Language and Cultural References

In this section, I have taken direct quotes from the script of Stage Door that reference events, people or places and provided images or brief context in order to better understand the world of the play.  The references are in chronological order by page number in the actor’s copy of the script.  I include the page number, the quote from which the reference is made, as well as photos or descriptions of the context for the reference.  When a character’s name is listed in my descriptions it will appear in bold lettering.

Pg. 8

Judith: “And one of my brothers slugged a railroad detective.”


Railroad detectives were primarily in charge of protecting property.  Railroad police were in demand more and more leading up to the 1940’s, as railway became a main mode of transportation for passengers as well as cargo.  These are images of what a railroad police may have looked like during the 1930’s (Miller and West 2013).


Madeleine: “Fellow from back home in Seattle.  He’s in the lumber business.  He’s here for a convention.”

Pickering Lumber Company was the most prevalent lumber company during this time.  Before the Depression, they had bought out the West Side Lumber Company and its railroad.  Once the Depression hit, Pickering Lumber Company was forced to close down until 1937 when they were awarded a Federal economic recovery aid loan.  Fred Powell and Lou Milhauser were most likely employed because of this initiative to restore the Pickering Lumber Company.

Pg. 15

  Louise: “Goodness, when I think that for two whole years he’s waited back there in Appleton, I guess I’m pretty lucky.”

One of the main streets in Appleton, Wisconsin:

Celebrate Appleton: Looking west at the intersection of College Avenue and Oneida Street, 1938. Courtesy of Outagamie County Historical Society 2005.019.001.A046 Andrew J. Mueller Collection.

Celebrate Appleton: Looking west at the intersection of College Avenue and Oneida Street, 1938. Courtesy of Outagamie County Historical Society 2005.019.001.A046 Andrew J. Mueller Collection.


The last photograph is of  a women’s bridge club in Appleton, Wisconsin during the 1930’s.  It said that they would meet and “eat treats.”  These are the type of women Louise references in her letter to the girls at the The Footlights Club on pg. 46 in the script (Appleton Post-Crescent).

Pg. 18

    Terry: “Those beautiful Nedick orange stands…”

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Fruit stands and vendors in New York.  Photos and captions provided by The Federal Writers’ Project in “New York Panorama: The Best of 1930’s New York.”

Pg. 20

     Devereaux: “Last month I played Emperor Jones…”

       Emperor Jones is a play written by Eugene O’Neill in 1920.  The central figure is an African-American man who has escaped from prison and sets up an empire on an island (Encyclopedia Britannica).  If Devereaux played the character of Brutus Jones then he most likely would have been in black face.


(“The African-American Mosaic”)

Sam: “I’m from Texas.  Houston Little Theatre.”

According to the Houston Lifestyles and Home Magazine, the Houston Little Theatre was known for putting on performances during the Great Depression to help raise money for the unemployed (Houston Lifestyles and Home Magazine).

The Houston Area Digital Archives includes an excerpt written by Bronson McDonald that states, “All productions [at the Houston Little Theatre] by amateur cast” and that, “Little Theatre sponsors dramatic art and fosters the ambitions of theatrically inclined amateurs.  Citizens, capitalists, civic leaders and interested philanthropists made its successful career possible by donations.  Active members are admitted regardless of social or financial standing (McDonald).”

Pg. 23

Olga: “I am rehearsing at the Winter Garden, if you want to walk down.”

The Winter Garden around 1937.

The Winter Garden around 1937 (Jeffers 2011).

Pg. 24

     Big Mary: “There’s the Cadillac again for Linda Shaw.”


An example from the General Motors archive of a convertible Cadillac sedan (General Motors 1998).

Pg. 28

 Terry: “I was eleven years old, and I saw it at the English’s Opera House in Indianapolis.”


The Opera House as provided from “Then and Now: English Hotel and Opera House, 120 Monument Circle” by Joan Hostetler.

This photograph was taken much earlier than the 1930’s but it gives a sense of the grandeur of the place.  This would have been Terry’s first experience in a theatre.

Pg. 35

       Little Mary: “Come on, let’s get some rarebit before it’s all gone.”

From looking at various cookbooks and recipe sites it looks as though rarebit is a Welsh recipe made up of flour, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beer, cheese, and other ingredients.  This makes up a cheesy paste that is typically eaten with toast (Brown 2011).

Pg. 43

       Jean: “All right, you stay here with your civilization, eating those stews and tapiocas they shove at us, toeing the mark in this female seminary, buying your clothes at Klein’s.”


Photo by Bernice Abbott in New York in the Thirties.

Located in Union Square, S. Klein was a major shopping destination for women of the time.  By the time Terry would be working there, it had developed into a large department store known for it’s bargain prices.  Klein’s carried everything from women’s clothing to furniture to pet supplies (Drew 2011).  Klein’s equivalent to today would most likely be Target; not quite as cheap as Walmart but also not the most “upscale.”


Pg. 46

     Judith: “…eighteen girls of the younger married set, three tables of bridge and one of mah jong, and two people just talked.”

Mah jong is a card game, originated in China and became popular during the 1930’s as people became interested in reviving old card games.  The game takes patience and practice in order to be mastered but so many people were playing it during this time that it would not have been difficult to learn the techniques.  Mah jong had important social factors because it allowed neighbors and friends to gather and share gossip.  This game was typically associated with it’s noisiness because of the tiles used in the game and the chatter that accompanied it (Cheng 1996).

Pg. 67

Keith: “Believe me, they’ll never catch me at their Trocaderos or their Brown Derbies.”

          The Trocadero and Brown Derby were a popular cafe and nightclub in West Hollywood during the 1930’s.  The Brown Derby was known to be incredibly exclusive with their guest list and always sought after among socialites of the time (Hollywood Brown Derby 2007).

Pg. 93

Judith: “Next month?  Oh, I spend November in the Catskills.  My hay fever.”

The Catskills started out as a place for people who wanted to escape the “unhealthy environment of tenement life” since it was easily accessible by railroad from New York City.  Eventually, people began settling there and it became a hot spot for a wide variety of people.  Many popular comedians and celebrities of the time created memories in the Catskills.  The Catskills are similar to the setting in the movie Dirty Dancing (Frommer 2001).


Compiled by Jenna Selby



“Appleton Post-Crescent.” Appleton Fox Cities, 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Brown, Alton. “Welsh Rarebit.” Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network. The Food Network, 2003. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

“Cadillac in the 1930’s-Gmphotostore.” Cadillac in the 1930’s-Gmphotostore. General Motors, 1998. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Cheng, Wai Ling. “The History of Mahjong.” History of Mahjong. American Studies, 1996. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Drew. “On the Square.” The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, 16 Dec. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Frommer, Myrna, and Harvey Frommer. Introduction. It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others Who Lived It. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. N. pag. Print.

“Hollywood Brown Derby Home Page.” Hollywood Brown Derby Home Page. The Original Hollywood Brown Derby, 2007. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Hostetler, Joan. “Then and Now: English Hotel and Opera House, 120 Monument Circle.” Historic Indianapolis All Things Indianapolis History RSS. Historic Indianapolis, 14 July 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

“Houston Lifestyles and Homes Magazine Sep 2009: Historic Houston.” Houston Lifestyles and Homes Magazine Sep 2009: Historic Houston. Fort Bend Publishing Group, Sept. 2009. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Jeffers, David. “SIFFBlog.” : Lost in The Talkies… N.p., 23 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

McCausland, Elizabeth. Changing New York. By Berenice Abbott. New York: Dover Publications, 1973. 50. Print.

McDonald, Bronson. “Houston Little Theatre.” :: WPA Maresh Files. D. Palmer, 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

“The African-American Mosaic.” WPA: (Library of Congress Exhibition). The Library of Congress, 23 July 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

“The Emperor Jones.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <>.

West, Matt, and Paul Miller. “Railroad Police Welcome.” Railroad Police Welcome. Union Pacific Railroad Police, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

The WPA Guide to New York City the Federal Writers’ Project Guide to 1930s New York : A Comprehensive Guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis : Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond. New York: Pantheon, 1982. Print.