Chassis is a word used to describe the skeletal body parts of a car or machine, the fine details and framework that hold a thing up. In the 1920s, it was also slang for the female body.
Wally, Artemis, and Cameron are all 20.
Dick is 18; Zatanna is 19.
Conner, M’gann, and Raquel are 21.
Kaldur is 22.
Roy and Jade are 23.
M’gann’s name was changed to Maggie because “Megan” was not a prominent name until at least the 1950s. Conner’s remains unchanged because I couldn’t find an alternative, but that one wasn’t used until the 1960s. Artemis is even more whacked out, but I wouldn’t dream of changing it – then again, it’s never been popular anyway.
Kaldur’s name was changed to Calvin Durham because that was much more common than something like Kaldur. I know it’s awkward to see it written as Cal, but hopefully it was still all right. Miraculously, Raquel was fairly popular in 1920, so it got to stick around, and Wallace and Richard are about the 20s-iest names you can get. And Zatanna’s just a wild card.
There was a crapload of racism in the 1920s, too. I kind of sacrificed historical accuracy there for the sake of, well, everything, but it wouldn’t have been unusual for Bruce to be considered a scandal for hiring Kaldur and Raquel. I’m not going to make a point of saying it in the fic, but, for the sake of argument, the Black Bat is an unsegregated speak, and Kaldur and Raquel get to hang around there in peace because Bruce lets them work (Kaldur handles the bar, since he’s the oldest, and he also plays the sax on Saturday nights; Raquel sings with him and waits tables). Racism wasn’t quite as huge of a deal on the East Coast as it was in, say, the South, but the government was still a bunch of assholes about trying to bring around ethnic equality. Pretend Happy Harbor is a happy bubble where social issues don’t apply.
The legal drinking age during the Prohibition was nonexistent, due to the fact that alcohol was outlawed in the first place. However, prior to this, there was no established legal drinking age anyway; it was considered the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their kids didn’t get sloshed. The legal drinking age we know today was established in 1933 and was generally 21, except in select states, where you could buy beer or wine at the age of 18, but nothing harder until you were 21. Anyway, technically, there’s no underage drinking in here. Heh.
For the record, Wally is studying Engineering at Brown. It would have been a fairly new major during the year this fic takes place. Dick’s probably majoring in Linguistics or Sociology or something.
The Great Gatsby was published in April 1925, so it would have been a fairly new novel around this time. However, Dick is a book fiend, so he’ll be making references to it regularly, as will Wally, because Dick never shuts up about it (being The Great Grayson and all).
“Crazy Rhythm” wasn’t written until 1928; I cheated. But it’s tough to find dancey jazz tunes that came around before 1926. I’LL DO MORE EXTENSIVE RESEARCH WHEN I HAVE THE TIME.
Dick (sarcastically) calls Wally “Bojangles” as a reference to Bill Robinson, who was most famously known by that nickname, as well as for being one of the greatest tap-dancers of all time. He rose to popularity in the early 1920s and that lasted until the mid-1930s.
Some of the songs present weren’t actually published until maybe a couple of years after this is all supposed to take place, but it wasn’t uncommon for some musicians to know how to play them before their sheet music was actually published.
Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll was perhaps the most notable of the mob assassins in Chicago during the 1920s and early 1930s. He was responsible for a presently uncountable number of mob hits, but was most known at the time for allegedly being responsible for the death of a five-year-old child in a shootout, which prompted his nickname of “Mad Dog.” He mostly did kidnappings, but an unsettling number of them ended in death.
Dick’s car, a Coupe, is a fairly standard vehicle but still considered a bit on the ritzy-side; Coupes were known for having retractable roofs, like Duesenbergs and Packards.
“Moll” was a word used to describe a mobster’s girlfriend. “Piker” tended to describe a useless or cowardly person. “Applesauce” and “horsefeathers” were common expletives. “Taking the gas pipe” was a euphemism for committing suicide; it referred to leaving a gas stove on in order to kill oneself. “Don’t take any wooden nickels” was a term for “Don’t do anything stupid,” and was usually used as a parting piece of advice. “Gams” are legs.