Page 26. " Bonnie, who introduced herself now as Bonaventure "

Saint Bonaventure (1221 - 1274) was an Italian theologian and philosopher, the seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and a Cardinal Bishop of Albano. There has been a St. Bonaventure Monastery at 1740 Mt. Elliot Avenue in Detroit, Michigan since 1882. The name Bonnie is derived from the Scottish word 'bonnie' meaning 'pretty' and is also a pet form of Bonita. Mary is probably named after the Virgin Mary, the name derived from Hebrew with various meanings including 'bitterness', 'beloved lady' or 'wished for child'. Saint Therese (1873 - 1897) became a French Carmelie nun at the age of 15 and despite dying of turberculosis at 24 became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. Saint Cecilia lived in the 2nd century AD and is the patron saint of musicians and Church music. Lux is a Latin word meaning 'light'.

Page 26. " The dress was vintage 1920s "

In the 1920s, also known as the Roaring Twenties, the United States (as well as European cultural capitals London and Paris) experienced a social, artistic and cultural boom in its return to economic 'normalcy' following World War I and before the onset of the Great Depression in 1929. In terms of fashion, the women's right movement meant the mid-1920s to the early 1930s was the period when women were first liberated from tight corsets and began to wear more freely-flowing skirts and trousers. Bridal wear from the period is characterised by the near shapelessness of the simple tube-like dresses in often pastel colours as well as white. At the beginning of the decade, dresses were ankle or mid-calf length, rising to knee-length between 1926 and 1928 (a period dominated by the flapper dress)before falling again.


Page 28. " Joe the Retard "

'Retard' is a now derogatory term for mental retardation, a generalised intellectual developmental disorder evident in childhood typically defined as an IQ score under 70. 'Retard' was originally used as a medical term but became a term with pejorative connotations and has been superseded by terms including 'special', 'challenged', 'intellectually disabled' and 'developmentally delayed'. Joe has Down's syndrome, a condition caused by an extra 21st chromosome named after John Langdon Down, the physician who first described the condition in 1866. Down's syndrome occurs both because of genetics and by pure chance, although older parents are more likely to have a child with the condition. The average IQ of individuals with Down's syndrome is 50 compared to 100 in the general population and the condition has some common physical manifestations. Intellectual capabilities and physical differences are still varied amongst individuals and in recent decades societal expectations of people with Down's syndrome has significantly increased. Individuals with the condition have a higher risk of other medical conditions (especially heart defects), which result in often decreased lifespans. Although the average lifespan in the United States in 2002 was 49 years, this is a significant increase from 25 years in 1980.

Page 29. " the monkeys have no tails in Sambo Wango "

"The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga" is a song that probably originates from the Spanish-American War (1898) or the Moro Rebellion (1899-1913), a conflict in the Philippines between Muslim Filipino revolutionary groups and the United States military. The song was particularly popular amongst United States soldiers in the Pacific during World War II and is the official regimental march of the 27th United States Infantry Regiment (rewritten as the "Wolfhound March"). The lyrics mention locations in the Philippines and mocks the country's plants, animals and people, and there has been some speculation that the 'monkeys with no tails' of the title was an offensive description of the Filipino people. Zamboanga is the 6th most populous city in the Phillipines and the name of a early 20th century province that contained it. Recorded versions include those by Abe Lyman (1939) and Harry McClintock (1950) and the song features in films including John Ford's They Were Expendable (1945) and Donovan's Reef (1963) and Frank Capra's A Hole In The Head (1959).

Page 32. " to look like a Book of Hours or a medieval Bible "

The Book of Hours was a popular Middle Ages Christian devotional book, mostly written in Latin. Each manuscript is unique, but contains similar collections of texts, prayers and psalms for lay people, especially women, divided into eight sections to be read at specific hours of the day. Advances in printing technology meant The Book of Hours became affordable for the middle-classes in the late 15th century, but was still often the only book an individual ever owned. Many versions of the Book of Hours were modestly decorated, others are notable for their illumination (the supplementation of the text with decorative initials, borders and miniature illustrations), especially with gold and silver. The standard medieval Bible in Western Europe, the Latin Vulgate, was also often elaborately illuminated.

More Information: A Hypertext Book of Hours

Page 32. " listing arrivals to the endangered species list "

An endangered species is a species at risk of becoming extinct, primarily due to human activities. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates 39% of all organisms are endangered.  The IUCN defines 'endangered species' as being a specific category between 'critically endangered' and 'vulnerable' species with a high risk of extinction in the near future. Most species become extinct without gaining legal protection. Endangered species laws are controversial and there are many obstacles, particularly from the petroleum, construction and logging industries.

More Information: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Page 32. " a profusion of colors and curlicues "

A curlicue in calligraphy is an ornamental swirl made with a pen to adorn text.

Page 32. " Candyland ladders and striped shamrocks "

Candyland is a racing board game that was the bestselling toy in the United States in the 1940s and remains popular. The game is based around a plot of finding the lost king of Candy Land. Each player has a token they move along a coloured path according to cards drawn. A card with a single coloured square moves a player to the next square of the corresponding colour, a card with two squares of the same colour moves a player to the second square of that colour and a character card moves the player to the square of that character.  The first to reach the end is the winner. The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover traditionally used for its medicinal properties and best known as a symbol of Ireland.


Page 33. " sit on the hood of Mr. Larson's Oldsmobile "

Oldsmobile was an American brand of car produced from 1897 to 2004, primarily by Detroit-based company General Motors. 14 million out of 35.2 million of the cars sold in its 107-year history were produced in Lansing, Michigan. The 1901 to 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first mass-produced car and Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American brand until its phasing out in 2004. Oldsmobile sales were particularly high in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Cutlass car being the top selling car in 1976 in the United States.

Page 34. " more dangerous to pull Cecilia off the barbed end than to leave it piercing her "

Penetrating trauma can damage vital internal organs and presents a risk of shock and infection. The speed at which the penetrating object meets human tissue is more important than its mass in determining how much damage is caused. Impaled objects are secured in place at the scene of an injury by medical practioners so that they do not move and cause greater injury and are removed in the operating theatre.

Page 34. " the haze of distant factories "

Downtown Detroit is a major centre of economy within the United States, especially within manufacturing industries. Detroit is known as the world autmobile centre and is headquarters to America's largest car companies: General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler. There are around 4,000 factories in the area. The Ford Motor Company played a crucial role during World War II, producing the B-24 Liberator at a rate of 650 per month in 1944.

Page 34. " sounds of the impoverished city we never visited "

The city of Detroit's crime levels have declined since the 1970s, but in 2007 it still had the sixth highest number of violent crimes among the twenty-five largest cities. The city has some of the highest levels of poverty in the United States. The influx of immigrants to Detroit during the first half of the 20th century along with economic and transport improvements following World War II led the wealthy, primarily white population to move to new suburbs in what was known as 'white flight'. Non-whites were actively prevented from moving to the suburbs in many states through legally sanctioned exclusionary covenants preventing them from obtaining mortgages or even purchasing property at all. In Detroit, the 12th Street Riot in 1967 contributed to this effect. A police raid on an unlicensed bar frequented by African-Americans stirred already existing social tensions and led to violent confrontations between the police and civilians, with 43 people killed, hundreds injured and several thousand buildings destroyed. Today the population of Detroit is over 80% black, while its suburbs are mostly white. To counteract racial tensions, Grosse Pointe Interfaith Center for Racial Justice was set up in 1967 and in March 1968, weeks before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at Grosse Pointe High School sponsored by the Human Rights Council.

Page 35. " The majority of dying had happened during the Second World War "

World War II was the deadliest recorded conflict, with an estimated 62 to 78 million deaths worldwide. In the United States, there were over 405,000 casualties, or around 416 per day of the conflict.

Page 35. " dads inspired by K rations "

K rations were food rations used by United States mobile troops during World War II. Designed in 1941, by Dr. Ancel Keys, a University of Minnesota physiologist, they were intended to be used for a maximum of 15 meals before supplementation or replacement with other rations. However, in practice their use was more widespread than this, and the K ration was criticised for the insufficient calories and vitamin content it provided to soldiers. The K ration came in a box with three inner boxes for breakfast, dinner and supper and included foods that could be preserved such as canned meat, cereal bars and biscuits, as well as cigarettes, toilet paper and chewing gum.

U.S. Army Rations - K rations


Page 35. " loneliness and glandular riot in malarial air into poetic revelries that ceased entirely once they got back home "

'Glandular riot' is an unusual phrase that also features in a J.H. Prynne poem titled "A Gold Ring Called Reluctance" as a commentary on consumerism: "the splintered / naming of wares creates targets for want / like a glandular riot, and thus want / is the most urgent condition (e.g. not / enough credit)." Born in 1936, Prynne is a poet associated with the 1960s and 1970s British Poetry Revival. His first collection of poetry appeared in 1962 and he still publishes work today. Prynne is a Life Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.


Page 35. " Their own parents, who spoke foreign languages "

The foreign-born grandparents of the young people in the novel would have been born in the late 19th or early 20th century. A quarter of the Detroit population has German heritage, stemming from the recruitment of them to farm land in the mid 19th century. Many retained their German language and culture into the 20th century. 1.5 million people from Michigan have Polish heritage from their 19th century immigration, 500,000 have Irish , 400,000 have Italian, and 150,000 are of Greek descent. The protagonist of Eugenides' second novel Middlesex (2002), as well as Eugenides himself, has Greek grandparents who arrive in Detroit from Asia Minor after fleeing the 1922 Greco-Turkish war.

Page 35. " who choked on a Bazooka Joe bubble gum "

Bazooka Joe was an eyepatch-wearing character from a comic strip featured inside pieces of Bazooka-branded bubblegum in the United States. The comics included child-orientated jokes, fortunes and advertisements for merchandise.

Page 35. " The cemetery workers' strike hit its sixth week the day she died "

No evidence online? Check book

Page 36. " Only one cemetery existed in our suburb, a drowsy field "

The only cemetery in Grosse Pointe is St. Paul's Cemetery, belonging to St. Paul's Catholic Church, on Lake Shore Road.

St. Paul's Cemetery Gravestone Slideshow

Page 36. " from Lutheran through Episcopalian "

Lutheranism and the Episcopal Church are denominations of Christianity. There are various Lutheran churches, but they all identify with the theology of the German reformer Martin Luther, associated with the launch of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Lutherans believe the Bible is accessible enough for believers to understand their Christian duties that members of the clergy are not required to explain the real meaning of the Bible. The Episcopal Church is a mainly United States-based denomination that broke away from the Church of England after the American Revolution because its clergy were required to pledge allegiance to the British monarch. The Episcopal Church defines its doctrine as the middleground between Protestantism and Catholicism, or a balance between scripture, tradition and reason, though there are many different positions held within the Church. Since the 1960s and 1970s the Episcopal Church has opposed the death penalty and supported civil rights.

Page 36. " contained three French Canadian fur trappers "

Fur trappers are people who make a living from trapping animals for their fur, a practice that continues in some places in the United States and Canada today. Fur trapping for trading purposes became common after settlers learnt the techniques from Native Americans during the colonisation of North America. Beavers were particularly hunted for their fur for coats and hats. Grosse Pointe's early settlers were French and arrived in the early 1700s to farm and fish. Many of Grosse Pointe's street names come from the French settlers who are buried in St. Paul's Cemetery.

Grosse Pointe Historical Society - The Legend of La Loup Garou

Page 37. " sound of the muezzin calling the people to prayer "

In Islam, a muezzin is the official who calls worshippers to the mosque for Friday services and the five daily times that Muslims pray.


Page 37. " still ritually slaughtered goats "

Dhabīḥah is the prescribed method of ritually slaughtering animals for consumption in Islam, involving the swift cutting of the jugular veins and carotid arteries of the neck. The slaughter must be performed by a mentally competent adult Muslim on a healthy animal on its own with a sharp knife kept away from the animal until the deed. The animal is given water to drink and is stood to face Mecca (the holiest meeting site in Islam). Some Muslims believe the name of God must be read prior to the slaughter. Camels, locusts, fish and most sea-life are not ritually slaughtered and pork is prohibited under Islamic dietary laws.

BBC - Religions - Islam: Animals


Page 37. " reminded him of photographs of Hiroshima "

Hiroshima is a Japanese city that was hit with a United States-conducted atomic bomb on the 6th August 1945. A nuclear weapon was also dropped on Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. This followed the Japanese government refusing to surrender after the Potsdam Declaration of July 1945. Within two to four months, 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki were killed. Around half these numbers died within the first day from burns and debris, but large numbers died from the effects of burns and radiation sickness. On the 15th August 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, ending the Pacific War and effectively World War II.

A Photo-Essay on the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Page 37. " GM bought out like twenty-five thousand Polacks to build this huge automotive plant "

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the residents of Poletown in Detroit, a predominately Polish neighbourhood, protested against the construction of the General Motors Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant. They were unsuccesful and the plant opened in 1985, unlike in The Virgin Suicides, where Eugenides describes the place as 'rubble' and 'weeds'. There were also probably only around 4,200 people relocated, and these events took place years after Cecilia's death.


Page 37. " final funerary rites of the Catholic Church except interment "

The final funerary rites of the Catholic Church honour the spirit of the deceased and provide support for the bereaved. The rites begin with the Vigil (or Wake), when the family of the person who has died pray for the deceased's soul, led by the priest. The body is then removed from the place of the Vigil to the church in a procession, with a cleric bearing a cross in front of the coffin and the priest directly behind. Upon leaving the Vigil, the Exsultabunt Domino is sung followed by the recitation of the psalm Miserere, and upon reaching the church the Exsultabunt Domino is repeated and the response Subvenite is recited when the body is placed in the middle of the church. After this, a cycle of prayers, the funeral Mass and absolution (prayers for the pardon of the dead to avoid languishing in purgatory) are performed. The Libera me, Domine is sung during the absolution while the priest sprinkles the coffin with holy water, while the In paradisum is sung while the body is carried from the church to the burial place. Although Cecilia's death is officially recorded as an 'accident', she may not have been interred because suicide is a serious sin for Catholics.

Page 40. " drinking fountain at Three Mile Park "

Three Mile Park is also known as Matthew C. Patterson park and is located at the bottom of Three Mile Drive in Grosse Pointe.

Page 40. " In addition to a zodiac mobile "

The zodiac is a ring of constellations divided into twelve that lay in the heavens on either side to the ecliptic (the path that the Sun appears to trace in the sky each year). The zodiac originates from Babylonian astronomy during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. Whereas the constellations are equally divided into signs in astrology to represent one twelfth of the full path, in reality the physical constellations are different sizes within the ecliptic and are drifting apart; for instance, Virgo takes up five times the ecliptic longitude of Scorpius. The Interntional Astronomical Union defined the modern constellation boundaries of the ecliptic in 1930, which includes a thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, between Scorpius and Sagittarius, first identified in Ptolemy's Almagest but not currently widely recognised.

Page 40. " collection of potent amethysts "

Amethyst is a violet-coloured stone often used in jewellery. The name is derived from the Ancient Greek ('not') and μέθυστος methustos ('intoxicated'). In Ancient Greece and Rome people wore amethyst and made drinking vessels from it because they believed amethyst protected against intoxication. In medieval Europe soldiers wore amulets made of amethysts in battle because they believed amethyst had healing properties.

Read about amethyst in ancient mythology.

Page 41. " a pack of Tarot cards "

The tarot is a set of cards (frequently 78) used by mystics and occultists since the late 18th century as a pathway to the spiritual world. They were first used to play card games in Europe in the 15th century, and the suits that comprise the tarot vary in design by region. The tarot is distinguished by a separate 21-card trump in addition to four main suits in the card set, as well as an extra card known as the Fool.

Page 41. " pages constituted a hieroglyphics of unreadable despair "

Hieroglyphs is a writing system used by ancient Egyptians comprising a combination of logographic and alphabetic elements. 'Hieroglyphic' is an adjective, but is often erroneously used as a noun instead of 'hieroglyph'.

Page 41. " 'Emotional instability,' he said, analyzing the handwriting. 'Look at the dots on these i's. All over the place.' "

Graphology is the pseudo-scientific analysis of handwriting in relation to psychology, controversial because many studies refute the idea that a person's mind can be linked to particular handwriting features. There are three approaches to graphology. Integrative graphology supposes that stroke structures relate to particular personality traits, holistic graphology profiles are constructed from form, movement, and space and symbolic analysis involves looking for symbols in handwriting.

Try an Online Handwriting Analysis Test


Page 44. " body counts from the evening war "

Over 58,000 American soldiers (2,654 from Michigan) died during the Vietnam War, which lasted between 1955 and 1975. The US government became involved as a means to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam, and US troop levels tripled in 1961 and 1962, with combat units deployed from 1965. Following the Tet Offensive of 1968, US ground forces were gradually withdrawn as part of Vietnamization, a policy designed to give an increasing role to South Vietnam troops.

Page 44. " the Illuminati, the Military-Industrial complex "

The Illuminati refers to a supposed underground conspiratorial organisation accused of secretly controlling world affairs in the modern world. The name comes from the historical Bavarian Illuminati, established in 1776. The Illuminati is a feature of numerous works in popular culture, perhaps most notably Dan Brown's 2000 novel Angels & Demons, which narrates an apparent Illuminati plot to blow up the Vatican and destroy the Catholic Church. The Military-industrial refers to the relationship between legislators, national armed forces and the industrial sector that supports them (generally in the United States).


Page 45. " It was always some soprano singing about marshes and dead roses "

Page 45. " comparing it as he did to the optimistic tunes of his own youth "

Although we do not know Mr. Lisbon's age, we can suppose that he was probably around his daughters' ages in the 1940s. Swing music was popular during the 1940s, but was slowly replaced in dominance by pop standards sung by crooners towards the end of the decade.

Page 45. " Lux's howling rock music "

In the film adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, Lux Lisbon protests successfully against her mother burning two Aerosmith LPs, but does not succeed in saving her LP of "Hotter Than Hell" by Kiss, released in 1974.

Page 45. " screech of Therese's ham radio "

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, is the licensed and private use of radio bands for non-commercial and often recreational exchange of messages. Amateur radio equipment power is restricted and operators are only allowed to communicate with other licensed operators. Around two million people in the world use ham radio.

Page 47. " anxiety over getting into an Ivy League college "

The Ivy League generally refers to a group of eight higher education institutions in the United States notable for their academic and often social exclusivity. The universities in the group are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania and Yale and the term 'Ivy League' originates from the athletic conference that the institutions participate in. The universities are all located in the Northeastern United States and all apart from Cornell (founded in 1865) were founded before the American Revolution. Following World War II, the universities widened their selection of students to focus on academic excellence. Cornell was the only Ivy League member to admit men and women from its founding, and Columbia was the last to become coeducational in 1983. The universities remain selective, with acceptance rates of between seven and 18 percent.


Page 48. " some of the Waspier types "

WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an informal and frequently derogatory term for an American social elite, generally of British (or more generally Northern European) descent with a Protestant background. WASPs are often associated with private school educations (leading to Ivy League universities) and inherited wealth. The first reported usage was by political scientist Andrew Hacker in 1957, but by this time it was already common terminology among sociologists.

Page 48. " used a quote from Walt Whitman "

Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) is one of the most influential poets in the American canon and is often called the father of free verse. He worked as a journalist, teacher, government clerk and as as volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman "America's poet... He is America." Whitman's influences are diverse, from the Beat movement of the 1950s and 1960s to Bram Stoker, who used Whitman as a model for the character Dracula. "All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, / and to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier" are the concluding lines to Whitman's poem "Song of Myself", first published in his collection Leaves of Grass in 1855.

Page 49. " talking about the bullpen "
Page 49. " wanted to trade Miller "
Page 50. " Double-play ball, Father "