Here she is, the bearcat of the 1920s. No, not the car – it’s the stripped-down doll lounging on the running board of the era’s sharpest accessory, the convertible, a “breezer.” Sure, the wheels had spokes like a wagon; the starter crank could snap back and break bones, a mishap called “Ford arm”; and if it rained, one got wet until the leather roof could be raised by hand and hooked into place.
But there was that rumble seat in back – privacy – portable privacy and a lot of romantic rumbling no doubt took place there. If a Jane had the berries to buy gasoline, a baby vamp could go wherever there was a paved road and choose her destination without reference to Papa and Mama who, after all, weren’t hip to the jive. The revolution that began when a woman could wheel a bicycle from a shed and slip away without anyone knowing had reached a triumphant liberation.
And the doll herself – freed from corset and long skirts and put into paint and skin-tight clothes. Dieting became a big issue for women in the 1920s and any sheba who didn’t want to be a bug-eyed betty learned that the face nature made was no longer enough.
How happy this young woman is in her bathing togs. It’s a sunny day and she’s parked by the curb at oceanside. The photograph made, she’ll hop up, grab her hope chest of ciggies, then ankle down to look at the waves and spy out a handsome sheik. Maybe they’ll share some hooch from a flask and spoon in that rumble seat. Maybe in time he’ll get a crush and turn goofy over this choice bit of calico — and put a handcuff on the third finger of her left hand. It’s good to be young; wonderful to be happy; great to be bouncy and full of vim and confidence. Perhaps that’s why we who watch from nearly one hundred years later still love the Roaring Twenties.