Historical Facts: 1920-1930

Kellogg introduced Rice Krispies in 1928. Posted 2/01/2012

In 1931, seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell, one of the first female pitchers in professional baseball, struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Posted 5/01/2015

By 1920 nearly 50% of all American college students were women, but they could not receive a degree from a man’s college even if they completed all the classes and exams.  It was not until 1923 that women could receive a college degree. Posted 9/15/2015

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt allowed only female journalists at her press conferences to ensure that newspapers would have to hire women. Posted 3/15/2017

The U.S. Women’s bureau estimated that just six months after the stock market crash in October of 1929, two million women, many single, had lost their jobs. Posted 10/01/2017

Flappers were causing shockwaves on the beach by wearing one-piece bathing suits that revealed bare arms and legs instead of the customary layers of clothing. This caused conservative women to begin a crusade for modesty, however, it was men who were sent out to measure hemlines and manhandle the girls. Posted 8/01/2019

It was thought that all the flapper did was have a cocktail and smoke a cigarette.  However, statistics showed that while she drove and danced and all the rest, she also went to school in greater numbers than any women before her. Posted 9/01/2020

Scrabble was conceived during the Great Depression by an unemployed New York architect named Alfred Mosher Butts, who figured Americans could use a bit of distraction during the bleak economic times.  After determining what he believed were the most enduring games in history — board games, numbers games like dice or cards, and letter games like crossword puzzles — he combined all three.  It took him seven years to come up with the right balance of numbered letters.  He chose the frequency and the distribution of the tiles by counting letters on the pages of the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune and The Saturday Evening Post.  He called the game Lexiko.  He tried to sell the game to Parker Brothers and to Milton Bradley, but they weren’t interested.  Even the Patent Office rejected his application not once, but twice.  Starting in 1938, every single giant toymaker in the United States rejected Alfred Butts’ idea for a new word game.  Ironically, Alfred Butts didn’t like to spell.

He added a board to Lexiko so words could be created crossword style and called the game Criss-Cross Words.  He made the games himself, hand-lettering the tiles and gluing them to balsa wood.  They sold for $2.  Eventually he met James Brunot, who saw the potential in the game.  It was Brunot who changed the name to Scrabble.

Brunot bought strips of scrap lumber, silk-screened letters onto them, and hired woodworkers to saw them into tiles.  He ordered the boards from a New York game company, and he and his wife assembled the games in their living room--and still they lost money. The Brunots soldiered on, selling a few hundred games a week, until one day in 1952, when they came home from a week’s vacation to find orders for more than 2,000 games!

According to legend, a Macy’s department store executive had discovered the game while at a summer resort and ordered them for the department store shelves.  To keep up with demand, James and Helen Brunot moved production to a converted woodworking shop and hired workers to put the game together.  By late 1952, they could only make 6,000 games a week — not enough to keep up with orders.

In 1953, 800,000 Scrabble games were sold, but the Brunots still couldn’t keep up with demand.  Christmas shoppers had to either put their names on a waiting list or linger by a store counter, hoping for a new shipment to arrive.

Scrabble sales peaked in 1954, with 4 million copies sold. Today 150 million Scrabble games have been sold in 121 countries in 29 languages.

Alfred Butts, who ironically didn’t like to spell, retired on his Scrabble royalties. He liked to say, ‘One-third went to taxes, I gave one-third away, and the other third enabled me to have an enjoyable life.

Posted 12/2022

Nail polish as we know it came on the market in the 1920s.  The development of automotive paint is accredited with providing the technology to create nail lacquer. Posted 10/01/2013

In the Jazz clubs of the 1920s, married men who danced with flappers were called Tango pirates. Posted 8/15/2015

Josephine Holloway was one of the first African American Girl Scout troop leaders.  It was her perseverance and determination that led to the lobbying for the Girl Scouts to include African American girls in their organization. Posted 2/01/2016

In the U.S., smoothies first became popular in the 1920s and '30s after the advent of the electric countertop blender. Posted 7/15/2017

By 1920 approximately half the U.S. population, as many as 50 million people, were going to the movies at least once a week. 2/01/2018

Because the roads were rolled, not plowed, in Presque Isle, Maine, the only way to get to school on time in the 1930s was in a wooden horse drawn school bus.  The bus had wooden benches and a woodstove. Posted 11/15/2019

Inside an Imperial Airways airplane. Look at the sign above, the Ripping Panel. In case of emergency just rip open the top of the plane!

 

Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long-range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India, the Far East, and even Australia. At first, the passengers flew in comfort while the pilot still sat in an open cockpit! Passengers were typically businessmen or colonial administrators, and most flights carried 20 passengers or less. Heavier passengers were seated in the rear of the plane to help provide ballast for take-off. Accidents were frequent: in the first six years, 32 people died in seven incidents. By 1926 Imperial Airways had a whole fleet of planes and “flying boats”. Posted 4/01/2022

On June 15, 1921, 29-year-old Bessie Coleman got her pilot's license and became the first African American to earn an international pilot's license.

Posted 6/15/2023