Catch-Up Saturdays — Hullaba Real World Tech & Review

Saturday, July 14, 2018 

Roaring Twenties Tech & Culture

Portrait of Gramps with stuff
Gramps with some “tech” from Hullaba Lulu, Art by Rob Goldstein

Hello, everyone!  Welcome to my sanctuary.  Or maybe I should say welcome Shieks and Shebas, because this post sort of reviews my Jazz Age Wednesdays serial, Hullaba Lulu.

My “partner in crime” for the #DieselPunk serial is artist Rob Goldstein who creates the illustrations and videos for Hullaba Lulu.  Between us we’ve added many real world elements from Roaring Twenties culture and technology.

Today I’m spotlighting the real (though I used some of it in a fantastical way) technology and popular culture items of the Roaring Twenties.  Some of these were “things” sent by Rob, others came along as part of my storytelling.  This post will also serve as a catch-up review of Hullaba Lulu.

Don’t Bring Lulu

It’s no surprise that music was a big part of the Jazz Age.  I created the some of the characters for Hullaba Lulu, inspired by the song Rob told me his grandmother sang to him.

Chapter 1 ― Rose, Pearl, Trumpet

Garter Flask

What 1920s story could leave out things to do with Prohibition? I added a contradiction to a character by giving the flask to “darned nice girl” Pearl.

The Bright Young Things

Volumes could be written about that extraordinary collection of people, the Bright Young Things.  That “thing” inspired me to include a fictionalized Tom Driberg in the story.

Chapter 2 ― Garter Flask, Grand Central Station, Bright Young Things

Valentinto LuLu Tom D Rolls
Valentino, Lulu, and Tom Driberg on the street above the emergency exit of the abandoned subway tunnel where Gramps has a speakeasy.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Spiritualism — Ouija Board

As they were during the Victorian Era, people in the 1920s continued to be fascinated with spiritualism. Seances, tarot readings, and Ouija boards were popular.  When Rob sent the Ouija as a “thing” my imagination went off the rails and I made it part of the control system of Valentino’s train.  That was just the beginning of me adding outrageous elements to the train.

Lulu at table in station
Lulu in her secret place (the abandoned subway station), with her Ouija board — turns out it belonged to Valentino.  Image by Rob Goldstein

Chapter 3 ― Saltwater Taffy, Raspberry-Red Rouge, Ouija Board

Carl Jung

Jung was a prominent figure of the 1920s.  His work has been influential in not only psychiatry but also anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies.  When Rob mentioned the “red notebook” it took a bit of thinking for me to work it into the story.

Orthophonic Victrola

In 1925 the Orthophonic Victrola was a big innovation in sound reproduction.  That real 20s tech thing was another real world item I couldn’t resist adding to the diesel-punk tech of the fantastical train.

Chapter 4 ― Ectoplasm, Jung, Orthophonic Victrola

Interior Train control console Valentino victrola sofas
Valentino with the Orthophonic Victrola, which is part of the train’s communication system. Art by Rob Goldstein

The beginning of the fifth chapter was a bit of family history for Lulu and her grandfather. I didn’t touch on social norms, but it was clear that Lulu’s family situation wasn’t typical of the era. Chapter 5.1 — Backstory


Part two of Chapter 5 gave us more “20s Tech.”  Yes, they really had automats and vending machines even before the 1920s!  The automats were gigantic, coin-operated vending machines with row upon row of windowed compartments, resembling glass-fronted post office boxes, housing dozens of menu items.  I gave the train the automat of my dreams.  It even makes cash. 


Amusement parks came along in the Victorian Era.  Flappers loved them too.  Herbert W. Sellner, a woodworker and maker of water slides, invented the Tilt-A-Whirl in 1926 at his Faribault, Minnesota, home. In 1927, the first 14 Tilt-A-Whirls were built in Herbert’s basement and yard.  Watch out for the tilt-a-whirl in the story… it’s not normal.

Chapter 5.2 — Automat, Cheeseburger, Tilt-A-Whirl

Tilt-a-Whirl Lulu, Valentino and man_the Spin a Twirl-2.
The tilt-a-whirl in the sideways version of Atlantic City was no ordinary ride. Art by Rob Goldstein


The Japanese port city of Nagasaki became something of a fantasy in Jazz Age songs, with lyrics only vaguely related to the real city.  Several US novelty songs were set in “exotic” locations popular in the era.  “Back in Nagasaki” inspired Rob to create a video.  It gave me the idea for a group of automaton characters, Dynamite, his crush Hot Ginger, and later, Wicky, Wacky, and Woo.  That song also led to Lulu receiving a title from the angel-bots — Giver of Names.

Kodak Brownie

The Kodak company had been making cameras for quite awhile in the 20s.  The Brownie was popular.  In the story, I had Lulu borrow the one belonging to Gramps. You saw him with it in the title image.

The Garçonne Look

Improvements in women’s rights, and changes in fashion brought about the “tomboy look,” (favored by author Margaret Mitchell) and the more sophisticated Garçonne Look.  For either, women wore menswear inspired clothes, including trousers, or simply men’s clothes.  Rob dressed the Lauren character in the Garçonne Look.

La Garçonne-ectoplasm
Lauren, Lulu’s mother… to avoid spoilers that’s all I’ll say.  Ar by Rob Goldstein

Chapter 6 — The Garconne Look, Tarot Cards, Kodak Brownie

Ferris Wheel

That ride came along before the 20s but it made a great “thing” for the story, not to mention a couple of cliffhangers.  The original, sometimes also referred to as the Chicago Wheel, was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.. With a height of 80.4 metres (264 ft) it was the tallest attraction at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, where it opened to the public on June 21, 1893.


Lulu is a little… well, let’s be honest. That flapper can be a bit crass. She gets food on her clothes and face, and she burps and hiccups… Bubblegum is her least offensive habit.  

In 1928, an accountant invented bubblegum. Walter Diemer, was experimenting with new gum recipes. One recipe was less sticky than regular chewing gum, and stretched more easily. The original bubble gum was pink in color because that was the dye that Diemer had most on hand at the time. 

Lulu blowing bubble
Lulu’s bubble got too big and popped all over her face.  Fortunately there was an angel-bot to clean her up.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Chapter 7 — Pocket Watch, Ferris Wheel, Bubblegum

Pittura Metafisica

Pittura Metafisica: Marked by a strong sense of solitude and melancholy, the uncanny and dreamlike urban spaces and enigmatic iconography were typical of Pittura Metafisica or “Metaphysical Painting.”  Valentino is clearly no ordinary man. When he creates that kind of painting, you might accidentally walk right into it. 


Can you believe they actually had videophones in the 20s?  That was one of the most surprising “things” Rob sent.  They were first invented all the way back in the late 1800s, but they were refined in the 20s.  For more click here

Chanel No. 5 

I try to use all the senses in my stories.  This iconic perfume was around back then.  Chanel No. 5:  In 1921, a very clever designer and businesswoman created a scent that revolutionized the way women smell.  About a 100 years later, people still know Chanel No. 5.  I let this “thing” belong to Rose.  Tom Driberg uses expensive gifts to try and lure her back. 

Valentino Lulu Dance Hop Bot on horse RED Cotton Club-5-22-
Lulu crashed Valentino’s Rolls onto the curb of the Cotton Club. Somehow they managed to squeeze in a dance before everything went off the rails.  Art by Rob Goldstein


Lulu loves to dance.  People associate the Charleston with the 20s, but there were many more dances.  Her favorites are the Camel Walk and the Lindy Hop.  (Click the links for vintage videos.)

Chapter 8 — Chanel No. 5, Pittura Metafisica, Videophone


That’s what some people called Bolsheviks in the Roaring Twenties.  It was part of their culture.  When Rob sent that word as a “thing” I ended up bringing Russian spies into the story.  It seems like they had nearly as much trouble with them in the 20s as we do now…

Chapter 9.1 — Bolshies

Val and LuLu green car purple bk
Lulu pressed the electric starter in Valentino’s Rolls… but she didn’t know how to drive!  Art by Rob Goldstein


The jukebox in the story seems to have a mind of its own.  That resulted in another character name being inspired by a song, Cuban Moon.

Electric Starter

Ah yes… more tech!  I decided to put one in Valentino’s Rolls-Royce.  The first electric starter was installed on an Arnold, an adaptation of the Benz Velo, built in 1896 in East Peckham, England, by electrical engineer H. J. Dowsing.  In 1903, Clyde J. Coleman invented and patented the first electric starter in America U.S. Patent 0,745,157. 

Chapter 9.2 — Jukebox

Chapter 9.3 — Star of David


I allowed the automatons a moment of heroism with a rather fantastic electromagnet.  The real one was invented in 1825.  William Sturgeon’s first one was a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron wrapped with a loosely wound coil. When a current was passed through the coil the electromagnet became magnetized, and when the current was stopped, the coil was demagnetized. It could lift nine pounds with a seven-ounce piece of iron wrapped with wires through which the current of a single cell battery was sent.  The one I fictionalized lifted a lot more.

Chapter 10.1 — Electromagnet


Music again, but not the ordinary variety!  Rob sent this great “thing” and now I want one.  It would freak out my cat, so I’ll resist.  It’s a real world thing, but I used it in a fictional way, letting its freaky music be “medicinal” to help a sick character.

Originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone or thereminophone, a theremin is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the performer. It is named after the Westernized name of its Soviet inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.

Virtual reality photograph of Gramps playing the Theramin
Gramps gets jazz man cool with his shades and tries his hand at playing the theremin.  Art by Rob Goldstein

Chapter 10.2 — The Theremin 


Egyptomania took hold long before the Jazz Age, but it was still “alive” and well.  I brought this in when I let a certain character come back when he was spotted at an archaeological dig.

Chapter 10.3 — Wave Frequency Machine, Hidden Door


When short, bobbed, hair became popular in the 20s it was no short lived thing.  Along with a lot of technical innovations I think of the huge changes in women’s fashion as a time of innovation as well.  Fashions of the Jazz Age focused on movement.  Short hair brought on long earrings, dangling with that desired movement.

yellow tassel earrings

Earrings also tied to a real world element with a real life phobia for Nikola Tesla.

Update for Deborah!

Jewelry styles of the 1920s are still popular today.  Deborah at Circadian Reflections asked for a picture of the earrings I recently bought.  So, here are my fun, long, yellow tassel earrings, reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties.



Chapter 11.1 — Papá

Violet Ray

The Violet Ray is probably the most startling “thing” Rob has sent yet.  I can’t take credit for it, wild as my imagination can be.  Nope… it’s real.

Invented by Nikola Tesla, the violet ray is a user-friendly, hand-held device that can be used with a variety of glass applicators, such as a bulb, a comb-rake, or a rod, each with a specific purpose. The glass is inserted into the tip of the hand-held section. After being plugged in and turned on, the appliance becomes a high-voltage, low amperage (current) source of static electricity.  Its discharge creates a violet color (hence, its name), a pleasant ozone smell – and a sizzling noise.


Hopefully I will be able to add even more real world 1920s tech and culture as this story eventually comes to a close.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this tech review.

If you haven’t gotten on the train, you can catch up by clicking the Hullaba Lulu category on the right side of the page. You’ll meet Lulu, her Gramps, friends Rose and Pearl, and some other characters as they begin a journey with an enigmatic man who only calls himself Valentino.  Listen for the trumpet’s call and the conductor’s announcement, All aboard!   That’s here each week for Jazz Age Wednesdays.

Thanks for taking time to visit.  I love your comments, so be sure to say hello.  You’re the cat’s pajamas!


Here’s my shameless self-promotion…

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 


This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

90 thoughts on “Catch-Up Saturdays — Hullaba Real World Tech & Review

  1. Ferris wheels – my mother got stuck on one as a young woman when her car “broke”. A very strong man behind her grabbed the car seat back and held her until they were safely down. Back in the days before safety inspections. She always hated me going on those at the town fair when I was young.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating excursion to my favorite era. They had just a little time between the wars, and lived their life to full. The Bolshies and Theremin, a founding father of the modern Russian spy and hacker empire, cast a grey shadow, but otherwise it was a spectacular but tragically short-living world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There used to be a place in Grand Rapids called Roaring 20s Pizza. I begged to go there for my birthday when I was about 10 or 11. It was a struggle. But we did go. 🙂 I loved the Roaring 20s even back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Teri, you know I jumped to Google that. What research geek could resist? Applesauce! They were close. Fritos were invented in 1932, but I don’t know when they made their way into vending machines.
      From my earlier research on vending machines, it seems like they started out carrying useful things, more so than food. Things like stamps and even nylon stockings. But I saw a photo of one that had canned fruit.
      Thanks for visiting. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fun post, Teagan. I had no idea that all these advances were 1920’s. I do remember automats as a kid, but they were on their way out. Dangly earrings and bubble gun – with us until today. Great images. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana. I’m delighted you enjoyed it. This was a ton of work to pull together, but I had fun doing it. 😊
      Same here about automats. I have vague memory of one, and then wandered what ever happened to them. They seemed like such a good idea… Thanks for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Teagan Geneviene has introduced to ‘dieselpunk’ and the era of the glorious 1920s when women came into their own. Throughout the stories Teagan makes reference to a number of technical props and today she gives us a review of those and their background. We might think we have invented everything we have today but surprisingly vending machines, jukeboxes and Chanel No 5 were all around at that time.. Head over and check out the Theremin…..#recommended

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sally. Thanks so much for sharing from your Smorgasbord! I believe the theremin and the violet ray are my favorites. Maybe in the future I can do a post about the food innovations and creations. I remember frozen foods first came along back then too. I appreciate your visits. You’re the oyster’s earrings.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Including pajamas, Sally. At the time pajamas were still a fairly new thing. They were considered rather risque! Hence the cool flapper phrase, “You’re the cat’s pajamas!” meaning you’re great and cool. And you are the cat’s pajamas. 😀 🐱

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to catch up with you again, as I have arrived back at Home Base, after a lengthy and full journey. It is fascinating just how many things were around in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, only to be overshadowed by the World Wars and Great Depression, then by the Second Gilded Age (1980-2005).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jan. I know, right? To me Chanel No 5 is so strongly associated with Marilyn Monroe… Even though I’m familiar with Coco Chanel being the 1920s I just didn’t connect it with the perfume. Thanks for visiting. Your current post is powerful. (By the way, I might be in your spam folder.) Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow I got my catch up right here.. 🙂 and loved the link about the video phones.. Makes you wonder what else they did given Tesla’s invention. That has evolved and not gone public.. lol.. Free Energy! maybe haha…. lol.. Lots of things hidden in those pyramids too, those Angel Bots are already coming off the production line.. You sure you writing about the 1920’s Teagan lol or the 2020’s…. Some times I swear you are channelling LOL..
    Much love and hope you know I am only ‘kidding’ 🙂

    Wish I could crawl into your mind some day my friend… We would have fun with ectoplasm and Violet Rays..
    Mega hugs, Enjoy your weekend.. ❤ much love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does make one wonder, Sue. Many innovations fell by the wayside because of “competition” (several of Tesla’s), like one source of power/energy having richer, stronger backers than another. Other things were lost when wars caused production of other things to be done instead. So, who knows how much outright suppression there may have been (particularly with Tesla’s energy inventions, like the Tesla tower).
      I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed this, Sue. You made me smile at a time of disappointment (i bid on a home that I didn’t get…) — that’s no small job. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww, sorry your bid failed, but then look at is as this, if it were meant to be then it would have been.. So there is something better waiting in the wings..
        And you know what they say… * Truth is stranger than Fiction”… Tesla’s inventions did not go to waste.. of that I am certain.. And when you do enough digging, Free energy is a reality, but they would never share that with the public now would they. 🙂
        Always a pleasure dear Teagan.. Always.. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This reminds us not only of how awesomely cool the Roaring 20s were, dear friend, but of how advanced the world was, then wasn’t, and now is again, no matter how some try to drag in down or back, the human mind just keeps inventing and learning and growing. This post really is the butterfly’s book, dearest Teagan, but then again, I can’t think of any of your posts or books that aren’t the bullfrog’s beard. Thank you, you boosted my morning and I needed the kick. Off to share.
    Hope this weekend is filled with peace and happiness, you and Rob and all deserve it. 🙂
    Mega you’re the elephant’s manicure hugs xoxoxoxox

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for the background LuLu, I mean Teagan. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the story that brush past these things. You do a great job of working in the descriptions as necessary, but this is a nice way to take it all in.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Dan. When people started thinking some of the “real world” things were from my imagination, I thought it would be cool and fun to do a post about these things. Then I decided to make it into a review, so people could have links to get aboard the train. As always, valuable feedback from you — thank you again.
      A little disappointment for the weekend here. I had made an offer on a teeny tiny condo in Austin… my best offer too. But they didn’t take it. At least they decided quickly.
      Oh, here’s a 20s “thing” for you and John Howell that hasn’t gotten into the story. You’ll recognize it from your SoC posts today. You’re the cat’s pajamas!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for the organ music. I think it must have been magical to have the live energy of an organist playing alongside a silent movie.

        Sorry the offer didn’t get picked up. I hope tomorrow’s a better day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi GP, it’s lovely to see you. Thank you. I believe you’re right about it not being discussed often… now I ponder why… Maybe it feels a little frivolous to historians… a little self-serving… I don’t know. Or probably the World Wars that bracketed it, and the Great Depression are just so much larger issues.
      But to me, living in the benefit of hindsight-history it feels like an almost dream-like era filled with inhibition, whimsy, and the energy of dancing… I know that’s not the real life of it, but it’s the fantasy to which we can escape for a moment.
      Thanks for visiting. You’re the bee’s knees!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks, Teagan. Great review of the series and a good reminder of the incredible things we can discover about the past. It’s humbling to think how early some of these inventions really are. Thanks to Rob for his amazing contributions as well. Have a great weekend! ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It does look like a fun time, doesn’t it, Cindy? We’ll stash a supply of giggle water somewhere. All aboard! 😉 Wishing you and those lightning hummingbirds, and all the critters in the Holler a beautiful weekend. (I hope the new kitty is doing well.) You’re the cat’s meow!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. The rest of your guests might be relieved, but apparently Lulu would go by herself. 😉 I really do enjoy the research, Christoph. Although pulling this post together turned into a big effort. Wheew…!
      Happy weekend hugs. You’re the caterpillar’s kimono!

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.