1922, “for no one seems to want to depart from the traditional jack-o-lanterns, black cats, witches and others that hold revel that night.”9 The stereotypical imagery of Halloween, it seems, had become old hat in a relatively short amount of time, largely thanks to the “Golden Age of Postcards.

“The spirit and imagery of Halloween in America has never been so vividly documented as it was during the first decades of the twentieth century, thanks to the popular medium of picture postcards” wrote David J. Skal in Death Makes  a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween.10 During the Golden Age of Postcards (roughly 1907-1915), an explosion of Halloween postcards flooded the public’s imagination with jack-o-lanterns, black cats, witches, goblins, ghosts, skeletons, bats, and more—and helped to cement them as Halloween icons for decades to come.

Halloween Witches

This vintage postcard from the early 1900s features a black cat, witches, an owl, bats, and a jack-o-lantern—all things which are now considered icons of Halloween. Photo Source: cardcow.com

By the mid 1900s, then, not only did everyone agree what kinds of things should be part of your Halloween decorations, but you could also buy a number of them commercially, rather than making everything yourself. This Tribune ad gives an idea of what you could buy at the store to decorate your Halloween party:

mendel bros halloween ad

This Mendel Brothers’ ad from the Chicago Tribune features many different kinds of pre-made decorations that are sure to “lend a goblin-like air to the home” for party-givers. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

Not everyone wanted a stereotypical Halloween party, though, especially during the Roaring Twenties, when novelty and elegance was all the rage. So, for those people—and anyone else who shared an unholy love for crepe paper—there were The Bogie Books, which were chock full of suggestions that could turn your humdrum Halloween party from this…

kids halloween party omg candles pumpkin center

A drab Edwardian affair. Photo Source: Vintage Everyday

…Into this! 😀

1920 bogie glamorous jazz age art deco with stairs

Check out that dramatic staircase entrance! Photo Source: The Bogie Book (1920)

This flapper-riddled insanity is courtesy of Dennison Paper Manufacturing Company, which began producing Bogie Books in 1909,. An innovative combination of craft magazine and product catalog, Dennison’s Bogie Books offered suggestions on how to use their paper products—crepe paper, printed paper items, napkins and so forth—to decorate homes, parties, and yourself for Halloween.11

Filled with images of “sophisticated flappers with bobbed hair cavorting in decorated ballrooms,” the Dennison books are fun to look at, if not always realistic.12 Check out these design plans for ballrooms, clubs, and other large spaces, transforming them with tissue paper, crepe paper, cardboard die-cuts, and other flimsy stuff into strange, colorful things:

1920 bogie ballroom combo attempt 1

These ballroom suggestions are from the 1920 version of Dennison’s Bogie Book.

1922 bogie halloween ballroom full

This intensely orange ballroom is from the 1922 version of The Bogie Book.

1926 bogie book ballroom full orange

By 1926, they’d toned things down quite a lot, it seems. Source: The Bogie Book (1926)

1920 bogie club balcony

This 1920 design is for a club set up. Source: The Bogie Book (1920)

But ballrooms and clubs weren’t all you could decorate with Dennison products. There was also your house–and everything in it, too! “Furniture and other accessories may…easily become the most interesting part of the decorations,” says The Bogie Book of 1926. “The floor lamp, radio speaker, davenport, chairs, mirrors, scrap baskets, umbrellas and even brooms and dry mops can be utilized as foundations for all sorts of interesting and grotesque decorations.” I mean, just see how much flair this Halloween stuff adds to your home decor. Here’s the fireplace:

1926 bogie creepy pumpkin man living room fireplace

I don’t think I want that thing siting by my fireplace, thank you very much. Source: The Bogie Book (1926).

Or try this lovely couch set up:

1926 bogie pumpkin couch

Ugh, creepy clown/rag doll things under the couch! Source: The Bogie Book (1926)

And don’t leave your household objects out of the fun!

1926 bogie mirror man ears

This make-up mirror is now a “bogie man.” Source: The Bogie Book (1926)

1926 bogie wtf pumpkin dec

Make sure no one goes near your speakers EVER AGAIN with this godforsaken thing. Source: The Bogie Book (1926)

1922 bogie living room photos cropped

These photos show some possible living room and foyer designs. From the 1920 Bogie Book.

You could even do themed parties, if you wanted, though they were a little stranger than one might expect. Check out this page from the 1926 Bogie Book, which features a “pirate’s den” that looks literally nothing like one:

Thanks to their strange mix of glamorous Gatsby-esque parties and homegrown crepe paper nightmares (that loudspeaker/pumpkin-cat-bowtie thing is just no), Bogie Books are still popular today. Considered “classics of their kind,” and they are “highly prized by collectors,” if websites like this are any judge, and originals still sell for a pretty penny.13

Unfortunately, the images they depict have little to do with historical reality. Party depictions like this one…

halloween party art deco dennison maybe

Another 1920 Bogie Book depiction.

….are much more fantasy than reality. Such parties, Skal notes, look like a “posh harlequinade that Jay Gatsby might…throw at East Egg,” where guests “slouch around in forced, art-deco poses…and everybody makes a grand entrance”.14 All their costumes are “the obvious work of professional designers, apparently under the influnence of Erte. Nonetheless, three quarters of a century before Martha Stewart, Dennison effectively marketed the fantasy of a perfectly controlled and perfectly stylish Halloween within the reach of everyone”15—provided you like crepe paper, of course. 😉

Either way, they’re still really fun to look at—and they totally work for inspirational purposes! 😀



While you can always buy vintage reproductions or actual antiques to give your Halloween party a vintage look, it’s actually easier to add vintage flair in other ways. Most of it comes down to design choices, really, rather than expensive materials or any extensive prep.

kids party halloween crepe paper streamers Edwardian maybe

Clearly, these Edwardian children have mastered the art of crepe paper. Source: Vintage Everyday

Here are some ways to give your party a nice vintage look without breaking the bank:

  1. Get yourself some black and orange crepe paper streamers. As I’ve said in other posts, the Jazz Age had an unnatural love of crepe paper. Embrace this right from the start, and you’re well on your way to creating a vintage look for your Halloween party.
  2. Put jack-o-lanterns everywhere—lighting the path to your door, sitting in your windows, or on your porch. Use white pumpkins too, and be sure to paint scary faces on them with black paint.16
  3. Make a “beware” sign, or some other kind of appropriately spooky sign, with a similar style to the fonts on vintage Halloween postcards, or even borrow a phrase from one to paint on your sign, and be sure to put it by your door or fence.17
  4. Drape white sheets over objects near your windows to make them look like ghostly figures.18
  5. ….Or try any of the crafting ideas in the Tribune articles I’ve mentioned earlier! 🙂

If you do nothing else, however, I suggest taking a look at the Dennison Bogie Books, mostly because they’re fun, and full of vintage imagery you could easily adapt to something else. Unfortunately, not all of them are free (some jerk even got the copyrights to one of them somehow and is selling it on Amazon), but a decent chunk of them are available free online. Try these links:

The 1920 Bogie Book

The 1922 Bogie Book

The 1926 Bogie Book

There’s also this list of different Dennison decoration books, with other holidays besides Halloween, and all from different years.

Best of luck with your vintage decorations, dear readers! 🙂


Works Cited:
1. Lunn, Sally. “Halloween is Grand Time for Giving a Party.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Oct 25, 1929. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181039554?accountid=3688.
2. Burr, Agnes R. “Altractive Plans for Halloween; “Little Devil” Party the Latest.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1909. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173444613?accountid=3688.
3. Krecker, Ada M. “Household Hints.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1904. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173206314?accountid=3688.
4. Pancoast, Hazel Thomas. “Ideas for Halloween Party that Will Delight Young Folk.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 23, 1910. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173520981?accountid=3688.
5. W, H. K. “Parties.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Mar 03, 1929. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180962537?accountid=3688.
6. “Goose and Barn Parties make Fun for the Halloween Guest.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 27, 1907. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173360001?accountid=3688.
7. Whitaker, Hazel. “How to have Fun on Halloween.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1915. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173964083?accountid=3688.
8. Pancoast, Hazel Thomas. “Ideas for Halloween Party that Will Delight Young Folk.”
9. Burr, Agnes R. “Attractive Plans for Halloween; “Little Devil” Party the Latest.”
10. Skal, David J. 2005. Death Makes a Holiday: a Cultural History of Halloween. Living Sacrifice Book Co., p. 37.
11. Ibid, p. 43.
12. Morton, Lisa. 2013. Trick or treat: a history of halloween. London: Reaktion. p. 173.
13. Skal, p. 43.
14.  Ibid.
15. Skal, p. 45.
16. Paull, Marion. 2014. Creating your vintage hallowe’en: the folklore, traditions, and some crafty makes. London: CICO Books. p. 58.
17. Ibid, p. 59.
18 Ibid.
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