How Don Hoak Scared The Hell Out Of Me When I Was A Kid

Don Hoak Becomes The Bogeyman

Don Hoak was a professional baseball player for 11 seasons. From 1954-1964 Hoak played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. By all accounts he was a nice man and a decent player who had a career .265 batting average.

In real life Don Hoak probably never intentionally scared a child. Little did he know one day this baseball card would affect one superstitious, naive, ignorant kid.

One day when I was about 7-years-old I acquired some old baseball cards from the 1960s from my grandfather. I showed them to an older boy and when he came to Don Hoak  he said, “you know, he’s dead,” as he handed the card back to me.

Well I stared at the card and I got the willies. An actual shudder ran down my spine.

“Dead? What do you mean, dead?” I said.

My simpleton mind knew what dead meant, but I did not have much real life experience with death.

All I knew was that I was holding a dead man in my hand. How could he be dead? This card is only a few years old and he couldn’t have been an old man?

“How’d he die?” I needed to know.

“I don’t know but he died a few years ago (1969)” my companion said. Then he added, “He may have been murdered.”

Wellllll  now I was transfixed for about a full minute. This simple 1964 Topps baseball card of a smiling ballplayer took on new meaning. Continue reading

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Panoramic 360 Degree View of New York In 1892

360° Panoramic View of New York City From The New York World Building in 1892

Stitching together 10 separate photographs from King’s Handbook of New York City (1892) as best I could, this image gives us a 360 degree view of New York City.

Taken from atop Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World Building, you can get a sense of what the entire city looked like before the turn-of-the-century, when the skyscraper emerged and would forever alter the skyline. A golden dome topped Pulitzer’s Building with an observation gallery that gave the visitor the following view.

(click to get the full size view)

Probably the three most prominent points in the panorama are from left to right, the Post Office, City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge.

City Hall & New York World Building c. 1908

At 309 feet, the World Building designed by George B. Post was the tallest office building in the world when completed in 1890.

Think about that for a minute. Just 26 floors. From the building’s foundation to the top of its flagstaff it measured 375½ feet. At the time that height was an outstanding architectural achievement.

The second floor of the beehive, as the interior of the dome of the World Building was known to its employees, also contained Joseph Pulitzer’s office.  Here is how the New York World described the top of its own building just after its completion: Continue reading

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The Last Two Of The Dionne Quintuplets Want To Keep Their Family Home Where It Is

The Remaining Dionne Quintuplets, Once The Most Famous Siblings in the World, Want To Keep Their Childhood Home In The Small Canadian Town Where They Grew Up

“Hark The Herald Angles Sing” The Dionne Quintupplets, who have shown marked aptitude for music, delighted in singing Christmas carols with their nurses. They sang in French, of course, for their education in English has not begun. The girls have “singing class” daily. They listen to phonograph records as they lie in bed for the 15-minute rest periods preceding mid-day and evening meals. Front: Annette (l), Emelie. Rear (l to r) : Marie, Cecile, Yvonne. photo: Acme December 26, 1939

The two remaining Dionne Quintuplets have kept a low profile in recent years, but they have come out of their solitude to try and save their childhood home from being moved.

Forget the Kardashians, in comparison to the Dionne’s they would rank obscure. If you are under the age of 50 there is an excellent chance you have never heard of the Dionne quintuplets. But during the 1930s until the early 1940s they were known to everyone, being the most famous siblings in the world.

(UPDATE 4-5-17 – North Bay City Council Reverses Decision To Move Home…For Now)

They were incredibly cute and adorable. And everything they did was photographed, filmed, broadcast and written about.

The identical Dionne sisters were the first known quintuplets to survive infancy. The quintuplets were born May 28, 1934 in a remote village farmhouse in the area of North Bay, near Callendar, Ontario, Canada to poor, uneducated parents Oliva-Edouard and Elzire Dionne. The Dionne’s had five children previously to the quintuplets birth. Continue reading

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President Trump And The First Pitch of The Baseball Season

President Trump Won’t Throw Out The Ceremonial First Pitch On Opening Day

Donald Trump in 2004 throws out the ceremonial first pitch photo: Kathy Willens AP via Newsday

The major league baseball season opens this weekend on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Though it might have been “great” or “terrific,” President Trump will not throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals opening game on Monday, April 3.

Why?

Probably because rudeness has become our nation’s new normal.

President Barack Obama threw out ceremonial first pitches and was booed by thousands of fans. It’s almost certain that if President Trump were to show up at opening day, the jeers would be deafening.

There was a time in this country, not very long ago where the office of the President of the United States was shown respect, even if you vehemently disagreed with the president’s policies or even loathed him. The president showing up at baseball’s opening day was an occasion to celebrate our national pastime and have the president participate in a tradition. Continue reading

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This Man Was The Last Living Veteran of The Civil War (Or So He Claimed)

Confederate Civil War Veteran Walter Williams in 1954 At Age 111

Austin, TEX – March 28, – Sports Race Fans: 111-year-old confederate veteran Walter Williams and his wife, sprightly 84-year-old Ella Mae, were paraded past the stands today at the National Sports Car Races at Bergstrom Air Force base. He flew here from his home in East Texas but Mrs. Williams decided she would come by auto. Williams was made honorary commander for the day (AP Wirephoto) 1954

111-years-old?

When Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the reported age of 117, he was the last surviving veteran of the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Now if you have doubts that Walter Williams was really 117-years-old when he died, you are not alone. Scripps-Howard reporter Lowell Bridwell had his doubts and investigated Williams’ claim.

in September of 1959, Bridwell reported he could not find a shred of evidence corroborating Williams’ service or his age.  On the contrary, Bridwell found evidence that Williams was younger than he said. Bridwell discovered there were no records at the National Archives showing that Williams had served in the Confederate Army. But In Williams home state of Mississippi, their war archives listed a Walter Washington Williams as serving in the army a a private.

Walter Williams said he had used several different middle initials when he was younger.

Williams claimed that he was born in 1842. The 1860 U.S. census shows that Williams was age 5 in 1860 meaning he was born in November 1854.

If Williams had joined the army at the end of the war in 1864-1865 he would have been nine-years-old. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #58 – Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Does A Long Distance Interview 1935

“Miss Temple, Please!! London Calling”

Hollywood, Calif – Pictured between scenes during her recent picture, “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley Temple, tiny 20th Century-Fox Star is interviewed by The London Illustrated News over trans-Atlantic telephone. 11-21-35 International News Photos

When 20th Century-Fox signed Shirley Temple to a contact in December of 1933 they were on the brink of bankruptcy, $44 million in debt. By 1934 Fox was out of bankruptcy, due almost single handedly to Temple who would go on to become the world’s number one box office star. Through the 1930s, Shirley Temple’s films earned more money for 20th Century-Fox than any of their other stars.

There  was the long held belief that Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). This is only partially true.

If Fox studio chief Daryl F Zanuck had acquired the rights to the film the story, Temple almost certainly would have been the first choice to play Dorothy. But independent producer Samuel Goldwyn had acquired the Wizard of Oz’s film rights. In 1938 Goldwyn sold those right to MGM, not to Fox.

Fox discussed loaning out Temple to MGM to make the film. In exchange MGM would loan out Clark Gable, their biggest star to Fox. But MGM producer Mervyn LeRoy thought Judy Garland, with her superior singing voice, would be the better choice for Dorothy than Temple. Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #73 – Jefferson Market Courthouse

Jefferson Market Courthouse, Greenwich Village – 1885

An 1897 book, The Greater New York Guide Book, Manhattan Historic and Artistic by Cynthia M. Westover Alden described the Jefferson Market Courthouse quite simply as “an irregular but unique and handsome structure, built of red brick and sandstone, in the Italian Gothic style.”

In 1885 at 9:25 in the morning according to the clock in its tower, James R. Osgood photographed the Jefferson Market Courthouse for American Architect and Building News.

Since originally being published, this crisp and clear photo has remained unseen for over 130 years.

This view looking southwest is one that has changed in 130 years. but would still be recognizable to any resident of Greenwich Village today. The courthouse still stands on its irregular plot of land at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street and is the pride of Village residents.

When completed in 1877 by architect Frederick Clarke Withers, the Jefferson Market Courthouse was the epitome of stylish Victorian design. As can be seen in the photograph, surrounding the courthouse along 9th Street, Greenwich Avenue and part of 10th Street was the original Jefferson Market, which began functioning in 1832. The group of buildings housed butchers, fish peddlers and produce dealers. Over the years however, the market became home to a magistrate’s court, a women’s court and a series of cells to temporarily hold women prisoners.

The Jefferson Market was demolished in 1929 for a building that would become the Women’s House of Detention. While excavating on the site for the prison, the workers hit upon the Old Minetta Creek. A 25 foot diameter space quickly filled with 10 feet of water and several pumps were needed to drain the site. Continue reading

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Led Zeppelin Singer Robert Plant Performs Kashmir For The First Time Live Without Jimmy Page – March 14, 2017

Robert Plant Finally Performs The Iconic Song “Kashmir” As A Solo Act At The Royal Albert Hall in London Tuesday March 14, 2017

Kashmir, the name itself conjures up grandiose images of the mighty Led Zeppelin at their peak of performance.

But for whatever reason former Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant refrained from performing the song without co-writer and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, that is until Tuesday night, March 14, 2017.

In a performance with two members of Plant’s solo band The Sensational Space Shifters,  Plant joined famous violinist Nigel Kennedy at the Royal Albert Hall in London..

For the first time since 2007 when Led Zeppelin reunited at the O2 and played Kashmir, Plant decided it was time to play the song on his own. Every other live performance of Kashmir by Plant had been alongside Jimmy Page, whether it was in the 1990’s on the Page/Plant tour or with Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s.

With a full orchestra backing Plant, he starts off Kashmir in a dirge-like manner. You immediately think he has turned Kashmir into a slow whispered lament. Finally after the initial introduction to the haunting first phrase of lyrics, Plant and the band kick off a powerful performance of a revised version of Kashmir.

Here it is. What do you think?

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New York In 1911 As Drawn By Vernon Howe Bailey

6 Drawings Of New York Unseen For Over 100 Years By Vernon Howe Bailey

Times Square The Great White Way (1911)

Obscure publications can yield hidden gems. These drawings by famed artist Vernon Howe Bailey appeared in the Illuminating Engineer in 1911 and as far as can be determined have not been reproduced since then.

Vernon Howe Bailey (1874-1953) was a prodigious illustrator whose work appeared primarily in  newspapers and magazines.

He eventually made his way to the New York Sun newspaper in the 1920s where he captured New York’s architecture and streets  with exquisite on-the-spot illustrations.

Eventually a good deal of Bailey’s New York City work was compiled in a book called Magical City. These illustrations were not included in that book. So for the first time in over 100 years here are Vernon Howe Bailey’s renderings of New York City in 1911.

Looking North on the Speedway to the Famous Highbridge (1911)

As these illustrations were intended for a magazine promoting electric lighting, you will notice that electric light fixtures appear rather prominently in each illustration.

The Harlem Speedway, where wealthy New Yorker’s used to take out their horse drawn carriages for a spirited run, was eventually incorporated into the highway that became the Harlem River Drive. Continue reading

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George Carlin On How Corporations Control America

A Short Summary On Why Things Never Get Better

To call George Carlin a comedian would be a narrow definition of who he was. My best description would be: a brilliant social commentator  with observations wrapped in comedy aimed at the masses to induce critical thinking with laughter.

Normally we abstain from profanity on this web site. You can say a lot without having to resort to vulgarisms. But integral to George Carlin and his performances was his use of profanity. If the truth is wrapped in profanity, then the truth will be voiced here.

Here is the late George Carlin’s explanation  of who runs America and reminds us that we are not members of “the club.”

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