Tag Archives: Eddie Cantor

What Was In A New York Newspaper 100 Years Ago – June 16, 1918

A Look Back At What Was In The New York Tribune Newspaper 100 Years Ago, June 16, 1918

Immigrant Aliens, Child Labor and Of Course Entertainment

What was occurring 100 Years Ago? The Fairbanks Twins and Lillian Lorraine were about to appear in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 at The New Amsterdam Theatre.

It’s interesting to see what newspapers of the past contained. 100 years ago, June 16, 1918 the Great War (World War I) was still raging and battle news dominated the news. What else would you see in the newspaper as far as local matters?

Here are seven of the things I thought were worth highlighting from The New York Tribune. Click on any image to read the entire story.

The hostility towards immigrants who are not citizens has always existed. During World War I anti-German sentiment ran high. The government required that all alien (non-citizen) German women 14 and older register at their local police stations, take a loyalty oath and provide five photographs of themselves! Women who failed to register would be arrested and severely punished.

German women register with police

It seems like paranoia, but German espionage and sabotage were a real threat during the war. But usually the reason an entire group gets demonized is because they are an easy target when the populace gets inflamed. One man took matters into his own hands printing 3,000 signs to be distributed at shops along Fifth Avenue declaring, “Speaking of German Prohibited On These Premises.” The unnamed man ran out of signs within walking three blocks. Volunteers grabbed as many as they could to help pass them out. The thinking was this will “Americanize” those Germans.

There would be a big uproar if someone tried to do something similar today pointing the finger at any ethnic group, even when we are at war, which by the way, we still are. The never-ending “war on terrorism.” The language those barbarians who commit terrorist acts doesn’t matter, does it?

German language prohibited

You could say lawyer Albert W. Gray was henpecked, but the things Mrs. Gray did are a little more extreme than henpecking. Mrs. Gray made poor Albert account for every penny he spent and explain every moment and movement he made. Mr Gray had 11 years of being told when to wake, eat and sleep, before deserting his overbearing spouse. Mrs. Gray in her separation decree said if she only knew her husband was unhappy she would have changed her system of housekeeping!

Wife controlled every aspect of husband’s existence

The Tribune reprinted a whole page from the San Antonio, TX based Kelly Field military newspaper. Continue reading

What Goes Around Comes Around – Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Nertz?!

Sometimes the songs of yesteryear are apropos for today.  The lyrics of a song from the 1920’s or 30’s can translate very well in today’s economic tumult, with millions of Americans still out of work in the midst of our “economic recovery.”  I see many of the same things happening today that transpired during the Great Depression.

Bread Line 1930’s Brooklyn, NY

Current events played a bigger role in the writing of songs back then, including this gem from composers Wesley and Mischa Portnoff and lyrics by Norman Anthony, performed by Eddie Cantor in 1931, Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz! The song was featured in the 2005 film Cinderella Man.

Eddie Cantor was one of the great entertainers of all time. He was a humanitarian and optimist.  His rags to riches story is one that I shall elaborate on at another time.  He was usually among the first choices for many songwriters to showcase their work.

Is the current recession over? I don’t believe it.

And what does nertz mean? — nonsense or nuts or (a polite way at the time of saying) B.S.

Here for your listening pleasure an mp3 with lyrics below of Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

Cheer Up, Smile, Nertz!

Sure, business is bunk,
And Wall Street is sunk,
We’re all of us broke, and ready to croak.
We’ve nothing to Continue reading