Yoga Talk

Jennifer posted about your 21st-century craze of women wearing yoga pants in public. I just want her to know that we in the 1920s also have yoga pants. So once again, we're way ahead of you. Wearing them to the grocery store, however, would likely get one arrested for indecent exposure. Which perhaps, as Jennifer notes, is as it should be.

The young and attractive Swami Vivekanada made quite an impression when he came to the Parliament of Religions here in Chicago back in 1893. That's apparently when the practice of yoga arrived on U.S. shores. He was followed by the tremendously popular Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920. Many people are wild for "orientalism" here in the early 20th century, so they're ready to twist themselves into knots. 

I'm not one of them. I think I'll stick with ballet, or maybe the briefest sojourn into Isadora Duncan territory. Nothing too outrageous, though. I'll leave that crazy stuff to my best friend and roommate, Dot. 


Catching our breath!

What a whirlwind the last couple months have been! 

As you know, our book launched in mid-September. We had a lovely 1920s-themed launch party at a local coffee shop. Lots of Jennifer's friends came out to help us celebrate, and of course now they're my friends, too. There was plenty of danceable music from my era playing from a box that was something like a Victrola, but smaller and with
I selected Jennifer's outfit for the party. What do you think?
shiny silver disks. It played catchy tunes like "Charleston" and "Ain't She Sweet" and "Black Bottom," and but, as usual for the 21st century, nobody danced. What is wrong with people these days? I couldn't keep my feet still!

Right before the book launch, we took an automobile trip across the United States from Florida to Idaho with Jennifer's friend Tracy. In the 1920s "Tracy" is usually a gentleman's name, but in the 21st century I find it's frequently applied to girls. I like Tracy very much and she seems to like me, too. My favorite part of the trip was
spending a few days at Pensacola, where we sat on the beach and watched the moon rise. Jennifer and Tracy kept remarking on the heat and saying they wished the cooling mechanism in the car hadn't broken, but I didn't quite understand what they were talking about. I mean, who would ever expect to push a button and cause cool air to pour forth in a hot car in the middle of a Florida September? Frankly, that sounds like something out of Jules Verne. I think the heat must have gone to their heads and made them temporarily delusional. I, on the other hand, was supremely comfortable, having selected an appropriately cool cotton traveling frock and shaded sun hat. Discomfort can be avoided with just a little foresight and planning.

Here in the 1920s, Florida is enjoying a great land boom (some are calling it a "bubble"). The railroads are promoting the state as a vacation paradise, the "American Riviera." There's lots of new construction going on, and brand-new highways from major northern cities like New York and Chicago are making it easier for people to drive down there to escape the winter. Towns like Miami and Boca Raton are booming. Of course, some people have lost their shirts on land deals gone bad, and a few doom-and-gloomers are predicting that the boom won't last. I guess time will tell.

Thank you for stopping by!

That swoony fellow in Menswear...

So...his name is Peter, he works in The Store for Men at Marshall Field's. Here's what I've been able to ferret out so far. He's new at the company, and he came from New York and worked at Macy's or Gimbel's or one of those places. And I see him too often talking to that slinky redhead from Fine Jewelry. I may sneak over to Menswear on my lunch break and see what he's up to.

The thing is, he looks exactly like somebody I used to know. Trouble is, that somebody is supposed to be dead--struck down on a battlefield in France, not selling neckties and cufflinks at Marshall Field's. So it can't be the same person. Can it?

Read the story and find out.

Now available for pre-order: You're the Cream in My Coffee!

He-e-e-ere we go! Our novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon! (A flattering image of me on the cover, n'est-ce pas? Too bad I have absolutely no memory of when it was taken...) Hop on over and order yours. Then it will automatically be delivered to you on September 15, without your having to think about it again.

A lovely author friend named Susie Finkbeiner (author of A Cup of Dust) wrote:

Every single inch of this novel is delightful. From the start Marjorie Corrigan felt like a friend, one I was glad to see each time I returned to her story. With charming characters and a plot that keeps moving, this is a novel you don't want to miss. Jennifer Lamont Leo is a fresh voice in Christian fiction. I can't wait to read more of her work.

And another lovely author friend named Sarah Sundin (author of Anchor in the Storm) wrote:

The cat¹s pajamas! Rich in jazzy details of 1920s Chicago, You¹re the Cream in My Coffee is a sparkling debut novel. With an adventurous heroine, intriguing side characters, and a thought-provoking message, this story will keep you riveted. Jennifer Lamont Leo is a name to watch in historical fiction!

Be sure to check out Susie's and Sarah's books as well! They write inspirational historical fiction, just like Jennifer does. 


10 Little-Known Facts About Me

I'm taking a fun challenge posed by my author to tell you 10 things about myself. Even though she wrote a whole novel about me (revealing some of my most cringe-worthy moments, naturally), there are some other things you might be interested to know. Some of them made it into You're the Cream in My Coffee, and some didn't.

Me as a nursing student. 
1. In an early version of the novel, I was a nursing student instead of a clerk at Marshall Field & Co. From my point of view, the nursing profession was interesting, but I didn't fare all that well around blood (in the photo at left, I look like I'm posing winsomely, but I'm actually holding myself up lest I faint). Plus, Field's offers a clothing discount. So that was a change I could live with.

2. I met my boyfriend Richard one day when my sister Helen fell while roller-skating and cut her lip. He was the doctor on call at Kerryville General. Helen got stitches, and I got a date.

3. When I was a girl, I had a huge crush on my older brother's best friend, Jack, and he liked me back. I never really got over it when he was killed in the Great War.

4. My stepmother, Frances, and I don't always get along. But I must admit, she makes the best caramel cake in town.
Frances's caramel cake--yum!

5. Sometimes when my roommate, Dot, is at work, I try on her hats. She has dozens, which makes sense, since she works in the Millinery department at Field's. I'd try on her evening gowns, too, but unfortunately I can't squeeze into them.
6. When I was growing up, two of my sewing projects won blue ribbons in the county fair. I used to dream about becoming a great dress designer like Coco Chanel.
7. Unlike Dot, who moonlights as a cabaret singer, I can't carry a tune in a bucket.
8. Helen is dying to get her hair bobbed in the latest fashion, but Frances is making her wait. Outwardly I support Helen, but secretly I hope she keeps her blond braids for as long as possible. I will miss them when they go.
9. When things are slow in Ladies' Nightwear, I sometimes read magazines in the stockroom. One time when Mrs. Cross caught me perusing a copy of Photoplay, I told her I was researching fashion trends of movie
Lupe Velez. Lounging pajamas.
stars. This was a stretch, but there was one photo of Lupe Velez wearing lounging pajamas that were later copied by Field's and sold in Ladies' Nightwear, so it wasn't a complete lie.
10. I can't swim. But I look awfully cute in my bathing costume.

All right, I've spilled my secrets (at least some of them) you should, too. What's one thing that nobody knows about you?


It's coming!

Our novel is coming out in a little over two months! Here's what the publisher says about it:

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition's in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan [that's me!], visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee's the strongest thing that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart--presumed killed in the Great War--alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything seems up for grabs.

Although the stranger insists he's not who she thinks he is, Marjorie becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. To the dismay of her fiance and family, she moves to the city and takes a job at a department store so she can spy on him. Meanwhile, the glittering world of her roommate, Dot, begins to look awfully enticing--especially when the object of her obsession seems to be part of that world. Is it really that terrible to bob her hair and shorten her skirt? To visit a speakeasy? Just for coffee, of course.

But what about her scruples? What about the successful young doctor to whom she's engaged, who keeps begging her to come back home where she belongs? And what, exactly, is going on at the store's loading dock so late at night?

Amid a whirlwind of trials and temptations, Marjorie must make a choice. Will the mystery man prove to be the cream in her coffee--the missing ingredient to the life she years for? Or will he leave only bitterness in her heart? [Well, I'm certainly not going to spill the beans. You'll just have to read the book and find out!]

Join the Cream Team! I'm told that the purpose of the Cream Team is to help launch the novel into the reader-sphere by reading a pre-pub PDF edition, reviewing it on Amazon and/or Goodreads, recommending it to others, talking it up on social media, and (last but certainly not least) praying for the project and its author. :) [Here in the 1920s, I don't know what all those strange terms mean--PDF? social media? But it all sounds impressive, doesn't it?]In return you get Jennifer's undying gratitude (and mine), plus some nifty bonuses and prizes along the way, including 2 copies of the print edition to keep or share with friends.

If you'd like to join the Cream Team, mail an electronic message to Jennifer at Apparently this is the 21st-century equivalent of dialing her up on the telephone.


The Roaring Twenties: A Family Connection!

I was thrilled this morning when my author shared the photo above with me. It's her great-aunt, Dorothy Mulac, who in the Roaring Twenties lives right here in Chicago. I must look her up! How pretty she is, and so stylish. The style of hat she's wearing is called a "cloche," which is French for "bell" because of its shape. Some people called it a "helmet." It looks like Dorothy's hair has been bobbed short, which is considered quite daring in our day. From the little Jennifer knew of her great-aunt, she was not a shy lady, but a bolder sort of personality. Her facial expression here indicates that she brooks no nonsense. But she is quite pretty, with those piercing dark eyes, which, alas, Jennifer did not inherit.

Here is a poster that a barber of the time might have put up as he more or less reluctantly accepted the rush of feminine customers requesting his skills with a razor. 

My own personal story of getting my hair bobbed will soon be available to all and sundry in You're the Cream in My Coffee, releasing September 2016. I did the deed under the questionable influence of my dear friend, who ironically is also named Dorothy, but everyone calls her Dot. With bobbed hair, she looks like Louise Brooks. Me, not so much, but I like it anyway.


Trouble Brewing: A Roaring Twenties Short Story

Oooh, am I ever in hot water! I've just been informed by my author (and rather rudely, too, I must say) that I've neglected to tell you about Trouble Brewing, the short story she penned about the time our landlady was brewing something suspicious in her kitchen and somebody called the cops. It wasn't me who called, I swear, although, let me tell you, our apartment stank to high heaven for days. Not even the clouds of "Evening in Paris" that Dot sprayed all over the place did any good. 

Anyway, Jennifer thought the whole incident made a whopping good story and wrote it up for your amusement. Apparently she finds my life ever so much more interesting than her own, poor dear. It's currently free on Amazon, or free to Amazons, or free for people living along the Amazon, or something like that. Still working on getting your 21st-century lingo down.


Porch party!

"An informal porch party, with the right sort of hostess, will rouse enthusiasm...More strenuous but quite as well worthwhile, are community picnics...Refreshments... should be homemade if practicable. Too often our fashions for public luncheons are settled by the caterers, and what they find it most convenient to serve. Wherever there is a historical aspect about our picnic...why not plan the food to be served to fit the period as carefully as we do the costumes? Few would be ready to lend choice, old china, even to decorate the tables, but it may be there are some pewter platters and pitchers, that would not be injured by use, and would lend an 'air' to the whole feast. Pies and doughnuts, loaf cakes and cookies are to be chosen rather than the ices and angel cakes of the present day, and often will win applause because they are less common than ice cream. Since ice cream cones have become daily food, it is no longer a rarity, a 'treat,' in the old sense of that word."
---"Summer Celebrations," Anna Barrows American Cookery, June-July 1925 (p. 23-26) 

What could be more fun in the summertime than a party on the porch? Just call the neighbors over and enjoy a feast! Anna Barrows was talking here about an Independence Day party, hence the reference to historic costumes. Oodles of patriotic fun! (But since when did ice cream cones become "daily food"? In my dreams!)

A porch party wouldn't really work in the Chicago two-flat Dot and I share--unless it were an intimate picnic a deux on the miniscule back porch, which sounds romantic but made less so by the presence of the landlady's lawn mowing apparatus. But it would be just the thing for the big porch of my parents' home in Kerryville.

Just three more months until our book comes out! Then obscure references like "Kerryville" and "Chicago two-flat" will make sense to you--I promise!


Slimming Down, 1920s Style

My author and I have embarked on a health regime together. She thinks life in the 21st century is taking a toll on her figure and her health, not to mention her nerves, and I'm inclined to agree. I tend toward a few too many curves myself, especially to suit the straight, boyish silhouette of my day--a look I can achieve only with substantial corsetting. Still, not to gloat, but I am substantially slimmer than Jennifer. So I've sent her a few helpful dieting tips from the 1920s, which I'm sure she'll appreciate after she's calmed down. After all, I'm only trying to help.

The ideal ironing-board figure of the 1920s. 
 Here's how the average person stays slim in the 1920s:

*Eat real food. Not all this factory-made, processed stuff created in a laboratory. Laboratories bring to mind Dr. Frankenstein, a favorite subject of silent pictures. Having seen various versions on the silver screen, I'd have to say no, thanks, to any food that comes out of a laboratory. You simply don't know what's in it.

*Mind your portions. Here in the 1920s, we drink coffee in a cup and saucer, 8 ounces at a time. Even when we add cream and sugar, it amounts to maybe 45 calories. On my visits to your era, I see people gulping down gigantic mugs of the stuff with all manner of sweeteners and creamers, to the tune of hundreds of calories. At the movies we nibble a bag of popcorn; you moderns order a great tubful and chomp it down like there's no tomorrow. Our Coca-Cola came in a dainty 8-ounce bottle. Yours tops 20 ounces. And so on. Honestly, do you really need all that food? I think not, especially if you're not swinging a hammer, beating rugs, or plowing the back forty all day long.

*Put some elbow grease into your chores. So many things are done for you in the 21st century, or
made much easier by electricity. Forego that noisy lawn mower and push a manual one up and down the lawn a few times. Haul your wet laundry outside and hang it on the line to dry. Scrub the floor on your hands and knees. After all that, if you still need exercise, take a walk!

Of course, we have our quackery, too, here in the 1920s, from tapeworms to fad diets to questionable diet elixirs. Caveat emptor! And we do have those curious Lucky Strike ads urging
people to lose weight by smoking cigarettes, which I understand would never, ever  fly in your day. Still, if the 21st century moderns could stop laughing at us once in a while and take a look at how we did things, they might learn a thing or two.


How Green Were My 1920s (or, We Recycled Before it was Cool)

Hello! Marjorie here, back from a visit to the 21st century, where I've been helping my author put the finishing touches on my story.

One thing I noticed on my visit was how concerned most people are with the state of the environment. Such people are described as having a "green" lifestyle, or being "green." 

Here in the 1920s, a person who describes herself as "green" is either (1) very new at something, such as being "green" on the job, i.e., just learning the ropes, or (2) feeling a bit queasy, perhaps after last night's questionable chop suey. In your era it means being careful about the environment, conserving natural resources, not being wasteful, and tidying up the planet.

I don't want to toot my own horn, but you moderns didn't invent recycling, you know. For eons even before I came along, parents have been telling children to "waste not, want not" and "clean up your mess." In other words, be green!

Here are a few specific ways that the 1920s are environmentally sound:

*We use reusable glass containers instead of plastic. Glass is the perfect thing for bottles, containers, dishes, and all manner of things. Of course once in a while we drop it and it breaks, but not very often, if we pay attention to what we are doing instead of mooning about with our heads in the clouds, or our faces in our telephones.
*When we're thirsty, we drink tap water or well water instead of buying it in plastic bottles from the grocery store--bottles that contain some not-nice chemicals and then need to be discarded. Of course, we love our Coca-Cola and cream soda, too, but they are treats, not everyday staples of our diet.
*We cook most of our meals at home, and feel a little sorry for the lonely souls living in boarding houses who have to eat their meals out all the time. We use fewer prepackaged and convenience foods, because they are just beginning to come on the market, are expensive, and frankly, we don't think they taste all that great. In the 1920s, Clarence Birdseye is just developing his method for flash-freezing foods, and most of us don't have a deep-freeze to store them in, anyway. For the most part we use fresh ingredients. Our idea of a convenience food is something from a can, and most of us try not to overly rely on canned goods, but save them for occasions when life gets crazy-hectic and we have to rely on what we call a "pantry dinner" (and we try not to let that happen too often).
*We have many fewer electrical appliances than you do--hardly any, in fact! You-there in 2016 have electric dishwashers, blenders, toasters, vacuum cleaners, whirligigs and whatnots. We do most all our chores by hand, which helps us get in our exercise, too. We also don't use electric hair dryers, rollers, or curling irons. We curl our hair using pincurls on wet hair and letting it air-dry, or by heating curling irons on the stove (where we also heat our irons for pressing clothes. I notice that many of you in the 21st century have done away with your irons entirely due to your "miracle" fabrics that don't wrinkle. And even when they do wrinkle, you don't seem to care as much as we do about going around looking rumpled and unkempt. But that's another topic for another day!)

Of course in the 1920s we do have factories that belch unsavory substances into the air, and our automobiles chug along with nary a care about "emissions." I never said we were perfect! But in terms of daily life, a lot of what seems newly "green" to you is plain old common sense to us.


Happy Valentine's Day from Marjorie

I love this image because it reminds me of my kid sister, Helen. Her head is always in the clouds and she's a dreamy romantic at heart. And she LOVES clever costumes like this one. Her life's ambition is to become an actress, a fact brought out in You're the Cream in My Coffee when she's tapped to recite "The Wreck of the Hesperus" at the Kerryville High School Spring Fling.

Sometimes, though, Helen's life ambition seems to change hourly. For example, when she met Amelia Earhart at a book signing at Marshall Field's, she briefly wanted to become an aviatrix. That
ambition lasted until she learned how much math is involved in learning to pilot an aeroplane.

 Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!


Schuss! Skiing in the '20s

Recreational skiing really took off in the 1920s, you know. We Midwestern gals have our Scandinavian neighbors to thank for creating early ski hills in snowy Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The Norwegians, Finns, Swedes, and Danes were, of course, long accustomed to scooting around on skis in the winter, just to get from one place to another, and they brought those skills with them when the immigrated to the U.S.By the late 1800s ski-jumping competitions were being held at places like Ishpeming, Michigan, as well as back east in mountainous Vermont and New Hampshire. The famous resort at Sun Valley, Idaho, won't open until 1937. But the handy rope tow was invented in 1910. And lo and behold, skiing is a sport both daring and graceful, and loads of fun for ladies like me, both on the slopes and off.

I love the exhilaration of gliding down the hills, wind in my hair and snowflakes in my eyelashes, but
my very favorite time is"apres-ski" (that's French for "after-ski"), when we gather in huts to warm up over mugs of steaming hot beverages and impress each other with tales of our feats of derring-do (and flirt with attractive men in
Edward, the Prince of Wales, sporting a Fair Isle sweater
thick sweaters. I think I'll knit matching sweaters in a tricky Fair Isle pattern, one for me and one for my beau! Maybe if I start now I can finish them by next Christmas. Or maybe it would be wiser just to check out The Store for Men at Marshall Field's. What do you think?

See you on the slopes!