Horror Movie or Hockey Player?

Who’s Behind This Mask?

Jacques Plante 1st mask 1946 1 23Though your first guess of who might be behind this frightening mask may be Hannibal LecterJason or Leatherface, it is actually hockey player Jacques Plante.

The legendary Montreal Candiens goalie was not the first to use a mask for protection, but Jacques Plante was the player to introduce the goalie mask as everyday equipment. Before Plante, the only goalie previously to wear a mask was the Montreal Maroons’ Clint Benedict who wore one briefly in 1930 to protect a broken nose.

This Associated Press photo was taken January 23, 1948 when Plante was just 19-years-old. He was playing organized hockey for the Quebec Citadelles and was still five years away from his NHL debut with the Canadiens.

This leather and fiber mask Plante wore in 1948, was used only in practices because there were so many pucks coming at him at once.

photo via sb nation habs eyes on the prize Plante hurtPlante first donned a mask in a game on November 1, 1959 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Plante was struck on the left side of his  nose and upper lip in the first period on a shot from Andy Bathgate. The game was delayed 20 minutes as Plante left the ice, received seven stitches and returned wearing a plexiglass mask (not the one seen in the photo above).

photo via sb nation habs eyes on the prize Plante bloodiedMontreal coach Toe Blake, a traditionalist, had been an ardent opponent of Plante wearing a mask. Continue reading

Share Button

Old New York In Photos #56

Manhattan Looking North & West From Madison Square Garden Tower – 1893

view North and west from Madison Square Garden Tower 1893This photograph taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann shows the emerging profile of New York around 1893. The tallest structures visible are mostly steeples of the many churches that are spread throughout Manhattan.

We are looking north and west from 26th Street between Fourth and Madison Avenues from the tower of Madison Square Garden, designed by architectural giants McKim, Mead & White in 1890.

Scottish Rite Hall photo Kings Handbook of New YorkBesides churches, there are two buildings that are prominent in the photo. One was a former church, in the center lower portion of the image, the Scottish Rite Hall with the steeple tower at the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue. The building Continue reading

Share Button

Unusual News Stories From A Small Town Newspaper in 1881

A Horse Commits Suicide, A Man Falls 60 Feet From A Building And Is Uninjured & Instructions On How To Wash Your Face

lowville times bannerInteresting “News” From The Lowville Times In The Summer of 1881

photo: Yester-Images of Lowville NY on postcards by Larry Myers

photo: Yester-Images of Lowville NY on postcards by Larry Myers

Lowville is a sleepy town in Lewis County, upstate New York, about 40 miles east of Lake Ontario and about 90 miles north of Syracuse. Just under 5,000 people call this town home. The most famous person associated with Lowville is probably Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Peter is a veterinarian at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville.

lowville new york map circa 1870sThe town was founded in 1797 and by 1881 had a population which was a tad over 3,000 people, mostly comprised of assiduous  farmers and merchants.

Like most aspiring small towns across America, Lowville had their own newspaper, a weekly journal comprised of four pages called the Lowville Times which existed from 1876-1884. It featured a smattering of national and international news, but the main feature for the citizens of Lowville and the surrounding towns of Copenhagen, Carthage, Constableville, Martinsburgh and Boonville, was the “local matters” section on page three.

It featured not so much news as it did gossip, illnesses, births, deaths, religious revivals, calls for temperance, arrivals and departures of visitors, and rumblings about town and other community news from larger towns around New York State.

An accurate statement in the newspaper of August 25, 1881 read “A stranger visiting Lowville on Wednesday, the day of the Band Boys’ excursion would have pronounced it a dull place.” What the paper doesn’t say is that this was probably true 360 days out of the year. But in the 19th century it was a beautiful town, with hills and rolling meadows. The pace of life was slow and hard work was rewarded with leisurely pleasures, like regular town picnics featuring music and refreshments.

Besides reporting local mundane items like, ” The picnic was well attended on Saturday last,” and “R.J. Richardson and Frank Doig killed 17 woodcock on Tuesday,” there are stories that are succinct, unusual and interesting.

Here are a selection of short news items with some editorial flair from the summer of 1881:

June 23 – Mr. Albert Eldridge, foreman in the Lowville Manufacturing Co.’s saw mill had a tussel with a hand spike, and we should judge by the looks of his eye that he got the worst of the bargain. Continue reading

Share Button

Gangster Al Capone Goes To A Baseball Game

Hall-of-Famer Gabby Hartnett Signs Autographs For Al Capone and His Son – 1931

Al Capone sees a Cubs game with son as Gabby Hartnett signs autograph 1931 9 10Associated Press Photo From Chicago

Al Capone takes his son to the ball game surrounded by his watchful lieutenants. Chicago’s gang chief and his 12-year-old son, Al Jr., get Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs to autograph a baseball just before the Cubs defeated the White Sox, 3 to 0, in a charity game before 35,000 spectators at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Sept. 9. Pictures of Capone before the public are not frequent, and a pose with his son is rare. He affectionately calls the boy “Sonny.”

Note the watchfulness of one of his bodyguards directly behind him. A pop-corn vendor evidently rubbed his shoulder and he looks ready to protect his chief. 9-9-31

This photograph made me wonder if Al Capone’s bodyguards were licensed to carry firearms and if they were packing heat when they visited Comiskey Park? It certainly looks like the bodyguard is reaching into his jacket to pull out his “roscoe” or maybe it was his wallet to pay for the popcorn.

One other thing to note: “Sonny,” does not look thrilled to be at the ballpark, much less getting an autograph from Gabby Hartnett.

Share Button

Sean Connery On James Bond

Quotes From Sean Connery About James Bond

Sean Connery and the women of Goldfinger

Sean Connery and the women of Goldfinger

The most recent double oh seven Daniel Craig has talked about getting typecast as secret agent James Bond. Craig doesn’t seem to view typecasting as a problem. With the recent blockbuster opening of Spectre, the latest installment of the Bond series, Craig is probably laughing all the way to the bank if he has indeed been typecast.

With the man who played James Bond originally, it is hard to gauge what his true feelings are towards the character.

Sean Connery greeting press August 1965 photo Apis Paris

Sean Connery & the press – August 1965

Sean Connery has always been protective of his private life and after he gained worldwide fame playing James Bond, he developed a justifiable, deep suspicion of the fourth estate.

Connery has said he intensely dislikes intrusions by the press “Particularly, the critical personality profiles that run in magazines and newspapers. The actors utter these inanities, then go to some movie set and pose for pictures in some mock-up kitchen. The article will then read: ‘Here’s Sean Connery, a real homebody, frying eggs in his own kitchen.’ “

Because he had to answer the same insipid questions thousands of times, Connery, quickly built up a resentment around all the publicity surrounding James Bond and the Interchangeability of himself and the character.

Therein lies the complex love/hate relationship between Connery and the character that made him one of the world’s biggest movie stars.

The following quotes from Sean Connery about the character of James Bond were all made from 1963 -1972 when he was playing 007. The source is listed before the quote.

James Bond magazine Sean ConnerySydney Morning Herald, 1963 –

After the first Bond film Dr. No was released:

“I’ll be honest with you. There’s not much of James Bond in me.”

“The only real difficulty I found in playing Bond was that I had to start from scratch. Nobody knew anything about him, after all. Not even Fleming. Does he have parents? Where does he come from? Nobody knows. But we played it for laughs, and people seem to feel it comes off quite well.”

“I’m grateful to the film for giving my career a lift like this, but I must be careful not to get too typed. I hope to make a completely different type of film.”

Elizabeth Trotta, Newsday, 1963-

On being similar to the Bond character –

“Yes, I do identify with him. I too enjoy drinking, women, eating the physical pleasure – smells and tastes living by my senses, being alive.  And as far as Bond is concerned, he has no past.”

Anthony Carthew, New York Times, 1964 –

After Goldfinger completed filming.

“I don’t really suppose I’d like Bond if I met him. He’s not my kind of chap at all.”

Sean Connery From Russia With Love“Bond makes his own rules, and that’s fine as long as you’re not plagued by doubts.” “But if you are—and most of us are—you’re sunk. That’s why Bond is so attrac­tive to women. By their na­ture they’re indecisive, so a man who is absolutely sure comes as a godsend.” Continue reading

Share Button

50 Years Ago – New York’s Big Blackout

Tuesday, November 9, 1965 – The Night The Lights Failed

Blackout Grand Central stranded 1965 11 10Nov. 10, 1965 – New Yorkers During Blackout – People sleep sitting up and lying down in New York’s Grand Central Terminal early today during the power failure. This area is lit up with emergency lighting. (AP Wirephoto)

In the past 50 years New York has experienced three huge blackouts; August 14, 2003; July 13-14, 1977; and the first large scale blackout that affected much of the northeast, November 9-10, 1965.

30 million people were affected when the electricity went off, cascading from Ontario to Buffalo to New Hampshire and on through to New York City where at 5:40 pm the power failed, plunging the city into darkness. Trains, elevators, traffic lights and all electric ceased to function as many New Yorkers were literally stopped in their tracks.

Blackout: Using a candle for a light passengers look at another passenger sleeping on the floor of a stalled subway train during power failure. November 10, 1965 (AP Wirephoto)

Blackout: Using a candle for a light passengers look at another passenger sleeping on the floor of a stalled subway train during power failure. November 10, 1965 (AP Wirephoto)

There was no looting Continue reading

Share Button

What Presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft & Wilson Sounded Like

Rare Audio Recordings of the Presidents

Would you vote for any of these men based upon their photographs (or voices)?

Let’s not generalize and say modern Americans are shallow, but research confirms that public image and to a lesser extent how someone talks, does influence the electorate.

One classic, yet apocryphal example, is the first televised presidential debate in 1960, in which supposed surveys showed people listening on the radio thought Richard Nixon was the clear winner of the debate, whereas people watching on television thought John F. Kennedy was the victor.

Today we are bombarded by media 24/7. It has becomes a challenge to capture anyone’s attention. The current presidential debates have devolved into images and soundbytes that convey little when it comes to substantive ideas and solutions for making our country functional. The public and media analyze Donald Trump’s hair;  if Hillary Clinton has “had work done” or why Ted Cruz “talks weird.”

So now, imagine life 100 – 125  years ago. Most Americans never ventured more than a few miles from where they were born. There was no internet, television or radio. Images were viewed in newspapers and magazines. If you heard a politician speak, it was, in person addressing an attentive crowd.

The technological revolutions around the turn of the century were stunning to the masses. The development of motion pictures, x-rays, electric appliances (beginning with the toaster), airplanes and audio recordings astonished people.

Maybe you’ve seen grainy silent films of the men who served as presidents of the United States at the turn-of-the-century. They are silent, stoic and graven in image. What did they sound like? How did they talk?

Most people do not realize that these early president’s voices were recorded and preserved for posterity, usually by the Edison Company on wax cylinder disks. The following recordings are part of the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University. It is very interesting to hear what these men sounded like.

Based upon their photographs and voices, could any of these men be elected today?

Grover Cleveland photo locFirst we have President Grover Cleveland (the 22nd and 24th president 1885-1889 & 1893-1897) the only man ever to be elected twice in non-consecutive terms.

Cleveland was mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York before becoming president. In 1884 a book was published called Off-hand Portraits of Prominent New Yorkers by Stephen Fiske.  The coda to the profile on Cleveland accurately predicted “If he shall make the same sort of a Governor as he has a Mayor, the road to the White House is open to him, and this sketch may yet be entitled the portrait of President Cleveland.”

Grover Cleveland’s voice, recorded during a campaign speech in 1892 is a bit hard to hear with all the static, but is comprehensible.

The way most politicians in the 19th century wrote, is the way Cleveland speaks. Cleveland puts out his speech with melodrama and clear diction.

William Mckinley photo locNext, the 25th President William McKinley (1897-1901) who never left his front porch at his home in Ohio to campaign. McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901, which put Theodore Roosevelt into the executive office.

McKinley on this recording from 1896, talks about the Republican platform. Similar to Grover Cleveland, McKinley speaks the way you’d imagine a 19th century politician would talk. McKinley’s speech pattern  epitomizes the 20th century movie portrayal of 19th century diction, emphasizing certain words, and like Cleveland, drawing out his syllables.

Theodore Roosevelt photo locTheodore Roosevelt Continue reading

Share Button

Classic Hollywood #47

Harold Lloyd Between Takes On The Set of Professor Beware! – 1938

Harold Lloyd on set 1939Noted fun-maker rests during an idle moment on location. Harold Lloyd , now in production on his current comedy “Professor Beware!” is seen here taking it easy between “takes”. This is the first Lloyd picture in almost two years. – photo: Harold Lloyd Productions

In the 1920s Harold Lloyd was one of the top box office stars. By the 1930s he was reduced to making a film every two years. With the completion of Professor Beware!, LLoyd said he was now planning on getting ramped up and start making two films per year.

Instead, Professor Beware! turned out to be Harold Lloyd’s next to last film.

The story for Professor Beware! was written by Colonel Crampton Harris, the former law partner of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Lloyd plays an egyptologist who sees parallels between ancient happenings and his own life that seem like reincarnation and may spell doom for him. Lloyd’s co-star was the unknown Phyllis Welch, but Lloyd had originally offered the female lead to Jean Arthur, who turned it down.

A strange story connected with the film concerns the usually inoffensive Lloyd almost being censored. The Hays office called Lloyd and his staff in for a meeting and wanted a scene cut in which Lloyd’s character is driving in the street, bumps into a fire engine and tells the firemen there is a fire at the pier and yells “fire!” Lloyd was flabbergasted and asked what was wrong with saying “fire”.

Lloyd insisted to the censor that removing the scene would ruin the plot. The Hays office censor said that no actor should ever say the word “fire” on screen. The censor explained that two times previously it had led to  trouble  when a person out on the street buying a ticket at the box office heard the word fire and went to call the fire department.

Lloyd asked the overzealous censor if he had seen the film in a projection booth with no audience and if he had laughed, to which which replied that is where he viewed the movie and  he had not laughed. In a real theater situation, Lloyd explained, the audience would be laughing so hard at that point, that when the word fire was uttered no one would be able to hear it. Believe it or not, the censor agreed with this argument and left the scene intact.

The movie itself did not catch fire and was greeted lukewarmly by the critics and the public. Lloyd then made up his mind to give up acting until “he found the right story.”

After a career appearing in over 200 films, it took another seven years for the highly popular Lloyd to make another film, which ended up being his final movie The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (released 1947).

In 1945 producer-director Preston Sturges convinced Lloyd that he should play the lead character in his new film which was originally slated to star Eddie Bracken as Harold Diddlebock. Considering Sturges’ reputation as a comedic genius, Lloyd agreed.

In an interview with the New York Times after the filming was completed, LLoyd said, “Basically, Preston and I think alike even when our approach is different. I like to go out on the set with a scene mapped out and work from my head; Preston comes on with a blueprint he’s sweated over beforehand to the last detail. He can do his cutting a reel at a time, and stay with it indefinitely; it’s an effort for me to stay in a projection room with an uncut story. After I’ve seen three good ideas go through the chopper, I have to come up for air.”

The strained creative relationship Continue reading

Share Button

Old New York In Photos #55

Staten Island Ferry And Terminals – 1960

Staten Island Ferry Terminal aerial April 5 1960

This aerial photograph taken April 5, 1960 shows one of the boats of the Staten Island Ferry in motion while the other ferry boat is idle. The Whitehall or South Ferry terminal (originally named the Municipal Ferry Terminal) was built between 1908-1909 by architects Richard A. Walker and Charles Morris. The terminal was stripped to its steel skeleton and reconstructed in 1957.

Original ferry waiting room 1909 Architects' and Builders' Magazine

Original ferry waiting room Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine November 1909

The Staten Island Ferry used this utilitarian structure until September 8, 1991, when a mysterious fire badly damaged the building. An interim terminal was set up in the lower portion of the terminal which operated for many years while plans for a new terminal were bandied about for years. Finally the new Whitehall Terminal was constructed and rededicated in 2005.

The 25 minute crossing to Staten Island offers one of the great bargain viewing sites of the city from the harbor: in essence, a cruise for free.

When the fare was established in 1897 Continue reading

Share Button

How The 1907 Cadillac Was Advertised

4 Cylinders, 30 Horsepower, With Speeds Reaching Up To 50 Miles Per Hour!

Cadillac Ad 1906 Sept 8In the first couple of decades of U.S. automaking, there were so many car companies competing for what was originally a very limited business. From 1895-1930 it is estimated that there were over 1,800 car manufacturers in the United States alone. Cadillac is one of the few companies that survived those early days and have flourished into the 21st century.

I found this ad which appeared in the September 8, 1906 issue of Scientific American Magazine while researching the previous story on the Singer Building. Cadillac Motor Car Co. proclaims several things for the new Model H:

A veritable wonder in hill climbing!

Perfect planetary transmission

Double acting steering device that greatly increases safety

Independent steel engine suspension Continue reading

Share Button