Sunday, December 03, 2006
Pam Crooks - Ten Interesting Things
Any author who writes in a bygone era will be compelled to do hordes of research to bring her story to life. Literally hours can be spent on the Internet, at the public library or thumbing through reference books at home.
Unfortunately, because of sheer logistics, very little of the information found can make it in the story. Too much can drag an exciting story down to the level of a textbook.
Of course, while writing HER LONE PROTECTOR, released this month from Harlequin Historicals, the same thing happened to me. Here’s some interesting bits of trivia I learned:
1. The Brown Palace Hotel, the setting for the opening scene in HER LONE PROTECTOR, is still in existence today as a luxurious hotel in Denver. Each of the six tiers of balconies is surrounded with cast iron panels depicting dancing women. However, two panels were mistakenly installed upside down, making the ladies look like they’re standing on their heads.
2. After the loss of her second child, President McKinley’s wife, Ida, fell sickly and was often plagued with epileptic seizures. She kept a busy social schedule with her devoted husband, who took her affliction in stride. When a seizure appeared impending, he merely tossed a handkerchief over her face until the episode passed.
3. Moments after President McKinley was shot in the abdomen by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, chaos erupted. McKinley saved Czolgosz’ life by commanding to the frenzied mob, “Go easy on him, boys.” Czolgosz was later executed at Auburn Prison in New York.
4. After his assassination, President McKinley’s wife mourned him until her own death. Ida kept a picture of him sewn into her silk knitting bag. She crocheted 4,000 pairs of bedroom slippers to pass her days and donated them all to charities.
5. Immigrant laborers were ‘sweated’ in the garment industry of the 1890’s, meaning they were forced to squeeze out more work for less in squalid environments, usually crowded tenements, often a tiny room owned by a boss where his family lived. Hence the term ‘sweatshops.’
6. For example, an above-named laborer would sew linings into suit jackets and be paid five cents per dozen. At a rate of about a lining every five or six minutes, s/he could finish a dozen linings in an hour. S/He would work sixteen hours a day, 6 days a week, (a total of nearly one hundred hours!) and earn five dollars.
7. The squalid tenements would house an immigrant family of seven or more in an area only 325 square feet, with one bedroom, no toilet, no bath or shower, no running water.
8. President Abraham Lincoln created the United States Secret Service on April 14, 1865. Later that night, he was assassinated.
9. The Secret Service was originally formed to fight the nation’s counterfeiting woes. The agency did not start protecting the president until two more were assassinated (James Garfield and William McKinley.)
10. The Triangle Waist Company fire--the inspiration for HER LONE PROTECTOR--was the worst workplace disaster in New York history. In a matter of minutes, 146 people perished. 123 of them were women.