Elsie de Wolfe: America’s First Interior Designer

Elsie de Wolfe was an interior decorator before there was such a thing.  And if she wasn’t making headlines for covering 18th century footstools in leopard print, she was in the newspapers for her eccentric blue hair, her affinity for small dogs (see here, here, and here), and unique preferences for physical fitness. Born in New […]

Have a “Safe and Sane” Fourth of July

Lost limbs and fingers, burns, blinding explosions, lockjaw and death. In the early 1900s, fireworks had not yet been perfected. Dangerous concoctions of explosives were used as an exciting way to celebrate our country’s independence, but the price was steep. Giant firecrackers, cannon fire, firearms, and rockets were just some of the loud and bright, […]

Mabel Stark: World Famous Trainer of Big Jungle Cats

What are you afraid of? “Subways!” Mabel Stark, renowned Bengal tiger trainer, told the New-York Tribune in 1922. “Trains roaring through the tunnel terrify me more than any beast I’ve ever met,” she said. Following a nervous breakdown, the former nurse sought a “simpler & easier” profession: training wild jungle cats for the big top.  […]

Royal Weddings

Why do we commoners get a kick out of royal weddings? Maybe it’s the garb: brides in white silk with laced veils, grooms decked out in full military dress. Or the pomp and circumstance: ancient rituals, gilded carriages, thousands of cheering spectators. Or it could be the simple desire to watch a fairy tale turn […]

The Founding Fathers: Life, Liberty and…Beer!

As Prohibition loomed, Budweiser ads celebrated George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and other “Framers of the Constitution” as “moderate” drinkers of “barley-malt brews.” Historic details specific to each Founding Father were interwoven with an overall strategy of praising them and the Constitution for guaranteeing “Religious, Commercial and Personal Liberty,” and for lauding […]

Those Fluttering Flappers!

The flapper bursts onto the American scene in the early 1920s and becomes America’s post-Great War aesthetic ideal.  She’s daring, with a sassy and independent spirit and exists at a time when the entire world’s a stage—and she’s the “It” girl. This new modern girl might drive cars, smoke cigarettes, vote, drink hooch, and kick […]