Posted in 1930s, Atlantic City books, Food, holidays, Writing

WeWriWa—A great feast

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP.

As last year, my Thanksgiving-themed snippets come from Chapter 19, “Happy Thanksgiving,” of the book formerly known as The Very First (which is set during 1938). The new and improved title will finally be revealed upon its release next year!

I decided to skip the scene of the turkey being butchered and go right to Thanksgiving, when five generations of Cinnimin Filliard’s family gather together with the five Smalls to enjoy their immense feast. The women in Cinni’s direct maternal line are usually very long-lived. Cinni herself will live to 120.

Thursday at 4:30, Cinni sat down to a Thanksgiving feast with her extended family and the Smalls. Both sides of the table were piled high with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, gravy, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans, candied carrots, applesauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and bread rolls. Additional foods on the Smalls’ side were chopped liver and some kind of dish made from the other turkey innards. To avoid cross-contamination, the Smalls had several layers of placemats under their tableware, and several folded-up tablecloths underneath their pots, pans, and platters.

Almost everything looked identical, since Mrs. Small had worked from Mrs. Filliard’s recipes. The only differences were that the Smalls’ gravy was made with extra flour, and without cream, butter, or milk, and that their candied yams had a rainbow of colors from the unusual flavors of marshmallows.

Tatjana Modjeska, Cinni’s 98-year-old great-great-grandmother, was petting a fluffy Persian cat in her lap. Sparky was a bit wary of animal fur getting into the food, but anyone who’d lived to almost a hundred was entitled to bring her pet to dinner. Cinni’s great-great-great-grandmother, Helga Wisowska, had passed away four years ago, so Tatjana must miss her mother at the holidays.

Posted in 1930s, Atlantic City books, Cinnimin, Historical fiction, holidays, Writing

WeWriWa—At the butcher shop

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP.

As last year, my Thanksgiving-themed snippets will be coming from Chapter 19, “Happy Thanksgiving,” of the book formerly known as The Very First (which is set during 1938). The new and improved title will finally be revealed upon its release next year!

It’s two days before Thanksgiving, and Sparky (real name Katherine), her mother, her oldest brother Gary (born Friedrich), her best friend Cinnimin, and Cinnimin’s older brother M.J. are buying food for the Smalls’ half of the joint household’s feast. They’re now at their final stop, a kosher butcher.

Cinni held back after Gary opened the butcher’s door for her. Since she didn’t live on a farm and never helped in the kitchen if she could help it, she wasn’t used to seeing animal carcasses hanging up and strewn over tables. It was bad enough when she’d seen that fish head at the Smalls’ Rosh Hashanah supper.

“We usually go to a kosher butcher in Germantown, but this is much closer,” Gary said. “It’s not practical to haul all this stuff back on the streetcar, to our regular butcher, and back onto the streetcar again. I wish we’d settled in a place like New York or Newark, where all the Jewish resources we need are within a five-block radius of our home instead of a long ride and walk, there and back.”

Mrs. Small set her baskets down and approached a small pen of live turkeys. Cinni watched in amazement as she picked several up, felt for the meat on their bones, inspected their eyes and talons, and blew on their feathers. Mrs. Small might’ve never eaten a turkey or selected one for butchering, but she sure knew what to look for in her poultry.

Posted in 1930s, Atlantic City books, Cinnimin, Food, Historical fiction, holidays, Writing

WeWriWa—Marshmallows galore

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. Since it’s November, I’m showcasing Thanksgiving snippets. My Halloween template is still up because I have one more horror film post coming up, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff.

As last year, my Thanksgiving-themed snippets will be coming from Chapter 19, “Happy Thanksgiving,” of the book formerly known as The Very First (which is set during 1938). The new and improved title will finally be revealed upon its release next year!

It’s now two days before Thanksgiving, and Sparky (real name Katherine), her mother, her oldest brother Gary (born Friedrich), her best friend Cinnimin, and Cinnimin’s older brother M.J. are buying food for the Smalls’ half of the joint household’s feast. They’re at a kosher candy store, where Cinni happily indulges her sweet tooth.

“Cinnimin, which marshmallow must I to buy?” Mrs. Small asked. “Are candy flavors good to cook?”

Cinni went over to the jars of marshmallows. “Plain ones are traditional, but you could probably use any flavors you wanted. They’re called candied yams for a reason. Boy, this store’s got a lot of neat flavors I never saw in any other candy store.”

Mrs. Small reached for a paper bag and scooped in marshmallows from the plain, cherry, mint, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, orange, coconut, cranberry, and peppermint jars. Cinni hoped she’d realize she’d gotten too many, and give the extras to a very deserving recipient with an insatiable sweet tooth and a secret stash of candy under her bed.

Cinni’s several bags of assorted candies and sweets came to two dollars, while Mrs. Small’s marshmallows only rang up at fifty cents. The clandestine sweets in M.J.’s bag looked to cost about the same as Cinni’s, judging from the shape and size of the bulge.

Posted in 1930s, holidays, Movies

Arising from the shadows of the past

Released 13 January 1939, Son of Frankenstein marked the final time Boris Karloff played the Monster, the first time Béla Lugosi played Ygor, and the last A production in the Frankenstein franchise. It was a huge shot in the arm to Universal’s declining horror reputation.

On 5 April 1938, an almost-bankrupt L.A. theatre screened Frankenstein, Dracula, and King Kong. It was a major moneymaker and inspired many other successful revivals. Universal, seeing dollar signs, decided to make another Frankenstein sequel.

James Whale, director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, didn’t want to do another horror film. In his place, Universal chose Rowland V. Lee.

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), Dr. Henry Frankenstein’s son, moves his wife Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and their little boy Peter (Donnie Donagan, now 85 years old) to the family castle upon coming into his inheritance.

Wolf’s enthusiasm for this new chapter of his life isn’t shared by his family, nor anyone else. The house gives Elsa and Peter the creeps, and the locals deeply resent their existence. After all, Wolf’s dad created a monster who terrorized them.

Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) visits on the first night to try to warn Wolf away. Krogh’s right arm was torn from the roots by the Monster when he was a boy, something he’s never forgotten. He tells Wolf the Monster may still be at large, committing murders, despite being believed dead for years.

Across from the castle is Henry’s old lab, whose roof was blown off when the Monster was destroyed. Wolf eagerly goes to explore it after breakfast, and encounters Ygor. Earlier, Ygor peered in on Peter while he was sleeping.

Ygor is a body-stealing blacksmith who survived a hanging and now lives in the old lab, away from the eyes of the world. His neck was permanently deformed by the hanging.

Ygor takes Wolf to the family crypt, where his grandfather and father are entombed. Also in the crypt is the Monster’s comatose body.

Ygor says they’re friends, and that the Monster does things for him. The Monster is now comatose because he was struck by lightning under a tree while hunting. He can’t die because Henry made him live for always.

Ygor demands Wolf reanimate the Monster, on condition he not be seen by anyone.

With help from Ygor, Wolf hauls the Monster’s body up into the lab and tethers him to the table he was brought to life upon. Ygor pushes Wolf’s loyal assistant Benson (Edgar Norton) out of the door, but ultimately relents when Wolf explains how valuable Benson is.

Wolf and Benson meticulously examine the Monster every which way to determine what kind of state he’s in. Startling discoveries are two bullets in the lung and very unusual blood.

Ygor is hauled before the court to spill all he knows about Wolf and his experiments. If he doesn’t cooperate, he’ll be hanged again, properly this time. Ygor argues he was legally pronounced dead, and is told to leave and not cause trouble.

After concluding his extensive examinations, Wolf says as a human he should destroy the Monster, but as a scientist, it’s his duty to reanimate his father’s creation.

After Benson turns on the generator, the process initially seems to work very quickly. However, the signs of life fade away, appearing mere reflexes. Wolf declares the Monster is too comatose to reanimate.

While dining with Krogh, it comes out that Henry’s lab was built by the Romans, over a natural sulphur pit used as mineral baths. The sulphur is now over 800 degrees. Krogh doesn’t know how Wolf can bear to work with those sulphur fumes.

Peter’s innocent babble also reveals the Monster indeed reanimated and is on the loose. Full of a foretaste of horror, Wolf rushes off to the lab.

Ygor is nowhere to be found when Wolf arrives, but Wolf does find the Monster. Differing from the previous two Frankenstein films, he now wears a fur vest and can no longer talk.

When Ygor arrives, Wolf insists the Monster can’t leave. No one can know he’s there, despite Ygor’s claim the Monster only does what he tells him. Wolf also says he must continue his experiments. The Monster can walk, but his mind isn’t well yet.

Back at the castle, Wolf tells Benson what happened and swears him to secrecy. Despite his sheer terror, Wolf is determined to finish his work and become the greatest scientist of all time. He trusts the Monster will only do what Ygor bids him.

Trouble begins when Benson disappears. Ygor reports he ran away in fear of the Monster, but Wolf is terrified the worst happened.

And thus begins a new wave of horror as the Monster prowls through the town and the villagers seek blood revenge on Wolf.

Posted in 1930s, holidays, Movies

A honeymoon full of horrors

Premièring 7 May 1934 in the U.S. and going into general release on 18 May, The Black Cat was the first of eight films co-starring horror icons Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi, and Universal’s biggest hit of the year. Many consider it the granddaddy of psychological horror.

Though the film takes its name from Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story, it has little to do with the purported source material. It also has no relation to the 1941 film (also starring Lugosi) of the same name.

In the U.K., it was titled House of Doom.

Newlyweds Peter and Joan Alison (David Manners and Julie Bishop) experience the ultimate inconvenience on the way to their honeymoon in Budapest—a third passenger joining them in their private cabin. Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi) says he’s on his way to visit an old friend.

Eighteen years ago, Vitus went to war and experienced every soldier’s ultimate horror when he was captured by the enemy. For the last fifteen years, he was held captive in a brutal Siberian prison camp.

Vitus also joins the newlyweds on the private bus to their hotel, but this continued deprivation of privacy is soon forgotten when Joan is injured in a road accident and they’re all forced to share lodgings in Visograd.

Their host is Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff), whom Vitus has been longing to get even with since the war. He blames Hjalmar for the murder of 10,000 soldiers and the imprisonment of many others, including himself. After Hjalmar betrayed their country to the enemy and saved his own hide, he stole Vitus’s wife Karen and their daughter.

Now Vitus wants to kill Hjalmar, but very slowly. Immediately killing him wouldn’t be nearly so satisfying.

During the night, Vitus demands again for Hjalmar to take him to his wife. Peter is greatly disturbed when they come into his room by mistake, and after they leave the room, he says next time he’ll go to Niagara Falls.

Hjalmar takes Vitus to Karen’s mummified body standing upright in a glass casket. She died two years after the war, and Hjalmar has kept her beautifully preserved ever since. Hjalmar says their daughter died too.

Vitus is about to shoot Hjlamar in a rage when a black cat wanders by and scares Vitus so much he stumbles against a glass wall which breaks. Earlier, another black cat terrified him so much he killed it, and Hjalmar explained he suffers from one of the more common phobias, ailurophobia.

Hjalmar temporarily talks sense into Vitus, then goes to see Karen, Jr., his stepdaughter turned wife, who’s very much alive and in their bed. He orders her to stay in their room until Vitus is gone, and says no one can take her away from him.

Vitus has no intention of giving up on revenge so easily, and speaks with one of Hjalmar’s servants about a plan to blow up the estate.

At their next meeting, Vitus announces to Hjalmar his desire to let Peter and Joan leave after Joan’s recovery. Towards this end, Vitus agrees to play a game of chess with the newlyweds’ release as winning prize.

They’re interrupted when authorities arrive to get statements about the bus accident, and then again when a servant reports the car is out of commission. Peter is very eager to get out of this creepy estate, but circumstances keep conspiring to keep him and Joan there. Even the phone is dead, so he can’t make arrangements for other transportation.

Peter fetches Joan and says they’re leaving immediately, even if they have to walk and leave their luggage. Another obstacle crops up when Peter discovers someone took his automatic, and then a servant guarding the door knocks him out and carries Joan back to her room.

After Hjalmar locks Joan into the room, Peter is carried away to the cellar and dumped on the floor.

While Hjalmar is playing the organ, Vitus steals a key and creeps off to Joan’s room. He tells her how evil Hjalmar is and that he’ll get his revenge in due time. Vitus also tells Joan to be brave if she wants to get out of there alive.

The horror increases in the wake of a Satanic service Hjalmar hosts.

Will Vitus finally get his well-deserved revenge on the man who ruined his life, and will Peter and Joan ever escape?