Luckily for the family, McGarrity doesn’t follow through with his plans to fire the kids after the baby is born because his business is suddenly booming. There are big changes going on in the country in 1916, and people need a public place to get together to discuss; those who aren’t rich enough to belong to clubs go their local bars. Francie hears the loud conversations as she works in the apartment above the bar.
Nobody seems to support prohibition (making alcohol illegal) or women's suffrage (giving women the right to vote), though automobiles and moving pictures (a.k.a. movies) are pretty popular. The general consensus is that airplanes are a silly passing phase, radios are super cool, and everyone's excited for electricity to come to the tenements soon. Folks have mixed emotions about the rise of machines and whether or not to enter World War I, but everyone agrees that the kids these days are pretty crazy with their dancing.
Francie listens to all of this and tries to make sense of everything. So much is changing in such a short period of time.