Friday Historical Fiction Giving the Facts – Victrola Homes Are Happiest

historical-fiction Each Friday as an alternative way of posting about a historical event that occurred on this day in history, I will weave the event into a fictional story while still providing all the necessary facts.

 

 

At breakfast, Kitty handed Joe the newspaper with a pleading look on her face.  Joe looked down and saw an advertisement.

victrola-ad

“The one you want costs $200.  Do you really think we need one Kitty?”, said Joseph.

“Oh please Joe.  I’ve wanted one ever since the Victor Talking Machine Company started selling them in August.  Now it is almost Christmas 1906 and I think our house will be so festive with music.”

“I’m not making any promises but the Victor Talking Machine Company is in Camden and it won’t be too much trouble for me to stop over there and look when I’m on my lunch break from The Joseph Campbell Company.”

Campbell Soup Ad

The next day, Joseph and another Campbell’s employee, George hopped  a trolley to go to the Victor Talking Machine Company located near the waterfront.  They looked at a few models.

 

“This is the one my wife wants.  I read that Victor did not have sufficient manufacturing facilities to produce the large cabinet so the Pooley Furniture Company of Philadelphia was contracted as a cabinet supplier. The machine was intended for sale for wealthy customers, as the initial sale price was a lofty $200 (the most expensive Victor with an external horn sold for half that price). In spite of the cost, the machine sold briskly, and Victor knew it had an immediate success on its hands,” said Joseph.

“My wife wants that one too.  What are you going to do?”, said George.

“I’m going to surprise Kitty with it just before Christmas.”

“My plans too for my wife.”

__________________

Joe and Kitty had a very musical Christmas 1906.

What Happened on August 21st – Aloha! Welcome to the Union

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a proclamation admitting Hawaii into the Union as the 50th state. The president also issued an order for an American flag featuring 50 stars arranged in staggered rows: five six-star rows and four five-star rows. The new flag became official July 4, 1960.

1959b

 

The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century. In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid 19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life. In 1840, a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority.

Detail from portrait of Queen Liliuokalani at Iolani Palace in Honolulu.jpg.

Detail from portrait of Queen Liliuokalani at Iolani Palace in Honolulu.jpg.

In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate with Hawaiian-born Sanford B. Dole as president.

 

Many in Congress opposed the formal annexation of Hawaii, and it was not until 1898, following the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War, that Hawaii’s strategic importance became evident and formal annexation was approved. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory. During World War II, Hawaii became firmly ensconced in the American national identity following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Japanese attach at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

Japanese attach at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

In March 1959, the U.S. government approved statehood for Hawaii, and in June the Hawaiian people voted by a wide majority to accept admittance into the United States. Two months later, Hawaii officially became the 50th state.

Hawaii Statehood

What Happened on August 20th – A Worldly Telegram and a Message for Other Worlds

On August 20, 1911, a dispatcher in the New York Times office sends the first telegram around the world via commercial service. Exactly 66 years later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sends a different kind of message–a phonograph record containing information about Earth for extraterrestrial beings–shooting into space aboard the unmanned spacecraft Voyager II.

CCCNewYork

The Times decided to send its 1911 telegram in order to determine how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world by telegraph cable.  The message, reading simply “This message sent around the world,” (I guess the writer had no creativity) left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores–among other locations–the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later. It was the fastest time achieved by a commercial cablegram since the opening of the Pacific cable in 1900 by the Commercial Cable Company.

Voyager II

Voyager II

On August 20, 1977, a NASA rocket launched Voyager II, an unmanned 1,820-pound spacecraft, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the first of two such crafts to be launched that year on a “Grand Tour” of the outer planets, organized to coincide with a rare alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Aboard Voyager II was a 12-inch copper phonograph record called “Sounds of Earth.” Intended as a kind of introductory time capsule, the record included greetings in 60 languages and scientific information about Earth and the human race, along with classical, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll music, nature sounds like thunder and surf, and recorded messages from President Jimmy Carter and other world leaders.

The brainchild of astronomer Carl Sagan, the record was sent with Voyager II and its twin craft, Voyager I–launched just two weeks later–in the faint hope that it might one day be discovered by extraterrestrial creatures. The record was sealed in an aluminum jacket that would keep it intact for 1 billion years, along with instructions on how to play the record, with a cartridge and needle provided.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan

More importantly, the two Voyager crafts were designed to explore the outer solar system and send information and photographs of the distant planets to Earth. Over the next 12 years, the mission proved a smashing success. After both crafts flew by Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager I went flying off towards the solar system’s edge while Voyager II visited Uranus, Neptune and finally Pluto in 1990 before sailing off to join its twin in the outer solar system.

Thanks to the Voyager program, NASA scientists gained a wealth of information about the outer planets, including close-up photographs of Saturn’s seven rings; evidence of active geysers and volcanoes exploding on some of the four planets’ 22 moons; winds of more than 1,500 mph on Neptune; and measurements of the magnetic fields on Uranus and Neptune. The two crafts are expected to continue sending data until 2020, or until their plutonium-based power sources run out. After that, they will continue to sail on through the galaxy for millions of years to come, barring some unexpected collision.

Communications ahead of their time seems so antiquated today.  At least in 1911 some teenager didn’t crash her Ford Model A because her frivolous communication with friends by text just can’t wait that long.

What Happened on August 19th – Old Ironsides

On August 19, 1812 during the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerrière in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shot merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. By the war’s end, “Old Ironsides” destroyed or captured seven more British ships. The success of the USS Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous boost in morale for the young American republic.

Thomas_Chambers_-_The_Constitution_and_the_Guerriere

  • The Constitution was one of six frigates that Congress requested be built in 1794 to help protect American merchant fleets from attacks by Barbary pirates and harassment by British and French forces.
  • Constructed in Boston, and the bolts fastening its timbers and copper sheathing were provided by the industrialist and patriot Paul Revere.
  • Launched on October 21, 1797, the Constitution was 204 feet long, displaced 2,200 tons, and was rated as a 44-gun frigate (although it often carried as many as 50 guns).
  • In July 1798 it was put to sea with a crew of 450 and cruised the West Indies, protecting U.S. shipping from French privateers.
  • In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered the American warship to the Mediterranean to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli. The vessel performed commendably during the conflict, and in 1805 a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on the Constitution‘s deck.
  • When war broke out with Britain in June 1812, the Constitution was commanded by Isaac Hull, who served as lieutenant on the ship during the Tripolitan War.
Captain Isaac Hull, USN (1773-1843) Portrait by Orlando S. Lagman

Captain Isaac Hull, USN (1773-1843) Portrait by Orlando S. Lagman

  • Scarcely a month later, on July 16, the Constitution encountered a squadron of five British ships off Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Finding itself surrounded, the Constitution was preparing to escape when suddenly the wind died. With both sides dead in the water and just out of gunnery range, a legendary slow-speed chase ensued. For 36 hours, the Constitution‘s crew kept their ship just ahead of the British by towing the frigate with rowboats and by tossing the ship’s anchor ahead of the ship and then reeling it in. At dawn on July 18, a breeze sprang, and the Constitution was far enough ahead of its pursuers to escape by sail.
  • One month later, on August 19, the Constitution caught the British warship Guerrière alone about 600 miles east of Boston. After considerable maneuvering, the Constitution delivered its first broadside, and for 20 minutes the American and British vessels bombarded each other in close and violent action. The British man-of-war was de-masted and rendered a wreck while the Constitution escaped with only minimal damage. The unexpected victory of Old Ironsides against a British frigate helped unite America behind the war effort and made Commander Hull a national hero. The Constitution went on to defeat or capture seven more British ships in the War of 1812 and ran the British blockade of Boston twice.
This painting captures the famous naval battle between the U.S.S. Constitution and the British ship Guerriere.

This painting captures the famous naval battle between the U.S.S. Constitution and the British ship Guerriere.

  • After the war, Old Ironsides served as the flagship of the navy’s Mediterranean squadron and in 1828 was laid up in Boston.
  • Two years later, the navy considered scrapping the Constitution, which had become unseaworthy, leading to an outcry of public support for preserving the famous warship.
  • The navy refurbished the Constitution, and it went on to serve as the flagship of the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Home squadrons. In 1844, the frigate left New York City on a global journey that included visits to numerous international ports as a goodwill agent of the United States. In the early 1850s, it served as flagship of the African Squadron and patrolled the West African coast looking for slave traders.
  • In 1855, the Constitution retired from active military service, but the famous vessel continued to serve the United States, first as a training ship and later as a touring national landmark.
USS Constitution sails in Boston Harbor to celebrate its success in the war of 1812

USS Constitution sails in Boston Harbor to celebrate its success in the war of 1812

  • Since 1934, it has been based at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. Over the years, Old Ironsides has enjoyed a number of restorations, the most recent of which was completed in 1997, allowing it to sail for the first time in 116 years. Today, the Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.
U.S.S. Constitution; Charlestown Navy Yard;

U.S.S. Constitution; Charlestown Navy Yard;

What Happened on August 18th – Ringo Starr Debuts with the Beatles

On August 18, 1962, Ringo Starr made his debut with The Beatles at the horticultural society Dance, Birkenhead, England, having had a two-hour rehearsal in preparation. This was the first appearance of The Beatles as the world would come to know them: John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

0816-ringo-starr

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – No Sleep Tonight

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

spf

The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below. With the link tool below, you can add your story as well as read all the amazing stories written by others.  This week I wrote a fictional story about the ancient origins of the proverb, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Credit: Al Forbes

Credit: Al Forbes

 No Sleep Tonight

“Papa why must we stay awake tonight?”

“Not you my innocent son. You could have no reason to fear the Sanshi and Ten-Tei.”

“Why must you not sleep?”

“Every 60 days we have the Kōshin-Machi.”

Seeing the puzzled look on his son’s face, Akito opened an ancient book to the story of the Three Wise Monkeys.

Showing Aguru the drawings, Akito began to read.

The Three Monkeys caused the Sanshi and Ten-Tei not to see, say or hear the bad deeds of a person. The Sanshi are three worms living in everyone’s body. The Sanshi keep track of the good deeds and particularly the bad deeds of the person they inhabit. Every 60 days, on the night called Kōshin-Machi, if the person sleeps, the Sanshi will leave the body and go to Ten-Tei, the Heavenly God, to report about the deeds of that person. Ten-Tei will then decide to punish bad people, making them ill, shortening their time alive, and in extreme cases putting an end to their lives. Those believers of Kōshin who have reason to fear will try to stay awake during Kōshin nights. This is the only way to prevent the Sanshi from leaving their body and reporting to Ten-Tei.

What Happened on August 17th – Carson’s Raiders

On August 17, 1942, Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson and a force of Marine raiders come ashore Makin Island, in the west Pacific Ocean, occupied by the Japanese.

battle_gilbert50

What began as a diversionary tactic almost ended in disaster for the Americans.

Two American submarines, the Argonaut and the Nautilus, approached Makin Island, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands, which had been seized by the Japanese on December 9, 1941. The subs unloaded 122 Marines, one of two new raider battalions. Their leader was Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, a former lecturer on post-revolutionary China. Their mission was to assault the Japanese-occupied Makin Island as a diversionary tactic, keeping the Japanese troops “busy” so they would not be able to reinforce troops currently under assault by Americans on Guadalcanal Island.

Makin012

Carlson’s “Raiders” landed quietly, unobserved, coming ashore on inflatable rafts powered by outboard motors.

.. 18 men from B Company—totaling 121 troops—were embarked aboard the submarine Argonaut and the remainder of B Company—totaling 90 men—aboard Nautilus.

.. 18 men from B Company—totaling 121 troops—were embarked aboard the submarine Argonaut and the remainder of B Company—totaling 90 men—aboard Nautilus.

Suddenly, one of the Marines’ rifles went off, alerting the Japanese, who unleashed enormous firepower: grenades, flamethrowers, and machine guns. The subs gave some cover by firing their deck guns, but by night the Marines had to begin withdrawing from the island. Some Marines drowned when their rafts overturned; about 100 made it back to the subs. Carlson and a handful of his men stayed behind to sabotage a Japanese gas dump and to seize documents. They then made for the submarines too. When all was said and done, seven Marines drowned, 14 were killed by Japanese gunfire, and nine were captured and beheaded.

Makin-Raid

Carlson went on to fight with the U.S. forces on Guadalcanal. He was a source of controversy; having been sent as a U.S. observer with Mao’s Army in 1937, he developed a great respect for the “spiritual strength” of the communist forces and even advocated their guerrilla-style tactics. He remained an avid fan of the Chinese communists even after the war.

My post from one year ago today: Michael Phelps

Flash Frenzy Round 31: The Bicycle Mission

Submitted for Flash Frenzy Round 31

355 words exclusive of title.

photo courtesy of TheShakes72

photo courtesy of TheShakes72

The Bicycle Mission

Like many in New Orleans, Maria and her son, Jimmy lost everything. When the floodwaters finally receded, their home was gone. There was nothing but debris lying along the banks of the Mississippi and Maria saw many of their belongings lying in ruin amongst the rest. As they moved along, Maria tried to hide her feelings in front of her son. He was only five years old. He didn’t know what it was all about but he could sense things in his mother and he certainly was scared during Hurricane Katrina when the floods came.

“Mama. There it is. There’s my bicycle,” cried Jimmy.

“I am so sorry Jimmy. It’s gone. The floods have ruined the bicycle.”

“Fix it mama. Can’t you fix it mama?”

“I don’t think I can. It is too damaged.”

Jimmy began to cry and clung to his mother. Maria lifted him into her arms. He cried all the way back to the shelter and later continued to cry as he went to sleep on his cot. Maria sat up on her cot long after Jimmy slipped into a fitful sleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about the bicycle. To Maria, the bicycle had become a symbol of all their loss.

The next morning, Maria left Jimmy with another mother and returned to the place where they had seen the broken bicycle. She pulled it out of the dirt and looked around for the missing wheel and seat. She found the seat but after thirty minutes, there was no sign of the wheel. Tired and frustrated, Maria began to drag the bicycle back with her. About a block from the shelter she happened upon a drainage ditch where some children were playing. A small boy was playing with a bicycle wheel. Although he was disappointed, the boy gave up the wheel and ran off with his friends.

Maria walked the rest of the way back to the shelter. She had so much on her mind. There was so much to do to establish normal life for her little family but she now had a mission. Her son would ride that bicycle again.

#FFC52 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 33: The Blind Date

flash-fiction-badge1I am coming late to the game and more than fashionably late but I decided to participate in the 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge.  This weekly challenge is brought to us by Thain in Vain.

Challenge Guidelines

One flash fiction story a week under 500 words for 52 weeks. Stories must be under 500 words and contain the classic story elements: protagonist, obstacles or complications, and resolution. In essence, a beginning, middle, and end. Keep in mind that the limited length of flash fiction often demands some of these elements remain unwritten–only to be hinted at or implied. Get creative!

Tell the host you are participating by leaving a comment and the host will add your name or blog to the participant list.

Tell the world that you are participating by adding the challenge badge to your blog. Simply save the image to your desktop and upload.

Flash Fiction Challenge – Prompt 33

Prompt: Open the book you are reading right now (or a favorite if you aren’t reading anything, oh, and shame on you!), turn to page 33 (or 33% on e-readers) and write a super flash fiction about the first proper noun (person, place or thing) on the page! Word count is 500 as usual, but feel free to use 33 as your word count for this week!!

I’m rising to the challenge from the novel, W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone Mystery) by Sue Grafton.  On page 33, the first proper noun is KEN.

The Blind Date

“Trust me. Mark ensures me that he has heard good things about Ken,” said Marla.

“I know you mean well, but none of these blind dates ever work out,” said Sharon.

“I don’t have a photograph to show you but he has relocated here from California. He has blond hair, blue eyes and still has a California tan. He’s an executive in plastics manufacturing. I believe he’s never been married but I think there had been a long-term relationship at one point.”

“Ok. If I agree to go out with this Ken, will you make this the last one even if it doesn’t work out?”

“It’s a deal but I have good feeling about this one. He’ll meet you at Club Cabana at 8 pm Friday for drinks.”

Marla and Sharon stepped off the elevator and left the office for the day.

__________

Friday evening, Sharon parked her car near Club Cabana and walked a short distance to the entrance. As she opened the door, she could hear the loud pounding music. Club Cabana was a new dance club in the city and the crowd was a sign that it was becoming a popular hotspot. Sharon looked around and then headed to the bar. She didn’t have a photograph of Ken but from Marla’s description, she spotted him sitting at the end of the bar.

“You must be Ken, I’m Sharon.”

“No but I sure wish I was Ken. Why don’t you forget about Ken and have a drink with Mike?”

Stepping back, Sharon said, “No thank you.”

From behind her she heard, “Sorry I’m late Sharon. It was hard to find parking.”

Sharon turned around and knew Marla was right about Ken being in plastic manufacturing. Standing before her was Barbie’s long-term boyfriend, Ken.

The World’s Outstanding Women (WOW): Coco Chanel

WOMENS-symbolThroughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways.  Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women.  There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them.  Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include?  I welcome your suggestions.  Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women?  Let me hear from you.

Today an outstanding woman from the world of fashion.  Meet Coco Chanel.

 

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

 

There is a lot of information about this icon of fashion.  Narrowing it for my post is going to be difficult.  With her trademark suits and little black dresses, fashion designer Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today.

Early Life

She was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel on August 19 1883 to an unmarried mother, Eugénie Jeanne Devolle who was a laundrywoman, in the charity hospital run by the Sisters of Providence (a poorhouse) in Saumur, France.  Coco had a sister, Julia who was one year older from the same father, Albert Chanel.  Albert was a itinerant street vendor who lived a nomadic life.  His family resided in rundown lodgings and he traveled to and from market towns.  He was persuaded by her family through payment to marry Jeanne in 1884.  Coco’s last name was misspelled, “Chasnel” in the registry at birth due to clerical error.  Eventually the family grew to five children (two boys and 3 girls) and they lived in a crowded one-room lodging in Brive-la-Gaillarde.

In 1895, when Gabrielle was 12, her mother died of bronchitis at the age of 31. Gabrielle’s father sent his two sons out to work as farm laborers and sent his three daughters to the Corrèze, in central France, to the convent of Aubazine, whose religious order, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary, was “founded to care for the poor and rejected, including running homes for abandoned and orphaned girls”.  It was a stark, frugal life, demanding strict discipline. At age eighteen, Chanel, too old to remain at Aubazine, went to live in a boarding house set aside for Catholic girls in the town of Moulins.

Later in life, Chanel retold the story of her childhood somewhat differently, including some more glamorous untruths.  One in particular that stuck was that when her mother died, her father sailed for America to seek his fortune and she was sent to live with two aunts. She also claimed to have been born a decade later than 1883 and that her mother had died when she was much younger than 12.

Her nickname came from another occupation entirely. During her brief career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.

Pioneer of Fashion

Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan who offered to help her start a millinery business in Paris.

Chanel in trousers with Étienne Balsan and Boy Capel

Chanel in trousers with Étienne Balsan and Boy Capel

She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.

Coco Chanel with her bf, Captain Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel.

Coco Chanel with her bf, Captain Arthur Edward “Boy” Capel.

Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats. She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes.

Gabrielle Dorziat modelling a Chanel hat, May 1912. Published in Les Modes.

Gabrielle Dorziat modelling a Chanel hat, May 1912. Published in Les Modes.

Her first taste of clothing success came from a dress she fashioned out of an old jersey on a chilly day. In response to the many people who asked about where she got the dress, she offered to make one for them.

“My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville,” she once told author Paul Morand.

hree jersey outfits by Chanel for March 1917

hree jersey outfits by Chanel for March 1917

 

In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

Coco Chanel 1920

Coco Chanel 1920

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

Ladies in Chanel Suits

Ladies in Chanel Suits

Probably the most famous Chanel suit was word by Jackie Kennedy.

Probably the most famous Chanel suit was worn by Jackie Kennedy.

 

Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for eveningwear.

Audrey Hepburn in the Chanel Little Black Dress

Audrey Hepburn in the Chanel Little Black Dress

In addition to fashion, Chanel was a popular figure in the Paris literary and artistic worlds. She designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and for Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée, and counted Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso among her friends. For a time, Chanel had a relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky.

Lovelife and Scandal

Another important romance for Chanel began in the 1920s. She met the wealthy duke of Westminster aboard his yacht around 1923, and the two started a decades-long relationship. In response to his marriage proposal, she reportedly said “There have been several Duchesses of Westminster—but there is only one Chanel!”

Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster und Coco Chanel

Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster und Coco Chanel

The international economic depression of the 1930s had a negative impact on her company, but it was the outbreak of World War II that led Chanel to close her business. She fired her workers and shut down her shops. During the German occupation of France, Chanel got involved with a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage. She got special permission to stay in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz. After the war ended, Chanel was interrogated by her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator. Some have wondered whether friend Winston Churchill worked behind the scenes on Chanel’s behalf.

Coco Chanel Hans Gunther von Dincklage Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage

Coco Chanel Hans Gunther von Dincklage Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage

While not officially charged, Chanel suffered in the court of public opinion. Some still viewed her relationship with a Nazi officer as a betrayal of her country. Chanel left Paris, spending some years in Switzerland in a sort of exile. She also lived at her country house in Roquebrune for a time.

coco-chanel-romantic-luxury-homes

At the age of 70, Chanel made a triumphant return to the fashion world. She first received scathing reviews from critics, but her feminine and easy-fitting designs soon won over shoppers around the world.

Coco-Chanel-a

Legacy

In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the book and lyrics for the show’s song while Andre Prévin composed the music. Cecil Beaton handled the set and costume design for the production. The show received seven Tony Award nominations, and Beaton won for Best Costume Design and René Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor.

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Hundreds crowded together at the Church of the Madeleine to bid farewell to the fashion icon. In tribute, many of the mourners wore Chanel suits.

13 Jan 1971, Paris, France --- Original caption: Models from the fashion house of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel attend funeral mass for the famed couturier at Madeleine Church, hear the heart of her clothes and perfume empire. Mlle. Chanel died at her Paris apartment January 10th. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

13 Jan 1971, Paris, France — Original caption: Models from the fashion house of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel attend funeral mass for the famed couturier at Madeleine Church, hear the heart of her clothes and perfume empire. Mlle. Chanel died at her Paris apartment January 10th. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

A little more than a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins at her company to continue the Chanel legacy. Today her namesake company continues to thrive and is believed to generate hundreds of millions in sales each year.

Gabrielle-Chanel

In addition to the longevity of her designs, Chanel’s life story continues to captivate people’s attention. There have been several biographies of the fashion revolutionary, including Chanel and Her World (2005) written by her friend Edmonde Charles-Roux.

In the recent television biopic, Coco Chanel (2008), Shirley MacLaine starred as the famous designer around the time of her 1954 career resurrection. The actress told WWD that she had long been interested in playing Chanel. “What’s wonderful about her is she’s not a straightforward, easy woman to understand.”

chanel-timeline