Archive for July, 2019

All of Them Looking for a Man’s Job

After returning from WWI, many men who had previously been on the less stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum wanted more of a “man’s job” in employment.

Most of the men who come back from the war want to do something of more consequence than the work they did before. Having had a hand in the biggest job ever cut out for humankind, they are inclined to look down on the usual workaday task. It isn’t necessarily that they want to make more money. They just want to do something that seems to them of more importance to the world.

An example was told of a man who was formerly a professional dancer, but upon returning from the war desired something else:

This toe dancer… said he wanted his brains and his hands to helpout his toes earn a living. The $30,000 contract made no difference. [Or about $454 thousand in 2019’s dollars.]

“I’ve lived too long in the open,” he said, “to go back into the theatre. I’ve been out under the sun and stars. No more of the white lights for me. I don’t want to be paid $2,000 a month for twirling my body on my toes. If I’m going to do any twirling from now on, I’ll do it with my hands and the muscles of my back. I want a man’s job, in God’s world.”

He got his man’s job.

These are anecdotal, making hard data hard — if not impossible — to come by. But has this become far less common of a turnaround in the modern post-draft military, where (perhaps) the less stereotypically “masculine” men are less likely to enlist in the armed forces in the first places?

All of Them Looking for a Man’s Job: That’s What the Soldiers Seek, but Their Notions Vary – -A Toe Dancer Scorned $30,000 a Year and Turned Farmer, and a Shoe Salesman Went in for Exporting (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 19th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Sobriety Just Grew, Without Awaiting Dry Laws

Yes, there was once a time when Atlantic City was the poster child for good behavior.

In 1919, Prohibition went into effect. But Atlantic City had already embraced the anti-alcohol ethos long before.

“There was a time,” said Sam again as the boom swung toward Spain, “when seven out of ten men got on my boat here with flasks in their pockets, and on Sundays the crowds I took out were half loaded before they got on and jagged to the scuppers when I landed them. Within late years, long before they put over prohibition on us, not one passengers in twenty — yes, not one in fifty — that I carry has anything on his hip, and on Sunday I do not carry one intoxicated man or woman in a hundred. Is there any rum on board now?” he asked, negotiating a roller that looked like Davy Jones’s own private make.

Chrous: “No!”

“The American people vindicated again!” said Sam, twirling the wheel a la roulette.

To be fair, Atlantic City wasn’t really “Atlantic City” yet — the first legal casino wouldn’t open there until 1978.

The first legal casino in Las Vegas, if you’re wondering, opened in 1931.

Sobriety Just Grew, Without Awaiting Dry Laws: Look at the All-American Seaside Resort, for Example: Atlantic City Became a Mirror of Decency Before It Knew Prohibition Sobriety Just Grew (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 18th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

If You Don’t Believe the War Is Over — Look at These Summer Magazine Covers

Magazine covers during summer 1919, after WWI had ended, were different than during summers 1917 and 1918 during the war:

For two Summers the June, July, and August covers displayed about the same thing that they showed in the other three seasons — beautiful girls dressed as nurses, or canteen workers, or motor corps drivers, or Salvation Army maids.

However, the girls have taken off their uniforms. The war is over. There is a rush back to beach costumes on the front covers.

Of course, the one similarity both during and after the war is that the magazine covers still featured posing “girls.” But at least they were wearing something — the first issue of Playboy wouldn’t be published until December 1953.

If You Don’t Believe the War Is Over — Look at These Summer Magazine Covers (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 17th, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Art,Journalism

Collective Bargaining for Actors’ Wages

Theater actors in July 1919 wanted higher pay for extra performances. When managers refused, the first strike in American theater history occurred.

The old contract had specified eleven national holidays in the year on which the actor was required to play a matinee without additional salary… The actors demanded that they be paid upon a basis of eight performances a week, and that all performances over that number, for whatever cause given, should be paid for proportionately.

The managers, in reply, said that it was a financial impossibility; that it was at variance with all the established customs of the theatre and would mean simply that the players must accept smaller salaries; that actors often had been paid for full week when only six or seven performances had been given in place of the scheduled eight — and refused.

The next month, this resulted in the first strike in American theater history. According to the Actors’ Equity Association, “The strike lasted 30 days, spread to eight cities, closed 37 plays, prevented the opening of 16 others and cost millions of dollars.”

In the end, the actors won.

Collective Bargaining for Actors’ Wages: Equity Association Demands, Not an Eight-Hour Day, but Pay for Overtime, and Managers Refuse to Recognize the Union — Possible Effect on Playgoers (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 13, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 12th, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Business,Theater

Can the United States Get 500,000 Volunteers?

In the months after WWI ended, could the military still recruit the same number of volunteers they had during wartime?

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker argued yes: “He has stated not only that such an army [of 500,000 men] could be raised by voluntary enlistment in peace time, but that to raise it would be no more difficult than to enlist an army of 100,000 men.”

Oregon Senator George Chamberlain, at the time a member of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, argued no: “So eminent an authority as Senator Chamberlain of Oregon, on the other hand, holds that since the war is over voluntary enlistments in large numbers are a thing of the past?”

Who ended up being proved correct? It’s surprisingly difficult to get exact figures when searching for terms like ‘number of military volunteers by year,’ but it appears Chamberlain’s pessimism was right.

There were about 300,000 volunteer enlistments during WWI. By 1939, also a time of peace — and with a U.S. population millions larger than in 1919 — there were only 334,473 total military members.

The military isn’t meeting its own volunteer levels in the present day, either. The Army set a goal of 80,000 new recruits last year, but they only got about 70,000.

Can the United States Get 500,000 Volunteers?: An Affirmative Answer Is Indicated by the Way Recruits Have Responded to the New Idea of Service to the Man as Well as to the Country (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 6, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 3rd, 2019 at 4:35 pm