Tag Archives: Great Depression

Gloria Vanderbilt Dead At 95 – Rare News Photos Of When She Was Young

Young Gloria Vanderbilt –  Rare Press Photos

Bruce Cabot and Gloria Vanderbilt attend a theater in Hollywood November 29, 1941 photo Acme

Actor Bruce Cabot with 17-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood for the premiere of “They Can’t Get You Down” October 27, 1941 photo: Acme

Being a rich child with a large trust fund did not define Gloria Vanderbilt. Neither did a sensational tug of war child custody battle between her mother Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.  When Gloria Vanderbilt died of stomach cancer in New York on June 17, 2019 at the age of 95, she had achieved prominence in many facets of life. 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Prohibition Repealed December 5, 1933 – But What About Beer?

December 5, 1933, Congress Repealed Prohibition But Beer Had Been Available Since Spring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 Though Congress repealed Prohibition on December 5, 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act passed on March 22, 1933 allowed the resumption of production of (3.2%) low alcohol content beer and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

Old New York In Photos #87 – East 69th Street 1931

69th Street Looking East From First Avenue – 1931

This is an ordinary view of an ordinary street, East 69th Street taken on April 4, 1931 from the northeast corner of First Avenue. But even though it is ordinary, there is a lot to notice.

Still under construction at the end of 69th Street and York Avenue are the art deco inspired buildings of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical College. The hospital began construction in 1929 and was opened in September 1932. What had previously been the site of the Central Brewing Company and some row houses, became the home of buildings that housed New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital School of Nursing, and the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

On the right side of 69th street is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Siena. The church had been located there since 1897 and was soon to be demolished. The congregation moved to a new building on East 68th Street in 1932.

Even with the paucity of pedestrians and traffic on 69th Street, there is activity near the church. Continue reading

Occupy Wall Street 1938 Style

Wall Street Protest February 19, 1938

The Occupy Wall Street protest movement garnered a lot of media attention when it occurred in 2011.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer is a theme that has played out time and again over the course of American history.

The Great Depression put millions of Americans out of work. It wasn’t just about the rich versus the poor. It was about survival and a serious shortage of jobs.

Eighty years ago today, this is how a jobs protest was described as it reached Wall Street: Continue reading

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

Old New York In Postcards #15

Postcard Views of 125th Street – The Heart of Harlem 1905-1910

A dreamy view of 125th Street looking east from the elevated station circa 1910

A dreamy colored sky hangs over 125th Street looking east from 8th Avenue circa 1910

What was 125th Street like at the turn of the 20th century? It was the commercial center of a genteel neighborhood, the heart of Harlem. Restaurants, hotels, businesses and entertainment venues lined the prosperous street. 1900 census data shows the area was white with almost no blacks living around the surrounding streets. Residents around the area were primarily Jewish, Italian, German or WASP.

View of 125th Street looking west from 7th Avenue. The Hotel Winthrop is on the left the Harlem Opera House with finials atop its roof is on the right circa 1907.

View of 125th Street looking west from 7th Avenue. The Hotel Winthrop is on the left the Harlem Opera House with finials atop its roof is on the right circa 1907.

By 1910, things were changing and blacks now made up around 10 percent of Harlem’s population.  That gradual change occurred after real estate speculators built apartments when  the subway was being constructed between 1900 and 1904. The anticipated housing boom was a bust and these buildings were slow to fill with white tenants. A shrewd black real estate manager and developer Philip Payton Jr. was instrumental in changing the demographics of Harlem starting at 133rd Street and Lenox Avenue around 1905. Payton seized the opportunity in filling new and vacant buildings with black families. Soon other surrounding blocks were attracting black families.

Another view of 125th Street west of 7th Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.). Keith & Proctor's sign sits atop the vaudeville theater which was formerly The Harlem Opera House circa 1910.

Another view of 125th Street west of 7th Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.). Keith & Proctor’s sign sits atop the vaudeville theater which was formerly The Harlem Opera House circa 1910.

Continue reading

Rae Samuels & The Last Bottle Of Beer

Vaudeville Star Rae Samuels Tries To “Steal” A Heavily Insured Bottle of Beer

Rae Samuels last bottle of beer Dec 30 1932Will Prohibition Be Finished? – The last bottle of beer that was distilled in the U.S.A. before prohibition and that during several years was a fine attraction of theatres and shows in Chicago – Americans like a good joke, will surely “have lived.” This bottle of beer has been insured against “accidents” for $25,000.

You know, it’s funny how some stories change when you start looking into them.

When I first started to write about this news photograph the focus was on the end of prohibition. But then I wondered who was the unidentified woman in the photograph? It turned out that her story was more interesting than the beer bottle and the end of prohibition.

The woman being “pinched” by the cop is Rae Samuels, for over 20 years one of vaudeville’s biggest stars, earning $2,500 per week. She is so forgotten today that she does not even have a Wikipedia page. Continue reading

70 Years Ago Today – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dies

The Nation Mourns After Learning of the Death Of  F.D.R.

This is how the New York newspapers announced the death of F.D.R. on April 12, 1945.

70 years ago today when the 32nd President of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died suddenly of a massive stroke at the age of 63 in Warm Springs, GA  there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief across the globe.

With the exception of Adolph Hitler and a few die hard anti-FDR Republicans most of the world was saddened to learn of Roosevelt’s death. Roosevelt was held in high esteem by most Americans, even those that did not agree with many of his policies. There were also those who could not stand the man, but were in awe of Roosevelt as a shrewd politician and the job he had done in seeing the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.

It was especially sad that Roosevelt never got to witness the end of the war which brought final victory to the Allies. Less than four weeks after Roosevelt’s death, Hitler and Mussolini were dead and Victory in Europe Day was celebrated May 8, 1945. Japan unconditionally surrendered on August 15, 1945.

What I cannot imagine happening now in today’s world of partisan politics is having a universal outpouring of sorrow if a President were to die suddenly while in office. There is so much outright hatred and disrespect in modern politics that we will never see anything like this again.

FDR's funeral procession in Washington D.C.

FDR’s funeral procession in Washington D.C.

The Brooklyn Eagle Continue reading

The Little Girl Harpo Marx Was “Crazy About”

Harpo Marx Loved A Little Visitor To The Set So Much, He Seriously Wanted To Buy Her

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming  of Duck Soup 1933

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming of Duck Soup 1933

Maybe today this would be considered kind of creepy, but anyone who knew Harpo Marx would have said it was not, because it was “so Harpo-like.”

The story sounds apocryphal, but according to Groucho Marx as told to Richard Anobile in The Marx Brothers Scrapbook it is true.

In the midst of the Great Depression during the production of the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers in 1932, Harpo Marx would see this adorable girl who was about four-years-old along with her parents watching the Marx’s work on the set. During breaks in the filming, Harpo starting talking to the child and her parents. Groucho says, “Harpo was crazy about this girl.” He became so enchanted with this little girl, that he offered to adopt her and give her parents $50,000 as compensation.  They of course refused.

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

This all happened before the little girl was in a single film and would go on to become the biggest child movie star of all-time – Shirley Temple.

The photograph at the top of this article was taken a year after Harpo’s offer. By that time, Shirley Temple had still not made a feature film, but appeared in many ten minute shorts. Shirley was just beginning to become known to the public when she revisited Harpo while in the studio commissary.

Shirley Temple died in Woodside, CA, Monday February 10, 2014 of natural causes. She retired from motion pictures at the age of 21 in 1949. Shirley was happily married for 55 years to Charles Black. She became a United States ambassador and by all accounts had a very happy and fulfilling life.

Because Harpo’s wife Susan Fleming was unable to have children, Harpo did eventually adopt four children who all say he was the most wonderful father in the world.

Old New York In Photos #34

An Aerial View Of The 1939 World’s Fair Before It Opened – January 25, 1939

1939 World Fair Aerial

The Trylon (shown with scaffolding) and Perisphere feature prominently from this fantastic aerial view over Flushing Meadows in Queens, three months before the 1939 New York World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939.

The World’s Fair was expected to cost $40 million to build and generate revenue of over $1 billion. It ended up costing over $150 million to build and ended in bankruptcy 18 months after it opened.

Though the Fair lost money, for anyone who attended, it was a marvelous and memorable experience. The World’s Fair pavilions and buildings held exhibits which demonstrated the possibilities of a utopian society where the future was filled with promise, hope and amazing technological innovations as the world emerged from the Great Depression.

Four months after the World’s Fair opened, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.

The caption for this Acme news photograph reads:

The Theme Center

This is how the Theme Center looked recently from a visiting American Airliner. Dominating the scene, as they will the Fair, are the Perisphere and Trylon. Removed scaffolding reveals they are well past the half-way mark. Although the various buildings shown seem widely divergent in architectural form, all conform with the latest theories of functional design.   (Credit Line Acme Photographs – January, 25, 1939)