Category Archives: Commentary

New Women’s Bathing Suits & Accessories In 1918 From Franklin Simon

What Swimsuit Fashions Looked Like 100 Years Ago – Arms Were Visible –  How Shocking!

New York Tribune bathing suits ad from Franklin Simon department store

From The New York Tribune newspaper of June 16, 1918 comes this advertisement from Franklin Simon & Co..

They were not called bathing or swimsuits, but bathing dresses and for good reason. Women still covered their bodies in dresses from neck to toe. Things were getting a bit risque for the time- these dresses had exposed arms. Of course legs were still fully covered by material, but not completely hidden by the bathing dress. Continue reading

College Tuition In The 1920s – The Low Cost Of Getting Higher Education

Harvard, Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Bates, & Colgate All Cost Under $250 Per Year in 1920

There is no need to go on a diatribe about the rising cost of college tuition. Instead, let’s go back to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper from nearly 100 years ago (August 25, 1921). The headline read. Demand For Higher Education Increases in Face of Higher Cost of Tuition and a Slackening Demand For Help.

What exactly were those higher costs?

College           1921 Tuition
University of Georgia  FREE
University of South Carolina $40
William and Mary College $50
Clark University $100
Bates College $125
Bowdoin College $150
Johns Hopkins University $150-250
Dickinson College $160
University of Vermont $175
Colgate University $180
Boston University $225
Dartmouth College $250
Harvard University $250
Tufts College $250

To give some scale to these tuition costs, the average annual salary of a civil service employee was $1,220 (male), $1,047 (female). Ranges for clothing workers were between $1,100 – $2,500 per year. Rectors and ministers were paid about $2,300 per year. A locomotive engineer made about $3,300 per year. A buyer for a major department store could make as little as $1,000 and as much as $15,000 per year, but the majority made between $5,000-$10,000.

Today college costs have grown to a point that they are completely out of whack with the rest of the economy. Top private colleges charge between $45,000 – $55,000 per year and that does not include room, board, books and other fees. Continue reading

1970s Rock – Foghat Shows What A Great Live Band Could Do

Foghat Gives An Incredible Live Performance – 1974

Why is it that the 1970s produced dozens of incredibly talented rock bands?

Certainly one reason is creative singer-songwriters proliferated and produced songs that have stood the test of time.

Foghat members Tony Stevens, "Lonesome Dave" Peverett, Rod Price, Roger Earl

Foghat c. 1974 standing: Tony Stevens, front l-r “Lonesome Dave” Peverett, Rod Price, Roger Earl photo: London Features

Foghat was one of the many bands that came from England and triumphed in America. Today it has been forgotten that Foghat was among the top grossing live bands of the 70s. Even with one double platinum and eight gold records, Foghat today have been mostly bypassed in rock history as a novelty boogie rock band.

Throughout the 1970s their albums and live performances won praise from music fans. Foghat was constantly heard on FM stations. Radio staples like Slow Ride and Fool For The City are still played today.

And boy could they put on a live show. Foghat were simply beasts on stage in front of an audience.

In this fantastic 1974 version of the Willie Dixon penned blues classic I Just Want To Make Love To You, Foghat makes eleven minutes go by awfully fast. Foghat looks like they are having the best time ever being in a rock band.

This is one incredible exuberant, fun and blistering performance from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Unfortunately the narcoleptic audience doesn’t realize what they are seeing regardless of the added applause track.

What constitutes the ingredients of a great live performance? Continue reading

Politically Incorrect Bubble Gum Cigarettes

You Won’t See It On Candy Store Shelves – Bubble Gum Cigarettes

Salem bubble gum cigarettes – fun for kids!

If you grew up before 1980 it was common to see this package at many candy shops, drug stores and supermarkets – bubble gum cigarettes. And yes, they were intended for children. There were also chocolate cigarettes and hard candy cigarettes, also marketed to children.

I must have “smoked” over a couple of hundred packs during my childhood.

Somehow it didn’t corrupt me or make me crave a cigarette. As a matter of fact I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life.

Shaped as a cigarette with paper covering the gum, it was a way for kids to look and act like adults. The way it was displayed, was it obviously bubble gum? Only if you looked at the top and side of the packages.

For any kid, the best thing Continue reading

What Were The Best New York City Restaurants In 1929?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Columnist Rian James Shares His Picks For The Best Restaurants in New York City in 1929

Rian James (1899-1953) may not be a well known name today, but back in the 1920s and 30s, he was a widely read journalist and  “man about town.”

In 1933 James took a stab at writing for the movies. He wrote the screenplay for 42nd Street, one of the most successful and popular films of the 1930s. James would go on to write over three dozen screenplays.

As a columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1928-1935, James rambled all around New York City. Along the way James hobnobbed with everyone: the well-to-do, the hoi-polloi, actors,  and bohemians, in the process, hitting all the night spots. The stories James gathered made for a widely read column about the city he loved.

Four times a year the Eagle published a small guide Going Places With Rian James casting his top picks in New York City food and entertainment.

For the Summer 1929 Going Places, a good portion of  James’ 32 page booklet is devoted to dining. Unlike the modern Zagat restaurant guides or Yelp, consensus was not considered. The only thing that mattered was James’ opinion. James knew all the “in” places, the haunts of celebs, the exclusive, the ribald and the popular.

Proving he’s no snob, the best New York restaurant according to James is not at a high class hotel or Madison Avenue establishment. It’s Feltman’s, originator of the hotdog, in Coney Island that wins the prize.  James writes, “The best all-round food in all New York, excluding no place.”

This is a New York booklet written for New Yorkers.

James offers a unique slice of the New York dining scene just prior to the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. The good times were to end soon after.

While there were a ton of contemporary guidebooks published about New York City, very few delved into the restaurant scene. James’ punchy one line descriptions tell you a lot more than many a detailed review.

The writing has some jazz age jargon such as “Beeway” for Broadway and “black and tan” for an establishment that has race mingling between Blacks and Caucasians. Sometimes there’s an “inside”, long forgotten, or even a risque reference such as this one:

BARNEY’S – 85 W. 3rd St.
The best bet for whoopee in the Village.

In other words, where you have the best chance of hooking up.

James later wrote several full length books about New York City: a full guidebook All About New York An Intimate Guide; John Day (1931) and another not surprisingly titled, Dining in New York; John Day (1934).

While you peruse this list, you may recognize some names long gone from New York’s glorious culinary past. Other eateries you never heard of just sound like they would have been a blast to visit.

What is stunning in the transient world of dining, is that there are a small number of restaurants that are still in business nearly 90 years later.

We have left Rian James’ spelling, grammar and punctuation as it is written in the booklet.

So with that, here is Rian James’ New York City’s restaurant recommendations for the summer of 1929, divided into his appropriate section headings in bold.

Restaurants of All Nations

Name      Address       Nation

L’AIGLON – 55th, E. of Fifth Ave. French
Complete French Cuisine.LUCHOWS – 110 E. 14th St. German
Complete German Cuisine. Try the German Rye Bread. Continue reading

Rock Your Baby To Sleep – Literally! Iron Maiden Songs Done As Lullabies

Iron Maiden Songs Performed As Lullabies

How do you take heavy metal music and turn them into lullabies?

Until the other day I wouldn’t have known.

Still, I’m quite aware, popular music can be given any type of rendition.

Once about 20 years ago at the venerable Strand bookstore, I heard classical music being played over their sound system. I wasn’t paying close attention to the song. But I started listening closer. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t distinguish exactly what was being played. After about two minutes it hit me – it was Metallica and the song Harvester of Sorrow! That was the first time I heard Apocalyptica, a classical group comprised of cellists and they had recorded entire albums covering Metallica.

So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of making lullabies out of heavy metal songs. Hence, I recently discovered Iron Maiden tunes done as lullabies. The question you might ask is, why?

Does it matter?

If you like Iron Maiden, this should put a smile on your face, The first song I heard was The Trooper.

I couldn’t help clicking the youtube links Continue reading

You Never Know What You’ll Find At Papermania Plus In Hartford

Papermania Plus – Something For Everyone

A little bit of everything at Papermania Plus In Hartford CT. This dealer featured movie memorabilia; books, pinbacks and Fate magazines at one table.

On a beautiful summer day, customers came from many states to search among a variety of goods, not all necessarily made of paper.

Collectors congregated at Hartford, Connecticut’s XL Center for Papermania Plus 74, which took place on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

Shoppers looking for interesting finds at Papermania Plus 74

There were all sorts of antiques, ephemera, collectables and memorabilia for sale including books, comics, original art, movie stills and posters, postcards, photographs, magazines, manuscripts and a few other things that you might be surprised to find at Papermania.

Promoter Gary Gipstein assembled more than four score quality dealers to offer their wares. Prices ranged from a dollar to four figures for some rare items.

But you don’t have to be a collector of anything specific to enjoy the show. There is so much to look at and appreciate, that it is unlikely you could come here and not go home with something desirable at a very fair price.

So what did we notice? Continue reading

What Is Happiness? 10 Ideas About What Makes Us Happy From 10 Famous People

Happiness IS…. (It Depends Who’s Giving You The Answer)

Charles Schulz, who often contemplated the meaning of happiness through his Peanuts comic strip, once did an entire book on the subject, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”

For some, maybe happiness can be summed up so simply.

Happiness is an elusive quest for so many of us. For centuries great minds have contemplated what constitutes happiness.

From Random House Webster’s Quotationary edited by Leonard Roy Frank (1998) Random House, here are interesting insights from ten noted people about what makes us happy.

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product  of other activities.” Aldous Huxley (1945) from Religion and Time

“Human happiness konsists in having what yu want, and wanting what yu hav.” Josh Billings (1874) from Everybody’s Friend or or Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia  and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” George Sand (1862) from a letter to Lina Calamatta

“It is not enough to be happy: It is also necessary that others not be.” Jules Renard (1894) written in his journal Continue reading

How Historic Events Would Be Covered By The Media If They Were Written About With 2018 Attitudes

If The Media Covered These Historic Events Now, It Might Read Something Like This

We view historic events with 21st century attitudes and ideas. It’s called presentism.

Reader warning: satire ahead.

 A Rampage of Sexual Harassment in Times Square (V.J. Day 1945)

As pedestrians watch, an American sailor celebrates by passionately kissing and sexually assaulting a white-uniformed nurse in Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan  photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt / Life Magzine

Crowd in Times Square celebrates V.J. Day photo: Ezra Stoller

As word spread that the Empire of Japan had unconditionally surrendered and that the war was finally over, pandemonium broke loose in New York City’s Times Square yesterday. Continue reading