Jazz Age Wednesdays 1

Wednesday, September 6, 2017Camel Walk dance poster 1920s

Each weekend I give you a new serial episode. I’ve been giving that throughout most of the past four years. However, Teagan’s Books is about more than serial episodes.  It’s about my books too.  So I’m creating this midweek feature.

I added a poll to the last post. Not a majority, but some people wanted me to keep it to one post a week.  No one is obligated to visit every post.  Although I have to say I find that discouraging.

Since my current release is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I, I’ll be having Jazz Age Wednesdays.  That means short stories from the “Pip-verse.”  (At least for a while.  When Atonement in Bloom is published, the midweek feature will be from that universe.)

We like to joke about Wednesday being “hump day” and camels. Did you know that in the 1920s there was a dance called the Camel Walk?  Although this example from 1935 is probably a little more complicated than what the average couple did…

Here’s my first Jazz Age Wednesday feature.  It takes place right after the novella, The Three Things Serial Story.  I was honored to have a great review of the novella from author and translator Olga Núñez Miret.

It’s a short story, so it was driven by only one “thing/ingredient,” macaroni and cheese.  It came from Suzanne DeBrango’s  souffléd macaroni and cheese when we did a joint post in January.  (Yes, I’m re-sharing this story.)

Pip Arrives in Savannah

The breeze that rustled through the fronds of tall palm trees was tinged with salt.  I inhaled deeply as I walked out of the tall arched door at Savannah’s Union Station.  I heard the bell of a streetcar, which had gone past a moment before.  I stretched to see the trolley, but barely got a glimpse of its back-end.

With a loud Bronx cheer I dropped my suitcase to the curb of West Broad Street.  I thought the Jazz Age slang for the rude noise I made was appropriate, since my Pops was continuing on the train to New York City.

Pops said I needed to be reigned-in, and Granny insisted that I needed to learn to cook.  Neither of them would admit that I was a modern woman.  No self-respecting Flapper needed to cook!  Anyhow, Pops had unceremoniously dumped me off the train, saying he’d visit with Granny and me on his way back.  I blew another raspberry at the streetcar that I had just missed — and at my wretched situation.

Union Station Savannah, GA

The ringing of the streetcar’s bell faded into the distance.  The first time I ever saw a trolley was during a visit to my grandmother, there in Savannah, when I was a very little girl.  I slipped away from her and Pops, and scampered onto a streetcar.  I didn’t get far, but Granny Phanny was mad enough to spit. 

This time, I had done the opposite.  Instead of getting on a trolley when I shouldn’t have, I had missed the one I was supposed to ride to get to her.  Now Granny would be waiting to meet me at some Chinese restaurant downtown, but I wouldn’t be on the trolley.  Horsefeathers!  She would be in a lather.

A nearby news vendor walked away from his stall, probably headed for a bite of lunch.  I called out and waved as I hurried toward him, my suitcase bumping along at my side.

“Hey Mac!  Was that the trolley that goes to Pearl Street?” I called out, but he didn’t hear me over the blast of a train whistle.  “Enjoy your lunch,” I grumbled and my empty stomach answered in kind.  “I sure could do with some of Granny’s macaroni and cheese.”

“Did you miss the trolley, sweet cheeks?” a clear tenor voice asked.

I didn’t see him until he moved forward.  He had been leaning against the opposite side of the newsstand.  He wore a suit and hat, but they had flair.  He cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, but then tilted his head back and blew a smoke ring into the air.

Applesauce!  He looked pos-i-lute-ly like the kind of character I had always been told to avoid, but he was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then his cigarette smoke drifted to me and I sneezed.  So much for me being a sophisticated Sheba.  I had to agree with Pops that smoking was a nasty habit.

mallory-ad-man-in-car-hat-ad

“You’re new in town, huh?  I’m Floyd.  I can take you where the giggle water flows aplenty.  It’ll be a real blow,” he said with a smile and a wink that made him even handsomer.

“Says you,” I countered coyly, thinking he was joking around.

“At least let me drive you over to Pearl Street.  Stick around until my pal gets back.  He’s picking up something for me,” he added gazing up and then down the street, as if looking for his friend.  Stay right here and I’ll get my machine.  It’s a sweet ride.  You’ll love it,” he called over his shoulder as he rushed away.  “Don’t move.  Promise.  I’ll be right back.”

I stood baffled, gaping at Floyd’s retreating form.  I was also feeling flattered by his interest.  There was an intensity about him that I found exciting.  Not to mention the fact that I was relieved that I might avoid Granny’s wrath over me missing the streetcar and leaving her waiting.

Signorina, do not be going with that man.  It would be a bad thing for you.  Trouble comes,” a voice, heavily accented with Italian, said from behind me.  “There will be other transportation.”

Turning, I saw a portly man in odd looking chef’s clothes.  He lifted his brimless toque and bowed.  A jalopy backfired so suddenly and so loudly that I jerked around to face the noise.  When I turned back, the chef was gone.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  It was as if he disappeared into thin air.

I quickly forgot about the odd occurrence when a wooden crate fell off a passing truck.  The driver pulled to the curb beside me.  Without thinking I went to help.  He had not been traveling fast, so little damage was done.  A few oranges rolled from a broken crate.  I started picking up the wayward fruit.1920s delivery truck

An Asian looking guy with a quasi-British accent jumped out of the driver’s door, apologizing even before his feet hit the street.  He gingerly hopped over the tailgate and began re-positioning the crates.  A couple of them looked ready to fall.

I noticed lettering on the truck proclaiming Wong’s Chinese.  Was that the name of the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Granny?  I was so resentful about being sent to Savannah that I hadn’t even paid attention to what she said.  I knew there wouldn’t be more than one Chinese restaurant on the street.

“Your place isn’t on Pearl Street by any chance, is it?”

“Yep, that’s Wong’s,” he replied with a grin, stopping his work.  “Hey, are you Pip?  Miss Phanny will be looking for you.  I’m Alastair Wong,” he bent from the truck bed and shook my hand.

I sighed with relief.

Then a brand new Ford stopped and gave a long blare of the auto’s horn.  “Hey! Move it,” my Sheik of Araby from moments before shouted angrily, and followed that with a racial slur.

Floyd got out of the automobile, moving toward us in a menacing posture.  I stood up, a smashed and dripping orange still in my hand.

“This cake eater’s bad news, Pip.  You don’t want to have anything to do with him,” Alastair Wong whispered as he stepped in front of me protectively.

In the distance a police whistle trilled.  The guy’s eyes widened and he looked over his shoulder.  Before I knew what was happening, he had hit Alastair in the head with the butt of a pistol.  I shrieked as he dragged me into the open Ford, my arms and legs flailing.

I could hear the coppers coming toward us, shouting and blowing whistles.  Suddenly the Ford was blocked between the delivery truck and police vehicles.  Alastair lay unconscious on the street.  The busted orange dripped juice all over my skirt.  The guy waved his gun around excitedly.  A maniacal gleam came to his eyes when he looked at me.

1920s Police car

An over eager copper fired his gun.  I heard the whiz of the bullet pass by my head.  Startled, Floyd jerked toward the policemen.  Movement from the delivery truck caught my eye.  A catawampus crate started to wobble.  Suddenly that crate and another one tumbled down to land on the windshield of the Ford.  Floyd started screaming and cursing, waving his pistol even more.

When he turned back to me, on sudden impulse I stuck the busted orange in his face and smeared it into his eyes.  By then the coppers had reached us.  They grabbed him before he could do any damage with the gun.

A copper helped me out of the Ford.  I ran to Alastair as another cop helped him stand.  Across the street I saw Floyd’s pal, the news vendor being held by a policeman.

“What just happened here?” I demanded.

A paddy wagon rolled up and the policemen pushed Floyd into it, along with his pal.

“Bootleggers,” a copper told me.  “As if we didn’t already have enough of those around here.”

“So Pip,” Alastair said while he held a handkerchief to his bloodied forehead.  “How do you like Savannah so far?”

I chuckled despite everything.  At least he had a sense of humor.

studebaker1920_2

“Well, I was afraid I would be bored to tears here,” I told him with a dramatic sigh.  “But I suppose it will be interesting enough.  So far I’ve learned three things.  Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Don’t get into Fords with handsome men.  And Wong’s Chinese is the right place to go.” 

Alastair laughed.  “That’s a good slogan, doll face.  Mind if I use it?  How about we get you to the restaurant.  Miss Phanny will be getting impatient.”

And so began my adventures in Savannah.

The end

***

You’ll find more of Pip and her friends and her adventures in Savannah in Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I .  Thanks for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!

Bijou front only 2

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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.

 

 

 

 

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The Characters, Murder at the Bijou

It’s hump day and I needed a boost to get me through the rest of the week.  I avoid midweek posts, but I thought this might give me the lift I need.  When this song popped into my head (again) I knew I had to share.  Because I’m getting ready, ready, ready for the takeoff!  What I mean is the launch of Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.

It’s a Roaring Twenties culinary mystery.  It was spontaneously written as a “pantser” serial here at this blog.  Everything, event, and character in the story was inspired by things or ingredients the readers of this blog sent.  Now, as I’m closer and closer to takeoff I wanted to show you my concept of the characters.

Studebaker blue 1920s

Cast of Characters

PipBlue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer


The Three Things
gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody), the narrator of both story-lines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Phanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Phanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyPhanny Irene Peabody.  Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Irene, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  

I never found a photo that seemed like Phanny to me.  I only had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, in a photo of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

Long time followers of this blog will recall that there are two Alastair Wongs.  The first one  you meet is the younger. Later, in Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, you meet his grandfather, Alastair Wong the elder.

I had a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence during the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, when I started looking for character images, I wasn’t sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them anyway.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou Theatre. That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later.  They were minor characters, but necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  Maybe he was not 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  However, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  You recently saw his back-story in the vignette, Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Phanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adWe also meet Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloging evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeOur veterinarian is Vincent Vale.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Phanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Phanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeThe pantser writing of this serial also brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Go figure, right?  That’s just how my brain works. Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced halfway into the story.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtA reader wasn’t thinking when leaving ingredients for me. I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, the spontaneity unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Her story line continued into the next serial.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced late in the story.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless, faceless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

So there you have it — most of the characters for the soon to be “book-ized” Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.