MATSON ad, October 1936

There's nothing particularly Polynesian about this ad, and yet that was what they were hoping to sell you. This ad could have just as easily been for Miami. So why weren't the people of Polynesia featured in ads? I don't think I need to delve into the answer for this. I think most people can figure it out. It's a shame, because I'm guessing that when a lot of passengers disembarked from their ship at the Aloha Tower their senses were soon overwhelmed by Hawaii that they dreaded ever returning to their world of browns and grays. Who would want to leave a place full of color and flowers that bloom all year long?

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: The American Magazine, October, 1936)

You can actually buy a sign of this image, sans type, from a company that is licensed to reproduce vintage Matson Liner ephemera. They also have many of the beautiful illustrations Matson commissioned for murals and ephemera. I wish they offered posters instead of signs.

To get a feeling of what it was like to travel on a Matson Liner there is a wonderful book called To Honolulu in Five Days. Full of images of ephemera, it tells the story of your trip to heaven and what it was like once you got there.


MATSON ad, May 1937

For anyone who has followed this odd corner of the universe for any length of time you'll know my love for the Matson Lines and Hawaii back in the 1950s and '60s. If you aren't aware of this and want to bore yourself for a little while just click on some of the label links below.

This ad was the front inside cover of The American Magazine, May, 1937. Obviously there were still enough people who had spendable cash to take trips during the depression. You had to be very well off to go on one of these cruises, or at least been saving your pennies for a long time.

Click on image to see it larger.

I'm always searching for images from the Hawaii I remember. The Hawaii of today is a foreign land. The landmarks, even a couple of my homes, are long gone. But, I know there are others out there who remember these times; military kids who were uprooted from the Mainland and suddenly dropped into paradise. In my searches online I found the Flickr site of Kamaaina56. Hundreds of images of long ago vistas and buildings. I sat for hours looking at them, memories flooding back to a time that I still long for. I miss the magic of the place. It was indeed the most incredible place to be a child.

Stop on over to Tattered and Lost Photographs to see a mystery photo of a hotel in paradise. My problem is which paradise?


ACME BEER in 1944

I won't bother to do any writing about this beer company since everything you could want to know is available here and here.

I can say that I've been to the brewery in Fort Bragg, California, North Coast Brewing Company, which currently owns the rights to the Acme name. Unfortunately I don't drink beer so I can't make any comments about the product.

This ad is the back cover of the 1944 The Playgoer from Montez Lawton's scrapbook.

Click on image to see it larger.


San Francisco Nighclubs 1944: CHINATOWN

Chinatown, in San Francisco, California, is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Since its establishment in 1848,it has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America. Chinatown is an enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. There are two hospitals, numerous parks and squares, a post office, and other infrastructure. Visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world, filled with herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades. In addition to being a starting point and home for thousands of Chinese immigrants, it is also a major tourist attraction, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
In the 1940s nightclubs in Chinatown became very popular with the soldiers passing through town on their way to the Pacific. These ads are all from the Curran Theatre’s The Playgoer magazine that is from Montez Lawton’s scrapbook (click on her name in the labels to see more).

Things get a little confusing when researching these places. In one piece it's stated that Club Shanghai was owned by Fong Wan, a famous Chinese herbalist. He called his shows:
'the Chinese ‘Folies-Bergere’ of the Americas.' He boasted, 'Our entertainment costs more than $2,000 per week' and offered what had become a nearly standardized Chinese-American menu. Still, patrons could order 'other native dishes upon request.' (SOURCE: Flavor and Fortune)
Obviously the problem is that the ad above says it was owned by D.W. Low. I'm throughly baffled, but I'll give you what I found.

To read about the different clubs, the entertainers, and the food visit here and here.

Click on image to see it larger.

There's a variety of ephemera online from some of these places:
here to see the cover of a menu for Shanghai Low,
here to see a postcard of the interior of Club Shaghai,
here to see a postcard of Shanghai Low,
here to see a photo holder for Club Shanghai,
here to see a photo of D.W. Low, owner of Shanghai Low, in traditional Chinese clothing
here for another menu cover of Shanghai Low,
here to see a bit of the exterior of Shanghai Low on Grant Avenue,
and here to see a photo of the interior of Shanghai Low.
Click here to read about Ed Pond, owner of Dragon's Lair.

Click here to see a menu from Club Shanghai featuring a photo of showgirl Miss Lana Wong and the owner, Fong Wan.

I did not find any ephemera for Lion's Den or Dragon's Lair.

Click on image to see it larger.

Sadly, I'm not finding anything definitive about these old clubs. It's just bits 'n' pieces from the past like these old advertisements; places and performers long gone. It would be nice if there was a book about this period in Chinatown featuring the stories and ephemera. Perhaps there is and I just haven't found it.

UPDATE: From reader Willard:
Club Shanghai opened around 1913 by D.W. Low. My father, Fong Wan, who had an interest in this nightclub, took sole ownership of it in 1946 until around 1956.

It was my father who brought Lana Wong from China to perform at his Club Oakland, formerly the New Shanghai Terrace Bowl in Oakland CA before her performing at the Club Shanghai. Barbara Yung, was the featured dancer after Ms. Wong left my father's employ.
Thank you Williard!


San Francisco Nightclub 1944: SLAPSY MAXIE'S and GEORGIE PRICE

There were two Slapsy Maxie nightclubs that were popular back in the ‘40s and 50s. One was located in Los Angeles, the other in San Francisco. This ad is for the San Francisco location and is in the 1944 The Playgoer magazine that Montez Lawton kept in her scrapbook.

Click on image to see it larger.

I’ll give you a little information about the clubs and this fellow with the top billing, Georgie Price.

The clubs were named after American boxer/actor Max Everitt Rosenbloom who was known as "Slapsie Maxie." He was born on November 1, 1907 in Leonard’s Bridge, Connecticut. He died from Paget’s disease of bone on March 6, 1976 in South Pasadena, California. He got the name Slapsie Maxie from a journalist who was making reference to his open gloved boxing style.
Few fighters stepped into the ring more often than Maxie Rosenbloom, who fought 299 times in sixteen years. Raised on the Lower East Side of New York, Rosenbloom left school after third grade and later served time in reform school. Reportedly, actor George Raft spotted the young Rosenbloom in a street brawl and advised him to become a boxer.Rosenbloom had an unusual style. He was a weak puncher and often slapped at his opponents with an open hand—earning him the nickname "Slapsie"—but he was a consummate defensive fighter and did whatever was necessary to avoid getting hit. He won the vast majority of his fights, although he only recorded nineteen knockouts in his entire professional career. (SOURCE: Harry Greb
In 1930, he won the New York light heavyweight title. In 1932, he won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World. He held and defended the title until November 1934, when he lost it to Bob Olin.As a professional boxer, Rosenbloom relied on hitting and moving to score points. He was very difficult to hit cleanly with a power punch and his fights often went the full number of required rounds. In his boxing matches he suffered thousands of head punches, which eventually led to the deterioration of his motor functions. (SOURCE: Wikipedia
The story goes that the club was owned by mobster Mickey Cohen, but according to this December 1, 2011 article in the L. A. Times by Patrick Goldstein, that’s not the story.
According to most historical accounts, Maxie Rosenbloom, a former prizefighter, was simply the front man for Cohen, who actually owned the joint. In the film (The Gangster Squad), Cohen has a special table at the club, which has his bookmaking operations housed upstairs. But the nightclub's ownership history turns out to be more complicated than I realized.
After my story ran, I got an email from Marti Devore, setting me straight. Even though the club was originally in Cohen's hands, from 1947 through 1950 it was owned by Sy Devore and his older brother, Al. Marti, who is Al's daughter and Sy's niece, is the Devore family's unofficial historian, which, as it turns out, makes her something of an expert on Hollywood history too.

Her uncle Sy, who ran a men's store originally located on Vine near Sunset, was known for years as Hollywood's "tailor to the stars." Born in Brooklyn, Sy Devore was a natural-born hipster, operating a store in New York, at Broadway and 42nd Street, before he moved west.

Sy spent a lot of time in Harlem, running with the likes of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and the Dorsey brothers, who bought their threads at his store and were the ones who told him that he'd be a natural fit in Hollywood. So he moved west, doing custom tailoring and throwing parties. His regular showbiz customers included Frank Sinatra and most of the Rat Pack as well as Bob Hope and Nat King Cole. Being flush with cash, they made Sy a lot of money. Marti says that Jerry Lewis used to boast that after hitting the bigtime, he bought 100 suits from Sy in 1949 alone.

Being so good at hanging out, it was inevitable that Sy would try his hand at running a nightclub. He knew Slapsy Maxie well—according to Marti, the ex-boxer turned bit actor showed up nearly every day at a barber shop that was located inside Sy's Vine Street store. So Sy and Al bought themselves a nightclub. (SOURCE: LA Times)
Click here to see a photo of the outside of the Los Angeles club.

I’m finding very little about the San Francisco club other than this from Billboard magazines August, 8, 1942 edition:

Here is an interior photo from 1942 of the San Francisco club.

You can see matchbook covers from the San Francisco and Los Angeles clubs here, here, and here.

And here and here are the outside of a photo holder.

Here is a video of Jerry Lewis recalling his appearance with Dean Martin at the Copa in New York and in Los Angeles at Slapsy Maxie’s.

Now, Georgie Price, headliner at the San Francisco Slapsy Maxie’s.

Georgie was born on January 5, 1901 in New York City. He died from a heart attack on May 10, 1964 in New York City.
When Georgie was born, his mother missed work as janitor of the building, and the landlord evicted the entire family of 11, carrying Mrs. Price and Georgie into the street in her bed. A famous lady social worker saved them, letting the family return home.

Georgie started singing and dancing on the streets and subways of New York at a very early age, and in 1907, accompanied an older brother on his dry-cleaning delivery rounds. He sang for the wife of Gus Edwards, a Vaudeville entrepreneur, and was adopted by the Edwards, thereafter taking Edwards as a middle name. He and "Lila Lee" starred as "Little Georgie and Cuddles" in Gus Edwards song review, "School Days". Surrounded and adored by old-timers of Vaudeville, he mastered many arts, including tap dancing, soft shoe, gag-writing, double-talk, and especially imitation, at which he was regarded as one of the best, not only for his accents and voices, but also for his ability to imitate dancers, singers (including Enrico Caruso, who offered to adopt him), and entertainers of the past—as taught to him by those who remembered them best.

He fell on hard times during his adolescence, when though short, he could no longer play children. Bribing an elevator operator at the Shuberts' office building, he donned the operator's uniform, and imprisoned one (or more) of the Shuberts between floors, just long enough to audition. He became their "headliner", replacing Al Jolson, and later became the first non-classical singer to get a long-term recording contract with RCA Victor.

In the Thirties, he took the advice of his friend Bernard Baruch to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, beginning a second career, but continued on in show business, notably as president of The American Guild of Variety Artists, as a frequent emcee of charitable fund-raisers, as the host of "The Big Time", a CBS radio show in the early Fifties, and as a spokesman for Vaudeville and retired Vaudevilleans. (SOURCE: IMDb, Marshall Price)
Click here to read more about Georgie Price.

Here is an old Vitaphone video featuring Georgie.

Again, an old piece of paper has lead me on an interesting journey.


San Francisco nightlife 1944: FINOCCHIO'S

On March 26, 1944 Montez Lawton went to see the musical Blossom Time at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco with a man named Stewart. This is the exact same sentence that began my last post, but now I'm going to deal with some ads that were in the Curran Theatre magazine that Montez saved.

If you go to the theatre and buy a program or get a Playbill there are always lots of ads telling you of places you could go following the show. I'm going to deal with some rather exotic places the Curran advertised back in '44.

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: The Playgoer)

You really couldn't grow up in the San Francisco Bay Area and not know about Finocchio's until it closed in 1999. I never got to go to there show, but it was supposed to be classy, but brassy. I wish I'd seen it.

Joe Finocchio opened his famed San Francisco nightspot after a customer, drinking in his father's speakeasy, performed an imitation of the legendary Sophie Tucker. This gave Joe the idea of a nightclub with men performing with all the glitter, sophistication and glamour of sophisticated women.
He opened a speakeasy in 1929 at 406 Stockton St, which he managed with his wife Marjorie. Initially the show was a female impersonator paired with a exotic dancer – hula or Chinese.
In 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition, it became legal, and Joe hired more dancers and expended the floor show. In 1936 the police raided the club and arrested five female impersonators, including Walter Hart and Carroll Davis, and the owners for employing entertainers on a percentage basis. Police Chief Quinn ‘declared war’ on female impersonators, and also revoked the permit of the 201 Club.
After the raid, Finocchio’s moved to a larger location at 506 Broadway, and hired more impersonators. Marjorie planned the entertainment on a grand scale. She booked the finest entertainers, supervised and planned elaborate productions. The club was allowed to exist because it became a tourist attraction, a symbol of the city’s sophistication. Joe had to promise the police that the entertainers would not mingle with the customers. Tourist magazines billed Finocchio’s as ‘America’s most unusual night club’. This was reinforced during the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco.
The club always included ethnic impersonators. Li-Kar did a Geisha dance; Billy Herrero recreated Hedy Lamarr in the film Algiers, 1938;  in 1940 the club developed an Argentine feature; later Juan Jose did a flamenco dance; Reene de Carlo a hula dance; Bobby de Castro did a striptease in a gorilla costume (this was supposed to be Cuban).
There was little trouble at the club over the years, though military authorities declared Finocchio's "off limits" for selling liquor to WWII military personnel outside of authorized hours. That temporary sanction was lifted New Year's Eve 1943 after Joe Finocchio and other bar owners signed an agreement to limit liquor sales to military personnel to between 5 p.m and midnight. Beer could, however, be sold between 10 a.m. and midnight. The future Tony Midnight, who was working in munitions during the war, snuck into Finocchio’s using fake ID.
Joe Finocchio died in 1986, aged 88. Eve Finocchio, his widow, decided to close the club in late 1999 because of a major rent increase and dwindling attendance. The club closed November 27, 1999. Eve died 2007. (SOURCE, including club photo: Zagria)
Visit the above source link to read more. To see vintage photos, programs, matchbooks, etc. click here.

As to Johnny Mangum the performer, I've found nothing.


Montez H. Lawton SILHOUETTE

On March 26, 1944 Montez Lawton went to see the musical Blossom Time at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco with a man named Stewart. The program from the presentation is glued into her scrapbook. Inside the program I found this in a small envelope. I can only guess that at some point that evening they found an artist, perhaps at the theatre or a restaurant, that did silhouettes.


TO MONTEZ with love in 1945

Think of this post as a continuation of Valentine's Day.

This is a letter from an old scrapbook my friend Bert gave me. It dates from February 24, 1945. A fellow, Van, far away in the Pacific, writes to a woman, Montez Lawton, a schoolteacher, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It would be close to 6 months before the war in the Pacific was over.

Click on any image to see it larger.

To read a little about this Japanese/Phillippines currency click here.

To see other posts from a different scrapbook created by Montez click on her name in the labels below.


"Ken feared she was...MODERN"

I've never been able to get through the stories in vintage magazines from the 1930s. Often they're like some of the bad movies from the time where women who were "modern" frightened men. Sooner or later they'd be tied down, roped at the ankles, branded, and trotted down the aisle.

This illustration, done by John Henry Crosman (1898-1970), was for a story entitled The Amateur Husband by Leona Dalrymple. You can go to Project Gutenberg to read some of her work. In the meantime, just a morsel of what awaited the reader of this "modern" woman.
Kenneth Mallory, on the eve of his marriage to old Dr. Pennington’s granddaughter, was likely to keep it. This was the opinion of his employers, who were successful metropolitan architects. Young Mr. Mallory, it was conceded, had ideas and foresight.
Ken met Mary Pennington at a summer log cabin on a still, blue lake. The cabin belonged to his cousin, Hugh Mallory, and Ken arrived for the week-en on the 2:56, Saturday afternoon. Eventually, in spotless flannels, he went out to look at the late.
The lake, ten feet from Hugh’s dock, had lost all of its stillness. It was supporting a brilliant scarlet cap, a wet, tanned gypsy face with healthy scarlet lips and cheeks and a pair of brown eyes which examined with interest Mr. Mallory’s clean-cut darkness and intelligent blue eyes.

Click image to see it larger. (SOURCE: Collier's, October 8, 1932)

The caption next to Kenneth's leg reads:
What emerged staggered Mallory. There was very little suit, a great deal of smooth, graceful tan…. Ken feared she was modern.
Miss Dalyrmple herself seems to be very much the "modern" woman with enough spitfire to put people in their place if you read this article from the March 9, 1914 New York Times.



The original Quaker Oats Man was first registered as a trademark on September 4, 1877. The fellow on the Quaker Oats boxes we grew up knowing was actually painted "by Haddon Sundblum sometime between 1939 and 1941 using fellow Coca Cola artist Harold W. McCauley as the model." (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

So what was Pillsbury thinking in 1932 when they used this little colonial fellow for their flour ad? How long did this fellow last in their campaign before someone said, "Is that the Quaker Oat Man?"

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: Collier's, October 8, 1932)



For anyone who has been reading my nonsense for a few years you might recall my posts (here and here) about Ovaltine being a sleep aid. Every so often the old Ovaltine posts become "popular" with repeated daily hits. I've always found this curious. I envision a group of people discussing amongst themselves via email:
"Hey, did you see this? This person says Ovaltine can help you to sleep better."
"Where'd you read that?"
"Right here."
"I don't believe them. I don't think they should make statements like that without some sort of proof!"
Oh, I know, this seems far fetched, but I guarantee you it isn't.

A few weeks ago I received a lengthy comment from someone demanding I provide "PROOF" that Ovaltine was a sleep aid. They went into all sorts of self-analyzation trying to convince me and them that perhaps they needed to be drinking it with warm milk. They also informed me they preferred it with cold milk. I mean, this was a comment that they'd actually spent time composing. I stared at it and thought, "Are you freakin' kidding me?" There are just some days when comments like this need to go into the trash. If they can't understand the absurdity of the original post I'm not going to spend time explaining it to them. I'm sure they were just a curious person, but they hit me on a bad day and they were deleted. I thought of posting it, but really didn't want them to look the fool and I didn't want to spend the time dealing with it.

Well, perhaps they'll eventually come upon today's post in which I provide "PROOF" (they used the all caps, not me) that the makers of Ovaltine say it is a sleep aid. I rest my case. I just had a glass and I'm too tired to continue.

I'm not a real doctor; I just play one on the internet tubes.

New book available on Amazon.
Tattered and Lost: Forgotten Dolls

This one is for those who love dolls!

Snapshots from the last 100+ years of children and adults with dolls. Okay, there are a couple of dogs too.

Perfect stocking stuffer!



Some old scraps of paper can simply make you cry.

Ten years ago today Vanessa was killed. No, ten years ago today Vanessa was murdered by a drunk driver. I won’t go into the horrific details of her death or the hand slap her killer got from a jury. Vanessa means more to me than she could ever mean to the inept members of that Florida jury.

I keep this scrap of paper to remind me of her smile. I keep it to remind me of her playing ball in my front yard with her brother. I keep it to remember her giggling in the dining room. I keep it so that I will always remember Vanessa.

Her father called her a butterfly; he was right. Sadly we know that a butterflies beauty is not meant to last. We need to cherish them during the moments they enter our lives before they too soon leave.

I don’t know what became of Vanessa’s family. They had moved away from here to live in Florida in a gated community where they thought they’d be safe. For awhile I’d hear from her father, unbearable grief in his voice; her mother never able to talk. And then they were gone. Their email addresses were dead. Their Florida home sold. I know they are thinking of Vanessa today. This is now the only connection I have with them.

I wonder if today the death of Vanessa will ever cross the mind of the drunk driver? At the time of her death Vanessa was almost nine; her killer was 29. Twenty years difference in age, but today he is 39. Vanessa is still almost nine.

I will put this scrap of paper back up on the bookshelf where I keep it. I will forget it’s there until I see it out of the corner of my eye. Then I will remember Vanessa and the moments I spent with the butterfly.


Roller Skating is A VERY CLEAN SPORT

It's 1959 and this girl, who makes me think of Gidget, wants some Chicago Skates. Her dad is more than happy to cough up some extra cash to help her achieve her goal. I mean, she's a bit on the manipulative side. "Oh woe is me. I won't skate unless I'm wearing Chicago Skates." He falls for it. But is he aware of the old dude she calls? Her skating partner has more gray in his hair than her father!

Take a look at her expression as she calls Terry; looking over her shoulder as if she's planning something she doesnt' want dear old dad to know about.

In the end dad is fine with all of it because "skating is clean fun too!" Yeah, you wouldn't want your darling manipulator getting down and dirty. But then dad doesn't know about Terry in the loud sports coat.

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: Laugh, February,1959)

Founded in 1905 by Elisha Clark Ware, and run by his sons—Ralph, Walter and Robert—the Chicago Roller Skate Company became the largest manufacturer in the roller skating industry through most of the 20th century. Their products have included both rink and outdoor roller skates, and convertible ince/roller skates. Many innovations in roller skating were introduced by this firm, such as the St Pierre detachable skate, the "Flex-i-Flote" skate, and the "Velvet Tread" wheel system. The Chicago Roller Skate Company, in addition to being a leading force in the industry, contributed greatly over the years to the popularization of roller skating.
Chicago Skates still exists, but is now owned by National Sporting Goods. I imagine there have been some tough times for this company. Kids just don't do the things we did long ago. They don't play like we played. They don't have friendships like we had. They still have clean fun, but unfortunately they live in rather dirty times.

Chicago Skates are available through Amazon. Makes me wish I didn't have such crummy knees and live off a dirt road.


The cruel and harsh world of COMIC BOOK PAPER DOLLS

Oh how cruel they were! How evil to have done this! Have they no shame?

Hyperbole? Perhaps, but you take a look at the evidence before you let them off the hook for this crime against little kids who just wanted to play with the paper doll.

Now, imagine you've saved up your 10 cents in 1959 and bought the latest issue of Laugh featuring Archie and his friends. Lo and behold also included was a Katy Keene storyline. And is it just me, but is it doubtful that Katy and sis came from the same DNA?

Click on image to see it larger.

So you turn the page and there are all these wonderful clothes for a paper doll. The only problem is which came first? The doll or the clothes? The doll is on the preceding page, the clothes on the following verso.

Click on image to see it larger.

Hmmmmm...didn't anyone at HQ see this coming? If the kid cuts out the clothes the doll is gone. If the kid cuts out the doll the clothes are gone. Sneaky, very sneaky. But wait, there's a simple solution. Cough up another 10 cents to some unknown ranch in Santa Barbara and a fictitious character will send you the doll and clothes even though you're already holding them in your hand. They even state:
Readers Note: All these fashion cut-outs fit the sis doll on the preceding page!
Yeah, yeah, but you've stuck your little reader in a Twilight Zone episode. How would I have solved this? I'd have traced the clothes, used my crayolas to color them, then cut out the dang busted doll. I'd have been a happy, though slightly irritated, camper.

And I'd have thought the extra clothes on the last page of the story were just super keene. But I still wouldn't buy that sis has any chance at all of growing up to look like Katy. I'm thinking we need to see the milkman, the Fuller Brush salesman, and the paper boy.

Click on image to see it larger.



It is stated that this is "THE MOST SENSATIONAL TOY IN AMERICA." It was sold by Honor House. Who wouldn't trust a company with "honor" in their name? I'm sure the ship was exactly as they described it. No kid was disappointed when their huge space ship arrived in a small cardboard box.

What could possibly go wrong?

Vintage comic book ads are often the only good part of old comics. Even when the comics were new the ads were usually so mysterious, so enticing, so expensive to a kid who got 10 cents a week for making her bed. Not once did I ever send away for anything. I'd have never heard the end of it from my folks. Hard earned money was not to be spent on useless items in the back of comic books. So instead I saved up to buy more comic books and anxiously awaited each issues ads.

And what did it actually look like? Looks like these little fellows were pleased.

(SOURCE: Terror Daves)

Click here to see another version of the ad. And click here to see the actual ship in pieces with instructions.

I'm guessing this was the space ship dashboard which obviously needed some assembly...and imagination.

I sort of wish all of these things were still available for $2.98 because now I get even more for making my bed each week. I think first I'd buy the Sea Monkeys and the X-Ray glasses. I'd hold out awhile before purchasing the space ship.

Someday I'll get around to buying this book. I've had it on my "to buy" list for several years. It looks like a great collection of all the old ads, some I don't even remember. Better yet is that the author delves into the mystery behind all of this junk. Are kids more savy these days? Some are, some aren't. But I think most kids these days would be a little unhappy to get a cardboard space ship for Christmas after playing computer virtual reality games.


The voice of PHILCO RADIO

These days we're used to loud mouths spouting what is supposed to be news. Most often it isn't news because they're just speculating on what might happen or what they'd like to see happen. Real news is harder to find. Too much hot air filling the atmosphere from the current crop of media clowns. Think it's something new?

Click on image to see it larger. 

I give you Boake Carter for Philco radios. It will all feel rather familiar.
Harold Thomas Henry Carter (15/28 September 1903, Baku – 16 November 1944, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California), aka Boake Carter, was an American national news commentator in the 1930s and early 1940s. He was born in Baku, Russian Empire (now the capital of Azerbaijan), where his father, Thomas Carter, worked for a British oil company. Carter would later claim his father had been in the British Consular Service. Carter grew up in the United Kingdom, and enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the age of fifteen, serving with the RAF's Coast Patrol for eighteen months. He attended Tonbridge School from 1918 to 1921, and would later claim to have attended Christ's College in Cambridge. He arrived in the United States on September 25, 1921, after his father was assigned to Mexico.

Carter worked at the Philadelphia Daily News as a journalist of no particular acclaim.He entered broadcasting as a news commentator with WCAU in Philadelphia in 1930, initially as the announcer for a rugby game, getting the job by default as he was the only person WCAU's director knew who was familiar with the sport. In 1931, he became the narrator for Hearst-Metrotone newsreels. He rose to fame as a broadcast journalist when he covered the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, beginning in 1932. He continued to work for WCAU, with his broadcasts distributed through the CBS network.

After achieving fame, he was a familiar radio voice, but his commentaries were controversial, notably his criticisms of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the powerful Congress of Industrial Organizations. Carter was an accomplished salesman for the sponsor of his program from 1933-1938, Philco Radios, blending his reporting and commentary with plugs for the company's sets. In 1936, he had more listeners than any other radio commentator. He published several books in the 1930s, and began writing a widely syndicated column in 1937. But by 1937, the Roosevelt White House already had three federal agencies investigating him. In 1938, under pressure from Roosevelt's allies, he lost his WCAU job, was barred from CBS, and lost his General Foods sponsorship that had replaced Philco. With his removal, there was no longer any popular radio commentator who opposed Roosevelt's foreign policy.

That year, Carter went on a speaking tour through the States. He subsequently continued to work in broadcasting where he could.

In the early 1940s, Carter was drawn into a 'British Israelite' cult led by a Moses Guibbory.

He was almost a forgotten figure when he died of a heart attack in 1944. A messy fight between his three former wives followed over his estate. Stewart Robb's "The Strange Death of Boake Carter," published in 1946, suggested Boake was murdered, perhaps by Guibbory. In 1949, his final years were documented in a book, "Thirty-three candles," by fellow cult adherent David Horowitz. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)



Yesterday and today I've done posts at Tattered and Lost Photographs (here and here) showing old Zenith Trans-Oceanic radios. How fortuitous that today I found an old ad in a August, 1947, National Geographic.

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: National Geographic, August 1947)



First off, I have a guest blogger today, The Strange Loves of Daniel Nauman, who loves vintage radios. He’s going to provide some interesting information about the old radio dials on the big beautiful pieces of furniture radios once were.

When I think of the old furniture style radios I think of people during the Depression sitting around listening to Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. At those moments the country was one. They heard him tell of the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor and the years of war that followed.

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: The American Magazine, October, 1936)

On a lighter side I think of families gathering around to listen to their favorite comedies, dramas, and musical programs. Unlike today, where everything is in our face, listeners had to use their imaginations. I guess the closest today would be audio books and listening to Prairie Home Companion.

Click on image to see it larger. (SOURCE: The American Magazine, October, 1936)

And now, The Strange Loves of Daniel Nauman. Note that you can click on any of the images of radio dials below to see them larger.
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When Herb Bell’s mother complained that she couldn’t read the typically tiny dials found on early 1930s radios, he set out to do something about it. After all, he could---being co-founder of California’s own Packard Bell radios. He picked up on the latest 1935 trend of the full view round ‘airplane’ type dial but enlarged the size so he could print the station call letters above the frequency numbers. Their trademarked ‘Stationized’ dials were soon mimicked by many other California radio manufacturers.

The first image is from a late 1936 Packard Bell.  You'll see some of the stations are in a larger font than the others, which indicates higher powered stations like KFI Los Angeles.  KPO San Francisco would become KNBR (NBc Radio) in the 1950s.  At 1560kc, W6AXI Bakersfield was above the commercial broadcast band at the time (550-1550kc) and therefore was stuck with an amateur’s call letters despite having a wide and eager audience for their high fidelity signal. Back in 1933, W6AXI was the audio source for the first regularly scheduled mechanical television broadcasts on the West Coast. A high school student sat before a broiling bank of lights and read the news from the evening paper.

The second image is of a 1936 Tiffany Tone dial, which incorporates a few stations from farther east, such as WFAA Dallas and Crosley Radio’s 500,000 watt superstation WLW Cincinnati. The lower short wave portion of the dial shows the principal cities and countries where short wave broadcasts originated.

The third image is of a 1937 Gilfillan 'Radio Log Dial'. This dial omits W6AXI, perhaps because of its experimental status.  The dial does favor KGU Honolulu, however—so it’s likely  Gilfillan had a distributor in Hawaii. Water greatly increases the range of AM broadcasts, so Hawaiians could take advantage of dials marked with KFI, KNX and KPO. I've also discovered that Gilfillan actually had different call letter dials for different markets on their little late 1930s Plastikon radios—such as one for the Salt Lake region, one for Seattle, etc.  It's interesting they'd made the effort---and they must have advertised the fact, as it would be a good gimmick for a cheap plastic radio.

The fourth image is of a circa 1938 Tiffany Tone dial, showing the call letter change from experimental W6AXI to commercial KPMC (Pioneer Mercantile Company) when the broadcast band was increased up to 1600kc.

The fifth image is of a circa 1940 Remler. While most California radio manufacturers were based in Los Angeles, Remler was based in San Francisco, so it isn’t surprising their station list is mostly concerned with the Bay Area. Note the position of KQW San Jose on the dial.

Lastly, a Paramount dial, circa 1946.  I believe this a rebranding of Remler, as once again the station list favors Northern California.  KQW San Jose has been moved down to 740kc—its first step in becoming a high powered station, completed with its rebranding as KCBS about ten years later.

When civilian electronics production resumed after World War II, the majority of California radio manufacturers continued profiting from their military contracts due to the nascent Cold War. Within five years most ceased their consumer operations, unable or unwilling to compete on a nationwide scale. Only Packard Bell stuck with their trademark ‘Stationized’ dials into the early 1950s before vying for a share of the national market.

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Thank you Daniel!

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