Page 5. " This was before kids of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. "
Milk carton
Public DomainMilk carton
In the 1980s, a campaign was started in the US to put pictures of missing children on the sides of milk cartons. The first child to be featured was 6-year-old Etan Patz, who went missing in 1979. Although he is still missing, the campaign did help thousands of other children to be found.
Page 5. " In my junior high yearbook I had a quote from a Spanish poet my sister had turned me on to, Juan Ramón Jiménez. "
Juan Ramón Jiménez on an old 2000 pesetas note
GNU Free Documentation LicenseJuan Ramón Jiménez on an old 2000 pesetas note - Credit: lu96

Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) was a Spanish poet and writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956. A transcript of his acceptance speech is available here.

As a young man, he wrote numerous erotic poems, many of them sexually explicit, but he also wrote on the themes of music and colour, and Andalucia where he was born. In 1914, Jiménez published Platero y yo, a prose story about a writer and his donkey. His work is popular and influential in Latin America, and the translations have also brought him some popularity in the USA.

 

  

Page 17. " Herman Jade is not Herman Jade's real name but one he adopted when he came to the U.S. from China. "
The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles - Credit: Geographer

The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act removed the national origin quotas that had been in place since 1921. These were introduced to restrict immigrants from certain countries, with the aim of maintaining the existing ethnic composition of the United States.

Initially, Asian immigrants were subject to prejudice and racism in America, but Chinese Americans now make up the largest percentage of Asian Americans and have successfully integrated into American society.

Page 21. " My mother had been the one who knew the meaning of each charm on my bracelet - where we had gotten it and why I liked it. "
Sterling silver charm bracelet, from TheCharmWorks
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumSterling silver charm bracelet, from TheCharmWorks - Credit: The Charm Works

Charm bracelets were fashionable in the 50s, 60s and 70s, when charms were often collected as a memory of a place or to mark certain events in the wearer's life. Since around 2000, there has been a significant resurgence in their popularity, especially in vintage styles.

 

  

Page 24. " Then she passes out Harper Lee as a reward. If Susie was carrying around To Kill a Mockingbird "

To Kill a Mockingbird is the only novel of American writer Harper Lee. Published in 1960, it is set in 1930s Alabama and offers a child's view of the race and class issues that blighted that society.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird on Book Drum

Page 25. " the box that held her perfect-condition Raggedy Ann and Andy that I'd envied. "

Raggedy Ann is a character created by American writer Johnny Gruelle. She appeared as a doll in 1915, then in the Raggedy Ann Stories book in 1918, and a sequel entitled Raggedy Andy Stories introduces her brother, Raggedy Andy, in 1920.