We stepped off the train, and let me tell you, the world’s gone crazy! The automobiles! Big, round but with pointy bits. Women in hats and gloves like I’ve never seen. And enough fabric in the skirts to make three dresses!
When we stepped out of the station, Joe tried hailing a cab, but I noticed something interesting. Nothing was familiar. For example, the street sign out there? It didn’t say Canal Street. It said Rockland Boulevard. Not exactly one of Chicago’s major streets. I swear the conductor came through calling out for Union Station, Chicago. Now we’re in… Rockland? We aren’t supposed to be here for three weeks!
The streets were filled with those spiffy automobiles. Not just some here and there but everywhere! We dragged our instruments and trunks down the street a ways, trying to grab another cab. Me, I stared into a window where these boxes… that’s all I can call them. Boxes. But they had moving pictures on the front. Noise, too. I couldn’t be certain, but I thought I heard something coming from them. Two women stood in some factory trying to do something with candy but it kept backing up so they started eating it as fast as they could. We were all chuckling when Joe called for us.
Two cabs waited for us and our instruments.
He took us to a hotel down the street from the Rockland Orpheum, where we were supposed to play in a few weeks. Once we’d secured rooms, we kept exploring. Do you know how weird it is to have people decked out in odd costumes pointing at you as if you’re the one dressed oddly?
The biggest airplane I’ve ever seen soared overhead. A few minutes later, another one did. Big and shiny… I’ve never seen anything like it. The fellows were just saying that they’d like a better look at one, when another one flew over. So low, too. What if they crashed in the middle of the city?
As we neared the Orpheum, we decided to see one of the pictures. I wanted to see Reason for One More. It looked interesting. A couple of the fellows wanted to see Plymouth Adventure. But everyone finally decided on The Quiet Man after the ticket girl told us it had a swoony hero and a big fight scene. All the guys and dolls approved of that one.
In the lobby, there was a huge poster announcing a concert for some guy named Elvis. Joe pointed and laughed. “Looks like the guys have turned flapper here.”
Three girls walked past in those enormous skirts and wearing sweaters. But these skirts were made out of felt and had little poodles appliqued to them. The other gals mocked them, but I thought they were pretty cute. Right up to the moment when one of the girls sent us a dirty look and practically snarled at us. “Elvis is the best. What do you know?”
Then the picture started.
I knew something was terribly wrong when it came on… in color… and they were talking! I mean, all around the room we heard the dialogue, the music–and no organ! I didn’t know what to do. There also weren’t any other acts. It was just the picture.
We just might be out of a job. That’s when I heard someone say, “This might just be the best picture of…” And my heart raced. I grabbed Eleanor and told her to get the fellows. We had to get out of there. We had to get on the train and hope it took us to Chicago this time because sweetie, we weren’t in 1926 anymore! Time to get a wiggle on!
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
What Happens When a Great Act Shows Up in the Wrong Decade?
As you can see, the troubles with the mysteries continue. Cathe Swanson’s book, Murder at the Empire, released today! Guys, this book is so good, but boy! One of the Empire’s before-show acts is trapped in the wrong decades. Follow along this week and figure out what decade each author finds the characters in! You’ll want to visit:
- Me! (October 5–you’re here and I’m first this time) and then be sure to click around. I can’t get to the actual links right now. Facebook’s down…
- April Hayman (October 6)
- Denise Lauren Barela (October 7)
- Marji Laine (October 8)
- Sandy Barela (October 9)
- Rebekah Jones (October 10)
- Liz Tolsma (October 11)
- Cathe Swanson (October 12)
Gayle Wells is a killer organist, but does a killer have her in his sights?
They call him the Emperor. John Starek fills his theater with fine artwork and treasures. He’s particularly pleased to have one of the country’s first female organists – and he thinks Gayle Wells is the bee’s knees.
Despite pressure from her social crusader mother, Gayle isn’t interested in changing the world. She just wants a car of her own – and a career playing the organ at the Empire movie palace would be especially ducky.
Then the Empire’s treasures start disappearing and employees start dying. Are a few pieces of art really enough motive for the string of murders? Will Gayle be next?
Murder at the Empire brings the Nightingale into an elegant movie palace in the roaring 20’s – but the real excitement is all off-screen.