Author Archives: Hannah K.

Classic Hollywood #43

Joan Crawford And Her Shoes

Joan Crawford shows off one her 500 pairs of shoes 1954 6 23When Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina Crawford wrote her 1978 poison pen biography “Mommie Dearest” about her Hollywood superstar mother, many people found the account to be unbelievable.

It is still debated today how much of Christina’s biography really occurred. There are others who knew Joan Crawford personally and did not find Christina’s allegations to be extraordinary. We’ll never know for sure, but take this to heart, Joan Crawford was known to be controlling and manipulative in advancing her career.

I will say Joan Crawford was a good actress. But that is where it ends for me.

In this publicity photograph dated June 23, 1954, Crawford shows off one of her 500 pairs of shoes meticulously arranged in her shoe closet.

I’m sure there were others in the golden years of Hollywood that had a bigger collection of shoes. But my question is – would you show them off to the press and the public? Strange woman.

Classic Hollywood #42

The Young And Handsome Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart c 1933

Humphrey Bogart in the early 1930’s

If you’ve ever seen the classic film Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, allow yourself to ask a shallow question, “based on looks alone, how would a beautiful girl like Ilsa (Bergman) fall in love with Rick (Bogart)?”

Humphrey Bogart was 42-years-old when Casablanca was filmed and had a scrawny frame, was not particularly tall, wore a toupee and looked rather haggard. Bogart also smoked cigarettes on screen and in real life like a chimney.

Even with all those perceived shortcomings, most women will tell you Humphrey Bogart was a sexy man. Continue reading

Let Us Make You Fat – Old Advertising

“Gee. Look At That Pair Of Skinny Scarecrows. Why Don’t They Try Sargol?”

Early 20th Century Advertising

Ad Let Us Make You Fat world almanac 1915 0117As this 1915 ad proclaims it is “no longer necessary to be “thin scrawny and undeveloped.”

Our thin conscious society today might be a good market for this product, except for the fact that the United States is the fattest country in the world, so we don’t need any help in putting on weight.

The usual cause for being too thin in the early 20th century was poverty and disease, not bad eating habits. People suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes, malassimilation of food, chronic diarrhea, Bright’s Disease and other malady’s were prime candidates to use Sargol. And since hundreds of thousands of people were concerned about being underweight they looked anywhere they could for cures. Sargol promised them the hope that they could put on weight.

But as with most ads of this nature, the Sargol Company was selling quackery.

Sargol started their business in 1908 and teamed up with Parke, Davis & Co. to manufacture their fat pills. Sargol was sold primarily through mail order to the public by taking out hundreds of ads in newspapers, magazines and almanacs to push their nostrum. The ingredients in their “miracle” drug was nothing more than saw palmetto; calcium; sodium; potassium; lecithin and nux vomica.

Sargol’s scam netted them over $3 million before the government fined them $30,000 in 1917 after a thirteen week trial and shut them down for good.

UFO In A 15th Century Painting?

A Flying Saucer Or Just A Radiant Cloud?

The Madonna with Saint GiovanninoThe Madonna with Saint Giovannino by Domenico Ghirlandaio 1449 – 1494, is on display in the Sala d’Ercole in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino ufoThere is nothing unusual about the painting until you look over the shoulder of the Madonna and in the right hand corner there is this object:

Now many people who have looked closely at this painting see nothing but a cloud. But there are others who claim that this is an object that is intended to represent some sort of flying object. At first glance it does appear to have some of the characteristics of a flying saucer.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino ufo 2The shepherd and the dog are looking up at the object, so it is definitely meant to be there. But why would the artist paint a UFO in a religious setting? Does that even make any sense? Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #39

Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury – 1954

Basil Rathbone Angela Lansbury Paramount Commisary 1954 Court Jester photo EisenstadtThis very appealing photograph was taken in 1954 and shows Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury eating lunch at the Paramount studio commissary.

Rathbone and Lansbury are  in costume for the filming of The Court Jester (1955) which they starred in along with Danny Kaye.

Rathbone looks less than enthused with his meal and Lansbury has taken a couple of bites of her hamburger and has decided to fix her hair, possibly sensing that Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt is about to snap this candid photo of the pair.

Lansbury appears Continue reading

How Much Did A Working Girl Need To Live On In 1922?

According To One Report – A Miniscule $468 Per Year Would Supply A Working Girl “All The Necessities Of Life.”

1922 Women Dressed NicelyIn 1922, a single working woman could live comfortably on $9 per week and, $17 a week with “luxuries” according to a report issued by the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts.

Even without debt, an annual salary of $468 would barely keep you at subsistence level. $884 would afford you the luxuries of life? Talk about underestimating the needs of the working poor.

The New York Tribune of August 26, 1922 sarcastically mocks the report, as being completely unrealistic.

BOSTON, Aug. 25 – If you are a working girl, $9 a week is enough to supply you with all the necessities of life, according to an investigation just completed by Miss Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner of the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts, who fails to set down for public information just how much she, herself, is contented to earn for her services. For $17 a week the working girl should be able to keep herself well supplied with all the reasonable luxuries of life.

In order to live on the commission’s wage you are supposed, if you are a working girl, to make one pair of corsets last two years and a $2.98 kimono must be stretched over five
years of service.

Your principal recreation should be semi-annual trips to the dentist, and you may contribute 7 cents a week to charity, presumably that which does not begin at home.

According to the commission’s budget, you should spend $154.92 for your clothes and $1 a day for three meals –  breakfast, 25 cents; lunch, 30, and dinner 45. Your one dress and two hats should go through the 365 days- but your heavy coat, costing $40 is supposed to last three winters.

You must not have more than three union suits a year and six pairs of stockings Miss Johnson says few working girls know how to spend their money. “Working women waste most of their money because they actually do not know how they are spending it. They spend §1.50 for a jar of face cream and then quiet their consciences by saving 40 cents a week on cheap lunches.”

By the way, $468 in 1922 adjusted for inflation is equivalent to $6,608 in 2014 dollars.

Increase Your Bust Ad – 1915

Same Scam As Today, Perpetrated 100 Years Ago

Ad Increase Your Bust world almanac 1915 0115

World Almanac 1915 ad

Before plastic surgery and breast implants became the way to change your natural assets, there were charlatans preying upon young girls and women’s insecurities. Growing up I remember reading magazines in the 1970’s and 80’s and constantly seeing the ads saying you can increase your bust size with creams, ointments or exercises. Most of the ads did not describe exactly how the transformation would occur.

Well this scam has been going on for a lot longer than you may think .

This full page advertisement above from the 1915 World Almanac placed by Mrs. Louise Ingram of Toledo, Ohio proclaims to the hopeful, that they can attain a bust of beautiful proportions, firmness, and exquisite development by writing to her.

The ads Mrs. Ingram took out in newspapers and magazines from 1912-1915 taunt women with jabs like, “Why should any woman neglect an opportunity to escape the pain and heartache of being skinny, scrawny, and unattractive in body? For why should there be that pitiful aspect – the face of a woman and the form of a man?”

ad mrs louise ingram bust developmentIf you replied, a sales pitch would arrive in your mailbox to sell you a concoction that would accomplish absolutely nothing but separate you from your money.

No, you would not get a perfect bust and figure, but you would be counted on not to tell anyone that you fell for such quackery and Mrs. Ingram would continue her scamming ways.

So not that much has changed in 100 years, the scams have mostly migrated from print to the internet and now the hucksters have doubled the playing field. While continuing to sell “increase your bust” devices and creams, they have tapped into the self-perceived shortcomings of men.

Insecurities will always fuel this market and so the ads will continue. As David Hannum, not P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Why Are There Annoying Flies At Jones Beach Field 6?

Is There Anything You Can Do To Keep The Flies Off Of You?

Jones BeachIn the summer if you ever go to Jones Beach in Long Island, especially the often filled popular field 6, you will notice one of two things, there are hundreds of flies swarming around and biting you or there are none at all. I have spent an inordinate amount of time swatting and killing flies as they relentlessly bite away.

So why is this?

The answer lies not in the temperature, the food you bring with you, your choice of sunscreen or fly repellant.

The swimming flags hold the key. Continue reading

May Day In Brooklyn -1919

10,000 Girls Celebrate May Day In Prospect Park, 1919

Brooklyn May Day celebration 10,000 girls at  Prospect Park 1919

Brooklyn May Day celebration 10,000 girls at Prospect Park 1919

I may not be 100 years old, but I do remember being in public school celebrating May Day with a traditional maypole dance.

May Day in New York has other connotations and since the 1890’s May Day has been known for communists, socialists, union activists and workers marching (sometimes together, sometimes separately) around the city protesting and trying to bring attention to their causes.

But here we see a time when the world was finally at peace, a few months after the conclusion of the Great War (World War I).  Soldiers with their hats on can be seen in the extreme foreground observing and enjoying the festivities.

10,000 Girls in Brooklyn, N.Y. May Day fete

Shouts of joy ring through Prospect Park as happy children dance, play games and sing. Photo shows a general view of thousands of girls of the Brooklyn Girls’ Branch of the Public Schools Athletic League in their annual May Day fete in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York.  (photo credit: Central News Photo Service May 2, 1919)

Ladies Day – Rowing On The Harlem River Circa 1905

Ladies Get Ready For Rowing At An Annual Regatta On The Harlem River

Ladies Day Rowing on the Harlem River circa 1905 photo UPI

At the turn of the century, the male dominated rowing clubs of New York City, Long Island and Hoboken would hold regattas and invite the fairer sex to participate in the rowing races.

Rowing Clubs with names like the Nassau Boat Club, the Harlem Rowing Club, the Nonpareil Boat Club, the Bohemian Boat Club and the Dauntless Rowing Club would hold a “Ladies Day” and open the festivities to women entrants. In some races the women would have assistance from the men as they stroked their four oared gigs or eight oared barges along the Harlem River from Sherman Creek to about 145th Street. This area of the Harlem River has excellent conditions for rowing and the Columbia Rowing teams still holds practices there.

Both sides of the river would be packed with large crowds to cheer the ladies on during these regattas which were usually held by the different rowing clubs in June and September in the the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.