Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Enrico Caruso's first recording session in America was at Carnegie Hall in New York City Feb, 1, 1904

Label of the first pressing of Caruso's first session ...Released in 1904

As you can see it was a very costly record...$2.00 each or 20.00 for a dozen

Caruso's first recordings in the United States took place in Carnegie Hall on Feb. 1, 1904. The recording room was room #826.

It was near voice studios so it was problematic at best as they had to record around all the other studios teaching voice. As we know, not all singers were created quite the same...I am sure there were some real wailers there.

Caruso made one series of recordings at Carnegie Hall and then the studios were moved. Today few of the studios or even buildings in which the studios once were exist. Thanks to Isaac Stern Carnegie Hall will be here for a long time to come. So the next time you go to Carnegie Hall, remember that is was there that Caruso made his first American recordings.

Mexico outlawed slavery in the early 1830's, cut back on immigration, and put restrictions on aliens

Mexico in the 1830's was like Florida was in the 1950's till the 70's. People who had a past, had many troubles, losers, and those trying to start anew from the rubble of their past ran there like it was the second coming!

The problem with Mexico was they allowed all of these people (aliens) into their country...Then as time went on the Mexican government was not happy about so many crossing the border. They put restrictions on the illegal aliens...There were limits on how many could come. Then they outlawed slavery...They would not allow slaves to be brought across the border..

This outraged the illegal aliens who went on a rampage. This was what would become the battle of the Alamo!

They defeated the Mexicans after the mess of the Alamo, and created the country Texas.

The first President was Sam Houston, who came to Mexico a few years earlier, he was famous for being drunk more than anyone else.
This group of losers and rag tag people formed this country called Texas. It was not a very noble crowd.

Today I find an interesting mirror reversal with the massive influx of Mexicans to this country...Hopefully they will not fight us in their Alamo, but stranger things have happened. This is a history we don't speak of too often as it makes us look horrid..But this is the truth. Today this country has been stupidly lax on its borders. What will be the result is anyone's guess.

But it is interesting that slavery, and its ending led to much of the trouble in Mexico....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

One of the earliest exported records from the USA. Left America for New Zealand in 1901

This recording was made in the united States and was sent abroad to be sold in another country.
The export market in the United States in the field of recording was nil and barely existent. This record you see here was found in Wellington, New Zealand. I was able to get some of the history of it. It had been purchased in 1902 by settlers in New Zealand. It had lived its entire life in New Zealand save for the short time from when it was made in New Jersey, and then shipped to a very distant land. The back of the record has a label stating it was made in the USA.

This record was found with a Gramophone and Typewriter machine in Wellington in 2002. It had been a century that record had been bought and then bought again 100 years later. I guess the most interesting part of the jouney for this recording was..It came back to New Jersey where it had been produced in 1901. So I wanted to share with you one of the earliest export recordings, and one that has had one amazing journey.

If you think of it, this recording was made in a plant in Camden, New Jersey. Then put on a wagon. It was probably sent by ferry to Philadephia. There it would have been shipped to New York, or at least met a tramp steamer that was coming out of New York.
For what was probably several months it sailed around the world till it was received at the main port of Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington's port was a very active and a popular port. Then I am sure once again this record would have been loaded on a wagon and brought to a store or to the location of the person who had ordered and bought it.
In 2002 the very same record was found within 10 minutes walking distance to the port of Wellington...It was carefully packed and carried on to a plane at Wellinton airport. The wind was quite strong that day, which of course it often is in Wellington, but soon it was in the air...a few stops...and within 28 hours it was back in the country of its birth.
Today that record is 105 years old, and every now and then I will play it...I has history in what it is, but even more as to where it has been. It will be very much like the cylinder record of Theodore Roosevelt that is now on the Shuttle, the history of what it is and where it has been will be amazing!

Friday, November 24, 2006

The first Red Seal Records made in America by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1903

This is one of the records from the first recording session at Carnegie Hall in 1903 with Ada Crossley. She was not famous, but her greatest moment seems to have been the first to start this historic series.

The first of the famous Red Seal Recordings that would become world famous were made at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
The recording studio was in studio #826. It was set up in 1903 and the first artist to make recordings there was Ada Crossley. She was a contralto from Australia. She had a rather lackluster career. In fact her most important recordings were made in Carnegie Hall in 1903.

Although the Gramophone and Typewriter Company of England were the first to make Red Seals, the American versions made by the Victor Talking Machine Company would take the world by storm. By 1904 Enrico Caruso would visit studio #826 and make recordings. Some of the greatest voices in the history of singing would in the short space of a year make recordings there.

The recording studio was surrounded by voice studios. This made for some troubles for making records. Soon the studio would be moved to 5th Avenue in NYC.
But the first studio in America to make Red Seal recordings was in that temple of music ..Carnegie Hall on 57th Street in NYC.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nellie Melba (1861-1931) The first of the modern super divas I am sure others would use another word

This is from the book I was lucky to acquire which was autographed by Melba in Paris in 1925

Melba's autobiography face plate from which the above autograph came from...

The Melba Record..Came out in 1904 and was $5.00 for a one sided record. This was age of the operatic super star. She would record till 1926. But one should remember, she did not start recording till 1904 and she was 43 already. And she had another 22 years of a great career to follow. This special label was produced only for 2 years and is highly sought after today.

She was in a class all by herself. She was not Patti, but she was Melba! She would rule the operatic stage and several opera houses till her retirement in 1926. She was one of a kind and had many deserts named for her such as Peach Melba. She made her debut in the early 1880's when Caruso was around 8 years old and she would be singing for 5 years after he had left the stage.

Her voice was not as well suited to the acoustic recording horn as one would imagine. But we do get a slight shadow of the voice on these recordings.

There must have been something special with her to have such a devoted public for so long. Her career was as old as the Metropolitan Opera House at the time.

Covent Garden was her home base..It was there that she gave her farewell..After she thanked everyone...someone came to her and said she didn't thank the box office..she growled back "They bloody should have thanked me!!"

She was the first of the super divas...I always recall one time when her rival Louisa Tetrazzini was rehearsing at a hotel and Melba came in and heard and stated "Do you allow cats?"

That was Melba...Always the star, always in control...Tetrazzini sang at Covent Garden rarely, Melba saw to that...She was the law..She was Melba

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Francesco Tamagno 1850-1905...The first Otello and the first to record sections of it in 1903-04


A 1904 pressing of Tamagno's Morte d' Otello recorded in 1903. Note that it is number 899. Tamagno asked to have the number of his records sold listed so each record was numbered as to the sales of his records. So he would know what his royality would be...

He was very careful to his finance with his recording career..Sadly it was very short. But he was the original in the role created by Verdi. Also one of the first in the field of celebrity recording..

He was the first real star to make records that sold in large amounts.
Caruso's career proceeded his but Caruso was not a big name as of yet.

The recordings had been made in Tamagno's castle by the Gramophone and Typewriter Company in Italy.
He was not very healthy, and suffering from heart trouble. The end result was that all of the recordings were pitched down. To make it easier on him and his weak heart.

The recordings were very successful, even though the records cost $5.00!!!! In 1904 that was near a weeks pay! But as you can see on the record listed here, it is numbered 899. So, 899 people had paid $5.00 for one of his records.

His performance is quite good, specially when they are played at the right speed. It seems his recordings were recorded at around 65 to 68 RPM's...Sadly re recordings of his records were transferred at 78 RPM's making him sound weird...If played at the right speed you hear a very different voice. An older voice yes, but still a good voice.
His recording of Morte d' Otello is really quite an amazing performance.

The record that you see here is a Victor Talking Machine pressing from 1904. You will see that it is marked very loudly "IMPORTED"...On the top of the record is the conditions of the sale ,,That it could be sold in only north and south America. When he died in 1905, he was advertised as singing from the grave! His family made money from his recordings for years after that. One of the great successes of the early recording industry ...

The six worst Presidents in American history...Listing only those who have served in the past and are no longer in office.

I am of a belief that the Presidency has had some real losers...Lets look at them....

I am of the thought that Warren G. Harding is not the worst President, nor is Jimmy Carter..But both were pretty much the same..I think that Harding was a bit better than Carter... not too much but a bit....I hear all the time about Carter was on a "nuclear" sub so he must be smart. But do remember he couldn't even say the word on TV...Harding was no brain trust himself..But at least he could speak the language..

Both of them were about as poor as can be. Both had great peace programs..Hardings was on a more massive scale..But Carters was good too. But in both cases is about all that was good with them. It is interesting to see that their terms were so very much the same. Except there was more corruption in the Harding camp, and less intellectual prowess in the Carter one. Lastly Carter finished his term.

James Buchanan was pretty damn bad...Not terrible, but pretty bad. He was about the worst person one could have in the White House when the Civil War seemed like it may become a fact. He was very ineffective (i.e. a sandbag on a chair was as useful as he was)
I would guess that Franklin Pierce is about the worst we can go. Franklin Pierce was perhaps our best looking President..But he was drunk half the time...and when he was not drunk he was awful. He had a great personality, was charming, and had no real backbone. There fore he was very much like the Buchanan camp..Highly useless!!!
Both of these men Buchanan and Pierce allowed the civil war pot to bubble over and they really didn't do anything...All of their mistakes and errors were put on to Lincoln's lap! They are the worst of all.

U.S. Grant was pretty much a disaster as well...Personally he was honest, forthright and good. But he had a very bad sense of understanding other peoples intentions and honesty. He was very much taken advantage of by what he thought were his friends...He left the office personally untouched by the awful crowd he was mixed up in..But once out of office, it was good he was gone.

Old Zack Taylor well he should have never have been President....He was useless in many respects, although he was willing to stand up to southern threats...We will never know what might have happened, or if a Civil War would have taken place during his watch...All I can say is that if a Civil War had to happen it is good it happened when Lincoln was there. I do not believe the country would have survived in 1850, under Taylor, It was just too much beyond him.

Taylors his replacement wasn't much better. Millard Fillmore looked nice..Not too much more can be said..save for he signed the compromise of 1850..Putting the civil war off for another 10 years. He was a great intellectual, but not a leader...He did have the sense to sign the compromise, as it solved the issue for but a moment...

Once again it was not yet time for such a war and Fillmore was not a person who would have been a great leader to do so...

So there is a batch of the really poor Presidents..They tried I am sure, but failed terribly.

These I would say are the six worse so far...They fall under the heading of pretty sad...I am sure as time goes on we will add to the list.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Enrico Caruso on steroids ......... The new CD's of him with the Vienna Radio Symphony orchestra 2000-2004

I have been listening to Caruso's voice since 1971.

I first heard his voice on a Victor Red Seal Record in a theater. A friend had found it and we put it on a record player. It was a piece called Garibaldi's Hymn
...As his voice echoed through the theater we listened to its amazing power and thought that this record had been made by a horn or better said acoustically. I was hooked...I searched out and eventually had over 200 single sided recordings of Caruso.
I also always had a Victrola to play them on. Later on in life I finally got a good outside horn machine and really got a good sense of Caruso's amazing voice.

The Orchestras that played with him on the recordings made after 1906 were weak and lifeless at best...Sounding sometimes like a ill set group of performers.
But this was not the case...The Victor Orchestra was a very fine group of musicians hampered by a very primitive recording system that removed overtones and reduced wonderful sounding instruments to sound like tin horns at times.
Not to mention Stroh Violins and tuba were always part of the orchestral makeup which added to the surreal quality of the orchestra.

His voice always came through wonderfully. But there was always something missing. The sound of a live performance. It just was not possible with 1910 equipment. You lost the crisp sound of life...and you were given a shadow of what went into the recording horn.

Enrico Caruso died in 1921...He died a number of years before Electrical recording with microphones became a possibility. So we are left with what he did acousically. It is quite a batch.
After his death there were many attempts to "MODERNIZE" Caruso...All mostly with the same result..They sound odd.

The 1930's the RCA Victor Company who was the heir to the Caruso masters tried to add a modern orchestra to the old voice with mixed results. It was difficult to follow at times and there are places that the new Orchestra is not where it should be in relation to the singer.
Nathaniel Shilkret was the conductor on many of them and they were a noble attempt to bring Caruso into the electrical age....

In the 1950's RCA again put out a new Caruso retread on LP a 4 record set of the best of Caruso selected by Francis Robinson...A Caruso lover of great importance as he was the Asst. Manager of the Metropolitan Opera House.

The new Caruso sounded like he was just put into a Marble bathroom and echoes were there big time....They did some enhancing of original recordings so they sounded better for 1950's ears. Both Caruso and orchestra were super charged and sang performed for millions from their marble bathroom....

That was the norm till the 1970's When the Soundstream process was started by RCA . This was the first Computer system to make Caruso sound like he was...The result was that the original recordings sounded better....

In the 1990's there have been some very good re-recordings of Caruso going back to basics. Ward Martison has done a a great job of transferring the original Caruso's to CD and giving them a sense of presence that was not even noticeable from the originals....

I thought this would be it.....Now over the last 6 years There have been a few CD's put out by the Vienna Radio Symphony orchestra...Playing along with Caruso. If the idea of an acoustic recording playing with a modern symphony sounds odd...you are right.

But being that I love Caruso's voice I had to buy them all.....I have to admit that many of them sound like a modern orchestra playing with a singer who sounds like he is singing through a garden hose. 60% of the recordings of this series sound this way. Now for the other 40%

35% of the rest sound pretty good and are enjoyable to listen too....

5% are absolutly so damn good it is incredible....I want to almost swear they dug him up and propped him up and somehow electrified that voice to life.....Sadly it is only on a few of the recordings....But those few make it all worth while.

I have transferred a few recordings from the 3 releases and put together my batch of great recordings they did.....Two of the great ones in my book are La Juive and A Vuchella ..The Vuchella song is simply amazing...

So now we have Caruso in this form and on steroids it seems...What will be next??

My suggestion would be to find some voices like his and and find the overtone pattern... And add that variable to the equation ....Perhaps that would add to the quality of the voice.

I guess it would be a bit of Jurassic Park with Caruso perhaps..but an interesting experiment indeed. Then take his reconstructed voice and use a modern orchestra....I am sure someone will try something like that someday.

Till then I will enjoy Caruso over my 1905 gramophone, my record player, and my CD player...All three have their qualities....and I can hardly wait to see what will be next!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Marconi Velvet Tone Record ..One of the great flops of the recording industry...It missed the boat on everything including Mr. Marconi's hair!!!

Marconi on the first label of his record without his hairpiece.

A fully haired Marconi was on the second label. It did not matter the record was still a disaster.

The Marconi Velvet Tone Record Of 1907 and only 1907!

In 1906 the Columbia Graphophone Company announced that it had hired the Inventor of the “wireless” Guglielmo Marconi to invent a new type of recording for the company. A number of grand dinners and celebrations were staged to promote the great work Marconi was anticipated to accomplish.

The records that Marconi would design were quite unique for the time in that they were disc shaped and made of a vinyl like substance and were flexible and unbreakable.
But, the product had immediate problems. The records were not cheap at seventy five cents, in those days and in addition required a special needle that would only play Marconi Velvet Tone records at a cost of twenty five cents more.

What became troubling to the consumer in that era was that these needles could not be reused after being removed from phonograph’s re-producer. Therefore the new system was nearly doomed before it could capture the fancy of the public.
Basically, the technology was inconsistent and not adaptable to the standards of the recording industry at the time.

Therefore the Columbia Graphophone Company had to return to producing the standard shellac record and the Marconi record was quietly abandoned. Mr. Marconi from that time on just focused on Wireless.

There was a humorous anecdote to this story. When the vinyl records were first released they used a picture of Marconi without his hair piece on the label. Marconi expressed his displeasure with the oversight (ie. He had a cow!!) and immediately a new label was released with his hair piece in place.
Sadly hairpiece or not the records were a big consumer flop although they did set the stage for change to come.

It would be many years before a flexible unbreakable record would make its re-appearance in the music marketplace and that would be in the wake of World War II.
This episode is a reminder that in the field of invention, what may fail or be rejected at one point in time, may end up a success at a future point in time.

Spending an evening with Doctor Robert Atkins ..December 1, 1998

On December 1, 1998 I had the chance to meet Doctor Robert Atkins.

He was quite charming. I enjoyed his comments. He gave a lecture on eating and diet. I was in charge of setting up his lecture at the time. So I met him and enjoyed some nice conversation.
He was quite nice to me and wrote this autograph to me.

We had a cup of coffee together and talked on and on...It was a great December 1st.....I thank him for his kind words. Those words I share with you.

I think it is time for me to use his diet again....I want to loose 25 pounds....

Well thank you Dr.Atkins for also for a great Dec. 1st......I want to be in better shape by December 1st!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Edison's last breath....Does it really exist in the Henry Ford Museum???

This is not a joke. You can go to the Henry Ford Museum and see Thomas Edison's last breath in a sealed test tube. Yes you can see it! But is it real?
I am fortunate to have known one of the people who was in that room that night that Edison died, his youngest son Theodore. I asked about that and he said it was nonsense.
Let's think about this...Edison is dying, he is producing a death rattle, and Charles Edison at Henry Ford's request holds a test tube over his fathers mouth as he breaths his last.... capturing the soul and essence of Thomas Edison.

Can you imagine such a scene? Can see Charles Edison straddling his father chest to get one more good gasp out of him...What absolute rubbish!!

Here is the real story.....After Thomas Edison died Charles Edison, who was always the political one of the family, and who also knew it would have media attention...had several test tubes that were in the room that Edison died in sealed to capture the essence of Thomas Edison. This was not done just as Edison died, it was done as an after thought.
Well, it captured the essence of everyone else in the room too!!!

So there is no truth to the last breath....But to this day you can go to the Henry Ford Museum and see Thomas Edison's last breath captured in a test tube.

Oh I heard, that historians from several museums listed how many last breath test tubes exist...I think there are around 150 to 200 of them!!!! I love good real history!!! But this is just so ridiculous I had to write about it! We all need a laugh now and then.....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

King Tutankhamun A few pictures and information that will help you understand the following story in this blog

The face of Tut as done by experts looking at his skull.

Tut as he looks today

Another recreation of Tut by another expert

The incredible death mask of Tutankhamun

Tut's head as photographed by the Carter team

Lord Carnarvon ...The benefactor who was behind Carters work for 6 years. He was able with Carter to sneak into the tomb the day it was first opened...The fact that this was done was hidden to historians for years.

Howard Carter who was the discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun. He will forever be linked to the boy king...He is seen hear looking and working on the golden coffin of the king.

Lastly the body of the King Tutankhamun. The sad part was that the only Egyptian king found in his tomb was perhaps the poorest prepared body of them all. There was little left of him. He is in no where near the condition of Ramesses the second or Seti the first. The parts of him that survived where so preserved because they were concealed in gold. Therefore his head and neck, fingers, toes, penis were preserved best.

The next story in this blog will have a full account of the search and discovery of the tomb and the unknown story of the entering of the tomb by Carter, Carnarvon, and Lady Evelyn.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tutankhamun....What really happened when they opened his tomb??????

On November 26, 1922 Howard Carter opened a small hole in the doorway of Tut's tomb....As everyone waited to hear what he saw. Lord Carnarvon and his daughter were waiting behind him and asked...."Do you see anything?" "Yes wonderful things" replied Carter.....That is the story...That is all that is to have happened that day....

But there is much more.....Now for a little more of the real story.

There was a quest to find the tomb of the lost pharaoh Tutankhamun, Howard Carter believed that the tomb did exist. His patron and benefactor Lord Carnarvon was getting tired of the search which Carter had been doing since the beginnings of the great war. It was decided that 1922 would be the last year of support. Carnarvon was of the opinion that the tomb just did not exist.

Theodore Davis had worked the area before that time and announced that the Valley of the Kings was exhausted...Carter was not of that opinion.

Howard Carter was the last of the great Egyptian adventurers..He was like Giovanni Belzoni who was first a circus strong man before becoming an Egyptian explorer...Carter was quite a few steps above Belzoni but was still not trained . Scholarship was not his Forte, and he was more interested in the digging the search, the hunt as it was. Today it is a very different world. But in 1922 it was still somewhat like that......But he was indeed quite professional

Now Carter was convinced that Theodore Davis had missed the tomb...Although Davis had found a pit with some artifacts from the funeral of Tut, he felt that the tomb had been plundered in antiquity....

Now knowing that this would be his last year being funded by Carnarvon he was trying harder to find the tomb and looked in a few areas that he had looked earlier ...He found in his maps a few areas and then he had his men start their digging...

It was in the area of the builders huts to the tomb of Ramesses VI

It seemed they had just started in this new area and suddenly the workers were all excited . They had found a cut step in the sand! Digging further they found more steps...It was time for Carter to contact Carnarvon....

Nov. 6, 1922

At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley; a magnificent tomb with seals intact; recovered same for your arrival. Congratulations.

On November 23, 1922 Lord Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert arrived in Luxor on the train with Howard Carter. They made the journey from there to the Valley of the Kings..It took quite a while. It was not till the 24th that they were ready to open the door to the tomb. As they prepared there was more junk taken out of the pathway and for the first time could be see the seals of Tutankhamun.

They were astounded. The impossible had happened! At least they thought it had. But Carter had his doubts. He felt that it might just be cache filled with god knows what that was left after the tomb was robbed. There were pieces of pottery all over in the pathway to the door with cartouches of Tutankhamun, Thutmose III, and Amenhotep III.

Both of those Kings ruled before Tut. So Carter was worried that once again it would be a bust. His heart grew heavy over it all as it had happened many times before.

On the 25th They removed the door that was covered with all the seals in the presence of all. Carter carefully detailed all the information. Also was very careful to point out that the door seemed to have been resealed 2 times. Behind the door they were surprised to find it completely filled with chopped flint. It seemed to go down in a slow angle and seemed to be about 20 feet long.

It took the entire day to remove all of the rubble. Also there was evidence of a previous break in. It was early in the afternoon when at 30 feet another door was found. Almost a replica of the first.one..

They all at this point were of the opinion that this was not a tomb but a deposit area. They were not at all happy about the situation. But finally the door was cleared and Carter took and iron bar and made a small hole in the upper left hand corner.

Carter wrote later in what must have been one of the greatest if not the greatest moment in Archaeological history.

"I inserted the candle and peered in, Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, and Callender standing anxiously beside me to hear the verdict. At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment an eternity it must have been to the others standing by - I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon , unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, "Can you see anything?" it was all I could do to get out the words "Yes, wonderful things." Then widening the hole a little further so that both could see, we inserted an electric torch."

That was Carter's account of that first moment on the 26th of November 1922.It was all a lie.

It is stated by Carter that all was resealed and refilled and left...But that is not true. Do to great research by Thomas Hoving much more information comes to our attention.

Carter referred to it as a sleepless night as they were all so excited by what they had saw...But in truth they took away much of the door and broke into the tomb themselves. They went through most of the tomb even into the burial chamber. They moved pots and flowers and garlands to cover their dirty work...It was at this time they probably pocketed a few items from the tomb.

It must have been amazing, being the first humans in such a place for 3 thousand years..It was their special night of memories and one they would not share with history directly...They must have spent hours of the night in there.

What they moved or what the robbers in antiquity moved will never be known. What is known is that they broke into sealed chambers and covered up their handiwork ...

One cannot blame them...If I was there I would have wanted to go in...Wouldn't you?

In fact I envy them, I would have loved to have seen such a scene which most probably will never be seen again..

To share the very air with the ancients of the past....One gets chills just thinking about it.

So the Party went on for hours as they dug around and moved everything and finally made their exit. I am happy that Lord Carnarvon did get to see the inside of the tomb for in a short while he would die. Not due to any curse but due to an infected insect bite.
As for the others they lived on for many years..Carter worked on the tomb for 10 years. He was the last of the great romantic adventurers in Egypt..After Carter it would be the acedemic crowd....

But the greatest moment ever had past...Today and perhaps for all human memory the names of Carter, Carnarvon and Tutankhamun forever will be linked...each gave the other their own place in history and saved Tut from the dusty pages of myth to our own time.

Photographs of Ramesses II and Seti I Perhaps the best two preserved Royal mummies in existence.

Ramesses was 90 years old or so when he died...His well preserved mummy shows a very old man....who ruled over Egypt for around 70 years.

Seti the first's mummified head still has a regal bearing. He died in mid life and his face looks very human and almost like a living face...Not like most mummies. Sadly Seti's body was badly damaged by tomb robbers. But his head which was broken off from his body remains in very good condition.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Joe Smith (1884-1981) of "Smith and Dale"...I got to meet him at the end of his life.

Smith and Dale late in their career in the 1950's Still doing the Doctor Kronkheit bit! It was as funny then as it was in 1910.

Joe Smith was the one on the left. When I knew him he used a walker but was still moving around and had a lot to say

I was so impressed by his humor...At 97 he was still a hoot...Looking at his grave stone in New York says it all "Booked Solid" an entertainers dream! I was glad to know him for a short while and touch history.

In January 1981

I met Joe Smith. He was a hero to me...Even in those days no one knew who he was..But I did. He was a great vaudevillian and performer from 1898 to the 1970's.

He was in the Avon Comedy Four and in the group Smith and Dale. His real name was Joseph Sultzer...

When I met him He was well in his 90's.... Nearly 97 to be exact....
I knew many of his routines...

"Doctor Kronkheit it hurts when I do this?" "Well, don't do this"...

He had a Victrola in his room at the Englewood actors home. I was able to spend a few days with this great entertainer from the dawn of the 20th century.

He knew everyone...I was so excited when I met him. I have one regret I wish I had a camera. But in 1981 cameras were not everywhere and I was not thinking...But I did get his autograph...I also got to sing with him.....I always remember his voice .....I always will....He had it to the end... To think I was born 59 years after he did his first shows in vaudeville..and I was able to share some time with him...I was very lucky.

I will always remember when we met ..I said to him "you were in the Avon Comedy Four"..He looked at me and said "Kid, no one has said that to me in 50 years!"..

He talked about Billy Murray, Henry Burr, Enrico Caruso, Harry Lauder, George M. Cohan, and so many others of the day.
He talked about making records in the early days. He said it this way "We had to sing into a tube (horn)..and we had to sing at it and loud and not walk away from it."
I remember he played me a number of records on his Victrola and I brought a bunch..... and then for an afternoon I was able to share those sounds with one who was there. So very rare.

The other day I played a record of the Avon Comedy Four from 1914....Almost a century ago it was recorded...and I hear that voice....and I remember an old friend.

The movie "The Sunshine Boys" was based on the group Smith and Dale.

I remember when I asked him for his autograph .... He smiled and signed it for me saying "Joe Smith Avon Comedy Four".... He died 3 weeks later.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The first screw in lightbulbs 1880

When Thomas Edison and his team were working on lightbulbs. Edison was doing work and was using kerosene for an experiment. He was unscrewing the top of the kerosene can and someone mentioned that would be a great thing to use to put a light bulb into a electrical socket. So it was tried. You will see the result here. The first type of screw in light bulb with the drawing behind it. I like to think of it as the KISS method. If you look at the base of the first type of screw in light bulb...you can see the base is the same size as the spout of the kerosene can!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sarah C. Polk 1803-1891....... One interesting first lady

The Spanish Donna Sarah C. Polk

Sarah Polk in later years...still wearing mourning clothes.

The grave of James K and Sarah C. Polk

She was born in the first decade of the 19th century and died in the last decade of it.
She saw great change in her life from her first days in Washington as the wife of a congressman and later speaker of the house. Later as first lady of America. She pushed for the adoption of "Hail to the Chief" as the anthem to annouce the arrival of the President. Her husband was James K. Polk (1795-1849), the 11th President of the United States (1845-1849).

He was a hard working President but seems to have had the personality of a sea sloth. He was also a nasty bitter politician who was obcessed with the notion that the USA should go from coast to coast and no one or country should stand in its way. So goodbye half of Mexico...

So "Hail to the cheif" was played when ever his boring figure arrived...and it has for ever since for every other chief executive whether they were boring or not!

As a couple they were very religious and they did not dance, drink, or move a muscle on Sunday. However there was another side to Sarah Polk...She enjoyed talks with Dolly Madison (1768-1849), and was a tremendous gossip! She wanted to know everything about everyone...The more scandalous the more she liked it.

Dolly Madison was totally different from the Polk's. She was witty, used snuff, read spicy novels, was never one to judge other people. (something the Polk's did constantly)

She liked to drink, laugh and dance...She was always riding in Mrs. Polks Carriage and when it came to all the social events at the White House she was the star at every function. She was very aware of her place in history. She of course was the wife of the 4th President James Madison (1751-1836)....She had also saved the painting of George Washington from the White House when it was burned. She had been a fixture in Washington society since it had a society. She had known and been friends with all the great players of Washington history. She was a relic from the past and with her card playing partner John Quincy Adams they were a team that hailed from the days of George Washington.

Now getting back to Mrs Polk....There was no Dancing or doing anything she felt that was improper....Wines were allowed, but no hard liquors. As I mentioned before she was really into gossip
One of her favorite sources of interest was her husbands secretary of State James Buchanan.... She was very interested in old Buch's private life and his relationship with the fastidious Senator King of Alabama...There were lots of cruel jokes going around Washington about Buchanan and King. Andrew Jackson called Senator King Miss Nancy!!
Mrs. Polk was always happy even on Sunday to get letters talking about Buck and King. Often making comments on Buchanan saying that he seems to be upset as he is having trouble with his better half!

While all was going on with the Mexican American war gas was introduced to the White House for lighting..Sarah Polk did not like Gas lighting. She asked to have no gas lighting in one room, the Blue Room. After the gas was installed and there was a function at the House...After a short while the gas lights went out..But the Spanish Donna as she was often called was happy and looked lovely under her candles...

It was James K. Polk along with Sarah, Dolly Madison, and the widow of Alexander Hamilton that laid the corner stone for the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848.

Gold had been discovered at Sutter's mill and all hell broke loose in the United States, the war was ended, we took half of Mexico...James K. Polk worked every day and even a bit on Sunday. By the end of his term he was exhausted.

The Polks left the White House on March 3rd 1849. Within months he would be dead. Even Dolly Madison died that year....

Mrs Polk became a widow...She was to remain one for nearly 42 years. She was and became a relic of another time.

People would come to Nashville, Tenn. To see her and hear her stories...During the Civil war her home (Polk Place) was a neutral ground and she entertained soldiers from the north and south. She was visited by leaders from all over.

In her later years she was the first person in Nashville to have a telephone. In 1888 she turned on a switch which turned on the electric lights in Nashville...(still disliking gas I imagine)
Presidents Cleveland and Hayes came to visit her. Finally in August of 1891 she died. Full of years and still wearing mourning clothes.

She was buried next to her husband and then her home was torn down. As it often is in history, we distroy what we should save.

Today people do not know much about James K. Polk and even less about his wife Sarah. He was a hard worker, and she worked right with him...They were a amazing team. She carried on his legacy till the 1890's.
The Spanish Donna.....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The ten greatest minds of men who were Presidents of the United States...ever.

Here is a list of who I think were the greatest intellects of the Presidency. Now a few of them will be open to debate. But sometimes being a great intellect does not mean you are popular or in some cases honest. Sometimes I have seen Presidents who are popular...That does not make them smart...or great intellects.... But sometimes we look at popularity as a sign of intellect and success....That is so far off it is scary...So here is my list of the 10 greatest intellects of the Presidency.

John Adams

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

John Quincy Adams

Abraham Lincoln

James A. Garfield

Woodrow Wilson

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Richard M. Nixon

William J. Clinton

Now if I was to mention the top five

John Adams

Thomas Jefferson

John Quincy Adams

James A. Garfield

Woodrow Wilson

and as I have mentioned before the most intellectual and most brilliant President was indeed ....John Quincy Adams

Here are my five runners up for the top 10

Theodore Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

Rutherford B. Hayes

John F. Kennedy

Herbert Hoover