‘You can bring Pearl, she’s a darn nice girl, but don’t bring Lulu’ – The inspiration behind the title of the book

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November 9, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

In an earlier article ‘Welcome to The New World?!’ we mentioned this song ‘Don’t Bring Lulu’ as a reflection of the problems which greeted Ron, Doris, Sarah and Louise Onions when they arrived in America.

The song was written in 1925 by Billy Rose, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson.

America was living the golden life – the ‘boom’ period before the ‘bust’ of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the start of the Great Depression.

It is often believed that the character ‘Lulu’ was a flapper – a new awakening of females.  Someone who challenged the old ideals and old ways.

Let’s not wear a corset, long dress with long trailing hair, staying at home until a suitor came along to turn me into a wife….No.  They were the old days.

The Great War had shocked many people into accepting the harsh realities of life – many young men lost their lives fighting.  Women started working in munitions factories.  How then, after this mighty change to day-to-day life, could they go back to living the old lifestyle?

Flappers cut their hair short, wore short skirts, lots of makeup and engaged in alcohol, cigarettes, nightlife, no longer waiting for suitors but going out to flirt and be noticed.

A new ‘female’ was already being formed in the late 19th century.  Charles Dana Gibson was an illustrator who created the ‘ideal’ female – beautiful, tall, slender but with strength of character.

Part of this character was independence – no longer a fragile woman who needed to be cared for and kept in her place.  This new portrayal highlighted the idea that women were not objects to be claimed.

Although the ‘Gibson Girl’ was illustrated wearing the corsets, long dresses and long hair well-kept, these were still the clothes and styles of the time.  The difference was in the personality and stature.

The roaring 20s, however, caused controversy.  The flapper lifestyle sometimes overstepped the mark.  It is this side which is comically portrayed in the song ‘Don’t Bring Lulu’:

When you attend this party, you’ll be treated right, but
There’s a wild and wooly woman you boys can’t invite, now……

The invitation goes out but with it a warning.

Lulu always wants to do, what we boys don’t want her to,
When she struts her stuff around, London bridge is falling down,
You can bring cake or Porterhouse steak, but don’t bring Lulu.
Lulu gets blue and she goes cuckoo like the clock on the shelf,
She’s the kind of smartie who breaks up every party,

Although Louise Onions was by no means a flapper and by no way should it be interpreted as such, the song about a woman named Lulu (Louise’s shortened name) who causes a stir was appropriate when the Onions arrived in America.

Louise had trouble with immigration – her condition which classed her as requiring ‘special needs’ was enough reason for the guards to send her back to England (although fortunately this did not happen).

The rest of the family were welcomed with open arms – Louise’s condition, however, put her on the banned list.

You can bring Pearl, she’s a darn nice girl, but don’t bring Lulu.

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