Lackadaisy Notes and References
(Lackadaisy Introduction 1)
The Riverboat pictured here resembles a Streckfus Steamer, one of the vessels that would have been characteristic of the St. Louis Mississippi riverfront at the time. Riverboats of this type were famous in part for featuring live musical acts in the early days of jazz as they traveled up and downriver.
(Lackadaisy Introduction 1)
National Prohibition, enacted in 1920, marked the illegalization of the manufacture, distribution, and import of alcohol (for consumption) in the United States as established by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and outlined by the Volstead Act. Rather than quell the prevalence of alcohol as a means of business and pleasure, however, the legislation transformed it into an underground enterprise and a trend of unprecedented organized crime followed. Unpopular, and largely considered a failure, the amendment was repealed in 1933.
(Lackadaisy Introduction 1)
The Limestone Caves winding beneath St. Louis are a reality, though in recent decades many of the caves have been destroyed by highway construction and filled in by building demolition.
(Lackadaisy Introduction 3)
The Spirit of St. Louis, named for the city of St. Louis and piloted by Charles Lindbergh, was the first plane to fly non-stop across the Atlantic. The famous flight was made in May of 1927 between New York and Paris.
The zoot suit Rocky is sporting is something of an anachronism. Although the very first zoot suits seem to have evolved out of the jazz culture of the late 1920’s, they were much more a style of the 1930’s and 40’s when this distinct look carried with it a connotation of social rebellion.
English Cave is located in part beneath St. Louis’ Benton Park. It reportedly had several secret manmade entrances in the south part of the city, but perhaps for safety concerns, known entrances seem to have been officially sealed off.
The Sunshine Special was a passenger train that ran on the Missouri-Pacific railroad between Austin, St. Louis and Little Rock from 1915 through the 1950’s.
The Perils of Pauline was a popular action-suspense serial during the silent film era. One of Pauline’s perils, of course, was being tied to railroad tracks.
Embalming fluid was one of a number of unsavory alcoholic products commonly used to cut bootleg liquor during Prohibition, occasionally with deadly results.
The Union Trust Building was built in 1893, but is now better known to St. Louisans as 705 Olive. With its steel frame, it counts among the nation’s earliest skyscrapers.
Albert Einstein published a paper entitled “Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung” in 1917, predicting “stimulated emission”, the eventual basis for laser physics.
Famous-Barr for most of the twentieth century was a major St. Louis department store with its flagship location at the ornate Railway Exchange Building. Recently, the chain was bought out by the Midwest division of Macy’s, Inc.
Old Man River is one of the Mississippi River’s common nicknames.
Eads Bridge, built in 1874, largely with Carnegie steel, spans the Mississippi between Missouri and Illinois. Originally, it hosted trains, trolley cars and foot traffic. Today, it accommodates road traffic on top and the St. Louis Metrolink on the rail lines.
Roark is Rocky’s proper name.
Homemade stills were commonly used to manufacture moonshine. They were also quite the fire hazard.
The electric ignition was a feature of most vehicles manufactured after 1920. Prior to that, cars were started primarily with a hand crank.
The St. Louis Bond Issue of 1923 was a large-scale civic undertaking to revitalize city growth, which included paving and widening roads and which, in ensuing years, saw the construction of new hotels, hospitals, plazas and the implementation of electrical streetlights for the whole of the city.
The Mayfair Room was St. Louis’ first five star restaurant. It opened in 1925 with the Wyndham Mayfair Hotel.
The Cajun dialect is a mix of multiple languages, predominantly English and Cajun French (a distinct dialect of Continental French).
McClure's was a once prominent political and literary magazine that saw the conception of muckraking journalism. A writing staff exodus eventually led to its transformation into a women's magazine in the 1920's.
The Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, was designed by John Browning and originally manufactured during WWI where it saw use as a light machine gun. The weapon's rapid rate of fire, comparative stopping power and ability to penetrate car bodies is perhaps what made it a famous favorite of the Barrow Gang in later years.
A nut zipper obliquely refers to an old fashioned chewy peanut-flavored candy called a Squirrel Nut Zipper® (proprietary of NECCO®). It’s also eponymous of the band of the same name.
”Lady Dionysus” is an over-romanticized metaphorical name Rocky uses to describe to Mitzi, not, as some readers have indicated, a mistakenly feminized reference to the Greek deity himself.
The Thompson Sub-machine Gun, or Tommy Gun, was initially developed during WWI according to the designs of Gen. John T. Thompson. As the war ended before the new weapon made it to troops overseas, however, it instead became indelibly linked with a much different sort of warfare that afterwards played out among gangsters and law enforcement in the era of Prohibition.
"Success and glory are in the advance; disaster and shame lurk in the rear." -- Maj. Gen. John Pope, addressing his troops prior to the Second Battle of Bull Run, 1862.
”Cellar door” was, according to J.R.R. Tolkien, one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language. I don’t suppose it remains true in this context. (Tolkien, J. R. R. "English and Welsh." 1955.)
The Lindy Hop, the Charleston, and the Breakaway were all popular dances of the time. The Lindy Hop (for which Charles Lindbergh was the namesake) was perhaps the longest-lived, as it evolved and remained popular into the swing era of the 1940’s.
A raid in this case refers to a surprise incursion by either police or Prohibition Agents - an exclamation that would probably have cleared any speakeasy in a matter of minutes.
The Duesenberg J model, produced by the Auburn Automobile Company, was actually not introduced until 1928.
A peccary is a mammal resembling a pig and fairly common in the wilds of the Americas. An array of different bones have been discovered in the St. Louis caves, probably the result of animals (some long extinct) falling in through cracks or sinkholes in the ground above. (Hubert and Charlotte Rother. Lost Caves of St. Louis. St. Louis: Virginia Publishing Company. 1996)
Quicklime, or calcium oxide, applied to a body can rapidly render it visually unidentifiable. As such, aside from its practical uses, it's been a player in many a shady situation. Contrary to popular belief, though, it won't tend to destroy a body completely. Rather, the resulting formation of adipocere has a preserving effect.
Double-ought commonly refers to a buckshot pellet size of approximately .33 inches in diameter.
Chloral Hydrate is a depressant that was used as sedative prior to the development of barbiturates and, likewise in the past, was often utilized in veterinary medicine as a general anesthetic.