Author Archives: B.P.

Classic Hollywood #118 – Jane Withers & A Little Rascals Reunion

Our Gang (The Little Rascals) Reunion With Jane Withers -1942

Jane Withers Alfalfa Spanky and other Our Gang stars 1942 photo Acme

Old-Timers To Make Comeback Try
Hollywood, Calif – This young sextet of “old-timers” of the movies are no doubt familiar to you. In case they’re not, photo shows, (left to right): “Our Gang’s” Alfalfa Switzer; singer Bobby Breen; infant star Baby Sandy; Jane Withers; Spanky McFarland;  and Bobby “Sooky” Coogan, Jackie Coogan’s brother. They are all playing in one picture with Jane Withers, each trying to make a comeback in his own right. credit: Acme 1942

The motion picture referred to is a 1942 feature film, Johnny Doughboy.

Actress Jane Withers died on August 7, 2021 at the age of 95. Continue reading

Never Before Seen Photos Of 9/11 & The World Trade Center Devastation

Never Before Seen Photographs Around The World Trade Center After The 9/11 Attacks

It was one week after the September 11 attacks. America and New York City was still in a state of disbelief. There was fear and grief. There was apprehension, And there were heroes. People who ventured into ground zero endangering their own lives for search and rescue. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #117 – Charlie Chaplin & George Bernard Shaw

Charlie Chaplin and George Bernard Shaw Meet For Lunch – 1936

Movie Star Chaplin & Author Shaw

Charles Chaplin and George Bernard Shaw In Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawaii – Charles Chaplin, film comedian, (left) and George Bernard Shaw, playwright, are shown in a Honolulu restaurant when they meet to keep a luncheon engagement – February 26, 1936 photo: International News

When they met for lunch Chaplin and Shaw were both on around the world tours in opposite directions. Chaplin kept Shaw waiting half an hour, which had Shaw fuming. But all was forgiven once Chaplin greeted Shaw at Waikiki Lau Yee Chai Chinese restaurant. Continue reading

New York City’s Famous Drake’s Restaurant 1900-1937

Drake’s Restaurant Was Open 24 Hours A Day For 37 Years Until Labor Troubles Set In

In our previous story we briefly told the story of Jack’s a famous New York restaurant that never closed. There was another “never closed” restaurant which was a New York institution for 37 years.

Drake’s was located at 111 West 42nd Street near Broadway. The restaurant was founded in 1900 as Rigg’s as part of the Rigg’s chain. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #24 – Pre-Prohibition Manhattan Restaurants 1900 -1920

Manhattan Meals – Some Pre-Prohibition Turn-Of-The-Century Restaurants

Maxim’s Restaurant 108-110 West 38th Street. Maxim’s was the first restaurant raided a few hours before prohibition went into effect January 15, 1920

With few exceptions owning a restaurant is among the most precarious businesses to enter. Long hours, high upfront costs for rent, food and labor and changing public tastes almost insure that few restaurants can make a long and successful run.

100 years ago many of New York’s older restaurants shut down because of an unexpected decline in business- the victims of prohibition.

Once cafes and restaurants lost the right to sell beer, wine and liquor many closed soon after the Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Some restaurants known for fine cuisine were able to ride out 13 years with no alcohol sales. Other restaurants would turn to selling spirits illegally. Others like cafeteria and luncheon type restaurants survived, having always been patronized for their food.

All of the following restaurants shown below closed long ago.

Restaurant and Cafe Leo

Cafe Leo 14th Street New York CIty Restaurant and Cafe Leo stood on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. Note the Star of David over the entrances, not always the sign of a Jewish establishment, but a decorative element. In this case however, proprietor Leo Greenbaum was letting potential diners know this was a Jewish owned business. By 1923 Cafe Leo vanished from the city directory. Continue reading

Tigers Star Catcher Bill Freehan Dies At 79 – Wrote One Of Baseball’s Best Books

Bill Freehan Dies, Tigers All-Star Catcher, Gold Glove Winner & Author

Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan at Yankee Stadium 1969

Before Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was no question as to who was the best catcher in the American League. It was the Detroit Tigers Bill Freehan.

I won’t recount Freehan’s excellent baseball career or personal story in too much detail here. Freehan told it himself while at the height of his playing days in a little known autobiography.

Author

Freehan’s terrific 1970 book, Behind The Mask: An Inside Baseball Diary (World Publishing) was written with editors Dick Schaap and Steve Gelman and was quickly forgotten.

It is one of the best books ever written about the nuances of baseball. Behind The Mask was overshadowed because it came out the same year as ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s explosive tell-all Ball Four. Continue reading

1858 NYC Real Estate Sales Literature – For Sale 5th Avenue & 42nd Street

Selling 5th Avenue & 42nd Street In 1858 For “Moderate Terms”

From Its Windows One Could See The Hudson and East Rivers, Staten Island, Long Island, The Palisades and Westchester!

Fifth Avenue dwellings for sale 1858

This Gothic style structure stood on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The view is from an 1858 real estate advertising broadside print. On the southwest corner you can see a portion of the retaining wall of the massive Croton Distributing Reservoir which supplied New York’s drinking water. The main branch of the New York Public Library now occupies the site of the reservoir.

5th Ave and 42nd St. 1855 before construction of The House of Mansions. Croton Distributing Reservoir is on the right.

Though the structure appears to be one large building, it is actually 11 separate buildings. It was nicknamed The House of Mansions.

The buildings were designed by famed architect Alexander Jackson Davis and built by merchant George Higgins in 1856 as a speculative real estate investment. The buildings boasted  amazing views of distant vistas including Long Island, the Palisades and Westchester. Continue reading

Fox, The Players & MLB Has Ruined The All-Star Game

A Once Exciting Annual Contest Has Become Pathetically Bad

Photo below: 1968 All-Star Game Hank Aaron Swipes 2nd Base In A Competitive Game
Photo George Honeycutt Houston Chronicle

National League’s Hank Aaron (44) steals second base in sixth inning. Rod Carew takes throw with umpire Mel Steiner on top of play in All-Star game. July 9, 1968 Photo :George Honeycutt Houston Chronicle

While reluctantly watching this year’s baseball All-Star Game there was a pre-game tribute to Hank Aaron who passed away January 22, 2021. This may have been the high point of the evening as the Fox broadcast and the game itself was lacking in any drama or competitiveness.

Where’s The Drama?

The All-Star Game has become a love-fest between the players and interleague play has ruined what was once a fierce rivalry between the American and National Leagues. In the 1950 All-Star Game in Chicago, Ted Williams fractured his left elbow making a leaping, off-the-wall catch on a Ralph Kiner smash in the 1st inning. Williams remained in the game, and put the American League ahead, 3 – 2, in the fifth inning with an RBI single. Ted Williams said he was never the same after fracturing his elbow. Williams, like many players went all out playing in the All-Star Game, which is an exhibition game with no meaning in the standings. The AL and NL teams used to badly want to beat the opposition in the annual showdown.

Not anymore. Continue reading