Saturday, July 15, 2017

57 - (Very) early preview - The Time Traveler's Guide to the 20th Century - July, 2017

NOTE: The book, "The Time Travler's Guide to the 20th Century" will be published in the Spring of 2018. This is a very early preview of a small section.

In the 1920's the United States banned the sale of alcohol, ensuring that thousands of people from coast to coast would become blinded and disabled by cheap, poorly made moonshine, sold in back alleys.

I suppose this means it is time to start the chapter on the 1920's.


The 1920's was the decade when sex was invented.

Not that people didn't have sex before this. Obviously no one would have existed if humans hadn't been having sex with each other.

And (never start a paragraph with 'and' except this one) Signumd Freud had been writing about how everything is about sex since the 1890's.

But (never start a paragraph with 'but' except this one) the 1920's were the first time that 'modern life' allowed for the excess and indulgence that would finally make sex the hip new thing.

If you visit...DO NOT HAVE SEX!

Just don't.

The youth of the 1920's were called "The Lost Generation." It was the first time anyone had thought of naming a generation. Prior to the 1920's people just slaved away trying desparately to survive. By the 1920's, however, modern life had created so much leisure time that an entire generation had time to get lost.

Let's take a look at a few things time travelers might want to see.

The New York Stock Exchange:

Since computers did not yet exist, all stock trades had to be made by sweaty over-stressed brokers who lived on the floor of the Exchange, yelling, throwing slips of paper around and, at the end of the decade, throwing themselves out of a 15th floor window.

the 1920's was the heyday of overblown stock value.

The market was growing rapidly, and everyone wanted to get in on the action, often borrowing money to invest. When the bubble burst in 1929 billions of dollars were wiped out overnight.

But it sure was fun while it lasted.


The law that made alcohol illegal in 1920 was really just a grand experiment to see if America's organized crime families could get their act together.

The experiment worked besutifully.

People who illegaly smuggled alcohol into the country were called 'bootleggers.' Others, who distilled their own alcohol in makeshift backwoods homemade distilleries were called 'blind' or in some cases, 'dead.' This is because some of the homemade experimental concoctions that desparate people drank were laced with methanol. And even better than that; some desparate people drank paint thinner.

Congratulations! The experiment got results!

More common, though, were the secret underground bars and taverns known as 'speakeasy's.' Every major city had several of them. This is where the smuggled alcohol - usually from that corrupt and overly drunk country, Canada - was served.

Al Capone was the country's most famous smuggler.

(End note: There will likely be another early preview or two of "The Time Traveler's Guide," between now and when the book is published in the Spring of 2018. Watch this space!)
-Peter Wick
-July 15, 2017