In the 1900s in America, there was a great reform movement, led by women for the most part. There were religious revivals among Protestants, non-religious Utopian communities, temperance, education reform, women's rights, humane treatment for the insane, and abolitionism (prior to the Civil War).
In the 1930s, most of these reform movements were still going on.
"But she'll play Russian Banque with you." pg 10
Russian Bank is a card game for two players from the solitaire family. It is also known as crapette or crapot in Brazil and Portugal. It is played with two decks of 52 standard playing cards. It is much like the game of double solitaire. The goal of Russian Bank, like many card games, is to get rid of your forty-eight cards before your opponent can rid themselves of theirs. At the same time, it is required to build "piles" of suits, Ace through King, in the center of the board. If a rule regarding the placement of piles is broken, the opponent may call "Stop!" to end one's turn.
Narrator Prudence Whitsby is reading a mystery novel when Bill Porter walks in, on pg 11.
"Is it blood and thunder...or gin and sawdust?"
Closely related to the Gothic novel of the late eighteenth century, blood-and-thunder fiction features malignantly motivated villains seeking to possess the hearts and souls of characters made vulnerable by their youth, gender, and penniless condition. The events of these stories, occurring in settings distant from the workaday world, limn the obsessive behavior of these predatory characters whose deceptive exploitation of their victims' emotions work a psychological violence never far from physical consummation. Making few concessions to verisimilitude, the blood-and-thunder narratives function as psychic dramas abstracted from the ordinary world of secondary contingencies, generating their suspense by sketching the attenuated assault upon the ego of its prey by a relentless will to domination.
SOURCE: Blood-and-Thunder Fiction - The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, Wieland - Rosamond, Novel, Tempest, and Characters http://www.jrank.org/literature/pages/6379/Blood-Thunder-Fiction.html#ixzz1L4tqksOD
Sawdust was used on the floors of gin-palaces in the early 1900s.
A gin palace is an English name originally for a lavish bar selling gin, later transferred by association to late Victorian pubs designed in a similar style.
In the 18th century, gin shops or 'dram shops' were just small shops (often originally chemist's shops as gin originally had medicinal associations) that sold gin mostly to take away, or to drink standing up. As the legislation changed establishments generally became larger; they also had to be licensed and sell ale or wine. In the late 1820s the first 'Gin Palaces' were built, Thompson and Fearon's in Holborn and Weller's in Old Street, London. They were based on the new fashionable shops being built at the time, fitted out at great expense and lit by gas lights. They were thought to be vulgar at the time, although hugely popular. Charles Dickens described them as "perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left…" in his Sketches by Boz.
The design hugely influenced all aspects of the design of later Victorian pubs, even after gin had declined in importance as a drink; the bar in pubs is based on the shop counter of the gin palace, designed for swift service and ideal for attaching beer pumps; the ornate mirrors and etched glass of the late 19th century. The term has survived for any pub in the late 19th century style; as this was the peak of pub building in Britain the style has become associated with the pub, even though none of the original gin palaces survive.
Well preserved examples of the late 19th century style include the Princess Louise in Holborn and the Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Liverpool.