Hip Flasks & Top Hats


1.       Great Depression of 1929-33 was the most severe economic crisis of modern times. Millions of people lost jobs and many farmers and businesses went bankrupt. The event that started the depression was Black Tuesday, it was the day that the stock market started to go in it’s all time low. People unwisely borrowed money to buy high-priced stocks intending to sell stocks at a profit and repay lenders, but went bankrupt. As a result the American work force took a major hit, by 1932 U.S. manufacturing fell 54 percent from its 1929 level, and unemployment had risen to 15 million workers, or 30 percent.


2.         Prohibition of alcohol went into effect on January 16, 1920. With this into effect the Constitution forbidding the manufacture, sales, import, or export of intoxicating liquors. Many people still had lots of demand for liquor and there were people willing to supply their demands. Bootlegging the alcohol into places called speakeasies where people could come and drink and listen to music and hide from the law. By 1925 in New York City alone had anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs. People also came up with clever ways to evade Prohibition agents by carrying hip flasks, hollowed canes, false books, and things of that nature.


3.         Jazz Age the era of popular music which included dance songs, novelty songs, and show tunes. It was the music that promoted the new decadent values of the Roaring 20s. There were many performers from that era, but Al Jolson, Paul Whiteman, and Ted Lewis were couple of the biggest names that were entertaining in the Jazz Era. Al Jolson had 80 hit records and went on 16 national and international tours, and is best known for his leading role in the first full length talking movie ever made The Jazz Singer in 1927. Paul Whiteman was the leader of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920’s. He was dubbed the “King of Jazz”. Ted Lewis was best known as “Mr. Entertainment”. Lewis was known for his battered top hat, hard-luck tunes.


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