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A few weeks after James' birthday is Thanksgiving, for which all of the Godwin children, minus Gabriel, plus Alianor, descend on the house to eat and drink and attempt to be civil to each other and to their parents. Mrs Godwin invites Alianor's aunt, with whom Alianor is living until she and Matthew are married, as well as one of the junior associates in Mr Godwin's office who is new to Manhattan and has no family nearby, and she has also asked several of her and Mr Godwin's friends over for dessert and coffee after dinner. So there are slightly more people than James is used to for dinner, with the prospect of even more afterwards, and because of this they eat in the larger dining room. Which makes sense to James, as it is used for special occasions, and Thanksgiving is indeed very special. It is the only holiday that he knows of that revolves solely around food.

(And gratitude, Luisa says )

words: 2251
total words: 49,406
quickie research: thanksgiving restaurant menus, produce in season
smackenzie: (Default)
So for the next half hour James makes guesses as to what kinds of birthday presents his family has gotten him, and Aimee announces what she would like when it is her birthday in March, but maybe she would like those things for Christmas too, because Christmas is sooner, and they talk about cake and the piñata and how Penelope Carder did not look like the kind of girl who could swing the stick hard enough to whack a hole in it, and James feels a bit better about Julia and Con being in trouble on his behalf, although he still does not understand his mother's ideas about quality people and why Sean and Liam only seem to count part of the time.

The next day he finds out from her why she did not want to invite them to his party, although her explanation does not make any more sense to him than Con's did.

"I did not want them to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed or out of place," she says. She has beckoned James into her bedroom and shut the door so they may have some privacy. James half expects to see Aimee and Julia standing nonchalantly in the hallway, pretending they were not trying to listen.

But they were happy to be here )

words: 3053
total words: 47,155
quickie research: lionel trains, erector sets, model planes, the red baron, fruit in season, treasure island (yes i had to look it up because i never read it and needed to make sure it really was about pirates)
smackenzie: (Default)
In November, James turns eight, and just as she did for William, Mrs Godwin throws him a party. She invites all the boys and girls in his class at his new school, as well as Hollis Campbell and Alexei Fokine and Trenton Payne from his old school, and all his brothers and sisters, of course, except for Gabriel who is too far away and Nathaniel who has not convalesced enough to enjoy coming down to Manhattan more than twice a year. But he has sent a gift, Lucas says, so it is as if he were here.

James wanted a pony to give everyone rides, like Hollis had at his party, but Mrs Godwin says no, a pony would be too much trouble and the weather is too unpleasant and unpredictable to assume that the pony would enjoy walking around the courtyard, or that children would enjoy riding it. It is cold and looks like rain, she says, so we will have games in the ballroom and cake and refreshments in the larger dining room and besides, William did not have a pony at his birthday party.

William did not want a pony, James says. I do. )

words: 3425
total words: 44,101
quickie research: custer's last stand, piñatas
smackenzie: (Default)
In October, William turns twelve and Mrs Godwin has a party for him. She invites all the boys in his class at school as well as his brothers and sisters, but Aimee declares she does not want to attend because the party will just be a lot of boys. Lucas and Matthew both put in an appearance, however, mostly to wish William a happy and to deliver their presents, and while the younger boys are running around the ballroom playing party games under the watchful eyes of Luisa and several other nannies, Mrs Godwin and her stepsons sit in the parlor and chat and nibble on cake.

Marcus comes by the house as well, just to say hello and drop off a wrapped box and a card, but he does not stay. William does not particularly want his older brothers at his party with all his friends and classmates, so it does not bother him that none of them stay in the ballroom or the larger dining room, where refreshments and cake are served after the games.

James does not want to attend the party any more than Aimee does )

words: 2016
total words: 40,675
quickie research: bobbed hair, vogue
smackenzie: (Default)
"Take off your shoes and roll up your pants!" Liam tells him.

"I have sand in my stockings," Julia comments. "I should have been a mermaid. Mermaids do not have to worry about sand in their stockings."

"Did you wear your shoes and stockings in the ocean?" James asks, not sure how else she would be sandy.

"I must not have brushed my feet off enough." She sits on the ground, unbuttons her shoes, and peels off her stockings, then stuffs the stockings down inside her shoes, brushes off her feet, and stands back up. "You were going to buy us ice cream," she says to Sean, grinning. "Or did you spend all your money riding the Whip?"

I did not throw up, James says proudly. )

words: 1816
total words: 38,659
quickie research: girls' shoes in 1919, the dalton school


Nov. 22nd, 2011 12:40 am
smackenzie: (Default)
It turns out that lying to Luisa is the easy part. But escaping Lucas' watchful eye is a whole other thing. James suspects that Lucas is watching him closely because he thinks Con is a bad influence and James is unduly swayed by his moody older brother. James does not think Con is a bad influence, but neither does he think that of Julia, and Julia has formulated a plan to sneak him out of the house and spirit him away to Luna Park without their parents' permission or knowledge.

But either she has told Con or he figured it out himself, because he somehow manages to convince Lucas to let them out of the house, and then distract him so Julia and James can make their escape.

James is thrilled. )

words: 2250
total words: 36,843
quickie research: coney island, mata hari
smackenzie: (Default)
"He runs a gang in Hell's Kitchen. He is a little bit scary, unless you are one of his friends." Liam leans in close to James and lowers his voice. "Ma says he killed a man and we are to turn and walk the other way if we ever see him out on the street."

James does not know what to say to this. A gangster! How exciting!

"Who did he kill?" he asks.

Liam shrugs. "A rival, probably." He bends down and reaches into the crate to pet the kittens. James does not understand why he is not more interested in Benny Mears the gangster.


"Why what?"

Why did Benny Mears kill his rival? )

words: 4314
total words: 34,593
quickie research: apartment kitchens
smackenzie: (Default)
"What would Matthew ask him to do?"

"I do not know. Hold his tongue for half an hour?"

James finds that incredibly funny, and Julia cannot keep from laughing either.

"What is so funny?" Aimee asks, appearing behind Julia.

"Con thinks he is a gentleman," James says. Aimee does not look convinced. Julia giggles to herself.


"I do not know. He made a bet with Matthew over baseball teams, and shook on it like gentlemen. They called it a gentlemen's bet."

Aimee just shrugs, not only unconvinced but uninterested, and walks out of the room. )

words: 2396
total words: 30,279
quickie research: hell's kitchen, chelsea
smackenzie: (Default)
"If you lose it," she says, "you will have to replace it. Mrs Meara probably has a lot of work you can do for her to earn the money."

Sean promises that he will not lose it.

They find a field in the park and try to divde themselves into teams, but Aimee has to be bribed into playing and only three of them really know anything about baseball beyond "someone throws the ball and someone else hits it" – Sean, of course, Con, because team sports seem to hold a great appeal for him, and Luisa, much to the boys' surprise.

"Why are you so surprised?" she asks, laughing as James and Sean and William stare at her. "My nonna is a great fan of the Dodgers. She still cannot read a word of English, so my brother has to translate the sports articles in the newspaper for her."

There is some confusion as Sean, Con, and Luisa all try to explain the rules )

words: 1949
total words: 27,884
quickie research: baseball teams, the world series, the polo grounds
smackenzie: (Default)
The next week, school lets out for the summer and James feels as if he has been set free. But it turns out that there is a great deal to do during the summer - Miss Ellis now comes to the house twice a week for piano lessons and Mrs Godwin has suggested James learn how to play, Julia and Aimee and William are all signed up for dance lessons, of all things ("It will teach you grace and balance," Mrs Godwin explains to William, when he kicks up a fuss), and there is tennis and horseback riding and football and walks in the park, and Luisa takes them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the paintings and the blue Egyptian hippopotamus, and to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaur bones and the exhibits on ways of life in other parts of the world, and to the Bronx Zoological Gardens to see the wild animals, and they are even allowed to go to the movies on occasion.

One day Julia and James sneak out on their own )

words: 712
total words: 25,935
quickie research: metropolitan museum of art, natural history museum, bronx zoo, movies in 1919
smackenzie: (Default)
"That was the whole idea. Better you than William." Con winks. "I suppose we should wait for him and Luisa. Pity she is not quite small enough to sit on my shoulders too."

Julia laughs. James is just grateful that Con likes him better than William.

James and Con and Julia stand and wait for William and Luisa to work their way back out of the mass of people who were watching the parade, but when the crowd has thinned out enough and they have not returned, Julia climbs back on the bench to see if she can see them.

"William!" she yells. "Luisa!" She looks frustrated. "I can see them," she tells Con and James, "but they do not see me. Or hear me, evidently."

Con steps up onto the bench as well, and when Julia points in William and Luisa's direction, he takes a deep breath and yells "William Jonathan Britton Godwin!" so loudly that Julia winces and James puts his hands over his ears.

That should do it )

words: 1737
total words: 25,223
quickie research: italian last names
smackenzie: (Default)
There is a parade for Memorial Day this year – as James supposes there was one last year, although he does not remember – and his school lets out two hours early so the students can watch it if they wish. Nathaniel has come down from his recuperative spa, ostensibly to march in the parade but also so that Mrs Godwin can fuss over him in person. She has organized a luncheon for her friends which also serves as a fundraiser for an organization that helps care for veterans of the Great War who may not have the means or the families to care for them, and even though she genuinely loves Nathaniel and does not wish to cause him stress, she has also asked him to be the guest of honor to show her wealthy society friends what kind of care his fellow soldiers might need.

Luisa is evidently under orders to bring James and William and Con home from school )

words: 2218
total words: 23,487
quickie research: memorial day, new york regiments, state flags
note: there was in fact an african-american regiment in ww1 - the 369th, aka the harlem hellfighters, but i don't know if they would have marched with all the white boys in a memorial day parade in 1919. i think this is the regiment that lucas and nathaniel served with.
smackenzie: (Default)
"You can come over now," Sean says. "Not today, because we are here, but one Saturday over the summer, maybe your ma will let you visit us. You can meet Mrs Meara and her daughter Mary Margaret, and Mary Margaret's baby Johnny. He is this big." Sean holds out his hands about a foot apart. "Mary Margaret's husband Jamie is a policeman."

"You can meet Albert who lives across the street and has a dog that's also named Johnny. And the grocer - he has cats."

James thinks about this idea. He knows from last year that there is both more and less to do over the summer. School will be out, so he will not have to attend class, and he knows that Mrs Godwin and Julia will play tennis and Aimee and William will learn, and there will be trips to the shore and perhaps they will be invited back to Long Island to visit Mr Godwin's friend with the sheep. They will likely travel up the river to see Nathaniel, and perhaps they will take the train to Chicago to see Gabriel. Gabriel is funny and silly and lighthearted, and unlike Marcus and Con, he does not try to argue with their father. But he is the only Godwin who does not live in New York, and it does not matter whether or not he will try to argue about workers' rights or economic opportunities or politics if he is never around.

James does not know Gabriel well enough to miss him, because they see each other once a year if that, but he has never been to Chicago. It would be an adventure.

He knows one thing about the coming summer )

words: 1053
total words: 21,269
quickie research: none for this bit
smackenzie: (Default)
On Monday at school James discovers that Hollis Campbell does indeed wish to be better friends with him. The boys have all been sitting at the same desks for the entire year, lined up in alphabetical order so that Alexei Fokine, who says his father is an exiled Russian prince, and Hugo Gerlach, who is chubby and quiet but quite smart when he opens his mouth, are sitting between Hollis and James, and the boys are not really supposed to carry on conversations with each other during lessons anyway. So Hollis is restricted to recess and lunch for his attempts to start a friendship.

Some of the boys live close enough to the school to go home for lunch )

words: 1740
total words: 20,216
quickie research: russian and dutch last names, ww1 training camps (mr o'donnell was at fort meade during the war)
smackenzie: (Default)
On Tuesday, to James' surprise and Mrs Godwin's pleasure, he is invited to a birthday party for one of the boys in his class at school. The boy's name is Hollis Campbell and his father is a captain of industry just as Mr Godwin is. Mr Campbell inherited a great deal of money from his father, who made the family fortune from cattle ranching, and is now engaged in what James learns is called "diversifying", or branching out into other industries and jobs.

James expects there will be steak at Hollis' birthday party, if his grandfather is a big rancher. He wonders if Hollis' grandfather ever had trouble with Mexican bandits or Indians on his land, or if criminals ever tried to kidnap his daughters and hold them for ransom. He decides for himself that the elder Mr Campbell must have had to chase evil men from his land, for so much property and so many cattle are attractive to the common western criminal.

Mrs Godwin takes James shopping for a birthday present )

words: 2166
total words: 18,476
quickie research: coney island
smackenzie: (Default)
It seems mean to find such a thing amusing, but James does. He feels a bit sorry for Con, in fact - he would not want to spend a day trying on clothes and hats and boots and gloves, even if it did mean he could spend the day alone with his kind, beautiful momma.

He lets Julia tell him everything she and Mrs Godwin did that day, as well as what they ate for lunch, where they ate it, and the fact that the waiter looked like the father of one of her friend Caroline Watterson from school. But of course it was not him - Julia's friend's father is a banker who works downtown, and if he were a waiter, he could not afford to send his daughter to Julia's school.

"Perhaps he has a long-lost brother," James suggests, "who is working in a restaurant not knowing that his brother is a banker in the very same city."

Julia seems to consider this. "Perhaps. A long-lost twin, separated at birth by a greedy midwife who could not have children of her own, and who did not tell their mother that she was carrying twins. Each of them always wanted a brother as he was growing up. And little do they know that they each have a brother, and moreover grew up in the same city. Perhaps the waiter lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children, one of whom is a daughter Caroline's age."

Does Caroline want a long-lost cousin? )

words: 2332
total words: 16,310
quickie research: the ny stock exchange, gilded age bedrooms, one thousand and one nights (god bless wikipedia, seriously)
smackenzie: (Default)
"I do not care. This is not a playroom." She is still pointing to the door. She is not Luisa and James does not in general feel obliged to obey her, but there is enough of Mrs Godwin and Luisa in her tone that he sheepishly slides over to the doorway to put his shoes back on.

Mrs O'Donnell herds the boys downstairs and into the kitchen, so Mrs Malcolm can feed them.

Mrs Malcolm promptly shoos them out of the kitchen and into the smaller dining room, where the table has already been set for lunch. She tells them to sit and wait for William and Aimee and Luisa, and then brings out a pitcher of milk and starts pouring it into their glasses.

"Thank you," Liam says politely, while Sean just stares around the dining room.

"Do you eat here every day?" he asks James. James nods.

If all of my brothers are here, we eat in the bigger dining room, upstairs )

words: 1771
total words: 12,322
quickie research: school lunches, working-class lunches, floor plans for gilded age mansions
smackenzie: (Default)
On Monday James can resist no longer and has to share his Saturday adventure with some of the boys in his class. He is pretty sure that his retelling of The Millionaire Pirate is not quite accurate, but he doesn’t think any of his schoolfriends will be going to see it, so it does not matter. He asks Mr Van der Waal to teach them about Jean Lafitte, but the answer he gets is “Perhaps later”.

One of the boys in James’ class has a brother who is in William’s class, so the story travels from James to the boy to his brother to William to Luisa and then to Mrs Godwin. By the time she hears the story, it is a mangled version of the actual events, but there is enough truth there for her to sit Julia and James down and have a talk with them about lying to Luisa.

It was my fault, Julia says. )

words: 1938
total words: 10,551
quickie research: none for this bit
smackenzie: (Default)
On Sunday, because it is Mother's Day, nine of the ten Godwin children sit down for lunch in the larger dining room. Lucas has brought Nathaniel down from the convalescent home, and Marcus has consented to appear in his father's house, and Matthew would have brought Alianor but she is spending the day with her aunt, because she cannot spend it with her own mother and because her aunt has children too. Gabriel will not travel from Chicago for such a new holiday, and besides, he says, Mr Godwin's current wife is not his mother.

(Con tried to make this point as well, but Julia reminded him that Mr Godwin's current wife isn't Nathaniel and Lucas' mother either, and they are both coming without complaint. "Even Marcus will be here," she said, "so you be quiet and be nice." He looked taken aback but has been almost a model son so far.)

So there are seven Godwin boys in good suits and ties )

words: 1515
total words: 8615
today's quickie research: the boston police strike of 1919, shell shock
smackenzie: (Default)
Luisa and Mrs O’Donnell come to the house on Saturday - Luisa to look after James and Aimee and William, and Mrs O’Donnell because a housekeeper’s work is never done when the house and family are the size of the Godwins’ - and there is also a gardener, Mr West, who takes care of the bushes and trees in front of the house and in the courtyard. Sometimes Mrs Godwin will entertain friends and society ladies and occasionally the wives of Mr Godwin’s business partners at the house, and on those days, the little Godwins are encouraged to stay out from underfoot. William does not consider himself a little Godwin any more, but Luisa is supposed to watch out for him as much as James and Aimee. Con always seems to have his own things to do, unless any of the society ladies bring their daughters, and on those occasions he tries to work himself into any conversation, flirting with them the same way he flirts with Luisa. Sometimes Mrs Godwin tolerates this, and sometimes she has to ask him politely but firmly to leave the ladies alone.

Today she is out of the house, and Mr Godwin is off seeing to business, and Julia has a surprise for James – two dollars and the promise of a moving picture about pirates showing downtown.

This is a secret, she whispers to him. )

words: 2453
total words: 7100
today's quickie research: top movies in 1919, serials. (i totally winged it about the streetcar, the movie theater, and the soda fountain.) the masked rider and the millionaire pirate do exist, or did in 1919.