Author Archives: B.P.

Old New York In Photos #104 – Mystery Church & Street In New York City

A New York City Tree Lined Street With A Church – Where Is This?

Street in New York City and Vicinity circa 1870s possibly 34th Street looking west Broadway TabernacleAt first glance you might think this would be some rural village scene, not New York City.

But this old stereoview photograph has identification which says, American Scenery; N.Y. City & Vicinity and 1285.

I do not know where this is. The photograph appears to be from the late 1860s / early 1870s, based upon the sparse surrounding scenery and architecture. Below is the original stereoview: Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #84 – Party For Rudolph Valentino?

United Artists Holds A Party. Who Is The Guest Of Honor?

United Artists Party with Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Constance Talmadge, Norma Talmadge, Joseph Schenk, Rudolph Valentino, Hiram Abrams at Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles April 8 ,1925United Artists Pictures executives, stars and their families attended this dinner party at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on April 8, 1925.  This was an enormous display of Hollywood power brokers in one small room. What was the reason they were there?

Silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino had signed a contract a month earlier with United Artists.  When this photograph came up for auction several years ago, it was attributed in the auction that Valentino was the recipient for this gathering.

But that is not the case. Continue reading

Signs In French

Real Signs In France

The French have a different way of doing things. Especially with their signage.

Here are three signs that caught my attention.

baggage troubles french sign sillyThis one was on a train going from Paris to southern France. It says:

Forgot Your Luggage? Worries Guaranteed!

Now I’m not quite sure if they literally meant it. That if you lost or left your baggage on the train that you would be worried. Well of course you would! Or is this the French way of saying, “You are screwed if you lose your luggage. So don’t lose it!”

Something definitely got lost in translation. Maybe hire a proofreader who understands English when the next version of this sign is created.

The next one doesn’t need any words, even though it had them only in French. This was near the beach. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #83 – “Catwoman” Julie Newmar

Batman’s Catwoman – Julie Newmar

Julie Newmar with Blonde hair

This undated, uncredited photo shows a young Julie Newmar with blonde hair. Newmar did have a film career before and after her turn as one of the sexiest TV villains ever. This is what she looked like years before appearing on Batman.

Julie Newmar was indisputably the best Catwoman on the Batman TV series. Eartha Kitt also played Catwoman, while Lee Meriwether played the part in the 1966 Batman movie.

The leggy Newmar had wickedly delicious lines she would trade with Adam West (Batman). Catwoman’s best piece of dialogue I believe was this exchange with Batman while he is trying to convince Catwoman to surrender:

Batman: I’ll do everything I can to rehabilitate you.

Catwoman: [overcome by happiness]  Marry me.

Batman: Everything except that. A wife, no matter how beauteous, or affectionate would severely impair my crime-fighting.

Catwoman: But I could help you in your work. As a former criminal, I’d be invaluable. I can reform, honestly I can.

Batman: What about Robin?

Catwoman: [pulls a disgusted face]  Robin? Oh, I’ve got it: we’ll kill him.

Batman: I see you’re not really ready to assume a life in society.

Batman has been off the air over 50 years and it’s hard to believe that Julie Newmar (born Newmayer August 16, 1933) will be 86-years-old this year. Continue reading

Mickey Mantle’s Final All Star Game – July 9, 1968

51 Years Ago Today – Mickey Mantle Plays In His Last All-Star Game July 9, 1968

Mickey Mantle final All Star game July 9 1968 strikeout photo Sam C Pierson Jr. Houston Chronicle

Mickey Mantle’s final All Star game July 9, 1968 Mickey Mantle swings through a Tom Seaver fastball. photo: Sam C Pierson Jr. / Houston Chronicle

Mickey Mantle hit the first home run ever at the Houston Astrodome, in an exhibition game on April 9, 1965. The Astrodome was then the new home of the National League’s, Houston Astros.

When Mantle next returned to the Astrodome in 1968 it was for the All-Star Game. Continue reading

Idiot or Autistic? New York’s 19th Century “Idiot Asylum”

New York’s Idiot Asylum Was A School / Prison For Children Who Were Often Not “Idiots”

The New York Asylum for Idiots Report 1867 coverWithout discussing the question how far down in the scale of idiocy the work of education can practicably go, this much may be said: that some idiots are teachable to an extent which will fully compensate for the amount of labor involved in their instruction. These certainly should be cared for by the State.

It will be seen by the report of the Superintendent, that according to the last census, there were in the State, 303 idiots under 15 years of age. No one can examine these returns without being convinced that the actual number is at least double the number so returned. Were only a third of these fit subjects for management and training in a public institution, even then it is obvious that the present provision made by the State falls short of their needs.

– from the 1867 Sixteenth Annual report of the New York Asylum for Idiots: transmitted to the Legislature, January 17, 1867

Today it would be politically incorrect to label anyone with mental disabilities or deficiencies as an idiot. The word mentally retarded has also fallen out of common usage.

Idiot.

Imbecile.

Moron.

In the early 20th century these words took on new psychiatric meaning, which has since been expunged from the nomenclature of psychiatry. In the 19th century those words were pretty much interchangeable for anyone considered mentally deficient or inherently stupid.

What Do We Do With “Idiots”?

The study and understanding of psychology and medical conditions related to learning and developmental disorders was virtually nonexistent before the 20th century. In a large state like New York, a facility was developed at public expense to deal with so-called idiots. Hence came the “Idiot Asylum.”

The Idiot Asylum Syracuse NY circa 1860Often parents couldn’t understand why a child wasn’t speaking. paying attention, responding to social cues, or learning like other children. Continue reading

The General Slocum Disaster – 115 Years Ago Today

The General Slocum Steamship Disaster Wiped Out Entire Families – June 15, 1904

The New York Evening World General Slocum Cover June 15 1904 headline Over 1.000 Dead115 years ago today, a penny brought you news of a  massive calamity. It was a disaster unlike any other that had ever occurred in New York City.

Earlier that day, June 15, 1904, the General Slocum excursion boat caught fire. Women and children who comprised the majority of the passengers, were burned alive or drowned.

As news filtered in to the newspapers, the death toll continued to mount. The number of victims would rise from hundreds to over 1,000. Continue reading

Disappointment in Boston, Happiness For St. Louis – The Blues Finally Win The Stanley Cup

St. Louis Blues Win The 2019 Stanley Cup On Boston’s Home Ice

From TD Garden June 12 2019 St. Louis Blues celebrate winning the Stanley Cup

June 12, 2019, Boston – The St. Louis Blues celebrate winning their first Stanley Cup at TD Garden in Boston photo: L. Stefano

At TD Garden, The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup with a decisive 4-1 victory. It took seven games but they did it. The Blues ended a 52 year streak of never having won a championship. Above is a photo of the Blues celebrating and raising the Stanley Cup. Yes, we had one of our contributors at the game. Continue reading

Mafia Kingpin Frank Costello About To Appear On Television – 1951

Frank Costello On His Way To Testify Before Senate, To Be Broadcast On National Television

Mafia lord Frank Costello on his way to Senate Investigation on Organized crime 1951

If there was one thing mob boss Frank Costello (1891-1973) didn’t like it was publicity. So appearing before nationally televised Senate hearings on organized crime was especially disturbing to Costello. On the other hand, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver who organized the hearings reveled in the publicity,

The caption for this photo reads:

Doesn’t Care For TV

New York: Frank Costello reputed overlord of the U.S. underworld, arrives at Federal Court, March 13, to testify before the Senate Crime Investigation Committee. After Costello was sworn in, his attorney, George Wolf, objected to the televising of Costello’s appearance. 3/13/1951 credit photo: Acme

An estimated 30 million viewers watching Costello’s testimony live and were riveted to their TV sets. This was the man who controlled organized crime? Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #103 – An Unfinished St. Patrick’s Cathedral c. 1880

The Incomplete St. Patrick’s Cathedral, & A Glimpse of the Hotel Buckingham & 626 Fifth Avenue

St Patrick's Cathedral Fifth Avenue 50th Street unfinished 1880 Buckingham Hotel and 626 Fifth AvenueThis photograph looking east along 50th Street from Fifth Avenue was taken around 1880 by William T. Purviance.

626 Fifth Ave from Fifth Avenue Start to Finish 1911

626 5th Ave

The new St. Patrick’s Cathedral was formally opened on March 25, 1879. It would not be until 1888 that the spires were completed.To the left of the Cathedral in the background on 51st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues is the boys section of the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. The girls section was across Madison Avenue to Fourth Avenue (Park Ave.).

A very small portion of the stately mansion and stone fence at 626 Fifth Avenue is visible on the northwest corner of 50th Street. This desirable corner residence belonged to Walter S. Gurnee, a millionaire and former Mayor of Chicago. Continue reading