*Note: All definitions (and photos attached to definitions) are taken from the Oxford Dictionary unless otherwise noted.
Lebanon, MO (p. 4): The “Crossroad of the Ozarks.”
The county seat of Leclede County, Lebanon is a small city of 14,759 residents off Interstate 44 just under an hour’s drive from Springfield, MO. The city has seen a 21.9% increase in population since 2000, likely due to the city’s booming manufacturing industry. 38% of the population is employed in manufacturing. Home of over four boat manufacturers, Lebanon was dubbed “The Aluminum Fishing Boat Capitol of the World.” The average household income in Lebanon is $30,067, significantly lower than the Missouri average of $46,931. Similarly, house values in Lebanon are over 30% lower than the Missouri average. The average monthly rent in Lebanon is $527 — in Santa Cruz it’s $1,450! 92.5% of the population is white. Just over 80% of the adult population has graduated high school; only 13.3% has a college degree. Just under 50% of the population is married; with nearly 15% of the population divorced. Lebanon’s crime rate is slightly higher than the US average, but violent crime is rare: robberies and rapes are infrequent, and there were no murders 2011-2013 (the most recent data available; but newspaper research suggests a murder since).
Historically, Lebanon is located on a trail once frequented by the Osage and Wyota tribes; this trail became known as the “Wire Trail,” during America’s earlier years, because of the trans-continental telegraph line that ran along it. A settlement, originally called “Wyota,” sprung up on the spot; before the city’s incorporation in 1877, the name was changed to “Lebanon,” as recommended by a clergyman of high standing who wanted to name the city after his hometown, Lebanon, TN. The town has a history of being hard to please, and is infamous for this grit. Lincoln campaigned here for his 1860 election, and received only one vote. Author Harold Bell Wright set his The Calling of Dan Matthews quite obviously in Lebanon, and he used the opportunity to chide the off-putting nature of the town’s residents.
The town was constantly occupied by troops during the Civil War, but Lebanon lacked much mention until it erected an opera house in 1882. Lebanon also put itself on the map in 1889, when a well-worker discovered that the groundwater in the town magnetized his tools. Lebanon instantly became a destination for anyone seeking the suspected and promoted healing effects of this magnetized water. The largest structure ever built in Lebanon, the Gasconade Hotel, was built to house the baths and their visitors; however, it burned down in 1899. Lebanon existed mostly quietly again until Route 66 was constructed and WWII brought a great deal of traffic through the town. The town boomed as a quiet stop for visitors until Interstate 44 was built nearby. Since, Lebanon has made a name for itself in the manufacturing industries mention above, and as a popular natural destination for outdoorsmen.
Friedman name (p. 5): an ancient surname of Swiss, German, and French origins. The name is a portmanteau of the Old Germanic words fried — meaning “peace” — and man — meaning “friend, follower, or servant.”
During the 17th Century, Ashkenazi Jews were forced by nation-building conformity laws to take legal last names, which was contrary to their traditional naming practices. Prior to the 17th Century, Ashkenazi Jews did not take last names, and the names changed every generation; children were named in relation to their parents. “For example, if Moses son of Mendel (Moyshe ben Mendel) married Sarah daughter of Rebecca (Sora bas Rifke), had a boy and named it Samuel (Shmuel), the child would be called Shmuel ben Moyshe. If they had a girl and named her Feygele, she would be called Feygele bas Sora” 1.
After these laws were enacted, the Ashkenazi Jews adapted their old naming style to fit the new legalities through the use of patronymics and matronymics. In patronymics, “the son of Mendel took the last name Mendelsohn; the son of Abraham became Abramson” 1. The suffixes were “-son, sohn, or er” in Germanic/Romance languages. In Slavic languages, the suffixes were “-wich or witz.” In matronymics, the suffix “-man” was added to the mother’s name. This practice yielded many familiar names.
Alternatively, the Ashkenazi Jews would be named after their home city, their profession, or their character traits. In the example of Friedman, as in Matt Friedman, the name was given to someone of a particularly peaceful, kind, or friendly demeanor. It can be assumed Matt and his predecessors are likely very kind-natured.
“louvres” (p. 5): “slats hung at regular intervals in a door, shutter, or screen to allow light or air through”
“lattice” (p. 5): “structure consisting of strips of wood or metal crossed and fastened together with square or diamond spaces between”
“lambent” (p. 5): “glowing, gleaming, or flickering with soft radiance”
“creel” (p. 5): “a wicker basket for carrying fish
“frou-frou” (p. 6): “frills or ornamentation, particularly of women’s clothes”
“folly” (p. 6): “costly ornamental building with no practical purpose”
“geegaws” (p. 6): “showy things, especially those that are useless or worthless”
Waltz (p. 6): a style of music and/or dance in 3/4 time, known for a strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close. See this video.
Valentine (p. 6): a gift given to someone you love; here it signifies both the intensity of Matt’s devotion for Sally and the grandeur he hopes to give both the evening and his actions.
Great Depression/WWII background (p. 7): After WWI, Germany was left economically devastated. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to pay great sums to France and Britain in reparation for damages caused by the war. These costs, in addition to the costs Germany faced repairing its own country, left Germany struggling and prone to be influenced by a man like Adolf Hitler.
The German government used social programs in an attempt to improve the economy, building infrastructure like roads and power plants ; government spending more than tripled after the war. Government spending plus a lack of revenue meant constantly increasing deficits. City governments went bankrupt in 1930 and many civil services failed. Tariffs on Germany by other countries only made these economic problems worse. This dire situation allowed Hitler to rise to dominance: he had someone to blame for Germany’s problems, and he had a plan to change it quickly. Hitler promised to eliminate unemployment in a matter of years. WWII and its preparations gave thousands of jobs to German citizens and created a time of relative prosperity.
In this monologue, Matt mentions the similar effect WWII had on America. On Thursday, October 24, 1929, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Over 11 million Americans were unemployed in 1932, roughly 30% of the population! Preparations for WWII greatly boosted the American economy. By 1939, the number of unemployed had halved, and the US exported over $32 billion in war-related goods from 1941 – 1945. It was easy to think of the war as a saving grace; it gave men and women jobs and purpose, it allowed parents to put food on the table for their children. As Matt says, common perception was that “the country [had] been saved by war.” But Matt, a peaceful man by nature, urges us to remember that peace and prosperity are our true allies.
Niangua river (p. 7): the “capricious river” that Matt mentions is the Niangua river in Missouri.
As seen in this image, the rivers of the Ozarks are all incredibly meandering. This means they were prone to flooding, and navigating them was a challenging, ever-changing experience. The Missouri Department of Conservation states that the river is “seldom floatable” and its conditions change many times throughout the distance of the river.
“the whole schmeer” (p. 8): meaning “everything possible or available, every aspect of a situation;” from the Yiddish shmirn, meaning “to flatter.” Pronunciation
St. Louis (p. 9): St. Louis is ~160 miles from Lebanon, MO. By 1944, Route 66 was already a popular way to drive across the country; and, as mentioned above, it had already had its effect on Lebanon’s economy. This likely would have been Matt’s route between Lebanon and St. Louis. In 1941, the speed limit on Rte. 66 had no official number: legally, drivers had to operate their vehicles at a “reasonable and proper” speed. Other states limited speeds to ~45 – 60 mph; so it can be assumed Matt likely traveled around 55 mph en route to Lebanon. The trip would have likely taken him three hours one-way with no stops — quite the commitment.
St. Louis was left especially reeling after the Great Depression. By 1933, St. Louis’s manufacturing production was half what it was in 1929 and over 30% of the workforce was unemployed — with an unbelievable 80% of the black workforce out of work. Throughout the 30’s over $68 million was spent on public beautification and improvement in order to spur the job market, and several landmarks were constructed during this period. This beautification marked a trend for St. Louis: despite the terrors of the Great Depression, St. Louis did what it could to improve itself and stay positive. In 1933, prohibition was abolished, allowing the St. Louis-based Anheuser Busch brewery to thrive again; and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series over Detroit in the 1934 season. WWII brought St. Louis a tremendous amount of income, as the city flourished as a war-material production center. St. Louis produced millions of dollars in aircraft; the largest munitions factory in the country was located there; and even companies like Monsanto began war production. By the end of WWII, over 75% of St. Louis’s manufacturers had done work for the U.S. government. St. Louis was also home to relatively progressive civil rights accomplishments: The city was forcibly integrated in 1944 by local law, and the city was home to one of the only hospitals in the country that trained black doctors and nurses. In all, St. Louis was in disarray at the beginning of the 1930’s, but quickly worked to beautify itself and pick itself off the ground. By 1944, St. Louis was a beautiful and prosperous city — and the 8th largest in the US.
“aperture” (p. 9): “an opening, hole, or gap”
Talley Family Tree (p. 9-12):
“haybailer” (p. 10): “a machine, originating in the 1930’s, for pressing hay into rectangular bales”
“still” (p. 10): “an apparatus for distilling alcoholic drinks”
“repeal” (p. 10): here referring to the end of the U.S. Prohibition of alcohol
“Iceman and his Horse” (p. 11): referring to Canadian jockey, George Woolf, who famously rode the horse Seabiscuit into the hearts of the American public in 1938.
“fish spawn” (p. 13): the process of spawning involves female fish releasing unfertilized eggs into the open water, where male fish then fertilize them.
“sounding board” (p. 13): “a board or screen placed behind a stage or podium to reflect the voice forward”
Harold Ickes (p. 14): the Republican Secretary of the Interior during the Roosevelt New Deal administration from 1933 – 1946.
Humphrey Bogart (p. 14): Widely considered “the greatest male actor of all time,” Bogart became especially famous during 1940’s classics like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. He’s known for having an iconic voice with a slight lisp. For more examples, check out the famous scene from Casablanca, this collection of Bogart clips, or this short impression of Bogart’s voice and style of speech.
“ratiocination” (p. 15): “the process of forming judgments through reason and logic”
“benediction” (p. 17): “utterance or bestowing of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service
“gazebo” (p. 18): “roofed structure that offers open views of surroundings; used for relaxation and/or entertainment”
Gottenyu! (p. 18): a Yiddish expression that is difficult to translate directly into English. Most basically, it as an expression that is used synonymously with English expressions like “Oh, God!”
“tap-dancing babies” (p. 19):
“whirligigs” (p. 19): “a toy that spins round, for example, a top or windmill”
“Una furtiva lacrima” (p. 19): In English, “a furtive tear”. A romanza, or narrative ballad of especially personal or tender quality, from the Italian comic opera, L’elisir d’amore (or The Elixir of Love) by Gaetano Donizetti. In the song, Nemorino, a young peasant and the play’s protagonist, has just taken a second dose of fake love potion and has just inherited a large potion. Bolstered by his fake love potion, Nemorino ignores all his suitors, including the woman he loves, Adina, who is hurt by his lack of interest. Nemorino is saddened by Adina’s unhappiness, but later learns of her love for him and celebrates. Here is a clip, performed by Luciano Pavarotti.
“Over the Waves” (p. 21): an 1888 waltz by Mexican composer Juventino Rosas, who lived and worked in Louisiana in the late 19th Century. Not only is it Rosas’ best-known work, it was one of the most popular melodies of its day, and is still one of the most popular waltzes in the world — you should recognize it. Here it is as performed by the Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Copperheads (p. 22): a non-aggressive, common snake distributed across the Ozarks, with the least toxic venom of any venomous state in the US; bites will hurt, but are rarely fatal.
Water moccasins (p. 22): another name for the Cottonmouth snake, a common aquatic snake distributed across the Ozarks, which has a highly toxic bite, which may be fatal; the venom of a cottonmouth affects the blood’s ability to clot.
“Shriner’s Mosque” (p. 23): referring to the Abou Ben Ahem Shrine Mosque in Springfield, MO.
“carburetor” (p. 23): “a device in an internal combustion engine that mixes air with a fine spray of liquid fuel”
Emma Goldman (p. 23): a political activist who promoted anarchy, freedom of expression, sexual freedom and birth control, female equality, radical educational methods, and labor rights during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
“dachshund” (p. 25): also known colloquially as a “wiener dog”
USO (p. 25): the United Service Organizations, the nation’s leading organization for serving the members of the armed forces and their families.
“pug dogs” (p. 25):
“shiksa” (p. 26): “(often derogatory) for a gentile girl or woman;” from the Yiddish shikse and the Hebrew šiqṣāh, meaning “detested thing.” Pronunciation
Pronunciation of “beau” (p. 27): boh, as in “bow and arrow”
“When Johnny Came Marching Home” (p. 27): An immediately recognizable Civil War tune, written by military bandleader, Patrick Gilmore, in 1835. It bears similarities to an old Irish folk song Gilmore was familiar with as a child. Here is a clip of the score. Here are the lyrics. And here it is as performed by John Terrill in an 1893 gramophone recording. It has since been repurposed famously as “The Ants Go Marching.”
Jack Sprat (p. 28): a nursery rhyme concerning King Charles I, ruler of England from 1625-1649
Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean
Jack ate all the lean,
Joan ate all the fat.
The bone they picked it clean,
Then gave it to the cat
Jack Sprat was wheeling,
His wife by the ditch.
The barrow turned over,
And in she did pitch.
Says Jack, “She’ll be drowned!”
But Joan did reply,
“I don’t think I shall,
For the ditch is quite dry.
Sen-sen (p. 28): the dominant, male-marketed breath-freshener from the late-1800’s until the mid-1900’s. It had a strong, licorice flavor that was designed to cover the taste of all sorts of untoward activity, hidden from loved ones (e.g. sneaking nips of liquor or puffs of cigarettes).
Marriage age in 1944: (p. 28-30): Sally is 31 and unmarried. Matt is 42 an unmarried. Even by today’s standards, those are well above the median age of first marriage in the US. In 1940, the average man was married by 25; the average woman was married by 23. In 1940, only 12% of white men were unmarried at the age of 35, and under 10% of women were unmarried at the same age. Quite obviously, Matt and Sally are outliers at their age. And this made them suspect; as with most, if not all, marginalized people, the majority (married people) held prejudices against the minority (unmarried people). We still see these negative stereotypes today. We generally assume unmarried people to have “some sort of problem” that keeps them single, and this problem was only worse in the 1940’s.
Methodist Reader (p. 29): a prescriptive religious text for those of the Methodist protestant denomination, written by Charles C Selecman.
Thorstein Veblen (p. 29): a 19th and 20th-Century American economist, who sought to apply a dynamic approach to the study of economics; he is perhaps most famous for coining the term “conspicuous consumption,” the practice of using higher quality or more expensive goods than necessary.
The Theory of the Leisure Class (p. 29): an 1899 book by Thorstein Veblen, in which the economist details his theories on consumer behavior. Veblen states that we as humans instinctively seek high social status; we achieve high social status when our peers admire us and consider us winners; to be considered a winner, we must demonstrate greater predatory abilities than our peers; to demonstrate these abilities, we must amass more wealth than our peers; moreover, it’s more impressive for the money to come from force or cunning than from hard work. Ultimately, capitalism develops a leisure class that rises above the other classes by making money without work.
“And he who does not work, neither shall he eat” (p. 29): here quoting the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
“sluggard” (p. 29): “a lazy, sluggish person”
St. Augustine (p. 29): (lived 354 – 430 AD) one of the Latin fathers of the Catholic Church, Augustine is best known as the author of Confessions and City of God, which shaped the process of biblical exegesis (or critical interpretation of biblical text to discover its intended meaning) and much of medieval and modern Christian thought.
“By the skin of your teeth” (p. 30): idiom meaning “narrowly, barely,” often used in regard to a narrow escape; the phrase first appeared in English in the Geneva Bible (1560), Job 19:20.
“Bee’s knees” (p. 30): idiom meaning “excellent, the highest quality;” the phrase in its current meaning first appeared in the flapper culture of the 1920’s.
“Cat’s pajamas” (p. 30): idiom used to refer to something or someone “as being really, really excellent, as well as new and exciting, with a little bit of sexiness thrown in;” another phrase that was coined during the flapper culture of the 1920’s.
Rostock, Germany (p. 32): a city of 198,303 people in northeastern Germany. Pronunciation
Gdansk, Poland (p. 32): a city of 460,276 people in northern Poland. Pronunciation
Kaunas, Lithuania (p. 32): a city of 355,586 people in southern Lithuania. Pronunciation
“the Kaiser” (p. 32): here referring to Kaiser Wilhelm II, the emperor of Germany and King of Prussia during WWI. Although he attempted to hold Germany back from war, his boisterous, attacking nature led many people to blame him for the first World War’s outbreak.
“marks” (p. 32): a shortening of “Reichsmark,” the currency of Germany from 1925 – 1948.
“funicular” (p. 33): “a cable railroad, especially one on a mountainside in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced”
Naples, Italy (p. 33): a city of roughly one million people in southern Italy.
Nice, France (p. 33): a city of 339,000 people in southeastern France.
“May I?” game (p. 33): See this video for a description of the children’s game.
“There’s no such thing as a Prussian Jew” (p. 33): Matt touches on a two main implications here. Firstly, Jews have a lengthy less-than-positive history with Prussia. Secondly, Jews rarely got to call any one place home for very long, as they were constantly persecuted. Since the 11th Century, Jews in Prussia have suffered persecution for a variety of “reasons,” from the fallout of the Crusades to vengeance against the Jews for past conquests. These government-led persecutions continued into the 19th Century until King Frederick William II signed the Edict of March 11, 1812, which granted civil equality for Jewish citizens and allowed them to join the military. Unfortunately, Frederick’s predecessors did not share these graces, and Jews in Prussia still received occasionally persecution until 1869. After 1870, Jews in Prussia have held equal legal status; however, anti-Semitism was still rampant.
For hundreds of years, Jews have been forced into specific professions, because they have traditionally been banned from owning land, and they have been forced to relocate due to global persecutions. As such, transient professions became popular among Jewish workers. Textile work became very prominent among Jewish workers in the 13th Century. At one point, 8/9ths of the Jewish population in Rome and the East End of London worked as tailors. Jewish physicians rose to prominence around the same time. Other scholarly fields (like law) are also common. Until the 16th Century, Catholics were not allowed to practice in money lending. This, in combination with the Jews’ banishment from most trades and forms of business, created an opening for Jewish workers and essentially forced them into the practice, even though usury (or interest-taking) was against the Talmud’s prescriptions. This opportunity gave several Jewish workers a means of living, but it also fueled much of the anti-Semitic sentiment of Europe.
“Sephardic” (p. 34): from “Sephardi,” or “any Jew of Spanish/Portuguese descent, with their own separate and unique customs and rituals”; Sephardic Jews preserve Babylonian Judaism rather than the Palestinian Judaism of Ashkenazi Jews.
Europeans are “wasteful of people” (p. 34): The 20th Century contained more bloodshed than any before it. Two world wars and several other international conflicts burdened Europe with a near-constant loss of life for all of Matt’s life. Roughly 100 million people were killed during the world wars — that’s almost 1/3rd of the American population, today. And the atrocities against innocent civilians that occurred (e.g the Holocaust) were immensely brutal and dehumanizing. It seemed that human life meant less than ever during the 1940’s.
French/Prussian rivalry (p. 34): The Gauls and Germans have been at each other’s throats since the Roman Empire controlled the Mediterranean, or so it is claimed. More concretely, the rivalry began with the partition of Charlemagne’s empire among his heirs after his death. In 843, the Treaty of Verdun divided the former empire into three parts, two of which were roughly equivalent to today’s France and Germany. During the 14th Century, France worked to annex some German territories; France did so again in the 16th Century. After the Thirty Years War in the 17th Century, Germany was divided into hundreds of small sovereignties in order to weaken the once-dominant empire; the only two sovereignties of any influence remaining were Austria and Prussia. France continued it’s influence over Germany and the rest of Europe through King Louis XIV’s reign and until the French Revolution. By this time, Prussia had risen to considerable power (despite constant conflicts with Austria, which had also become quite powerful), and both remaining German powers allied against a weak France in 1792 to take back a great deal of lost territory. The three powers remained at odds until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which ended in 1815 with France reenforcing its dominance over Europe. After establishing itself as the strongest German nation, Prussia led a unified Germany against France during the Franco-German Wars from 1870-1871. France was defeated and the face of Europe was changed forever. The Papal State, no longer protected by France, cemented itself in Italy; the French Third Republic was born; and Germany was the new dominant force in Europe. This bad blood between Germany and France continued until the end of WWII when Europe was ultimately unified.
Lübeck, Germany (p. 35): a city of 211,200 people in northern Germany.
Journey from Norway to Caracas to America (p. 35):
Denmark’s significance: (p. 35): Germany occupied Denmark in 1940, but Jews there were not persecuted until 1943, roughly ten years after persecution started in Germany and years later than most German-occupied territories. Most remarkable about Denmark, though, was its citizenry’s response to the persecution. The night German police began arresting Jews, Danish police refused to cooperate. The Danish people assisted the escape of over 7,000 Jews to safe, neutral Sweden during the war. Denmark is remembered for having one of the best Jewish survival rates of any country during WWII.
Persecution of Jews during and after WWI (p. 35): Before the governmental persecution of Jews, which began in the 1930’s, immediately after Hitler rose to power in Germany, anti-Semitism was rampant in Europe, especially Germany. During WWI, German citizens openly attacked Jewish citizens for not enlisting as soldiers for Germany; this opinion of Germany’s Jewish citizens spread rampantly, and a dislike for the members of the faith grew immensely. When, in reality, more than 80% of the Jewish population that was able to serve did so — a far greater percentage than the rest of the population. German Jews were ostracized from society during WWI and in the years immediately after; and in the 1930’s and 40’s they were interned and murdered en masse.
In Eastern Europe, Jews suffered similar fates, starting in the fallout of WWI. The Russian Czar accused them of being German sympathizers and collaborators, and forced over a million Jews to move to inland Russia. During the Bolshevik revolution, starting in 1917, the Bolsheviks attempted to destroy practice of Judaism in Russia. Similarly, citizens in Poland and Lithuania began to overtly and violently mistreat their Jewish counterparts in the years leading up to WWII.
“Vilde chaya” (p. 37): literally “wild animal;” a Yiddish term for a rambunctious, energetic person. Pronunciation.
Miss Fanny Brice (p. 38): a famous early-20th Century comedienne, who appeared on stage and on film; she first became popular as the singer of a popular love song, “My Man.”
Houdini (p. 39): famed illusionist, Harry Houdini, was infamous for his several escape attempts. Watch this video for more information.
“Crappies, bass, sun perch” (p. 39): common fish in the Ozarks. “Crappie” pronunciation.
Hatfields and McCoys (p. 39): In the 1880’s and 90’s, these two families engaged in a legendary and infamous feud along the Tug Fork river , which creates the border between Kentucky and West Virginia. The Hatfields, led by their father, William Anderson Hatfield, owned the land on the West Virginia side of the river; the McCoys, led by their father, Randolph McCoy, owned the land on the Kentucky side. The origins of the feud are lost to history, but some say the families were on opposite sides of the Civil War; still others say the Hatfields stole one of Randolph McCoy’s hogs in 1878. But the feud became bloody when one of the Hatfield sons was shot and killed in a brawl; as revenge, the Hatfields kidnapped and murdered three McCoy brothers. This upped the conflict into a bloody war, which culminated with several arrests in 1888. One person was sentenced to death by hanging, and eight more were given prison sentences. Smaller fights continued until roughly 1897, and there was even a brief, publicized (perhaps embellished), Romeo-and-Juliet-style love story between Johnson Hatfield and Rose Anna McCoy during the 1890’s.
Honeysuckle (p. 39): a climbing vine that flowers into red, orange, white, and/or pink blossoms. The name is often used to reference plants like azalea, columbine, although these are not truly honeysuckle.
Socialism v. Communism, especially in 1944 (p. 40): To quote the official American Government education website, “The most important principle of communism is that no private ownership of property should be allowed… The government should exercise the control in the name of the people, at least in the transition between capitalism and communism. The goals are to eliminate the gap between the rich and poor and bring about economic equality.” Alternatively, “[s]ocialism, like communism, calls for putting the major means of production in the hands of the people, either directly or through the government. Socialism also believes that wealth and income should be shared more equally among people. Socialists differ from communists in that they do not believe that the workers will overthrow capitalists suddenly and violently. Nor do they believe that all private property should be eliminated. Their main goal is to narrow, not totally eliminate, the gap between the rich and the poor. The government, they say, has a responsibility to redistribute wealth to make society more fair and just.” 1
After the First Red Scare, which will be talked about in greater detail shortly, America was left vehemently opposed to communism. Every level of government was influenced by what would eventually be known as McCarthyism — a fear of the other, a fear of change from tradition. Labor unrest meant the death of America’s quiet prosperity, it meant revolution and destruction. Americans were encouraged to uphold the status quo, to bleed red, white, and blue. Any dissent was treason; tensions were high during the 1940’s and 50’s. To be called a communist was to be ostracized, thrown to the wolves.
“You are a peach” (p. 41): This phrase has been around at least since the Civil War, where it was used to refer to a woman with fair skin (who’s skin resembled peaches and cream). The Tennessee Department of Education suggests the phrase originated with the practice of giving friends or loved ones peaches. By 1917, this definition for “peach” was already acknowledged by the American Dialect Society, and the phrase became popular throughout the first half of the 20th Century. The term was eventually written into a popular 1960’s Elvis song,”You’re the Boss,” demonstrating its prevalence.
Economic climate of the 1940’s (p. 41):
FDR’s economic policies (p. 42):
War bonds (p. 42): during WWII, citizens could purchase war bonds in the form of stamps for 25 cents a piece; these bonds would then be bought back by the government with interest after ten years. The government used these bonds as a way to raise funds for the war effort, and ultimately buying war bonds became the layperson’s way to “fight the good fight” and do their part for the US.
“Cagney” (p. 43): here referencing James Cagney an early-20th Century movie star, renowned for playing gangsters and “tough guy” roles.
Humpty Dumpty Rhyme (p. 43):
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
“Fibber McGee” (p. 44): here referencing the character Fibber McGee from Fibber McGee and Molly, a popular music and comedy radio show that was on the air from 1935 – 1959. The radio show was rife with vaudeville elements, and was “a reflection of the time” more than perhaps any other piece of entertainment.
St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals (p. 45): two Major League Baseball teams, based out of St. Louis, which were active during the events of Talley’s Folly. The Cardinals (active 1892 – Present) have since become one of the winningest franchises in the MLB. The Browns transferred from Milwaukee to St. Louis in 1902 and took on the old name of the Cardinals. Most interesting, just a few months after the events of Talley’s Folly, these two teams faces off in the 1944 World Series, which the Cardinals would win, despite the Browns having the best record in the American League. The Cooper Brothers, Mort and Walter, were two successful players for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“gyp” (p. 45): “to cheat or swindle someone” — often considered offensive language today
Rogersville, MO (p. 46): a small town of 3,266 people just under 50 miles from Lebanon.
Consumption, the romantic disease (p. 46):
Pronunciation of “Laclede” (p. 48): See this link.
“tramp” (p. 49): “a person who travels from place to place on foot, searching for work or as a vagrant or beggar”
“vamp” (p. 49): “a woman who uses sexual attraction to exploit men”
Historical information on pelvic infections (p. 49):
“blood poisoning” (p. 50): “the presence of microorganisms or toxins in the blood, causing disease, sepsis”