Sunday, September 29, 2013

Remembering the election of 1968..One of the worst years in the history of the United States

Oh how I remember that election. It was fraught with confusion, anger, and the press not sure who was the winner. That election was confused. What had happened that year was horrific from the Democratic Convention in Chicago with the mass beatings of protesters and the break up of that party to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. There were riots all over. The war in Viet Nam was terrible. The death toll was always on the news. I grew up with the image of Viet Nam on the news. From the early 1960's onward it was a focal point of our lives and the stories of many soldiers coming back in body bags.

I watched the news that night till I fell asleep. It was said by many on the news that night that Humphrey would win. That Nixon would be defeated again for the office. This was the first election I really was focused on.  We had a black and white TV with a 12 inch screen. Of course we used rabbit ears on the top of the TV to get the best reception. But our reception was always very snowy. People today do not understand what it was like on old TV's.. That you not only changed the channel by hand, but, after changing the channel you had to adjust the antenna to catch the signal. After that you needed to fine tune it. Often the best reception was when you were holding the rabbit ears. I saw this technology come into use during and after 9-11 when most of the stations were knocked off and Peter Jennings was transmitting on UHF.

I had figured when I went to bed that Humphrey had won. I kind of liked Humphrey and was looking forward to his presidency.  I was not too impressed with Johnson, but I found him rather boring to watch. I did watch him make the statement that he would not be a candidate for office in 1968.

I went to bed and woke up to the news that Nixon would be the next President. I felt sorry for Humphrey. He was always a little short of a win for office...A prize he truly wanted, but would never have.

It is a little hard to conceive what it was like back then..It was a very different time and a very disrupted and divided country. That was truly on the brink of exploding. Within a few years it would all change.

1968 was one of the worst years in our countries history.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have always been a blast from the past. Just looking at my desk says it all

I have always been comfortable with an older style of desk. I am not really into plastics or Formica. I enjoy real wood and well made and designed furniture. My desk is an old secretary desk. In it I keep my papers, write papers, read books, and put various objects that are important to me. It is a clever desk and has secret compartments which are fun for small delicate items. But all in all it is an enjoyable desk for me. When I first saw it I was in love with it. So I thought I would share where I spend much time in the evenings. In this desk I keep all of my 17th, 18th, and 19th century books. Sometimes I will read a little of one of them. Just one of my more enjoyable things to do.  I know so well it is not for everyone.

But it is a well designed, sturdy, and most useful piece for me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Victor Talking Machine's first celebrity records. The short lived 5000 Red Seal series of 1903

It is always interesting to see where a series comes from. In the field of recorded sound the first red seal records were called so. The short lived Gramophone Red Seal records recorded in Russia in the end of 1900 were the first. The term Red Seal was used just shortly. Later that term was no longer used by the Gramophone or Gramophone and Typewriter. However, the Victor Talking Machine Company newly formed and incorporated on Oct 3, 1901, was looking for something new to showcase the operatic field.

In today's world it is hard to explain the rank that operatic singers were placed at during this period. I would guess that the movie stars of today are the closest in that adoration. They were looked at as the highest form of entertainer and treated like royalty.

By 1902 the Victor company was looking to expand their base. There was basically a large proportion of popular, coon, band, and comedy recordings produced by the company at their meager recording studios in Philadelphia. Although they were very successful in this field, Eldridge Reeves Johnson wanted to make the Victor Record more than just as it was looked at, and that was merely as a toy.

The Gramophone and Typewriter company which is what the Gramophone Company was know as till 1907 was recording operatic singers from it's start. The company was recording from the late 1890's operatic pieces of various qualities. By 1902 they had recorded Caruso, Calve, Plancon,  theVatican Choir with the last Castrates along with many others.  A deal was worked out in late 1902 by Calvin Child so that Victor would press and market recordings made in Europe by G&T.

This event would change the very face of the Victor Talking Machine Company.  These European recordings would be released in March of 1903. These records would have a red label and be put into the first series of it's kind, the 5000 series.  These records would sell at $2.50 each. One has to remember how much money that was in 1903. This amount would buy you a wonderful meal at Delmonico's in New York City.

This first release would be of 25 recordings and over the year more would be added during the spring and summer. By October there were a large number of recordings to choose from.

The 5000 series would be available till October of 1903. The end result was there was not a massive amount of these records ever made or sold. The price and the early date led to very small sales. But one had to remember it was not at all about sales. It was about prestige. I am aware that a very small amount of pressings each of the listings were made. Therefore after 110 years they are remarkably rare. When they were pressed they were rare.

A 1903 pressing on 5067 of the Vatican Choir recorded in April 1902 and pressed in the United States.

In October of 1903 there was change on the labels. All of the recordings that were on the 10 inch 5000 series were split. A large amount of the imported recordings were split into two different numerical listings. Many of the Red Seal records were switched to what is called 91000 series as shown below. In fact this is the same recording shown above in this new series. There is something odd about this record. It has a "D" on the bottom of the wax under the label. The "D" stands for the Dennison Recording machines, which were used by Victor and in some cases G&T from 1903 till around 1907. But this record was made in April of 1902 and most probably not using a Dennison machine. But basically most records made by Victor in this period were stamped with the "D". This was for royalty reasons that the records were marked. However I am of the thought that many recordings were stamped not needing to.

Many of these imported recordings were put on to another numerical listing for records of this type. It was called the 61000 series. The 12 inch recordings would be given the 71000 series. In fact you will see below another recording made at the Vatican in 1902 that made it to the black labeled series. These records would be priced at $1.00.  The recording below is from late 1905 or early 1906. Most of these recordings on the black labels would be gone by 1907.

A late 1906 pressing of a 1904 G&T recording. You will see that there is no "D" on this recording.

As you can see here in a 1906 listing of Imported Red Seal Records, the list is getting shorter. This was due to the fact as soon as the artist could make a new recording for Victor, the old ones listed here would be removed. The 91000 series was not a big seller either, but, was far more successful than the 5000 series.

Here are many of the recordings made at the Vatican in 1902-04 listed under the 61000 and 71000 series. In the catalog of early 1906.

Also many of the recordings made in 1902-3 in Russia were put on to the 61000 series. There had been a few originally released as Red Seal recordings.

The 91000 series would end in within a few years as the Victor Talking Machine Company would start it's first Red Seal recording series in late 1903 as you will see below. This record is from the first Red Seal session recorded in the United States in 1903. However the first Red Seal records were listed with Black Label numbers.

The end result was a massive amount of confusion concerning Imported Red Seal, Imported Black Seal, domestic Red Seal, and domestic Black label. Lastly at this time Victor started a new matrix system. However the first domestic Red Seal Records received a domestic Black label number which shows the confusion that abounded. This Red Seal problem would exist for the first two sessions at Carnegie Hall. That famous music hall is where the recording studio was located in room 826.

One of the rare examples of the first domestic Red Seal records with a Black Label number.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Remembering my last trip to the World Trade Center on September 9, 2001

I remember the towers so well. I lived with them for nearly 30 years. I had been in them more times than I could ever tell. I worked in them in the late 1980's. But every now and then when guests or friends would like to see them of course I would take them up. I was there at the opening of them when they tossed King Kong off the top. That was in 1974 or so. Everyone cheered when he fell of the tower. A quarter century later everything changed. I took my friend from New Zealand to the top on September 9th of 2001. It was perhaps the hundredth time I had been to the top.

 I always remember the representations of people as you came to the next to top floor. They were like cardboard cutouts. Also there was a display of rolling balls in a display windows. It was always interesting to watch the heavy balls roll all around on a track in that display. The next to the top floor was glassed in and you could press close to the glass and look so far down. There was I recall as always the souvenir section and items that could be purchased. Of course I did not buy any, I could always come back if I ever needed anything. But to be honest I would have no reason to buy any of that. Why would I?  I have no momentous of the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. The towers were going to be there long after I left this  mortal coil, at least that is what I thought then. Who could have ever guessed?  After walking around and looking down at the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the various displays and items that were all around at the top.  Then we went up the escalator to the roof area. This was outside and open to the elements. It was fine that day, just a little humid. It was up here you could see in great detail the antenna on the other slightly taller tower. It was Sunday so it was a little crowded. But it was ok to see a great distance. From this area you see the very curvature of the earth. The area up there was a bit of a lovers lane. There was one couple I remember that were much more involved in kissing and each other than to see the sights.  I bet they, if they are still together remember that day very well.   

 I remember that day, perhaps because I would see the buildings on fire live and come crashing down. I always had a good view of the towers. I remember I took two friends I knew to the top in 2000. Then I did this trip in September of 2001.  They took a number of pictures and I took two. Both of the ones I took did not come out too good, I was using a Kodak disposable camera that you took pictures and then brought it to the drug store to get it developed.  So of my two pictures I took, one came out the other had my finger over some of the lens...Funny the things we forget about cameras of years ago  You never knew if you took a good picture till it was developed.

So we went to the top that day, I will always remember the big banner that was in part of the building saying that "MCDONALD'S IS COMING THE THE WORLD TRADE CENTER" .  I saw where it was going to be, but really did not think much about it till after the disaster. If I had taken a picture of that banner it would have been quite historic. Cause I really do not see anyone talking about that. Well it is funny what you remember.

I had my small ticket stub, of which I threw out after leaving the building.  I remember that evening when we were ready to go home. It was late by then and we had gone out and had dinner and had a few drinks. We stopped for a short while outside of the towers and just looked up at them. Border's Books was right there too and that was always a nice place to stop and look at some books or magazines. Several books in my library came from that bookstore. I have always had a habit of writing information of where I got the book when I would purchase it. So many many merely say.."bought at the WTC Borders and what ever the date would be. Now that Borders Books no longer exists either, adds to the history of it all.   I always remember there would be lots of artists all around the buildings selling their wares. Also you could sit at a table in the court yard and have a drink. I always enjoyed taking the bridge over to the winter garden too. One last thing to mention was the large mall below the towers. There were stores of every kind and restaurants down there.From the mall area you would take these very long escalators to the area where you could get to the PATH trains and subways. But I saw most of that on that last day I was there.

We looked up at the buildings. I always looked for that bright blinking red light that was on the very top of the antenna on the one tower. I watched it blink as my friend was thinking of taking some more pictures of it in night and later in the week during the day. So he took a few that night and one which is here. It was not a very special or well done picture, just a quick shot of a building... I just wish I took a picture of that banner.

Less than 2 days later there would be nothing to photograph but ruin..


   A picture of the towers taken on the night of September 9, 2001. The pictures I took were not too good at all. But my friends pictures were far better.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Airship Mail 1932. A letter sent across the United States from coast to coast on the airship USS. Akron.

The USS Akron was one of the two monster airships built for the United States Navy.  Starting in 1931 with the Akron and followed by the Macon in 1933, which would crash in 1935. The Akron would crash in 1933 off the coast of New Jersey. The loss of life was tremendous. 

Here I have put in a few pictures of the airship. Also that letter that was sent airmail in 1932 via the USS Akron.

The Akron moored and resting

The Akron at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1932. Note the airship Los Angeles in the massive hanger. The hanger still exists.

The letter has lots of great stamping all over. It is a great piece of history from when these giants roamed the skies. This letter sailed for several days on the massive airship.

Even the back does as well.

The Akron flying over New York

The ship mooring in California

Little bottle opener that is made of the same metal as the frame of the Akron. These were sold years ago during the 1930-1932 period