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Italians, Hotels, and the '40's to '50's.



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Sat May 04, 2019 10:44 pm
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manilla says...



I'm starting a new historical fiction (wow, manilla, don't you have one going on about Belarus, a thing with dragons, another thing with emotional drinks, and some poetry things you need to write for your mother?). It's set in the late 1940's in the start and ends sometime in the 1950's, in America. I need a little cultural and historical context on that time period, per say, how would people behave?

And about how hotels would function before the arrival of computer management systems...On paper, yes, but there's a girl basically living in the hotel during summer and working there to support the growing family business. I was inspired by the Venetian in Las Vegas and the aesthetic there.

However, she's Italian-American (second or third generation). So what is family life/culture like differently compared to the average American? What values do Italians seem to uphold more strongly? (Another example - Chinese people emphasize family duties in tradition.)

If you know anything, thank you! Have a wonderful day.
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Sat May 04, 2019 10:59 pm
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AmadeusW says...



I'm not going to answer all of your questions, and I'm not going to give in-depth answers, but I'll give you a few ideas that can spark your own research.

Hotels back in the '50s were common to be used like apartments. People more often than not would live in a hotel room like they were renting an apt, and it could be for several months, maybe a couple of years, etc.

Italians value family. You'd think, who doesn't? But Italians are very strong on family bonds and being loyal to your blood. They are also big on food. Tomato-based foods, pastas, breads, and cheeses are used at almost every meal. Depending on the family, and I emphasize "Depending on the family", there could be a sense of tradition.

I hope these ideas give you a little bit of direction as you continue your research. Happy writing!
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Sun May 05, 2019 1:31 am
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manilla says...



Thank you! That is helpful already.
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Sun May 05, 2019 2:15 am
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fraey says...



Like most things, the exact geography will definitely affect how people would behave. For this to be post WW2, there will definitely be some kind of animosity to plenty of types of immigrants. Plus, during the 40s or even early 50s, the immigration law in effect would be the Immigration Act of 1924, which heavily reduced the number of immigrants that were allowed into the States, including Italians and completely disallowed any Asian peoples from immigrating there.

On the flip side of that, the war ended, so that brought not only life back to the US past the Great Depression, but also changed men's and women's roles in the workplace as well, since previously the feminine side of things had actually taken over important roles since they weren't really allowed to fight.
Some took on the roles of army nurses and the like. Once the dust settled, women were kind of shoved back into the roles of taking care of the households and having to follow their husbands' rules and commands.

Some important and major things that also happened in the 40s as a quick timeline which is also shown in more details here, follow below:

Just for 1947, (a bit of history)
- Jackie Robinson has his first plate appearance in MLB
- Marshall Plan is passed in Congress, giving millions of dollars of aid to European nations
- Truman Doctrine is passed, to give aid and money against Communism in Greece and Turkey

-- Plus, the NBA just about started during the late 1940s too, which is a pretty cool history fact.

( I could totally do some searches for any sports facts ever. )

In quick bursts, racism, sexism, anti-semitism, all certainly being felt very very strongly here, in pretty much all areas of the States. In the Eastern US, plenty of sections and groupings of immigrants landed there, and create their own kinds of community, in the South, racism, pro-white nationalism, and the West is going to be large amounts of more Hispanic areas and even the Japanese barely coming back into their lives before internment camps.

For hotels, I think this article looks pretty interesting!

And, I found some resources about Italian families around the 40s-ish, below this:

- https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2015/jan ... immigrants
- https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ ... 180962021/
- https://blog.ancestorcloud.com/2016/12/ ... d-war-2-2/

Hope this helps and good luck with your writing!
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Sun May 05, 2019 3:51 pm
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manilla says...



Thank you!
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Sun Jun 02, 2019 6:03 pm
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Baezel says...



Hello! I don't have any solid knowledge on these elements but I've got a few things that you may be interested in looking further into. Now, disclaimer, I'm not confident about any of these facts, and while they're all rooted in truth, if you're going to rely on them, double check them.

So, the first thing that comes to mind with this is Communism, which America disliked, and which massively influenced the 20th century. McCarthyism came around in the late 40s, which was essentially an incredibly hostile attitude to anything seen as unAmerican. And anything could be seen as unAmerican; check out The Crucible, or notes on the themes of it (https://journeys.dartmouth.edu/thecruci ... -the-play/).
And these attitudes existed before the 40s, of course. I saw it mentioned in the 1920s research thread earlier. This affected the actions of everyday people, and what I find interesting, the media produced, which was now, quite violently, pro-capitalism and America, which partially reflects the new consumer economy.

Regarding Italians, I've only got thoughts, not facts, as in school I studied a play about Scottish Italian Immigrants in the 30s-50s (Tally's Blood, if you were curious). From that, I'd advise you to consider the massive difference between Catholicism, which is massive in Italy, and the contrast it'd have with the majority Protestant America. If I remember correctly, I think this sectarianism was the cause of a lot of immigrant tensions in America, as I believe it was true of the Irish immigrants too?
Another idea mentioned in Tally's Blood is the fear of losing their Italian culture. The mother in Tally's Blood, a first generation Italian immigrant, worries whenever her children reflect the youthful, unrestrained cultures of the UK at the time- the dangerous music and fashions! The niece has to keep her relationship with a Scottish boy secret because her aunt wants her to marry a nice Italian boy. There is also pressure on the son to take over the father's shop when he's older. I believe a lot of Italian immigrants went into shop business when they arrived, bringing icecream, running mixtures between cafes and newsagents- although, I worry that may be more stereotype than fact? You'd have to look into it.

You'll also need to look into the reasons Italians were emigrating those days. You said she was a third generation immigrant, and I don't know why Italians were emigrating in what, maybe the mid-late 19th century? That'd be her story, right? But I know in the 30s and 40s, Italians were emigrating due to poverty and a very weak economy with no jobs, and due to the related rise of WW2 stuff. Mussolini, the Black Shirts. Italy became hostile to women, Jews, all of it before the actual advent of WW2. (I learned about this while researching Rita Levi-Montalcini, who was a brilliant woman who grew up in 1900s Italy in a middle/upperclass, respectable, Sephardic Jewish family, and who went on to become an incredible molecular biologist. Maybe consider looking into her if you want to see attitudes to intelligent young women those days, I can send you links I found useful if you'd like.)
Here's a fun little animation showing two centuries of US immigration. You can see that Italian immigration started to become a thing in 1890: http://metrocosm.com/us-immigration-history-map.html

Now, obviously you'll be aware you're setting your story through WW2. America didn't really join that fight until quite late. Italy though? They were on the front lines. I'm guessing that resulted in some... resentment. Maybe your character loses someone to the war. Maybe she has family back home. I also know that in the UK, and I'm guessing it'll be true in America too, that there were internment camps for Italian immigrants living in the UK during that time because they could be Nazis!.
Secondly, and I suppose it's worth considering: Is you're character a Nazi? By which I mean did she support the black shirts and Mussolini? Maybe if she had family in Italy, she'd believe Mussolini would be strong and would provide them jobs, or something like that.

Really scratching my head here, it's worth mentioning there were lots of interesting art movements in that century, most of which people hated because that's art!. Confidently ugly. There was also new music, new fashions (which were now cheaper than ever before!) New architecture, new engineering leading to cars, skyscrapers, new (and cheaper) white goods, medicine (antibiotics became popular around this time!). People worried we were becoming looser and unrestrained. It'd be worth considering if your character's a good catholic Christian, and how that affects her life. Oh, and check out the Mafia, which I know existed, but don't know much more about.

Also: there was the great depression in the 30s, which inevitably led to trouble in the 40s (and was a contributing factor to WW2). I learned about this studying To Kill a Mockingbird, and I wouldn't be surprised if you'd studied it to. Check out some notes on it, and that'll also tell you about the lives black people lived in the 30s.

Luckily for you, there will be lots of info on Italian American immigrants in the 40s, given that it's such a defining time of America.
  





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Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:13 pm
manilla says...



Thank you so much for your help!
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When the last tree has fallen
And the rivers are poisoned
You cannot eat money


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