Discover Hallockville!

No, Hallockville is not my new Facebook group—but, hey, that’s a good idea. It is a real museum farm that once belonged to my distant ancestors. Hallock is not my legal last name, but it was my middle name (before I married). It came to me from my paternal grandmother because it was her maiden name. My mother almost called me “Halley” for short, but then she worried that it would be too odd, and I would not like it. Now, of course, Halley (spelled many ways) is very popular. I would have been a trend-setter! Instead, I was called Jenny, like pretty much every other girl in the 1970s.

Hallockville Museum Farm family history of Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Peter Hallock (probably originally Peter Holyoke) was a Puritan escaping repression in England. He, along with other Pilgrims, came seeking a land where he could freely worship (and, ironically, force others to worship like him). He, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and so on all lived in what is now Long Island, which is where you will find Hallockville.

Hallockville Museum Farm family history of Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I missed the Country Fair this year, but I did order An Introduction to Hallockville to learn more about the family history, and I will be subscribing to the Hallock Family Connections newsletter! Stay tuned for me to dig up the dirt all on the Hallocks for you.

Hallockville Museum Farm family history of Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun series location #11: Manila Port

sugar-series-map-manila-with-port

Have you heard romantic stories of evenings strolling on the Luneta, once upon a time? Or racing along the Malecón? Did you wonder where these entertainments took place? Maybe all you know is the enormous port that eats up Manila’s shoreline. If you look at the 1902 map above, though, you will see that port is not there. Not yet.

Manila port expansion photo for Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Before 1908, a visitor’s steamship would anchor two miles offshore in the rough seas of Manila Bay. The passenger would transfer to a lighter, known as a casco, and ride with their luggage into the city this way:

[Della’s boat] pulled past a large fort flying the American flag and headed into the mouth of the Pasig, a river as wide as the Potomac but ten times as crowded. Bossy American steamers, lighters heavy with food and livestock, outrigger fishing boats, and single-man canoes fought upstream for a space at the north-side dock. Her boat won a place and tied up in front of a huge warehouse marked Produce Depot.

Hotel Oriente

Manila port expansion photo for Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

This original port was on the north shore of the Pasig: in front of the San Nicolas fire station and across the river from Fort Santiago. The Yankees did not like this casco system, though, because they thought it was dangerous and inefficient. Something had to be done, they said. Hence, one of the first major infrastructure projects of the new century was born. (The other from this time was the Benguet Road to Baguio.)

Manila port expansion map for Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Between 1903 and 1908, the Americans would add 200 acres to the shoreline through land reclamation. The breakwater was expanded, and numbered piers lined the bay. It was supposed to cost $2.15 million, and certainly no more than $3 million, but—as with all infrastructure boondoggles—it ran to $4 million before the construction was over. (That is $108.4 million in 2016 dollars.) Compared to Boston’s $24.3 billion for the Big Dig (a highway and tunnel project), you still might say that Manila port was a bargain. But before you believe this an example of American largesse, remember that all expenses of the Philippine Commission were paid from local tax revenues.

Manila port expansion photo for Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Moreover, the real cost would be paid by the Filipino families who used to enjoy a safe, leisurely promenade on the beach. At what expense, progress?

(This post was originally published on the outstanding website, Filipinas Nostalgia, where I will be a guest contributor. Photographs from the Philippine Photographs Digital Archive at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.)

This is the way we go back to school…

Well, my Year of Living Writerly is over, and it is time to go back to school. Before I do, I would like to preempt Thanksgiving with a few people and things that I am thankful for:

These are only a few of the full-length novels produced by this talented group. I recommend them all: Kristen Strassel, Jen Doyle, Stephanie Kay, Tamsen Parker, Teresa Noelle Roberts, and Alexa Rowan.
  • The Weare Area Writers Group who has been a think-tank of beta-readers for the upcoming Sugar Moon (along with Teresa Noelle Roberts, who read the earliest draft, bless her heart). I stumbled upon WAWG last summer at the beginning of my sabbatical. I had lived in Weare for five years at that point, but because my day job is in Massachusetts, I had not met many folks. WAWG has provided both wonderful feedback from talented writers, as well as strong friendships in my new hometown. I cannot thank them enough for both. The day I started WAWG, I was joined by another newbie, Connie Evans, who had a few chapters of her Pine Tree Riot novella drafted. A year later, before I left, she sold out (!) at our table at Weare Old Home Day!
Weare Area Writers Group and Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Check out all the published authors of WAWG: me (you’re here!), Marjorie Burke, Ellen H. Reed, and Connie Evans. And a huge thank you to the group’s founder and generous leader, Sharon Czarnecki! (She is tough to pin down online—smart woman—but she writes the biweekly reports found on the group’s Facebook page.)
  • Though farthest away from me geographically, the #romanceclass group in the Philippines is conveniently located right in my heart. Founded by Mina V. Esguerra (author of Iris After the Incident), this tight-knit group of authors: publishes books to well-deserved worldwide acclaim, organizes educational workshops for authors, puts on reading events with professional actors, started their own stock photo sales with Filipino models, produces a podcast, and even sponsors scholarships to local universities! Check it all out at their instagram account @romanceclassbooks! And they are so nice! They were amazing hosts during my jaunt to Manila. I was so thankful to have such a wonderful reception at my History Ever After talk at the Ayala Museum, where I released Tempting Hymn. I especially loved the swoons at my “inspiration” photos for hero Jonas Vanderburg and future hero Padre Andrés! In addition, I was able to be a part of the Romance Writers of the Philippines Steamy Panel at my old stomping grounds, Ayala Alabang Mall, and Ana Valenzuela wrote about my series in the Manila Bulletin! That shows you the reach of this group of authors—and how they support each other and their friends. I am so, so lucky that they let me tag along.
#romanceclass books for website of Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Just a few of the steamy romance reads offered by #romanceclass books. Do yourself a favor: check them out. They are some of the most emotionally-satisfying, feels-laden, creative contemporary romance around!

I am sure I will be updating this post with others to thank, but the day job calls. (This is going to happen a lot now.)

Just because I am going back to school, do not fear that I will not be writing or blogging. I have lots of good post ideas coming up, and Sugar Moon is fully underway in edits! But I have to head off to football preseason practice right now. See y’all later!

 

Jennifer Hallock’s Advice for New Teachers

With apologies to Better Off Dead (1985):

Teaching can be one of the most emotionally rewarding professions out there, which is why most teachers still scrape by on the low salary. (Notice that I did not say “accept the low salary” because I do not accept it. This country’s priorities are totally screwed up.)

The best part of the job is when your students tell you that you’ve made a positive difference in their lives. This may be an academic difference (you sparked a life-long interest in a subject) or a personal boost (you gave the support that he or she needed to deal with a tough problem). If you are a new teacher, trust me: both of these things will happen…eventually.

teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Why the teachers of my generation became teachers: we thought we would be like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

But do not shoot for popularity right out of the gate. In the teenage world, popularity is fleeting—and it is not handed out for the best of reasons. I mean, you have seen Breakfast Club or Mean Girlsright? (Or, my favorite, Heathers? It’s a little twisted.)

Respect means so much more than popularity. Even if a student does not like your subject, does not like his or her grade, or does not even like you, he or she might still respect what you do and how you do it. That will have to be enough.

The following is what I have learned in twenty-two years in the classroom:

[Note: These twenty-two years were all spent in college-prep high schools. This does not mean my advice cannot apply to a more general educational environment (whether continuing education, at-risk youth, or college). But it might not. I don’t know. Use your best judgment.]

Communication is more important than your credentials. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Kids will not judge you by where you went to college or graduate school, so take that silly pennant off the wall. In fact, the more impressive the name of the school you went to, the less they want to know about it. It reminds them too much of their own college stress.

They will not judge you by what you know, but by how well you explain what you know. That is one of your jobs as a teacher: to untangle, sort, classify, and construct digestible chunks of information for your students.

It is okay to be the adult in the room. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

There is nothing less cool than an adult trying to be cool. Kids want a captain at the helm of the ship. Not a Captain Ahab on a fanatical mission, or a cruel, by-the-book Captain Bligh—but a captain, nonetheless. You are asked to evaluate students—in a permanent, and sometimes public way—and they must trust your maturity, experience, and judgment to do so.

Discipline is best one-on-one. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

If you have to discipline a student, pull him or her aside and speak privately. Remember that students are learning how to be adults, so treat them how you want them to treat others.

Don't lose your temper. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Have a sense of humor. Even better, have patience. When you’ve lost your patience, you’ve lost the room.

Value your class time. If you do not, neither will your students. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Remember that the kids believe their time is valuable: every minute in class is a minute not learning another subject, not running on a field, not making friends, not flirting, not eating, and (most importantly) not sleeping. They have stuff to do, and to them none of this stuff is trivial. So, if they have to be in your class, make it count.

A lot of folks will give you the advice to “warm up” your class for five minutes by talking about their lives or the latest tv shows. Here’s my problem with this idea: by shaving off time here or there, you are teaching your students that class time is subjective. How can the first five minutes not be important when the remaining minutes are? Because you are the teacher and you say so? (This kind of specious reasoning does not fly in teenager-ville.)

I treat every minute of class time as valuable. When the bell rings, we get started. Yes, I tend to start by making announcements, which is a warm up of sorts. I might even talk about current events that are directly relevant to your class material. But I expect my students to pay attention. In fact, I expect them to pay attention all the way until the bell rings again. And, if I have time left over after my planned lesson is finished (ha!), I always have a backup activity or two that I can throw in: review, writing, upcoming prep, etc.

One caveat: if you teach longer than 50-minute class periods, I understand the need to break the class into two “sessions,” with a small break in the middle. But once the break is over, get back to it.

Value your students' time outside of class, too. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

If you have nothing of value for your students to read, write, or drill at night, do not give them make-work. My subject, history, is full of endless reading, but I never, ever, ever give students an assignment that I have not pre-read and pre-approved. If there is a middle section to that reading that is not valuable, or is boring, or is badly written, I cut it out or tell them to skim it. If you give students a bad assignment, they will no longer prioritize your work in the future. Teenagers are rational actors…sometimes.

While I do not teach classes that are pivotal to the college admissions process—I teach 9th grade, before they are applying, and 12th grade, as they’re sending in the forms—my students still do the homework in my class. They even claim to find it interesting. Are the Bhagavad Gita or Enuma Elish really relevant to their lives? (Well, they might be—the Gita, in particular. Its themes are timeless!) But I think my kids read this stuff because I give them pieces that are accessible, important, and interesting. (And challenging, too, but a reasonable challenge.)

Your energy will translate to them. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

As my former colleague and star teacher, Rachelle Sam, says: “Leave room for zest.” Students will find anything interesting if you can show them it is interesting. I teach world religions, and my students have a game going every year (which I do not encourage) about which tradition I call my own. They actually debate this question with each other, and almost every religion we study is in the mix. I hope that this means that I am treating each unit with equal enthusiasm and esteem.

teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
A scene from Teachers (1984), with Richard Mulligan as Herbert Gower, a “wandering mental institution outpatient mistaken for a substitute teacher and put in charge of a U.S. History class” (Wikipedia). His enthusiasm for the job was infectious.

Content is not king. (Or queen.) Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

One reason that energy is so important is that you are teaching students how to approach the material. They will remember how you tackled difficult problems, how you found answers to questions you did not know, and how much you truly enjoyed the journey. You are teaching them how to learn. That is far more important than content, which they will not remember so well in a few years. (Remembering it for the test is hard enough for many of them.)

Now, you might notice that I have said two seemingly contradictory things: (1) your job is to communicate content, but (2) they will not remember content. Both may be true, but that does not mean teach nothing at all. Students need to learn rigor and skills, but they can only do so by working with content. Hold them accountable for a reasonable amount of material—but know that in the medium and long term, they will remember you and the skills you taught them more than that stuff you talked about.

Build skills piece by piece. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Plan your assignments to build upon each other. Start with the most discrete building block of a skill, and then add to it in successive assessments. For example, before I ask students to write a 750-word essay, they need to be able to construct a proper thesis statement. Otherwise, what are they writing about?

This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised by how many veteran teachers just throw excrement at a wall to see what sticks. If you have not figured out what you are trying to accomplish in the classroom, that is your problem, not your students’. Do not ask kids to find meaning when you cannot.

Good organization covers a lot of sins. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I am ruthlessly organized. “Obsessive” has been bandied about. Fortunately, kids like an organized teacher.

For all my classes, students are given the syllabus for the entire term (or year!) on day one. They know what the plan is for today, what it is for tomorrow, next week, for exam prep, and so on. In this way, it is like a college course. I can do this because I have taught the same courses several times (ahem…dozens of times) in a row. But even by year two or three, I had a working syllabus going.

Why? It goes back to valuing kids’ time. They know that their back-to-back travel game nights are going to get busy, so they want to get ahead with the history reading. Guess what? They can! They have the syllabus in their notebooks and online. (Pro tip: I don’t date my syllabus. It’s Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. in order.)

Find a middle path between preparation and flexibility. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

As you can probably tell from the above advice, I over-prepare for every lesson, new or old. Even if I have taught the lesson 23 times, I still go over my notes. I reread most of the readings every time, too. (Admittedly, it’s a little easier when you are re-reading something that you have already annotated and highlighted. That’s a point I make to my students while teaching note-taking.) Reviewing everything is important: the material must be as fresh to you as it is to them. If your students know better than you what was included in the reading you assigned, then shame on you.

Now, let’s say you’ve put together the best lesson plan of all time. I mean, they should give you a Nobel Prize of Lesson Plans based on this thing, right? But you might still need to scrap it. Sometimes, you realize that the students are not ready for what you’ve prepared. Or, gulp, your technology fails you. Improvise. Be flexible. Figure it out. Think on the fly. Make those minutes count. Teach it a new way.

Set your expectations high. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

This matters in class and in your assessments. It is okay to be a tough teacher. You may think the “cool teachers” give everyone good grades, but here’s a secret: smart kids want to earn their grades. They want to achieve something they did not think previously possible. And they do not want to get the same grade as a kid who half-assed it. If you give everyone an A, they will know you do not respect their effort or their time.

Grade the assignment, not the student. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Never, ever, ever have “A students.” Every student comes into an assessment as a totally new individual. If a normally top kid turns in crappy work, then he or she gets a crappy grade. (If that student is truly capable, he or she will recover.)

All of this seems so obvious, but the biggest complaint that I hear from students is that a teacher has pegged them as an 82, and no matter how hard they work on something, they get essentially the same grade. This is a big problem in essay grading, which can be somewhat subjective. How can you be sure that you are grading the work fairly? Well…

Transparency and consistency matter most. Rubrics help. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I hate eduspeak acronyms and pedagogical platitudes. But I do like using good rubrics. Design your own. They keep you honest. Let me use an example from teaching history. Compare student A, who uses accurate, specific evidence in an essay, but she does not use it to prove a consistent argument; versus student B, who creates a brilliant thesis argument, but her evidence is thin. How do you grade these two against one another?

Already I have set up the question in an unfair way. Do not judge them against each other. That is not fair, nor is it a transparent standard. You cannot show the students each other’s essays as a basis for a grade. Not only is it a violation of privacy, it is a standard that did not exist when the original essay was being drafted. No one wants to be graded on a moving target.

By using a rubric, you will be giving students A and B concrete feedback on how to improve—the most important job of a teacher. You will be giving this feedback without even writing a word of commentary, too. (Though I recommend at least a few comments on every assignment.)

So, what’s the answer to the question: would student A or B score higher? Honestly, it would depend on the whole rubric picture. I cannot say for sure. Sorry. (See my analytical essay rubric, Essay Rubric Hallock Sample , for more information. Feel free to use any part of it you find helpful in your classroom.)

Grade the writing on the page. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

My rubrics do not have a category for effort. I evaluate tangible quality markers, like proofreading or following directions—but how can you really judge effort? On the student’s say-so? There are a lot of kids who work very, very hard, and they will never boast (or whine) about it.

Now, sometimes you meet with a student a lot, and you can see the hard-won improvement. Definitely, compliment the student on their determination, and tell the parents about it in the written comments home.

But if a student understood a task the first time around, should he or she be effectively punished? Or what if he or she worked very hard to develop good skills last year, and it has made their job this year easier? This is not golf; do not handicap them for proficiency.

You are always safe if you grade the work on the page. End of story.

Being kind is not always fair. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Kids ask for extensions, extra credit, extra points, more, more, more. Know that every advantage you give one student may be a disadvantage to another, so think through each case carefully. Every time a student asks me for something, I mentally prepare myself to say no while they are still speaking. I have said no a lot.

Your school will have procedures that make these decisions more straightforward: automatic extensions due to illness, the maximum number of tests a student can take in a day, and so on. And sometimes life happens—things beyond a kid’s control—and you give the extension because it is the right thing to do. But, before you do, imagine having to explain your choice to another student, one who did not get the extension. If the student who didn’t get the extra time would still agree with the fairness of the extension, then you’re good.

Fair. Consistent. Transparent. That’s the gold standard.

Rinse and repeat. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

There is one syllabus that I have taught for 12 years, three sections a day. You would think those kids would know it already, right?

No. Every class is new. Every year you have to start from zero. ZE-ro.

All that great teaching you did last year, when you took your kids from barely coherent paragraphs to brilliant cohesive essays? When they went from plot summary hell to analytical writing heaven? Well, those kids have gone on to delight another teacher, not you. And you get to go back to explaining that, yes, students really do need to write their answers in complete sentences because this is high school, for goodness sake!

As a teacher, your job is not to get smarter. I mean, you will. It happens. But your job is to make them smarter. That means sometimes you are going to be a little bored by stuff you already know. Suck it up, buttercup.

Let them talk. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

One of the best ways to make every year different is to let the students imprint their own curiosity, personality, and character on the class. Let them talk, as long as they talk to the group, not their neighbors.

Students ask great questions. Let them struggle with the material a bit. You will clear up their confusion in a minute or two. Let them invest themselves in the question first, and then help them find the answer. (And if you do not know the answer, be honest and say you will get back to them.)

Students also know a surprising amount of stuff from other teachers, books they have read, personal experience, and more. Let them learn from each other.

Activities that require the kids to participate—debates, games, simulations, labs, and more—are wonderful. I like to have my students do occasional seminars, in which I am not allowed to say a word for 30 minutes or more. I listen to them and evaluate how well they use the reading in their arguments and questions. These seminars tend to crystalize around critical issues that we would have never discussed had I merely lectured.

Be yourself. Teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Almost every piece of advice will boil down to this. When training intelligence officers, the CIA says that the best lie is one that is closest to the truth. You are less likely to be exposed this way. Well, kids are a suspicious lot: if you pretend to be something you are not, they will expose you like the KGB spymasters they are.

Moreover, assimilation is not a good exemplar. Most of your kids feel like misfits in one way or another, no matter how much confidence they project. (High school sucks, remember?) Let them see that adults, at least, are allowed to be themselves. Don’t rob them of this hope in the toughest time of their lives.

I am a history geek, and I embrace it. I am also oblivious to a lot of pop culture. The kids don’t care. I reach some kids more than others, but I am not the only teacher in the school. All of us as a team provide the support that the student body as a whole needs.

Relax. It gets easier. Meanwhile, have a life. teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Binge-watch Netflix on the weekends. Paint. Do jigsaw puzzles. Knit. Play rec league hockey. Form a fantasy football league. Write a book. (Or a whole historical romance series set in the American colonial Philippines. No, wait, I did that already.) You need something other than school to keep you human. You will do your job better if you value something other than your job. Sneaky logic, ain’t it?

teaching advice by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Did you pay attention? Jack Black in School of Rock.

I hope this post has been useful. I do not know why I am putting it on my romance author blog—but since this is my best platform, here it is. Also, I have noticed that a disproportional number of authors are also teachers. And if you say, “Those who cannot do, teach,” then you probably did not care to read this far to begin with. And I’m sticking my tongue out at you. So there.

Where Econ Geeks Go on Tour

Yes, there are economics geeks. Mr. Hallock and I are two of them. As international affairs majors, we were required to study two years of economics: macro, micro, international trade, and international finance. And each of us took a few additional electives. So when we decided to go up Mount Washington on the cog railway this week, it seemed silly not to go to the Omni Mount Washington Resort for a tour. Why? You might know the Omni better as Bretton Woods.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Still nothing? Maybe you know it for its skiing, which I have heard is incredible. But to me Bretton Woods will always mean the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference of 1944, which set up the Bretton Woods System and created the International Monetary Fund and part of the World Bank at the end of World War II.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Forty-four Allied nations came to northern New Hampshire to discuss how to stabilize postwar monetary systems. (It seems a little cocky to plan for your victory a year early, but the D-Day landings had just been a surprising success.) From the hotel tour guide, we learned that the international delegates and their subordinates were instructed not to bring their families. The hotel had just been bought by the US government after being thoroughly run down and maltreated by the founder’s heir. The government had “fixed” everything by painting it all white, even the Tiffany stained glass, but they were not ready to put up thousands of guests.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Yes, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was there, represented by Colonel Andres Soriano, a Spanish-Filipino industrialist who expanded San Miguel beer, founded Philippine Airlines, and served on General MacArthur’s staff during World War II. An interesting bit of trivia: he had been a Spanish citizen until the 1930s, when he officially became Filipino. After the war, he was also granted American citizenship.

Guess what? The delegates brought their families, of course. Of course! So the hotel employees had to sleep in tents and other temporary quarters to make room. There were originally only 230+ rooms in the Mount Washington Hotel because they had all been designed as huge suites, since the wealthy families of the Gilded Age stayed here for the whole season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. (These were the people who did not have their own “cottages” in Newport, of course.) Between 44 countries’ top delegates, their aides, and all their loved ones, the place was packed to the rafters.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Jen sitting at the table—and in one of the original chairs—of the Gold Room, where the Bretton Woods Agreement was signed.

But back to economics: the delegates agreed to peg the world’s currencies to the dollar, the only currency they considered a strong enough shore of value to hold true in the upcoming tough times. The US agreed to make the dollar convertible to gold at a standard rate of $35 an ounce. If you are looking for the moment when the United States became a global economic superpower, this would be it.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Check out this five dollar bill from 1950. Notice the promise to “pay to the bearer on demand”? Pull a five dollar bill out your pocket, if you have one. It doesn’t say that anymore. Also, the text in the top left corner promises that this bill is “redeemable in lawful money” at the Treasury or Federal Reserve. Um, yeah, not anymore.

Now, accounting for inflation, that peg price to gold is only about $485 an ounce in 2016 dollars, which is a third of today’s (8/25/17) spot price of $1300 an ounce. The US could not keep the dollar strong enough to hold its own against rising gold prices, especially during the economic crises of the late 60s and early 70s. In 1971 President Nixon announced that the US dollar would no longer be convertible to gold.

Republican William McKinley (left, from his own campaign poster) and Democrat William Jennings Bryan (right, in a critical Judge magazine cover). Both images found at Wikimedia Commons: McKinley’s poster and Judge‘s cover on “Cross of Gold.”.

This spelled the end of Bretton Woods and the gold standard. Whether or not you think this is a good thing, it is an interesting conclusion to the gold-bug-versus-silverite debate that dominated the election of 1896. If you were to travel back in time to the Gilded Age and announce this was where we would end up, they would laugh in your face and call you insane. US “greenbacks” are now fiat currency, backed only by the world’s faith in their value, nothing more. (And, well, petroleum, since members of the OPEC cartel agreed that oil would be bought and sold in dollars, starting in 1971. Convenient, eh?)

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

The monetary conference was not the only interesting part of the Bretton Woods tour. The Cave Grill in the basement used to be a speakeasy! They paid fourteen-year-old boys to keep a look out for cops. Supposedly, if the authorities arrived, you were supposed to throw your whiskey in the barrel, and it would be hidden in the floor. That never happened, apparently, because the cops never came.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington with Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Above all, Bretton Woods is a lovely place to lunch, which is exactly what Mr. Hallock and I did on this porch. What a view!