Category Archives: History

1906 -The Next Big Sport – Basketball On Roller Skates

The World Is Still Waiting For Basketball On Roller Skates To Become Popular

basketball roller skates

When James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 the players had to pass the ball to one another. Dribbling the ball was a foul! It was a very different game than today. As people sought to improve basketball a novel idea was proposed: play basketball on roller skates.

In 1906 it was predicted that innovation was going to be the next big sport. Continue reading

Baseball Approves Of Legalized Gambling In 2019 – Isn’t It Time To Re-Examine Joe Jackson?

MLB Approves Gambling On Baseball, Maybe Its Time To Reconsider “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s Lifetime Ban

Joe Jackson 1915

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson before game vs. Yankees at Comiskey Park August 23, 1915

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, believed by many to have been the greatest natural hitter of all-time, was banned from baseball for life after the 1920 season by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Jackson had a .356 batting average in his abbreviated 13 year career. Controversially, Jackson remains on baseball’s permanent ineligible list, meaning he can never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His alleged crime, as many people know, was participating in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal.  Eight members of the Chicago White Sox including  Jackson were influenced by gamblers with promised payoffs to throw the World Series.

As the old car commercial goes “Baseball, Hot Dogs Apple Pie and Chevrolet, they go together in the good ole’ USA.” Where does gambling fit in? Apparently right beside baseball. Continue reading

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

Prohibition Repealed December 5, 1933 – But What About Beer?

December 5, 1933, Congress Repealed Prohibition But Beer Had Been Available Since Spring

Spring 1933 cases of beer bottles after 1933 repeal of prohibition photo Milton Brooks Detroit NewsFirst Loads of Beer Arrive

Abe Kaufman, distributor for Wayne County, for Edelweiss in Detroit, lowering a case. Part of shipment of 5,400 cases. – April 1933 credit: Milton Brooks, Detroit News

As hard as it is to imagine, the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal for 13 years in the United States. Though Congress repealed Prohibition on December 5, 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act passed on March 22, 1933 allowed the resumption of production of (3.2%) low alcohol content beer and wine.

newspaper ad edelweiss beer 1933

Ad, the return of beer- 1933

It only took a little while for manufacturers to begin brewing and bottling beer. Americans anxiously awaited being able to buy the beverage legally. By April 9 beer was available in many major cities like San Francisco, New York, Louisville and Chicago.

The effect on the Depression economy was immediate, 50,000 jobs were instantly created. Continue reading

How Thanksgiving In New York Used To Be Celebrated

Many Years Before Macy’s Held Their Annual Thanksgiving Parade New York City Children Used To Dress In Costume And Beg For Money

A Forgotten New York Thanksgiving Tradition – Ragamuffin Day

New York City children dressed in costume for Thanksgiving 1933 photo Percy Loomis Sperr

On Bleecker Street New York City children dressed in costume for Thanksgiving 1933 photo Percy Loomis Sperr

“Please mister, a penny or a nickel for Thanksgiving?”

This request was once heard all around New York City from children dressed in outlandish costumes celebrating Thanksgiving. It came to be known as Ragamuffin Day.

Thanksgiving subway kiosk 1933

Christopher Street near subway kiosk Thanksgiving 1933

When it started exactly is unclear. It was reported in 1870 costumed men were celebrating Evacuation Day a day early on Thanksgiving, November 24. Evacuation Day commemorated the November 25 anniversary of the British forces leaving New York after the Revolutionary War. Evacuation Day was a major holiday in New York until 1888.

The men in costume who paraded about were called “the Fantasticals.” But why would they be in costume? The answer is somewhat convoluted. The costumes were not really about Thanksgiving or Evacuation Day. This was related more to Guy Fawkes Day celebrated November 5 in England. In the United States, Guy Fawkes day was celebrated with anti-Catholic sentiment, burning an effigy of the Pope. Even though the holidays are weeks apart, the proximity of Guy Fawkes Day to Thanksgiving Day and Evacuation Day is thought to be responsible for the strange combination of these distinct holidays. However the American Fantasticals did not beg for money.   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

A Progressive New York City Hotel In 1929 Hired Women Bellhops

In 1929 The Almanac Hotel In New York City Became The First Hotel In The Country To Hire Women Bellhops

Hotel Almanac girl bell-hops

New York Hotel Using Girl Bell-Hops

The newest wrinkle in hotel service these days is girl bell-hops. The Almanac Hotel, New York City, is probably the first hotel in the country to use girls for bell-hop service. Hotel customers say they give “real service” too. Here are three of them standing by while a patron registers. The girls are, left to right: Eleanor Julin, Mildred Wilson and Edith Gillin. – Associated Press Photo 11/13/1929

Only at the high class hotels do you still find bell-hops. Until the 1970s, almost all hotels had them.

The Almanac Hotel, (aka Hotel Almanac), was being “progressive” at the time, by hiring female bell-hops, in what was traditionally a male occupation. Or were they? 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

New York City Used To Kill Its Stray Dogs By Drowning Them

How A Merciless City Dealt With Its Unwanted Dogs

In 19th Century New York, You Had 24 Hours To Retrieve Your Lost Dog

Unclaimed Dogs Were Drowned In The East River

The dog catcher in New York City & the dogs fate- drowned in cages in the East River – illustration Harper’s Weekly

The Dog Dilemma

What happens today when animal shelters are filled to capacity? Sometimes cats and dogs are humanely euthanized, if there is such a thing as being humanely euthanized.

Canine population control in 19th century New York was much harsher. Beginning in 1855 a new and brutal method of putting down dogs was instituted – drowning.

Some editors and citizens actually attached the word “humane” to this new way of disposal.

Before that time, wandering dogs were considered pests and usually killed on the spot, in the street. The fear of rabies and mad dogs was used as a justification for the wanton killing.

The New York Times wrote, “One thing, however, is certain: dogs are useless animals in cities, and are a nuisance, independent of their habit of occasionally running mad; and the best dog law would be one that imposed so high a tax on the owners of curs that few people would care to keep them, and those who did would see to it that the animals did not run at large, muzzled or unmuzzled.” Continue reading

Losing Your Head, 19th Century Elevators That Decapitated People – 16 True Stories

Fatal Elevators In The 19th Century

In the late 19th century quite a number of people lost their heads in elevator accidents. Most press accounts of the incidents were thankfully short. But a few of the stories were described in sensationalist and sometimes sickening detail. The most common headline, “Decapitated By An Elevator,” as you’ll see, was not very original, Continue reading