Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A special theater program that was done all over the United States for the victims of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906

The great earthquake took place in April of 1906. As soon as the news had reached those in the theater, they did what they did best....act. Not only did they perform they traveled to many cities to raise money to help 300,000 homeless people. As you can see in this collection of newspaper clippings from 1906. There were many on the road to do what they could. Great names such as Sarah Burnhardt, Julia Marlowe, E. H. Sothern, Christie MacDonald, Gertrude Lawrence, Miss Caro Roma, Robert Loraine, E.S. Willard, and William F. Connor and hundreds more
When San Francisco went down in ruins it was not only shattered but then burned down as the fire prevention system stopped working. That really meant the water lines were shattered in the earthquake. There were many airings of this traveling program and many were done in major cities where they would get more bang for the buck. Below you will see a program from one of those events, which was presented on April 27, 1906 in Chicago.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Impeachment trial of President Johnson as reported in Harper's Monthly Magazine April 1868

This is the April 1868 news on the Impeachment Trial of President Johnson. Harper's Monthly Magazine was a highly respected journal of the time.
This trial was highly sensationalized and also was under the control of what was then known as the "radical Republicans".
Johnson who was elevated to the Presidency by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was not liked for several reasons, perhaps none more so than the fact that he was first a Democrat, and secondly he was willing to accept the easy entrance back into the Union most of the southern states. Lastly, he was very vocal in his criticism of Congress and very willing to veto anything he felt was not useful to the country.
The Congress was waiting to put in their "lackey" Grant, in the Presidential chair. Of course that would happen in 1869 and Grant would be as bad a President as could be expected. Of course some really bizarre historians these days think he was good? Well he was as good as Harding, but that is another story.
The radicals in Congress wanted to punish the south and also push some of their rather radical agendas on areas that they hated.
Johnson was not a great President it is true, but he was for all intents a victim of the radicals, who wanted to remove him.
The trial would have changed the power of the President if he was found guilty of the charges. The article here talks about the trial as it was going on and the question of if he would be found guilty and removed from office.

This series of pages deals with the news as it was known then. It makes fascinating reading as many histories will leave out little details here and there that made the trial interesting. Here you can read it all. This is indeed history when it was news.

The Impeachment results of 1868 as they were reported in Harpers Monthly

Here you can follow what the reader of 1868 was reading when it came to the results and news of President Johnson's Impeachment hearing. Of course the news was known that he was found not guilty, but this is from Harper's Monthly Magazine. The magazine of course went into more detail and I thought it would be nice to look at some history when it was indeed news.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The day I watched a disaster. My original and erratic notes taken during the World Trade Center attack. Done in the only book I could find.

This is the raw data....It is not pretty, well written, or done with too much thought. It was as I saw the attack on September 11, 2001. I grabbed what ever I could find to write in. I could not find my ledger in which I usually wrote in. So I grabbed the first book I could find and wrote in the back of it. It turned out to be a book on the Titanic disasterIt was written with fear, amazement and awe. It was a terrible sight, it was horrible to put it best. What I wrote was of a person looking at something with horror. I used words I would rarely use in my normal way of writing. It was not a normal day. It was a day that I hope we never see again.
Now this book has taken on a new piece of history for me. For it is part of history. I do not know how many people were writing when the disaster was going on. But I would gather it was not too many outside of the news. I have quoted from this. When I do I usually clean it up and make more sense out of it. But here it is raw and in its form as I saw things happening.

One thing also to mention, I would write a line and look around. So the time that I took to write would be a while at times. I was not writing all the time. I was watching and listening. So I would add a line here and there as the morning, afternoon and evening progressed.

A free pass for the whole year on the Hudson River Day Line in 1911 for a very powerful, but totally unknown man today.

William B. Pollock was the head of the Marine Division of the New York Central Railroad. He was in charge of the ferries, tugs and other harbor craft dealing with the New York Central Railroad. He was a man of great power and of course it was wise to give the gift of a free pass to Hudson River Day Line to him and his wife.
In those days the man who was in charge of and had a strong control over the waterways to an island was mighty powerful. For the ferry was the only way to get out of New York. New York City of course is an island. There were no bridges or tunnels between New Jersey and New York. The only Bridges at the time were between Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.

He was a powerful man. Here is an example of his power. It took place when in 1916 he was involved in breaking up a strike by Union members of the New York Central Railroad who worked on the ferries and tugs and other harbor craft. He hired others during the strike and then said he would rehire the strikers if they gave up the union. In that strike for an example he refused to rehire all those who instigated the strike, which equaled to about 30 men.

So it was always nice to make a powerful man happy. It was a very different world then too.
The Hudson River Day Line offered trips up the Hudson from New York City and of course returns too. It was a wonderful service and company. Their ships were big lovely paddle wheel vessels that today are almost extinct as a species of vessel.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Betty White's first moment on TV. In Hollywood...In 1939!!!

Betty White was born in Jan 1922 and to this day is an institution in the entertainment field. She has been a icon on TV for 60 years. But her first moment on TV started 10 years before her professional career.
She was asked to be a part of a team to do an experimental TV program in 1939. It was done in Hollywood, at the local Packard dealership. Years ago there was a car called a Packard, however they have been gone since the 1950's.
She performed on the 6th floor of the Packard Building in a small cramped very hot studio. The program was broadcast on the ground floor and shown in between the Packard automobiles. It was the future, and now 70 years later that person who did one of the earliest TV performances in history is still a part of TV. That is longevity.

One of the finest performers and comedians who has graced the screen is Betty White. I hope she is with us and a part of our entertainment for many years to come. I just wanted to share this special piece of her history with you all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frank C. Stanley 1868-1910 One of the greatest of the early recording artists. Famous for many names on records. But died far too young.

His death brought out a number of great recording artists who sang in a program to honor him and provide for his family. He was very famous for being a person who he never was. This is part of the program done at the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street in New York City to raise money for his family.
William Stanley Grimstead was most famous as a recording artist. His career went back to the dawn of recording and would have gone on further had he not died at the early age of 41.

Grimstead founded the Columbia Stellar Quartet, the Peerless Quartet, the team of Burr and Stanley, Harlan and Stanley and many great minstrel recordings. But only when he started recording for Edison in the 1890's did he use his real name. He was soon convinced to use other names and that he did. He was listed under many different names, but mostly Frank C. Stanley and Fred Lambert. He was also the voice of the Columbia Phonograph Company. He along with Henry Burr (who's real name was Harry McClaskey) made a number of demo recordings, showing the wonders of the double disc record in 1908.

Grimstead died in 1910, leaving a wife and several children. There was a special program done at the New Amsterdam Theater on March 8, 1911 The theater is on 42nd Street and is still there. The program was to raise funds for his family. In this program all the major recording artists of the time performed for a public that rarely saw them. This program made a great deal of money for his family, and Grimstead's records would also make money for the family for the next 15 years.His picture and name in the Victor Catolog
On Zonophone records he was Frank C. Stanley
On Zonophone records he was also Frank Lambert
He was the voice of Columbia phonograph advertizing
His records would sell till the mid 1920's. This pressing of Dixie recorded in 1907 was pressed around 1922.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The first Presidential election in which recorded sound played a part.

In 1908 the two Presidential candidates who were running for office recorded their voices for a few recording companies. The first time the voices of the two men were heard by more than a few thousand and by hundreds of thousands.
There were several recordings made for both the Edison Phonograph Company and the Victor Talking Machine company. But it was ground breaking...For the first time each company knew they had the voice and speeches of the next President. This was a new world. In this article we have two of the Victor records made by both candidates.Here we see a cartoon of the two candidates William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan. Below we will see an example of the two recordings for made the Victor Company by the two men..

1928... The year that Al Jolson owned the world...

Al Jolson owned the world in 1928. It was perhaps his greatest year. He had done a talking picture called the "Jazz Singer" for the Warner Company. That movie premiered at the Winter Garden Theater in 1927. To say it was a sensation would be an understatement. This movie lead to the next called the "Singing Fool" which like the Jazz Singer was also a talking picture. The Singing Fool was as successful as the Jazz Singer and pretty much assured the movie making Moguls that talking pictures were the wave of the future. This new picture also premiered at the Winter Garden theater. The first Warner movies of Jolson all premiered at the Winter Garden. One has to remember the Winter Garden had been the artistic home on and off to Al Jolson since 1911. To have held it anywhere else would have been crazy. The theater was smart to have it there as well. The movie opened on August 17, 1928. Here are a few ads for it.

Things were going really well on the romantic front for Jolson too. On September 21, 1928 Jolson married Ruby Keeler who was a talented show girl and also the girlfriend of a mob boss. But that situation was solved and they married and took off on the RMS Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic) to Europe. For Jolson 1928 was a really good year. He would never have another like it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ben Hur the Broadway play...the souvenir book

This souvenir book of the play Ben Hur was made in the dawn of the 20th century. It was a most popular play when it was first performed at the Broadway Theater in 1899. One most also remember that it also was way uptown on 41st Street. Most theaters were in the lower area of Manhattan in those days. Getting all the way up to 41st Street was quite a hike. It was an age before subways and for the most part automobiles. There were a few motorized hacks or cabs, but they were very expensive, and unreliable. Here are a few pictures of items from this show from this book. A true bit of early Broadway history.
This play would be revived several times over the years. It started at the Broadway Theater, which was located at 41st Street and Broadway. It was near an area called Longacre Square, later to be known as Times Square. This play would be seen in later years in some theaters which still exist today, such as the New Amsterdam theater on 42nd Street.

There were about 20 photos of the play in this book. One thing also to notice....No man ever appeared on stage in those days with bare legs. They always had stockings on. You will see here in the "Galley Scene" Even slaves had to be wearing stockings! A piece of history from early Broadway.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The day they took King George's statue down in the Bowling Green NYC.

On July 9, 1776, there was a rush to tear down the statue of King George the 3rd in Bowling Green Park. How did it happen and why? It seems that the Declaration of Independence was read in New York for the first time on that summers day.

Who was it read for? George Washington's troops that were located where New York's City Hall is now located. It has always been my belief that George Washington's troops were celebrating the release of the document. I would not be surprised if they had been drinking.
They came down full of revolutionary excitement to the Bowling Green Park. Tore off all the crowns on the fencing around the park. Then they came into the park and toppled the gilded lead statue of King George the 3rd.

The statue was chopped up and shipped to Connecticut. It was there that King George's statue was made into over 42,000 bullets. Therefore the King's lead would be fired at his own troops.

It was the beginnings of a revolution. But what is not usually known in our history of New York is that New York City during the entire American Revolution was occupied by the British. In fact the British flag flew over New York City as the battle for Independence was fought on many fronts.
Today we always talk of our independence taking place on July 4, 1776. That is the common day we have claimed as the date we wished to get it, but to be honest, independence was declared on July 2, 1776. The paperwork was signed on the 4th.

This of course did not mean we were independent at all. In fact the United States was not truly independent till November 25, 1783. That date was called "Evacuation Day". This was the day the British Flags went down over New York City and the American Flag went up for the first time in the city as well.

That in many ways is our true Independence Day. For that is the day we truly got it!

Today as you walk by Bowling Green Park, you can feel the history and see the original fence that surrounds the park, minus it crowns of course. That is where it all began in the American Revolution in New York City. Look around and feel the history, it is all around you.

For New York is also a city in which the history never sleeps as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A walk by the great ocean liners at their piers in New York in 1939.

These few pictures are all I have of the many phonographs that were taken by Theodore Spangenberg (1917-1994) of ships and ocean liners. These pictures I know where taken by him throughout the year of 1939.This is a very late photograph of the SS Paris. It was taken in early 1939. By April of 1939 this ship will have caught fire and sunk.
The rear deck of the Paris.
This is a very empty Ile de France. Once the war started in Europe many of France's ships where brought to harbors such as New York. You will also notice that the ship is listing a bit to port as well.
The Ile was left in New York when the war started in September of 1939 for France. The Ile was towed to Staten Island and kept there for over year till the ship was taken over by the British and used in transportation of materials and troops in 1941.
Behind the Ile you will see the funnels of the Normandie.
The great and giant Normandie. Made it's maiden in voyage in 1935. Sadly by late 1939 her sailing days were over. In this picture Ted Spangenberg is sitting and looking at the great ship. He was on that ship many times. But little did he or anyone know that her career was done.
She was in time taken over by the US government. But through inefficient working programs and lack of precautions. She was set on fire in 1942 and was a total loss.
The great Queen Mary in 1939 in battleship grey. She looks very clean and nice as she had not done anything yet. By the wars end she looked like every mile she had sailed. These few pictures are a time capsule of the New York City docks.
Thank you Ted for being a friend and sharing so much with me of the history of ocean liners that would pay many a call in New York City.

One of the funniest old cartoons I ever saw from around 1910.

In the early days of the 20th century. The prima donna was the ruler of the operatic stage. one has to only think of Melba. But in this clever cartoon from around 1910, we have a fight going on between two great soprano records. One of the records is the great Louisa Tetrazzini and the other the witty Mary Garden. While these two Titans fight it out on the library table all the other records flee for cover.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

America's first battles in Korea. May 30 - June 11, 1871

Corporal Brown and Private Purvis on the left both received the Congressional Medal of honor for capturing this Korean flag in 1871
Americans took 3 forts and many areas. But the Koreans refused to their credit to surrender.
This diplomatic group from Korea offered as a peace settlement 3 bullocks, 50 chickens, and 10,000 eggs. Both sides misunderstood the other. Mostly the Americans who had no understanding of Korean culture.

On May 30, 1871 a five vessel squadron under the command of Rear Admiral John Rodgers came to open the ports of Korea. It was a rather pushy affair and it was done much as it had been done with other countries. A show of force as a way to open up relations. They were going to do it if the Koreans liked it or not.

Well the Koreans did not like it. Not at all.

It seems there had been several wrecks by merchant ships off the coast of Korea and the crews had been attacked and some cases murdered.
That is why the Rear Admiral Rodgers came to Korea, to secure a treaty to protect shipwrecked victims in the future. Also as mentioned before to open Korea to western trade. Which was the more important part of this mission to be honest.

While they were waiting for Korean officials they did some soundings in the water and were fired on by a Korean fort. The Americans waited 10 days for an apology. Having not received one the Americans invaded the forts on the coast of Seoul in an amphibious assault. During the attack 2 soldiers acquired a Korean flag from a fort. Their action would garner them a Congressional Medal of Honor.
It was not a long battle, nor were the Koreans ready to say they were sorry. They had no reason too. But the Koreans fought fiercely and refused to negotiate even though they were taking on rather strong losses. There was really no reason for the Americans to invade the forts. It was just a total misunderstanding or lack of concern over other cultures that led to the event.

However try as they may to force the Koreans to do as they commanded or wanted, they were not ready to budge. They had no need or reason too. The only thing the Koreans were willing to do to solve the issue was to give the American forces 3 bullocks, 50 chickens and 10,000 eggs. Which was more than kind on their part.
Much to the relief of the Koreans, the Americans were forced to flee due to an approaching typhoon.

Korea was known in those days as the "hermit kingdom". They did not sign a treaty till with the United States till 1881. The first that they had with any western nation.

One of the sad parts of this was America's "gunboat" visits. It was looked at by the Koreans, who were very happy being isolated, as an invasion. Therefore, they took what they saw as a proper action.
It would have paid for the navy to understand the culture before they just demanded what they saw as proper western ideas. None the less, this was the end of what was America's first battle in Korea.....

The one no one knows about.

The election of 1896. This book covered the events of the day and the candidates of all the parties involved in the election.

This book was one of many that came out on all the candidates and issues of the day. In an age where there was no radio, TV, Internet, and just the local and daily newspaper. It was hard to learn about many of the people running for office. This was one of the books to service that need and were quite popular. However, after the election who needed the book? They would then go through a pretty fast tossing out period. So they are not as common as you would think. Today they are quite collectible.

Berliner Gramophone Records...The first type of commercial disc records

The Berliner Gramophone Disc was the earliest type of commercial disc records. Produced by Emile Berliner. They were truly a 19th century phenomenon. By 1900 the Berliner disc was on its way out and the Victor Disc was the new and improved type of disc record. I have written on these records in other articles on this blog. But I thought it would be nice for you to see one of these records from around 1897. From the dawn of the age of recording.

Postcard from the maiden voyage of the SS. France

This postcard was mailed in Southampton, England on Feb. 18, 1962. This was during maiden voyage. I see it is posted as mailed at sea. Post cards travel slow. The start of her maiden voyage was on Feb 3rd. She was a great vessel and the pride of France. This is one of the postcards from the historic maiden voyage of this most historic ship, now gone.Note the stampings on the back of the post card marking it from the maiden voyage. I hope Granny had a good time on board

Cunard Line Advertisement 1914

This advertisement was put out in 1914 by Cunard of their various ships. In World War One many of the ships listed here would be lost.

Early Cunard Advertisement of voyages 1898

This advertisement of proposed sailings makes for fascinating reading. Note the Steerage rates.