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1920’s Decade in Review

Inside:  Women of the 20’s: Zelda Sayre  Letter to the Editor: Model T  Sacco Venzetti Trial  Radio., Television, and Film Influence  Babe Ruth  Anarchist Bombings Causing Unrest in Public  Teapot Dome Scandal

Life 1929

Women of the 20s: Zelda Sayre By: Haley Mathews

I met Zelda in a little café around 7 PM, to have a bite to eat before going out. Her husband Scott Fitzgerald, famed writer of The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise, tagged along and sat quietly by her side as she talked to me. I knew right away that Zelda was her own woman, independent and strong. She stared out the window, smoking cigarettes and sipping a martini. Every so often she would look over at Scott, kiss him lightly on the lips, and smile coyly. Zelda was born in Montgomery, Alabama in August 1900 to a nonconformist mother and father who encouraged her to express herself. Growing up, she was courted by many a man, and was an exceptional athlete. In 1917, she started dance classes in which she excelled quickly. She was in high demand for local charity events and danced for fun until she met Fitzgerald, whom she married shortly after meeting. The independence of women has grown exponentially throughout this decade. Women have become more interested in their appearance and upkeep. Everywhere you go now you see women sporting short haircuts and tight fitting hats. Paired with shorter skirts and dresses, these women put a scowl on the faces of the older generation. But they don’t care. “Going out at night is fun,” Zelda says, “I dance the night away with Scott, drink until the early morning, stumble back home and smoke cigarettes before bed.” When asked to describe the flapper lifestyle, she said to live “without a thought for anyone else…not have a single feeling of inferiority, or shyness, or doubt, and no moral principles.” Zelda described one night that she remembered with great detail. “Scott and I were drinking, living life and having a good time. We took a nice little dip in the Union Square Fountain, and afterwards rode on top of taxis.” She goes on to describe dancing on kitchen tables in the old Waldorf and getting kicked out. These kinds of adventures have inspired a league of followers itching to be independent after decades of being restricted. In 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were suddenly able to vote for our president, increasing their independence tenfold. Even before that, women were working steady jobs while our men were away at war during The Great War. Zelda says that living such a crazy life is who she is, and she doesn’t regret a minute of it.

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Letter to the Editor Dear (editor), I would like to start off by thanking you for editing and producing such great issues of Life throughout the 20s. I always turned to your magazine for the latest news and relied on it for its reliability and accurate information. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the Model T. My family and I recently acquired one and it has really made a difference in our lives already. Incredibly impressed with the quality of the vehicle for such a cheap price, I looked into Henry Ford, the founder of the company that produces the Model T and the mastermind behind production. I was appalled to find out that he frequently writes incredibly hateful Anti-Semitic articles for a newspaper, compiled them, and has published a book called, “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.” As a proud Jewish man, and a reader of your magazine, I’m highly disappointed in the lack of reporting on this particular issue. Amidst all the racial discrimination running rampant in the country these days, I’ve relied on your publication to stay away from that trend and report the facts. I’ve been sorely disappointed. Sincerely, Joseph Cohen

Sacco Vanzetti Trial By: Haley Mathews Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed last week for the murder of a security guard and a paymaster during an armed robbery at a shoe factory. The pair were executed after six years of protesting and attempts at a retrial. The men, convicted of the murder of two men at a factory, went to trial in 1920 and were found guilty and sentenced to death. Protests and petitions and pleas to the governor have come to no avail. Protestors are protesting based on the trial and its reported biased conviction. Attendees of the trial reported that the judge, Webster Thayer, welcomed them to his court with the comment, “those anarchist bastards.” Law experts outside the case have commented on the weakness of the prosecution’s case and their witnesses saying things like, “I don’t think I have the right to say he is the man.” After their conviction in November 1925, a man named Celestino Madeiros confessed to the shootings that Sacco and Vanzetti were on trial for. The defense requested a retrial in May 1926 based on his confession, but after hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Thayer denied the request in October. I’ll concede that Sacco and Vanzetti could have been suspects. They were absent from work on the day of the murders and witnesses place them in the same area that the murders took place. They were also radical anarchists, and a cap that looked like one Sacco habitually wore was found at the scene. But when Sacco tried on the cap, it didn’t fit. And not during any point of questioning were the witnesses sure of their identification of either Sacco or Vanzetti. The defense even had witnesses placing Vanzetti 25 miles away at the time of the shooting. You may think this evidence was weak, and it definitely was. But all Judge Thayer had to say about that was that foreigners and anarchists “deserved no consideration.” The defense’s arguments should have made the jurors doubt Sacco and Vanzetti’s guilt. A few days before the trial started in June, the court requested two hundred more potential jurors. Five hundred people had already been cycled through, and only seven chosen as jurors. The defense challenged the way the second batch of jurors was rounded up. The judge suspiciously denied the challenge, indicating that the jury was chosen because of being predominantly anti-anarchist. Over the six week trial, the defendants’ anarchist views were often discussed and pointed out to the jury, making them fearful and nervous of Sacco and Vanzetti. This enabled them to turn a blind eye to the weak case against them, prosecute them, and ultimately murder them. For any American being put to death for a crime they have not been fairly tried for is murder in itself.

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Radio, Television, and Film Influence By: Troy Billett Radio and movies have a great influence over the public. Roughly 3 million Americans own radios by 1923 in the US. This is due to the common person having more disposable income. Movies let people fill their leisure time and radios have become less expensive. Radio brought the nation together by providing news, entertainment, and advertisements to more than 10 million households by 1929. Radio dull regional differences and imposed similar tastes and lifestyles. No other media had the power to create heroes and villains as quickly. Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic from New York to Paris only last year, the radio brought this amazing feat into American households, making him into a celebrity practically overnight. Critics warn that films would decrease church attendance and increase materialism, immorality, and marital tensions. Through the great expansion of materialism it is evident that this is the reason why. Also flappers have become more and more of a popular life style. People say that alcohol is tearing apart families, but how are families ever going to start if women don’t want to settle down! Rudolf Valentina, Italian actor, died at age 31 on the 23 rd of August, 1926 and mourners lined up over one mile to pass by his coffin some women even committed suicide! This death is a horrible event, but it also shows how obsessed people are becoming over people. This is not natural! People shouldn’t be ending their own lives just because someone they’ve never met has unfortunately passed away. In 1920 Mary Pickford got married and fans followed the wedding as if it was their own life! People don’t even know how to respect people’s privacy. The first on-air celebrity was Graham McNamee, who received 50,000 fan letters a year! People are giving their lives to people they don’t even know. Pretty soon everyone will be fake, pretending to be something they’re not. Idols are good, but soon people will think these pretty girls and handsome guys are the regular and the common person will not feel as though they are good enough. This in fact isn’t true because the common man is the regular.


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Babe Ruth By: Troy Billett He is the 6-time World Series champion (1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928). Many proclaim him the best baseball player ever! On December 26, 1919, Babe was sold to the New York Yankees for $100,000. The $100,000 in cash was easily the most ever paid for a ballplayer; doubling the $50,000 the Indians had given the Red Sox for Tris Speaker in 1916. In 1920, Babe beat his own record in 1919 by belting a 54 homeruns, a season in which no other player hit more than 19! Only one team in the whole league hit more that Babe did individually! Babe, of course, wasn’t done. 1921, set a new record of 59 homeruns, drove in 171 RBI, scored 177 runs, batted .376 and had an unheard of .846 slugging percentage. Babe is a superstar and enjoys the popularity, which had never been seen before in professional baseball. With Babe’s help, the Yankees became the most dominant and recognizable team in baseball. The Yankees moved to a new stadium in 1923, it was named “The House that Ruth Built” because even to this day he leads that team through many victories. Babe only improves through 1927 when, as a member of “Murderer’s Row”, he set a new homerun record of 60! Before Babe was bought by the Yankees they had never won a title of any kind. Babe helped the Yankees capture seven pennants and four World Series titles. The 1927 team is considered, by many, to be the greatest in baseball history.

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Anarchist Bombings causing unrest in public By: Payne Spudic

NEW YORK, June 19 – A bomb exploded on Attorney General Alexander Palmer’s front porch this evening, though it caused his family quite a scare, nobody was injured. Evidence has linked this bomb to Carlo Valdinoci who is an Italian Anarchist, who died during the explosion. With this being the second attempt for his life, Mr. Palmer vows to take action against foreigners and anarchists. As bombings and deaths tolls become more common, citizens have begun to panic. Without having anyone to blame for the bombings, Americans are pointing their fingers toward foreigners. Men that have been friends their whole lives have started to distrust one another, due to their country of origin. Citizens are calling to Attorney General Palmer to both put a stop to the anarchist bombings and set restrictions regarding immigration. “There is no need to worry” states General Palmer. Palmer told LIFE that the bombings needed to be stopped and that he has organized police raids, nicknamed (the palmer raids), in order to drive out the anarchists. The idea behind the proposed “Palmer Raids” is to round up large groups of suspected individuals and send them back to their home country. Although it isn’t guaranteed that they are all guilty, General Palmer says “Though I am ashamed to say it, I believe that the safety of Americans comes before the justness of arresting people.” This is a harsh way of dealing with potential criminals, but most Federal Agents and Policemen have very high hopes for the “Palmer Raids”. General Palmer also shared with us, that currently the government is discussing a law that restricts the number of immigrants coming to America each year. As of now, this law called the Johnson Act has been planned to be ratified in 1924, and will restrict the number of immigrants to 3% of the number of immigrants from each country in 1910. Palmer feels that this strikes at the heart of the bombings and will prevent others from happening.”If there aren’t any immigrants or anarchists left to set off bombs, then we have completely stopped the issue” says Palmer. There is also rumor of another law being passed in the future after the Johnson Act to makes sure the foreigners stay out of America. As of now, this future bill is named the National Origins Act and plans to restrict the number of immigrants to 2% of the number of immigrants from each country in 1890. With the amount of immigration being limited, then future risks of anarchist attacks will be reduced. The Johnson and National Origins have begun to anger some foreign citizens. Many foreigners, even those who have been living in the United States for years are starting to be viewed as criminals. “We have done nothing wrong; don’t associate us with the anarchists who are behind the bombings.” says a Russian mother, after her car and house have been vandalized repeatedly after the Bombing of Attorney General Palmer’s house. Palmer may have had good intentions before deciding to begin the police raids, but it changed the American view that all citizens originating from foreign countries are criminals. Although there are positive benefits from having less immigrants in America, it cannot be ignored that now America is being looked down upon due to the Red Scare in America and the actions we took against communist, foreigners, and anarchists alike.

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Teapot Dome Scandal By: Priyanka Ravi

In 1922 Senator Thomas J. Walsh investigated a scandal that would change the perspective of the U.S. government for times to come. In 1921 President Harding transferred control of Teapot Dome, Elk Hills and Buena Vista from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior with an executive order. This itself was probably the beginning of this devious scandal. The order itself was not implemented until the year 1922, when Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall persuaded control from Navy Secretary Edwin C. Denby. Later that year Fall abuses this power and leased the oil production rights of Teapot Dome out to Harry F. Sinclair and leased Elk Hills reserve to Edward L. Doheny. The leases were conducted without competitive bidding which is actually legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. It is only when money changes hands that the situation becomes illegal. Fall was secretly becoming a rich man through these deals. Doheny gave Fall a $100,000 nointerest loan from Doheny in November of 1921. He continued to receive other gifts from Doheny and Sinclair totaling around $404,000. Despite Fall's attempts to keep these actions a secret, his suddenly risen living standards caused speculation. The Wall Street Journal published a report on a secret arrangement that Fall had leased the petroleum reserves to a private oil company without competitive bidding on April 14, 1922. The leases seemed legal enough without deep investigation and Fall denied these claims. However, the following day an investigation began. Robert M. La Follete, Senator of Wisconsin, began the investigation with the belief that Fall was innocent. It was only when his office was found ransacked that his suspicions rose. Although the story lost interest in the public the Senate continued investigating. The Senate could find no evidence of illegal activity. The leases appeared legal, but records kept disappearing. Still how Fall had gotten rich so quickly could not be answered. The investigation was coming to a close with the verdict that Fall was innocent, when Thomas J. Walsh found Doheny’s $100,000 loan to Fall, the evidence that Fall had failed to cover up. Fall was found guilty of bribery in 1929 and sentenced a fine of $100,000 and a year in prison. President Warren Harding defended Fall by claiming that “the policy which has been adopted by the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Interior in dealing with these matters was submitted to me prior to the adoption thereof, and the policy decided upon and the subsequent acts have at all times had my entire approval." The president was suspected of helping Fall. Evidence in the Teapot Dome scandal implicated President Harding with assisting Fall, turning the public against the president. Harding was found involved, causing public distrust in the government. This incident is the reason for public mistrust till even today. Fears have risen that this mistrust will cause a problem in America’s near future. The government has a long way to go before gaining the public’s trust back. Hopefully they will be able to protect America from further damage.

LIFE magazine- 1920's decade in review  

Priyanka Ravi, Troy Billett, Payne Spudic, Haley Mathews

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