The history behind “Escape Route”

Image: From Gold Diggers of 1933

THE STORY IN BRIEF
Julie, a lonely, elderly woman, has the chance to escape into a new life.

HOW IT WAS WRITTEN
I think that many women, especially those who don’t have children, worry about what will happen to them when they become too aged to care for themselves. Will there be anyone who cares? How will they cope? This was foremost in my mind when I wrote “Escape Route.”

This is original to The History of Soul 2065.

NOTES ON THE PEOPLE
We first met Julie in the previous story, “Stoop Ladies.”

All of the people she meets on the bus and in the library are fictional.

I don’t know the name of the chorus dancer whom she picks out from the cast of Gold Diggers of 1933. I often wonder about the lives of the dancers, singers, and tertiary cast members of films from the past: Who were they? What were their lives like? But most have vanished into history.

She found herself remembering her mother, and the long years of caring for her. The men whom she occasionally dated but who never seemed to want to stay. The children she never bore, and the adoptions that never happened. Of a life that seemed over before it ever began.

Escape Route

NOTES ON THE HISTORY
Public libraries are places where children can go to find a quiet place to do homework or discover books they might otherwise have missed; for unemployed or homeless people to find assistance and a place to sit for a while; for elderly people to find services and a few hours of not being alone. Even now, with the digitalization of books, they are important resources for many and should not be neglected or abandoned.

The Gold Diggers of 1933 was made before the Hayes Code was enforced in 1934, so it’s funny, entertaining, and sexy. It features a group of chorus dancers who are doing what they can to survive during the Depression, which includes getting back at an insulting rich businessman by convincing him that he “ruined” one of the women so that he’d pay her off. (She frames the check without cashing it.)

Here’s the famous opening scene, where Ginger Rogers sings “We’re in the Money”:

I would be remiss if I also didn’t include the final number, a bitter piece of social commentary on the Great Depression called “My Forgotten Man.” It’s worth a look. While the number stars Joan Blondell, watch for an electrifying solo by singer Etta Moten. (The video stops about five seconds before the end of the production; sorry about that.)

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