Thursday, January 31, 2013

Billy Sunday and his massive Tabernacle in NYC.. Even the sounds of 1917 are captured from the building.

Billy Sunday's Tabernacle was located on Broadway and 168th Street and was a mecca for those who wished to hear the words of the great fighting evangelist. He was indeed a spellbinding  performer who would work out a for a while before going on stage to preach.

 Earlier in life he had been a professional ball player and used a lot of his athletic prowess to wow the crowd.

 In his tabernacles located in NYC, Chicago, and several other large cities there would be literally tens of thousands waiting to hear him and listen not only his his most unique message but also the music. There was a large well tuned choir under the direction of Homer Rodeheaver.

  In fact, they even made some records for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1917. Recording a 2500 voiced choir singing several religious and patriotic songs. But with the acoustic recording process (recording by horn) they were not successfully recorded. But they did sell. They are at least a very interesting sonic document of the period.

 Sunday made millions in his various programs and continued in his business till his death in 1935. Although after WWI he started to fade from the public's interest.

But the New York Tabernacle was a huge and amazing structure. Torn down in 1992, a relic of another age. Now that is an area of hospitals and professional buildings. I am adding a few pictures of Sunday, the tabernacle, the huge congregation, and even one of their records made in 1917. As you will see below.

Sunday at the White House in 1922 with Secret Service Agent Starling.

Crowds gathering to enter the tabernacle

Homer Rodeheaver tuning up some of the chorus

Just to give an idea of this huge complex. It was massive and would hold nearly 18,000 people  Note the fancy subway entrance.

Just to give an idea of this buildings size. Here it is filled from end to end with passionate followers. It must have been hotter than Hell in there during the summer.

And lastly one of the records made for the Victor Talking Machine Company on June 11, 1917. With a chorus of 2500 and two pianos under the direction of Homer Rodeheaver.  In listening to it I can hear a small part of the voices and the basses are pretty much lost altogether. But that was due to the recording process. Still an interesting piece of NYC history.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"THE UNSINKABLE TITANIC" I am tired of hearing this silliness that the Titanic was advertised as being unsinkable.

 I know many will sit and think I am off my rocker in saying this. But I am really tired of hearing this being stated as fact. It is part of popular culture.......This is not at all true.

The term "practically unsinkable" was used for many ships. The Titanic was never singled out as being unsinkable.

 The Shipbuilder magazine in 1910 and 1911 in writing about the Olympic Class of ships ( Olympic, Titanic, Gigantic ) said in dealing with the watertight compartments, that basically by pushing an electric switch, the watertight doors can be shut making the ships practically unsinkable.

 The Olympic was just as unsinkable as the Titanic.

 For that matter go back to the RMS Adriatic of 1907 and the newspaper accounts go on about the electric switch that will close the compartments making her practically unsinkable!

 Sound familiar?

So the Adriatic was just as unsinkable as the Titanic too.

 The ads for the Lusitania and Mauritania  go on about compartments in the days before the Titanic. In one piece I have they talk about how the sub dividing of the ships makes them practically unsinkable.

So they were just as unsinkable as the Titanic. You can see how the list is growing.

This was an over used and over advertised topic. It just became fashionable to use with the Titanic and specially after she sank. No one really gave it much thought "TILL" the Titanic sank. Then suddenly the "practically" in unsinkable vanished!

The mind set of the time with all the new major ships of Cunard and White Star was that they were large lifeboats in themselves. The emergency boats were just to ferry passengers if need be to another vessel in an emergency. There was never thoughts of these major liners sinking. It was out of the realm of the Edwardian mind.

I have not found one advertisement stating this fact.  White Star never ever advertised the Titanic as unsinkable, or for that matter the Adriatic that way.  The statement for many vessels would be practically.

By the way also the Titanic and Olympic carried more lifeboats than almost any other ships of the day including the Lusitania and the Mauritania.
The argument is that the Titanic was bigger. Well, it was larger in the 1st class areas, but carried about the same amount of passengers as those other vessels.

 So I am also tired of that fabrication dealing with lowering the lifeboat numbers on the Titanic because she was unsinkable. Nonsense!

 Everyone did it.. Just it takes away from the story if you tell the truth. The Olympic also had the same number of lifeboats as Titanic. Surely not enough, but more than almost any other ship of the time.

Had the Lusitania hit the berg, the death toll would have been perhaps been even higher. Not only because she had less lifeboats than the Titanic. But also the design of her watertight bulkheads would have allowed her to list far easier than the Titanic. This may have caused only one side of the lifeboats to be lowered.

The term was as I said over used. But one must understand if you read the scientific papers of the day the Lusitania, Mauritania, Olympic, Titanic, Adriatic, and few others were practically unsinkable.  What made it all the greater was until 1912 none of them sank.

The Titanic was the first of a long list of "practically unsinkable" ships that wasn't.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Elect Abraham Lincoln. A 1864 Lincoln token to encourage a vote.

This 1864 token is of Abraham Lincoln. Most probably it was used to inspire people, soldiers, or whomever to vote for the Union Party. It states Freedom. Hard to really tell what that was for? It probably means freedom from the war, perhaps freedom for slaves, or just a decorative symbol on the back. It is a unique piece from a very odd part of our history.  I have also seen the McClellan tokens as well. 

There were several types of these. All are quite rare. From the most unusual election in the nations history.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Please remember movies are not always based on fact. The Lincoln movie got a lot right. But had to protect Lincoln a little.

I am always amazed by the history of the United States. It is also a sad fact that many in our land do not really know any of our history. Also, we have a tendency to believe movies now. Movies and the Internet have taken the place of books. Movies are not made to teach, they are made to entertain. Therefore, they do not have to follow the true history. Just follow the basics and add what is needed to make the story interesting, somewhat emotional, and of course get a few awards.

A book is written, rechecked, edited, read by many, reworded and reedited. So it is as close to being accurate as possible. I am of course talking about histories, biographies and the like.

Movies of a historic nature are based often on books, but that is where it stops. It is not beholding to the book, it is using the book as a frame of reference to the movie.

The movie is not obligated to follow the book, it is not looked on as a factual item, it is entertainment.

But sadly in our age of  popular culture and Internet, there is very little monitoring of the accuracy of movies and what we read on the Internet. There are no massive editing, studying, or rehashing of text.  I know I have made mistakes here on this blog, but sadly as a simple writer I do not have an editor.  I try to fix my mistakes..but always miss a few :)

Movies once again are not there to teach, sometimes to influence, sometimes to create an image, but they are not required to tell the truth.  Remember the old saying " Some is history, the rest is Hollywood".

The new movie Lincoln is nice, it shows Lincoln as a politician. Showing he could be as corrupt and ruthless as any other President.  I enjoyed seeing that.

 But it does allow him to be more human while dealing with a really screwed up family. I was very pleased to see Lincoln portrayed with his pigeon toed flat footed walk.

 Of course finally a movie that has moved Lincoln from the Bass section of the historic choir and rightly to the 1st Tenor section. He had a very high regional voice that was hard to understand at times.  Bravo for doing that ...FINALLY!

 This was the Lincoln as he tried for the second time to get a 13th amendment through. This was the 2nd 13th amendment. Remember the first was in 1861 saying that Slavery was perfectly legal and would never be touched by the Federal Government.  That failed to pass as much and as hard as Lincoln and Seward tried to get it passed.

But here was a more mature Lincoln who sees that the slaves need to be freed and he being first off a politician who had his ear close to the ground, said it must be so.

 Cause we need to know that had he lived, Lincoln would not be the godlike person we perceive today. He would have gone through the ringer in reconstruction and also about his Constitutional practices.

There was also some other actions in his administration that were not always on the up and up.
There is a great sense of irony that the person who made Lincoln a greater man in our eyes and saving him from what would have changed our perceptions of him was John Wilkes Booth !

 Booth made Lincoln a god.

 There were many parts of Lincoln that the movie did not want to show. Surely as he would not be looked at as well by today's audiences. He was much for creating colonies in other nations for the ex slaves. He wanted to free them and then ship them out of the country. This is not talked about much.

At the time of his assassination he was leaning to allow a small number of slaves who were educated to have rights, but not most. As late as early 1865, he was still thinking of creating colonies for the slaves and shipping them out.
Remember Lincoln and others in the North did not want the ex slaves up in their area either. It is a nasty thing, but that was a prevailing thought at the time.

He also created his own "patriot act" and jailed thousands of people from the north who did not agree with him. Many newspaper editors, politicians, and others who he felt were not following his agenda. He even wrote an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for defying his actions.

Since Lincoln had basically suspended the Constitution, he was a leader without controls. There was talk of unseating him, impeaching him, but there was a war going on. The election of 1864 was the only one that has ever taken place in a country during a Civil War. And the Union Party, Lincoln's own, won.
By a large part due to the military vote.

The restoration of the full Constitution did not take place till 1866 after Lincoln's death. This is part of that history that was not at all mentioned in the movie. One also has to remember that the country was reborn and renewed with the 13th. 14th, and the 15th amendments. This would take place between 1865 to 1870.

Of course this was Civil War too. One has to look on Lincoln's side and understand what he was doing. He was doing what John Quincy Adams suggested 20 years earlier. That is specially in the ideals on slavery. It does show although how Lincoln grew in the office.

 He was a most powerful chief executive, and in a time of war, of which he was using every slippery legalism to do what he wanted to do with a not too understanding Congress.

 After the war a lot of scores would have been settled. Cause he had expanded the powers of the executive office by a large margin  by legal and some illegal actions and stepped on a lot of powerful toes.
But through his and Seward's actions they kept the country together and staved off a possible war with England.

What a mess it might have been had he lived. He died at exactly the right moment. Even the right day.

Study, research, look, and learn.  That is what is so important today. For the editor is not around to correct the movies or the Internet anymore.  You are the editor...  Stop Look and Read.  Let the movies inspire you and then study and learn.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Electric vibrating football games. I guess every kid played with one and was as frustrated as I

I remember it well. Christmas 1965. My parents bought me, or rather my father bought me, as he was a rabid football fan, an electric vibrating football game board.  Now for all of you who are of a later vintage will look at this and not have the faintest idea of what it was. I understand that as they have been extinct for more than a generation.

But it was a real high tech super game to have in 1965. Cause it used electric power which was cool. It had action, which was cool. Also it was something everyone wanted to see. It was a different age and it was simpler age. We would not complain about this or that as is the style today. Today kids would not even give this kind of game a look. As it is not tied to a computer. Well in 1965, computers were the things of Sci-Fi movies and TV shows

But to be honest, this game was pretty useless.  It contained two teams of players. You needed to put all the decals on each player which took a long time. Set up the kicker so he could kick. Then each player had a weighted bottom so they would stay upright and move a little.  How did they move? There was a little vibrator under the board and you set up the players, turned on the vibrator, and watched the play.

Well, the end result was the players went all over the board and seemed to just go often in circles. Often they would get together and kind of dance. There was no controls to move the players outside of the vibration.

Within a few days there would be little interest in trying to make the game work and you just let the the players wander around or do dances around the board. After that you would see what else would vibrate and try that on the board. In a short while it would go to the island of unwanted toys.

I think I played with mine 3 or 4 times and then gave up on football and tried vibrating coins and little plastic statues and dinosaurs.  I am sure a lot of them were sold in the 1950's through the 1970's and most I am sure met an equal fate.  Another thing you could do is have the kicker kick the ball over the goal post.  Sadly the football was about the size of a large piece of rice and would get lost.  Just like my interest in this game shortly after and I was far more interested again in Rock 'em sock 'em robots.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An afternoon in Fremont,Ohio at the Rutherford B Hayes home and Presidential Center. Also in the midst of a Civil War reenactor gathering. Oct 2012.

While on a journey in a U-haul truck helping my friend move to Chicago. Which was a story in itself. We had a chance to stop at several interesting places on the way. We spent the night in Fremont, Ohio.  That morning after Breakfast decided to check out the Rutherford B Hayes home and library. It is a lovely place and the grounds are great too. The house has been lovingly cared for and the collections in the Museum are really quite amazing as well. So it just happened that on this weekend we were traveling, there was a Civil War reenactors gathering. So we wandered around and stepped back in time for a short while.  We took some pictures and thought I would share a little for you here.

At the entrance to the Hayes home.

The cannons were set. The weather was nice and all the people were very sweet. I went to the Museum and saw many of the Hayes artifacts. Jason was the one who took all the pictures. I was also able to buy a book that was removed from the old Hayes Library. So it was nice to bring a little piece of history home.

The camp and shops

Some folks really got into it as this couple did.

This fellow explained the various items used by a Civil War soldier.

Various parts of the camp. There was historical reasons for this as President Hayes used to have reunions of soldiers of his company meet on the lawns of his home.

I am here at the graves of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes. Also some of their children are buried here as well. The Hayes were re-buried here in 1915 around the time of the opening of the Hayes Museum here. One odd factor of the re-burial was that Mrs.Hayes's wedding ring fell out from a hole in the bottom of her casket. It was collected and put on display in the museum. 

Shopping for Victorian clothes
A group of Civil War reenactors hanging around the back door of the Hayes home.
Some Civil War songs being played and sung by the reenactors.

There was a large amount of people at this event. It was really nice and had a nice old time feel to it. It was nice to locals here really getting into their history. I find that this is not always the case when we get to the east coast.

This is how we left them all..Playing a concert on the front porch of the Hayes home. It was a lovely time. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Invest in the Confederate States of America.. 1861 Bond due to mature on July 1, 1865

Well if there was still a country on July 1, 1865 that would have been good for the holder of this original bond. But now is a wonderful relic of 150 years ago.

A Confederate States of America five dollar bill from 1863

This is an original 5 dollar Confederate note that has been cancelled. Meaning it was paid by the government. It is interesting if you read some things written onto the bill. Enlarge this and read some of the writing on top. Most unique is the statement talking of 2 years of a treaty of peace between the North and South.    This bill was good I gather till July of 1865.  By July of 65 there was no more Confederate States of America.

The Booth Bedroom at the Players Club in New York City.

It has been my pleasure to go to the Players Club several times since the 1990's. It is a place that has always reeked of history. Pictures have sadly gone and pictures have been changed here and there. But one thing has not changed much is the suite that belonged to the founder and owner of the building, the great Shakespearean actor, Edwin Booth.

Booth gave the townhouse to the Players Club in 1888, with the understanding he would live there the rest of  his life. Sadly that would not be too long. He would die on June 7, 1893 at the age of 59.

 His had been a hard life in many ways. His first wife died young, his brother assassinated the President of the United States, his second wife went mad, and the life of an actor in the 19th century was not an easy one.

By 1892 Booth was rather frail and weak and spent a good deal of time in his room. At times joining the members of the Players in conversation til late in the evening. As a tribute to him , his room has been left as he left it.

  I have gone to that room a few times and always was interested and never thought of taking a few pictures, but this last time I went on the 10th of January 2013 I did. So I thought I would share a bit of New York history from one of the jewels of old New York, The Player's Club. This year will mark 125th year of the Players and the 120th anniversary of Booth's death.

The Bed Booth would die in on June 7, 1893. By his bed is a photograph of his brother. The only photo in the club of his brother, John Wilkes Booth. below his picture is that of his 2nd wife who went mad shortly after their marriage.  A very sad corner of pictures.

By the bed are his slippers

One of his cabinets has pipes and trinkets. He loved smoking pipes and cigars

Some pictures on the wall, a bust of Shakespeare and a rubbing from the curse on Shakespeare's grave.

Books and theatrical props and pieces including a real skull signed by Booth.  Here in the center of all of this is a Portrait of his 1st wife Mary, who was the love of his life. She died after giving birth to their daughter.

The wall decoration here is from his funeral. Before it is Booth's day bed.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Has the Titanic finally sunk from our imaginations? What will be the new great disaster?

This last year marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  I have grown up with the ship, had the chance to meet two survivors of the disaster, and have had a eager interest in all things about it.

But, I think I have had enough of the Titanic for a while.

It was Titanic overload last year. So many programs, Titanic in 3D, books, lectures and new museums. I think the Titanic went out of our collective interest with a bang.

 Now after a century I would guess it is time to let her rest. All are gone who sailed on her or saw her above the water. Now as we go to the 101st year of the Titanic, it will be a slow fade from the collective interest of the world.

 While she will always have her die hearts, the Titanic has now finally slipped into history's storage file and will not be the top contender of disasters anymore.

 What I see in the near future are the new Organisations that will deal with the 9-11 tragedy. Which I think in 20 years or so will start to take on more and more followers. There will be survivors who will speak and as time goes on when the last fireman, police officer, office worker, or child passes away it will be important news.

I can foresee a meeting on September 11, 2081, where a few survivors from 9-11 tell their stories for the millionth time.  All those who were born 50 years after the event, will thrill to hear them again and again. These survivors will take on a mythical status, just like the Titanic survivors a century earlier.

The Titanic had her century and of course we will still hear from her now and then. But in the 21st century the new focus will be on 9-11. Which will be looked at as the first major disaster of its kind that so shocked the world and brought it to it's collective knees.

Just like the Titanic...

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Was Lincoln gay?

Today there are attempts to claim many things for many people. There have been great men and woman who have changed the course of the world who were gay. There are others who some want to be. I have a hard time with making Lincoln gay.

 His letters to Josh Speed were very warm tender and confiding (the only letters existing like that). Speed and Lincoln were very close and had a very close bond. But to state that this makes him gay is just a little beyond my understanding. They shared a bed for 2 years. Well, in those days who didn't?

 If we call sharing beds a criteria for being gay. I will have to make a list so long it would boggle the mind.

 We have had a gay president already and also a gay vice president. We have a few who dabbled here and there. JFK for instance was one who enjoyed watching sex acts take place on either sex. No one will ever know all of the truth about him, but many old timers in the gay areas of Provincetown, Mass. remember him.

  But this is outside of what we are talking about.  I really doubt Lincoln was gay.  I feel he was often more Asexual than anything else.  Sadly, much of what makes Lincoln, Lincoln does not exist anymore. Just about every letter he wrote to Mary his wife is gone. Robert Lincoln was on a campaign to make sure that he cleansed the image of his father.  Mary Lincoln talked about the passionate letters her husband wrote her and how she was keeping the somewhat yellowed papers. She kept them till Robert Lincoln got them and removed them from our understandings forever. I guess Robert Lincoln could not get his hands on the Speed letters. Although one can imagine that he would have wanted too.

The Lincoln we know today is like a slice of Swiss cheese. We have the slice, but there are many holes in it.

So in closing Lincoln can be whatever we want to make him into. Cause we know so little about his personality, likes, desires, wants, and dreams.  He kept no diaries, had no really close friends, confided in no one (save for a short time with Speed), was secretive in much of his political, social, and private life. But this being so I have my doubts.   I only think in the window of history it is not really our place to make someone this or that. Because we then are not stating facts, we are just speculating.

Some have even said Hitler was gay. There are some similarities between Lincoln and Hitler. Both were ego manics, both rarely confided in others, had no really close friends, both were very sure of themselves, willing to start a war to follow their beliefs. But I cannot say Hitler was gay anymore than Lincoln.

You have to base history on facts..... not just what some people want history to be.

Let's get drunk and truck....Lil Johnson and her Chicago swingers.

Here is a recording you rarely ever see. That is the recordings of Lil Johnson. She was a African American jazz singer who had much of her start in Chicago and started making records. Her records were always jazzy and always really naughty for the time.  Her records that came out in the mid 1930's like this were not big sellers and today few people know or ever heard of her.  But here is a rare example of one of her very suggestive and really jazzy and fun recordings called "Let's get drunk and truck"  Of course we all know what it implies...In the 1930's you could never say that or even hardly suggest it. But she did.  No one knows when she was born or died... But it looks like she had a trucking good time making these records.