GENERATION SERIES: G.I. GENERATION/LOST GENERATION 1900-1924
Whoof. Some major historical events were made between 1900-1945. I did lots of research, reading, comprehending, and writing. I learned a lot, and I hope some of you do too.
Originally, the G.I. Generation was 1900-1944 (G.I. stands for Government Issue.) After Tom Brokaw published “The Greatest Generation” in 2001, the generations dates changed as defined below:
1900-1924 G.I. Generation/Lost Generation (formerly 1900-1944)
1925-1944 The Greatest Generation/Silent Generation
I agree with Brokaw on the change in dates and names. The Greatest Generation had to survive two of the greatest humanitarian events the world had faced up until then — worldwide economic bankruptcy, hunger, genocide, war, and many others I haven’t mentioned.
Traits* (See Resources below for article on how sales people are trained to sell differently to each generation.)
- Children of the WWI generation & fighters in WWII & young in the Great Depression…all leading to strong models of teamwork to overcome and progress.
- The Depression was The Great One, WWI was The Big One, and prosperity of the time was Happy Days.
- They saved the world and then built a nation.
- They are the assertive and energetic do’ers.
- Excellent team players.
- Strongly interested in personal morality and near-absolute standards of right and wrong.
- Strong sense of personal civic duty, which means they vote.
- Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
- Strong loyalty to jobs, groups, schools, etc.
- There was no “retirement” you worked until you died or couldn’t work anymore.
- The labor-union-spawning generation.
- “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”
- Avoid debt…save and buy with cash.
- Age of radio and air flight; they were the generation that remembers life without airplanes, radio, and TV.
- Most of them grew up without modern conveniences like refrigerators, electricity and air conditioning.
To see how generations are targeted for marketing campaigns, see Resources below: 15 Key Strategies for Marketing to Different Generations
Klu Klux Klan 1915: The Klan , which had formed and disbanded in the 1800s, was revived. Jews and foreigners were added to the targets along with blacks.
World War I (The Great War, The Big One) (1917-1918 for U.S.)
Why did the U.S. enter the war?
One site said that President Woodrow Wilson thought that entering the war would make the world “safe for democracy.” Sort of a new world order philosophy.
In January of 1917, Germany announced it would sink all ships around England and France. Adding fuel to the fire was when a telegram was intercepted which directed that the German Ambassador to Mexico propose an alliance with Mexico if the U.S. entered the war. The proposal was for Germany to offer financial support for Mexico to recover lost territories in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
A second site on economics says that American investors had put $560 billion (dollar amount is based on today’s currency) into Europe’s war, so we could not allow their war to fail. England had huge economic ties to the U.S.
I certainly couldn’t understand all of the economics of it — I can’t even keep track of a budget! The following site is all about the economics of WWI. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/12/the-real-story-of-how-america-became-an-economic-superpower/384034/
Probably both sites combined are the reason we entered the war.
What happened to women during and after the war?
Women who worked in or with the military worked on a voluntary basis and were not paid or given benefits. So women thought, “I don’t think so.” and joined the private and civilian workforce. After the war, “protective laws” started cropping up around the country placing restrictions on women in certain jobs outside the home. This is probably when the protection of military reservists started,
During this generation, if a woman married a non-citizen, she lost her citizenship due to The Expatriation Act (1907-1922.) During WWI, the woman was forced to register as an enemy alien. “In 1922, the Cable Act passed. allowing women to retain their citizenship regardless of their betrothed’s citizenship—so long as he met the requirements for potential U.S. citizenship, too.” Linda Kerber, a gender and legal history professor at the University of Iowa.
Consequences to the U.S. for entering the war
The American spirit was damaged. The federal government had given itself power over Americans to make decisions to enter a war, establish the draft, and interfere in civil liberties.
The Influenza Pandemic 1918-1919
Websites vary greatly on the number of deaths and those infected. When that occurs, I used the CDC numbers.
The pandemic is known as the “Spanish Flu.” It started in the spring of 1918 and went around the world twice, with the second and last trip ending in the fall of 1919.
Today, most varieties of flu infect and can kill the sick, elderly, and children. The Spanish Flu killed the same way when it first appeared. But the second time it traveled around the world, it was deadly to the young and healthy as well. An infected person could be dead within hours of showing symptoms.
Our soldiers were infected and brought the virus home when they returned. Around the world, it is estimated to have killed more than 75 million people, and over 1/2 Billion of the world’s population became infected. It was, and still is, the greatest human disaster.
As with many deadly diseases, a rhyme was written for children so they would remain aware of their environment.
I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza
I opened the window,
Women’s Suffrage Movement 1875-1920
Before World War I started, women all over the world began protesting for the right to vote. Some groups picketed while other groups turned violent. Many women were arrested and jailed. While imprisoned, some went on hunger strikes which were followed by the authorities force-feeding them.
In the United States, women started protesting in Washington, DC to bring national attention to their cause. They pointed out that America supported democracy around the world, but not at home. When men started being drafted for World War I, women started to fill the vacancies in the workforce.
Women in the workforce and the protests finally led to passage of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. The Amendment grants women the right to vote and prohibits any United States citizen be denied the right to vote based on sex.
J. Edgar Hoover, Bureau of Investigation (1924-1972)
1919. The year Hoover became head of the General Intelligence Division — also known as the Radical Division. It’s goal was to watch and disrupt the work of domestic radicals. His first assignment was to carry out the Red Scare. It monitored radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport those whose politics they decided were a danger to the U.S.
1924. Hoover became Director of the Bureau of Investigation. One of his first tasks in the Bureau was to fire all female agents and ban any future hiring of women for the position.
Later in his career, Hoover kept an extensive Watch List which included legendary jazz artists (below) Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. For more on Hoover’s Watch List, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Americans_under_surveillance
The Roaring Twenties (1918 until the 1929 Great Depression)
In the Roaring Twenties, a booming economy created an era of mass consumerism, the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz Age, Prohibition, flappers, and, basically, total disregard for the law.
What started it?
The money made by investors in World War I created a booming economy — jobs, production, money to buy and buy. People had been used to conserving, but now they felt comfortable about buying. Mass use of credit started being used. People demanded easy money to “buy up” in class; vendors had to honor it or go under. (Sears and Ford were opposed to credit but succumbed to it out of fear of possible loss of sales.)
Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, best summed up the attitude of the time: “Why should life be work, when we all can borrow. Let’s think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.”
The development of creative arts for African Americans was originally called the “New Negro Movement.” It was later called the Harlem Renaissance when jazz clubs and speakeasies began to proliferate the area.
Louis Armstrong was a composer, singer (known for his scat), an improvisational trumpet player, and band leader. “He was to jazz what Einstein was to physics.”* His voice was deep, strong, and gravely. He won a Grammy Award for singing the title song in “Hello Dolly.” (Remember how he sounds now?) This site has a videoclip of him singing “A lot of living to do”:
I really like the story of how he got the nicknames: “Satchmo” and “Satch.” The story goes that growing up in New Orleans, he used to dance for pennies. When someone dropped him some coins, he would put them in his mouth to prevent anyone else from stealing them (hence, “Satchel Mouth.”)
Armstrong loved life — which is why I’m writing more about his life than his music.
Armstrong loved food and named many of his songs with food titles, and he smoked marijuana most of his life. He described it as “a thousand times better than whiskey.” He kept his politics to himself with the exception of his dislike for Eisenhower. This is when he was added to Hoover’s ‘Watch List.’
Damn, I wish I’d known him.
Duke Ellington was a composer, pianist, bugle, and band leader of the Kentucky Club Orchestra later changing the name to the Cotton Club Orchestra. Due to his popularity, he received a 4-year contract at the Hollywood Club. That was just the beginning of his long career. In 1924, he recorded 8 records and received credit for being the composer of Choo Choo. His music came from the sounds of Harlem, and included trombone growls and wah-wahs, high-squealing trumpets, sultry saxophone blues licks, and swing. In 1959, he won his first 8 Grammy Awards.
Edwardian women went from hiding their bodies to flaunting them — Flappers. They bobbed their hair and wore revealing clothing, and started behaving in an ‘unladylike manner’ by smoking and drinking in public.
Men in the Edwardian era wore conservative colors and fitted suits. Roaring 20s men wore ‘jazz suits’ which were brightly colored, striped, with tightly fitted tops and baggy pants, fedora hats, and oxford shoes. (I wore those bell bottoms in the 70s!)
We still use some of the slang today:
Baloney – Nonsense. Lost of the words tie back to baloney.
Fall Guy – The guy who takes the rap for something.
Frame – To set someone up to be blamed for something. What is done to the “fall guy.”
Ritzy – Upscale, elegant. (from the Ritz Hotel)
I think some of the slang is neat and we should start using again:
Flat Tire – Super boring person.
Heebie-jeebies – To get scared and shake. To be uncomfortable.
Ossified – Totally drunk.
Lots of the slang used was a replacement for naughty words. Those who didn’t know slang were clueless to the conversation. For more information on slang:
The first monthly issue of “Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life” was published.
Writers: Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, Leslie McFarlane, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Erich Maria Remarque, Gertrude Stein.
I really like something written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables: “Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.” She and I must be related!
What ended it?
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 (Black Tuesday.) Banks failed, employment failed, suppliers failed, money failed. (This sort of reminds me of The Fourth Turning Theory written in my Introduction blog.)
The Roaring 20s was about wealth, parties, gambling, and it brought out many of the ‘Sins.’
Congress passed the 18th Amendment on January 16, 1919 and it went into effect January 17, 1920. The Prohibition Amendment made it illegal to manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating alcohol to the public. Private production for personal use, consumption, and possession was not illegal. The Amendment assigned enforcement to the United States Treasury Department, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Prohibition.
Speakeasies (called Gin Mills) took the place of public saloons during Prohibition. They were clubs hidden within another business. They proliferated: for every bar that existed before prohibition, six speakeasies opened. Many of the clubs had jazz bands and dancing flappers. Since they were illegal, entry required each customer give the doorman a special password. In Manhattan’s “21” Club, gangsters used an interesting security measure: four safety switches could be used during a raid to short circuit and cut the access to all of the doors that contained alcohol.
Al Capone (aka Scarface) and other gangsters saw prohibition and speakeasies as a way to make big money: producing and distributing illegal alcohol. Competition for business was so fierce that violence and murder became a national concern. The gangsters used their profits to pay off local law enforcement. Eventually, law enforcement agencies realized they couldn’t control the violence, so they asked for national assistance to help control the crime.
Auto – Model T, Assembly lines
Home – Refrigerators, Vacuum cleaners, Washing machines, Toasters
Radio – Mass marketing started (bummer)
Birth Rate 1925: 2,909,000
Divorce Rate 1924: 3 per 1,000