The third decade of the twentieth century has been variously called “The Roaring Twenties”, “The Jazz Age”, “The Age of Intolerance” and “The Era of Wonderful Nonsense”. The decade of the ‘20s was the first time in American history when more people lived in cities than on farms. The wealth of the nation doubled and consumerism was on the rise – buying on credit became widely accepted. By the end of that decade more than twelve million homes had a radio and one in every five Americans owned a car.
So why would a society, obviously becoming more upwardly mobile, pay attention to all the silly fads of that era (“The Era of Wonderful Nonsense”)? There were dance crazes (the Charleston, the Shimmy and the Black Bottom), and even the new music of jazz was considered a vocal fad. One of the strangest fads, however, that arose in the 1920’s was flagpole sitting.
This article has been completely rewritten and will be featured in the November 2018 issue of Digging History Magazine, available for sale here in the Magazine Store.