- "Crossword puzzles became a way of life in the 1920s. Newspapers started adding them to increase circulation... Sales of dictionaries soared, and foot traffic in libraries increased dramatically. Clothes made with black-and-white checked fabric were the rage. The B&O Railroad put dictionaries on all of its mainline trains for crossword-crazy commuters." ~BUJBR
- "Another reason for the extraordinary success of crossword puzzles according to Columbia University professors of psychology H. E. Jones and Prescott Leeky, was the low cost of working them and, the professors added, "The puzzles appeal to the sex instinct in that they supply a new reason for social gatherings, of young particularly." ~Trivia on History of the Crossword Puzzle
- In the 1920s, as now, there were 2 schools of puzzle solution fans: those who grimly armed themselves with dictionaries, gazetteers, and classical Latin phrase books, and free souls "who'd sooner die in the flames than consult a reference book." ~Publishers Weekly
- "The crossword puzzle was America's favorite licit indoor activity in the days before television." ~Publishers Weekly
- "The Pennsylvania Railroad printed crosswords on the backs of menus in dining cars."
- "A New York man was arrested because he refused to leave a restaurant at its 2 a.m. closing time. The reason? He hadn’t finished solving his crossword puzzle."
- "Pickpockets in hotel lobbies, pretending to need help with a crossword, would steal a man’s wallet while he was examining the puzzle."
- Roaring Twenties: Fads The Charleston; 1st Miss America Pageant; Flagpole Sitting; Mah-Jongg; Crossword Puzzlel Book-of-the-Month Club; Time; Reader's Digest
- 1921: "The latest craze to strike libraries is the crossword puzzle....the puzzle 'fans' swarm to the dictionaries and encyclopedias so as to drive away readers and students who need these books in their daily work, can there be any doubt of the Library's duty to protect its legitimate readers?" ~New York Public Library
- 1922: Pearson's [1st UK magazine w/ crossword]
- 1924: Simon & Schuster found company to publish The Cross Word Puzzle Book; which came with a pencil and eraser; now, 258+ vols.
- "All ages, both sexes, highbrows and lowbrows, at all times and in all places, even in restaurants and in subways, pore over the diagrams...[A] sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport... [solvers] get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development." ~The New York Times (NYT)
- Crossword Mama You Puzzle Me (But Papa's Gonna Figure You Out) (song) (audio: 2:32); Will Shortz on NPR On the Media: Life Squared (interview; excerpts; 4:07-4:40;9:20-12:54); MayasMix @ 13:24; lyrics: "You treat me like an orphan in a storm / Crossword books won’t keep my tootsies warm.
Crossword Mama, you puzzle me / But Papa’s gonna figure you out.
Washington, he crossed the Delaware / Columbus crossed the ocean blue
If there’s any more crossing to be done / Papa’s gonna double-cross you..."
- Cross-word puzzle blues (song) (audio; 2:37)
- "Some folks were driven over the edge by the craze. A Chicago woman sued her husband for divorce, claiming 'he was so engrossed in solving crosswords that he didn’t have time to work.' The judge ordered the man to 'limit himself to 3 puzzles a day and devote the rest of his time to domestic duties.'" ~BUJBR
- Rotational symmetry was one of a number of crossword conventions established by the Amateur Crossword Puzzle League of America
- Daily Express [1st UK newspaper w/ crossword]
- 1925: Puzzles of 1925 (musical revue); crossword sanitarium scene: solvers who had lost their minds.
Since Ma's Gone Crazy Over Cross Word Puzzles (lyrics):
"The house has gone to ruin / Since all that Mother’s doin' / Is putting letters in the little squares
We live on canned tomatoes / And old cold boiled potatoes
No wonder when he comes home / Father swears"
- I've Got the Crossword Puzzle Blues (song) by D. J. Michaud and Marguerite A. Bruce; performed by jazz clarinettist Bob Fuller; "I'm feeling awfully down, and cross. ... I spend all day solving, but I still don't have a clue"
- Alice Solves the Puzzle (animated short Disney film)
- Cross-Words (Between Sweetie and Me) (song; 3:48);
"Sorrow has torn at my heart strings / I wonder who is to blame
My sweetie never has time for me / She's deep in love with a game
Crosswords have made me blue as can be, / Cross, crosswords between my sweetie and me,
She's been puzzling, don't seem to care / Whether I'm near her or taking the air
I'm jealous. How can I win sympathy? I'm hoping she'll soon need L-O-V-E.
Every night in our little home / We sit together, but I'm all alone.
She's so contrary / Her old dictionary and crosswords are sweeter than me."
- even more songs: Cross word papa you sure' do puzzle me; Cross-word puzzle of love; Cross words; Crosspuzz; Crossword (The) puzzle glide; Do you do cross-word puzzles; I'm a cross word puzzle fan; My cross-word puzzle girl; They're doing cross word puzzles now; Your cross-words are making me blue
- The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will (story; Lord Peter Wimsey) by Dorothy L. Sayers
- Puzzled by Crosswords (movie; comedy)
- Range of opinions: "This crossword craze will positively end by June!" and "The crossword puzzle is here to stay!" ~Time: The Press: Barometer (1/5/1925)
- "Fortunately, the question of whether the puzzles are beneficial or harmful is in no urgent need of an answer. The craze evidently is dying out fast and in a few months it will be forgotten." ~NYT
- "A New York Telephone Co. employee shot his wife when she wouldn’t help with a crossword puzzle." ~BUJBR
- (at right) 100-year old Ambrose Hines solving a puzzle in 1925
- Popular interest in the 1920s is shown by aids which were marketed to help puzzle-solvers. One was a crossword "finder," an indicator with a series of movable alphabets on paper strips which were supposed to aid in forming proper letter arrangements before they were written in the squares. The device allowed the trial of test words, "saving erasures and changes on the puzzle chart. The indicator, which can be carried in the pocket, does not require a pencil for marking and its construction permits as ready operation as a small adding machine." ~Popular Mechanics; March, 1925
- The main interest among fans in the 1920s was in the puzzle as an aid to language development. The literary intelligentsia including Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, and Ruth Hale, took up the puzzle and fed this interest. Arthur Maurice, former editor of The Bookman, claimed to have found 40 words which had grown unfamiliar through general mental laziness but were now resurrected due to the crossword puzzle craze. Maurice said, "It is the subtle restoration of these words, a direct result of the crossword puzzle, that is galvanizing casual talk into a new and healthy flexibility. A cathedral, for example, is no longer a blur of vague images. The picture has cleared with the rescued understanding of 'apse' and 'nave.'" ~The Literary Digest of June 6, 1925
- 1926: "A Budapest man committed suicide, leaving an explanation in the form of a crossword puzzle. (No one could solve it.)" ~BUJBR
- "Helen Keller did Braille crosswords and recommended them to the blind."
- "A woman who has small children and has to be in her home a great deal of the time needs something to make her think and use her mental faculties. Cross-wording is just the thing."
- 1929: "The cross-word puzzle, it seems, has gone the way of all fads." ~NYT