L.E. Hansen My mother had dresses like this, shown in black and white photos. She would say that I couldn’t imagine what the colors were like —not at all like those we have today. She said they were just “off” of a sort, the most lovely shades of green/not green, peach/pink and cream/not cream, and most of them had the lace (tatting?) across the top/bodice. I so wish I could have seen them in the real.
She also said the times (the 20s era) did not last as long as they were portrayed, nor were they as they seemed to be. They were not that pretty and sweet. There was a lot of dirt, and dirty roads, and rambling old vehicles that you could run after (should you need to) and catch up for the ride.
She told a rather sad story of someone who ran behind their vehicle after being wounded in a raid where they were making bathtub gin. He had been shot and they had to take off or they would all be captured. He ran after them, lame from the shooting and could not catch up. They learned afterword that he had died in custody. They didn’t know if it happened at the hospital or as a result of the police capture. Things were not as fun as they were portrayed, as is obvious from this story.
About that bathtub gin: that was not as depicted. It was not gin at all, but stuff imported from Canada that they added other liquids to: rubbing alcohol, homemade “hooch,” sometimes pure moonshine. Anything that was in liquid form and didn’t walk was added to the mix. They didn’t call it bathtub gin, but hooch. Sometimes it was actually mixed up in a bathtub, but usually not, rather in a wash tub, barrel, or whatever was handy. And people did die from it, so it was risky when you went to a party. That didn’t seem to deter anyone though. And the dresses and 20s apparel were only displayed in the towns where there were dances, not in the back country where most of the parties and drinking occurred.
It seems the import of this vignette is yes, the dresses were worn, but they are not the history of the times, something I was not aware of knowing until writing this piece. The history goes much further, and deeper. Still, I would love to wear the gowns and indeed I would, fashion or not. Bathtub gin or hooch, I’d probably drink that too.