Black And White

A Very Strange Physical Transformation

This story appeared in several newspapers in June of 1909 without the source that originally ran the story. Should you believe it?  Truth is stranger than fiction.

Los Angeles Herald

WHITE MAN SLOWLY BECOMES A NEGRO

Street Car Driver In New York Changes Color All Over Except One-Half of Face

NEW YORK, June 25, 1909—In James McFaul, a street car driver, Bellevue hospital has one of the strangest cases that has come under its observation in many years. About a year ago McFaul’s skin commenced to turn black and it has continued to do so until now he is as black as a negro all over, with the exception of the right side of his face. Star Trek Episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield half black half whiteClose observation indicates that the transformation may not affect the right side of his face, which is a rosy white. None of the Bellevue doctors have been able to diagnose the trouble, except that it is an organic affection due to the softening of tissues.

Many of these interesting old news stories have no prelude or aftermath. I could not find one mention of Mr. McFaul before or after his baffling medical condition occurred.

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W.C. Fields Will Gave The Bulk Of His Estate To Establish A College For White Orphans

W.C. Fields Died On A Day He Pretended To Despise, Christmas Day 1946. When His Will Was Read, It Had A Peculiar Racial Provision In It

WC Fields full face and portraitsMovie star comedian W.C. Fields is not well remembered by today’s generation, his cerebral brilliance generally going unappreciated or unrecognized. But those who know comedy such as Monty Python’s John Cleese said of Fields, “At a time when political correctness often stifles honesty and impulse to laugh and genuine wit is in such short supply, I think nothing could be healthier than the re-discovery of this most original, perceptive and unrepentant of comedians.”

When Fields died 68 years ago today on December 25, 1946, his will provided small amounts for family members and friends with the $800,000 remainder of his estate being left to establish “The W. C. Fields College for White Orphan Boys and Girls Where No Religion of Any Kind is Ever to be Taught.”

This strange racial provision seemed completely out of character for a man who treated blacks as equals and stood up for racial equality long before it was popular.  It was at W.C. Fields insistence that his Zigfield Follies friend, the great black vaudeville star Bert Williams, be allowed to join Actor’s Equity. Williams was finally admitted to the association. Fields said Williams was, “The funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

So why would Fields put this exclusionary provision in his will? Continue reading

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Old New York In Photographs #45

New York City 1905 After A Big Snowstorm – The Sights Along Broadway Between 29th and 30th Streets Described

New York After a Big Snowstorm 1905 ph Detroit Photo Library of CongressSo far New York City has not had a major snowstorm this season like upstate New York received earlier this month. But I dream of New York City days gone by like this one shown above.

In this high resolution photograph (click to greatly enlarge) taken in 1905, the effects of a recent snowstorm can be seen as the snow has been shoveled high onto the edge of the street and sidewalk.

We are looking up Broadway from the northwest corner of 29th Street towards 30th Street. On the extreme left at 1209 Broadway is one of the many United Cigar Stores outlets, a chain store which dominated New York’s tobacco retail industry at the turn of the century. Next door at 1211 Broadway is Marcus & Marcus supplying men’s furnishings.

Across the street at 1204 Broadway an advertisement in the window at ground level announces that the entire stock in their window was purchased by The Maurice Company, a clothing company run by Maurice Rogaliner. The “Broadway Dentists” also had offices in the same building along with Sol Young, Photographer.

Next door to the Maurice Company is Shanley’s Restaurant, owned by brothers Tom and Michael Shanley.

Shanley’s was one of the most famous eateries of the late 19th and early 20th century in Manhattan. With three restaurants, this one at 1210-1212 Broadway was their second location which opened in 1896. As the restaurant guide Where And How To Dine In New York (Lewis, Scribner & Co; 1903) describes it:

Everybody in New York knows Shanley’s and almost everybody has dined at one or another of the three establishments conducted under this name. The management acknowledges but one purpose in the conduct of its restaurants — to make its guests absolutely comfortable and to persuade them that Shanley^s holds the recipe for good cheer. It has taken twelve years to develop the atmosphere which one finds in Shanley’s and during this time the extent of its business operations has been greatly enlarged.   The service at Shanley’s is entirely a la carte. The cuisine is proverbial for its excellence. Chops, steaks, lobsters, game, shell fish and kidneys are among the special attractions of the house.

Next to Shanley’s the building with the initials HB and the crown on its sign is the Hof Brau Haus Restaurant. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #37

Lilian Harvey – “I Am Suzanne” 1934

Lilan Harvey 1934 I Am SuzanneLilian Harvey was born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape on January 19, 1906 in England. Her mother was British and her father German and Lilian was schooled in Switzerland. Lilian became a leading star in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

A Hungarian nobleman once offered to give Lilian a castle and a whole village to go along with it. Speaking 13 different languages, Lilian was able to make films in four. She left Germany permanently after the outbreak of World War II.

In the early 1930’s Lilian signed a contract with Fox and made a few American films. I Am Suzanne!, a 1934 film directed by Rowland Lee did nothing to further her American career. By 1941 she was retired from film acting.

Lilian later moved to France and set up a souvenir shop and sold edible snails. Lilian Harvey died in Antibes, France July 27, 1968 at the age of 61.

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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.

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In 1961 Dr. Richard W. Hamming Predicted The Harmful Effects of Computer Technology

Loss Of Privacy, Pooling Of Data And The Slow Blurring Of The Distinction Between Human And Machine “Thinking.”

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

In 1961, scientist and mathematician Dr. Richard W. Hamming of Bell Telephone Laboratories, had enormous foresight in predicting that computers would soon change our lives in ways that few people could have imagined half a century ago.

Dr. Hamming saw the future improvements that the computer revolution would bring, but he also warned of the coming dangers in that revolution.  Looking back at his insights today you will find them eerily accurate. In many ways Dr. Hamming merely scraped the surface on many of his suppositions.

Today we are all aware that marketers are tracking your movements on the internet. Unless you’ve set up blockers, all your clicks, all your searches, every site you visit is captured and analyzed. Big Data firms want that information, supposedly just to market to you. The government, banks, schools, brokerage firms, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and merchants all collect information that you are obliged to provide in order to receive services. You just hope your information is secure and not compromised.

But then you voluntarily share information on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. We know that the information we provide is used to compile an aggregate online portrait of our lives that is available for the world to peer into and that includes stalkers, thieves and hackers and yet we still provide it!

Which leads us back to a symposium held in December 27-29, 1961 on “Man and the Computer” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Denver, CO. At the symposium Dr. Hamming’s observations were listened to attentively and the New York Times interviewed him afterwards. Summarizing  Hamming’s observations:

While computers will surely benefit mankind in ways not yet dreamed of he said, certain harmful effects of the computer revolution can be foreseen. One example he gave was a reduction in individual privacy that would be possible with the increasing storage of personal records even travel information in computers.

A major concern is that a growing amount of personal information was being committed to the memory of machines: various data collected by Selective Service; Social Security, Internal Revenue, insurance companies, places of employment, medical services and even airline companies.

“How do we know that this is always being used for the benefit of the individual?” he asked, “How can we be sure that this information will not be used against a person?”

Continue reading

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Old New York In Photographs #44

Western Union Telegraph Building 1880

Broadway looking south Western Union Building 1880This view looking south on Broadway was taken from the Old Post Office in 1880 and shows a deserted stretch of the usually traffic clogged thoroughfare.

The building partially seen on the right side is the Astor House Hotel. Adjacent to the Astor with the columns is St. Paul’s Chapel. The tall structure further down Broadway is Trinity Church with its spire rising 281 feet. This was the highest point in New York until the World Building was built in 1890.

The main building dominating the photo at the corner of Broadway and Dey Street is the Western Union Telegraph Building designed by architect George B. Post. At 230 feet, it was one of the tallest commercial buildings in the city when it was built from 1872-1875. To put this tremendous height in perspective, this was four times the height of the average New York building. On top of the building’s flagstaff a time ball was perched which would drop precisely at noon, so everyone in the surrounding financial area could set their watch to the correct time.

The telegraph was still the predominant way to get a message to someone quickly. To send a telegram with the body message being ten words or less from New York to Baltimore or Boston cost 25¢; to Chicago 40¢ and to San Francisco $1.00.

Western Union Building Fire - New York Evening World

Western Union Building Fire – New York Evening World

A Fire Destroys The Building

As the night shift of telegraph operators and workers was letting out at 6:55 a.m. on Friday, July 18, 1890 the Western Union Building caught fire.

The fire broke out on the 6th floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Firefighters arrived within six minutes of the first alarm being turned in.

The fire was far above the roof lines of the adjacent buildings and the water pressure from street level could not possibly come close to the fire. The firemen strung several hoses together and carried them up  into nearby buildings on to the roofs to fight the flames.

20,000 people watched from the surrounding streets as the firemen placed ladders from the adjacent building at 8 Dey Street to rescue people trapped in the Western Union Building and pour water on to the upper floors. Continue reading

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Hockey Legend Jean Beliveau Dies At 83

Jean Beliveau – The Epitome Of Grace And Power

Jean Beliveau puts his arms around teammates Ken Dryden and Frank Mahovlich following their victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals on May 16, 1971, at the Montreal Forum. photo: B Bennett / Toronto Star

Jean Beliveau, who won 10 Stanley Cup championships playing for the Montreal Canadiens from 1951-1971 died Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in Longueuil, Quebec at the age of 83.

Beliveau was among the smoothest and fastest skaters I have ever seen. His hockey skills were extraordinary in every way. He dominated the game like only a handful of players have ever done. He had a wrist shot that was keenly accurate and was among the best play-makers to ever lace up a pair of skates in the NHL.

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 - photo: UPI

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 – photo: UPI

Beliveau amassed 507 goals and 712 assists in 1125 games. In 162 career playoff games he tallied 176 points. A two-time Hart Trophy (league MVP) winner, he was the captain of the Montreal  Canadiens for the final ten seasons of his career.

Besides his greatness as a player, what people will remember about Jean Beliveau was that he was a modest gentleman, both on and off the ice.

Teammates, opposing players, coaches and fans respected and admired Jean Beliveau. He carried himself with class, the way few athletes do nowadays.

Adieu, Jean Believeau.

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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.”

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Classic Hollywood #36

 Joan Collins In A Bikini 1950’s

Joan Collins in bikini 1950sI’m not sure which production this is from, but when I first came across this photograph of Joan Collins from the 1950’s my first reaction was just “wow.” I don’t think I’ve seen her looking any better than this.

The two early films from this period I remember Joan starring in were The Girl in The Red Velvet Swing, which told the story of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White and Harry Thaw and Land of the Pharaohs, both from 1955. They are mediocre films and Joan does an admirable job in both.

Arguably Joan’s best acting performance came not as a star of the TV show Dynasty but as a guest star in one of the best written episodes of the original Star Trek, playing Sister Edith Keeler in The City on the Edge of Forever.

Joan has remained a Hollywood presence for over 60 years and shows no signs of slowing down having appeared in four productions in 2014. Joan Collins will turn 82 on May 23, 2015.

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