Where Were You in 1924?



Actually, since we only had two commenters other than members of the Martini Club 4, both Calisa Rhose and Diane Burton win a signed  copy of all four novellas in print. Congrats, ladies! 

The fun facts that made it into RUINED are 2 and 3. Although the spy incident happened in 1919, I found it so fascinating, that I still felt compelled to use it, so I had my hero recalling the incident as he arrives at the Bellevue.

I used ‘Coffin Varnish’ rather than ‘Panther Piss’ to describe booze, although, I was sorely tempted to use Panther Piss. I love that colorful phrase! 🙂

For the answers to my If you’re young like me, you weren’t yet born in 1924. 😉 However, many interesting things took place that year. When we decided to set our MC4 stories in 1924, I began researching events, styles, terminology, etc, although I didn’t end up using all of them. I’ve shared some tidbits I discovered below. See if you can guess which of these made it into my Vintage Romance Novella, Ruined:

*** One commenter will receive a print copy of Martini Club 4 – The 1920’s, containing all four novellas, signed by all four authors (only U.S. residents eligible) Winner will be drawn a week from Monday, March 16th.



1) In Chicago, two wealthy young college students, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, kidnapped and murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks, simply because they thought they were clever and wanted to get away with the perfect crime. They made some mistakes, and were imprisoned, although they were represented by Clarence Darrow. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936, slashed to death with a straight razor. Leopold was released in 1958.


2)  This didn’t happen in ’24, but I discovered it while researching Bellevue Hospital, and found it fascinating: After his arrest in New York, and while awaiting extradition to Britain, German spy Fritz Joubert Duquesne pretended to be paralyzed. He was sent to the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital. On May 25, 1919, after nearly two years of feigning paralysis, he disguised himself as a woman and escaped by cutting the bars of his cell and climbing over the barrier walls to freedom.

3) The 35th presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 4, 1924. Incumbent President Calvin Coolidge, the Republican candidate, was elected to a second, full term. One of the slogans used at the time was ‘Keep Cool with Coolidge’

4) The first ever Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held after Macy’s stores expanded an entire city block from Broadway to Seventh Avenue along 34th Street. Although the parade was thrown on Thanksgiving morning, it was originally about Christmas. Macy’s intent was to bring in shoppers for the upcoming Christmas holiday.


5) As everyone knows, prohibition was in place and the manufacturing, transport, and sale of alcohol was prohibited at the time. What I found interesting, that I didn’t know before, was that it was not illegal to possess or drink it. Also,  whiskey could be obtained by prescription from medical doctors. (Does that remind you of anything? Like, medicinal marijuana? :)) I ran across some colorful terms for booze during my research. Which of these did I use in Ruined? Panther piss or coffin varnish?

So…what do you think? Out of these, which were mentioned in my story? (Hint, two of the first four were used)

Leopold and Loeb

The German spy’s escape from Bellevue

The presidential election

Macy’s first parade

Did I use the term panther piss or coffin varnish?




She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans… 

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped. 

When Vince Taggart’s childhood friend disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza may be the key to finding his missing friend. 


Her gaze bounced over a man, then zeroed back. The bloke was looking directly at her. She caught her breath. He was leaning on the bar a few stools down, talking to Charli. He had this…magnetism, some kind of forceful presence that made it impossible to look away.

He was broad, muscular and dressed like a dock worker with brown suspenders over a yellow shirt and a newsboy cap over his dark blond hair, but what caught her attention right off was his smile. His white teeth flashed, and a dimple creased the right side of his face.

Charli moved away, and the man looked up and caught Eliza staring at him. His grin widened. His eyes were so blue—so electrifying, that Eliza could feel their allure even in the dimly lit, smoke bar.

He winked and gave her a finger salute off the brim of his cap.

A tingle ran from her toes, all the way through her body, making her head swim. My, but he was a fresh one. With superhuman effort, she dragged her gaze away, but it didn’t keep her heart from racing faster than a thoroughbred at Churchill Downs.

She swallowed and took a deep breath, fingering the pendant at her neck, trying to slow her heart rate. What on earth was wrong with her? She met plenty of handsome men—men more pleasing to the eye than he with his workmen clothing and slightly crooked nose. But never had any man sent her blood rushing through her veins like this.

She gulped from her glass. Get ahold of yourself. She was not the kind of girl to pick up strange men in bars—even if they did have a devil of a smile and eyes like an angel.

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10 thoughts on “Where Were You in 1924?

  1. Debi Rogers

    The German spy’s escape from Bellevue (was it still a “Zoo,” with admission charged?) and the presidential election! You used “coffin varnish.” Your blurb has me intrigued. 🙂

  2. I haven’t had a chance to read any of them yet so I’m strictly guessing Coolidge, Macy’s parade and coffin varnish are the ones you used in Ruined. 🙂 I’m guessing the first two because they were in the same month and being novellas, the story probably didn’t cover a lot of time passing. I seem to remember someone mentioning panther piss in a different post, but saying they didn’t use it-and it seems it was you who said that. So I chose coffin varnish as the term you used.

    • Excellent deduction, Watson (is that how the line goes?) By your logic, you would be correct. ALTHOUGH, I simply said they were ‘mentioned’ in the story, not that they took place during the course of the story. You’re only wrong on one of them. 🙂

  3. Diane Burton

    Not only wasn’t I alive in 1924, my mom was a baby. 🙂 I loved RUINED, but can’t for the life of me remember which phrase you used for liquor. Both are descriptive.

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