Saturday, March 03, 2012

1937 Part 1

Sixty-one years ago (that's right) I met a wonderful girl named Elaine.  Immediately smitten by her good looks and intelligence, I asked her to be my girlfriend, and 6 years later we were married.  We had a wonderful 43 years of marriage, and produced three marvelous children, who are carrying on our "line" with families of their own.  Early in this century, Elaine died unexpectedly during a heart bypass operation in Washington, D.C.  After a  year of grief, I was lucky to meet another Elaine, who has been my partner now for over ten years.  This blog entry is related to my first Elaine. 

As a 50th birthday gift for my "first Elaine," I ordered a copy of a newspaper that was published on the day she was born in 1937.  The ad had said that it would be an original "pristine" copy of a newspaper from the city where she was born.   When I opened the package, I found an old, yellowed cut-up copy of a New York Times newspaper.. definitely not The New Bedford Standard Times.  It apparently was obtained from some "throw-away" file of some library.. it even had holes on the side, where it had been held in those wooden frames that libraries probably still use today to keep each day's newspapers in an easily readable manner.

Elaine pretended to like the gift.  The paper was glanced at and then placed in an obscure corner of the "Vaughan Archives," where it lingered for another 25 years.. until I discovered it again last month.

Now, the pages are even more yellowed and crumbly, but before placing them in the recycling bag, I thought that it might be interesting (at least to me) to learn what the big news was 75 years ago,  according to that wonderful institution, The New York Times newspaper, and to make comments, that I am allowed to do now, as the certified "Blogger" that I have become in my old age.

Please remember that I am not as smart or well-read as Dahl Drenning on Pre-World War II conditions, but I'll give it a shot.  Also, I'm sure that all of  the Times newspapers are online now and can be reviewed by obtaining a digital subscription.. and I, or course, recommend that you do so.

I will divide my 1937 comments into three parts:

1: Life in the United States

2. Life around the World

3. World War II

Life in the United States in 1937

The "Supremes"

No, not the singing group.. but instead, the nine "old timers" serving as Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was frustrated by these old folks and tried to "pack" the court so that he would not get his economic "measures" knocked down by that body.  His plan was to get Congressional approval to allow him to add a new Justice for every present member past the age of 70, who refused to retire.

Congressmen said that they were "snowed under" by mail against President Roosevelt's plan, and even  Herbert Hoover warned: "Hands off the Supreme Court!"  The President did not get his own way on this plan.

The Dust Bowl

Because of a number of factors, including greedy landowners, irrigation problems, droughts, and lack of crop rotation, vast parts of the United States were becoming deserts.  The best depiction of the situation was outlined later in Steinbeck's novel: The Grapes of Wrath, and then in the famous movie of the same name.

During 1937, dust-laden snow fell on the corn belt.. snow storms met dust storms.. and  crops were destroyed.


Even though Americans were still suffering from the Great Depression, they still continued their love of automobiles.  The NY Times had lots of ads for new and used cars. And the prices looked pretty good.  For instance: a used 1935 Chevrolet like I had, was offered for an average of $485.  (I bought mine in 1952 for $35.. and other than a few problems, like a noisy muffler and damaged wheel bearings.. ran great on 18 cents a gallon gas.)

There was a victory for the working man in 1937.. at least in Michigan.. General Motors (you remember them.. they went bankrupt recently, helped me lose a bunch of money on their stock, and were revitalized to earn their highest profits in 2011...)..well GM recognized the United Automobile Workers of America.

Help Wanted

The NY Times shows lots of Help Wanted ads.. looks like the country is recovering.  I liked the following ads, that give some interesting clues about U.S. life in 1937:

"Accountant, assistant, for public accounting firm; considerable prospects, experienced, under 30, good appearance, applications, in own handwriting, must give age, religion, experience in detail and salary required."

"Butler, experience, elderly, white; light, part-time work in exchange room, meals; $5. weekly."

"Puzzle creator, to create cartoon puzzles similar to those now appearing in newspapers; artistic ability not necessary; ...only high type person qualified to earn good salary need apply..."

Speaking of puzzles.. I was pleased to read that the National Puzzlers League held it's 1937 annual convention at the Hotel New Yorker. (I have been a member of the NPL for 38 years.. you can find me there under my "nom"  AHAB.)

Real Estate

Lots of homes for sale or rent.. two of which looked like great bargains:

"Hudson River; private waterfront: 10-room house; 1 acre; beautiful flower gardens, fountains, private beach; estate sacrifice: $12,000."

"New Brunswick; 70-acre gentleman's estate; 150-year old Colonial house, charmingly  situated; old shade, large brook, rustic bridge skirting on front; outbuildings; large orchard; $12,000: only $3,500 cash."


Folks with money were still around in 1937.. and they and their children liked to keep their peers informed of their activity, such as these headlines that were meant to get attention:

"Nuptials are Held for Frances Story"

"Josephine A. Gibbs becomes afffianced"

"Miss Reade makes debut at a dance"

"Troth announced of Miss Anderson"

I also liked these two classic editorial observations:

"Mrs. Erastus Ketcham of Amityville, gave a large birthday party for herself. She was 96.  Mrs. Ketcham is as active as women half her age."

"Mrs. Thomas Sherlin will leave the Pierre today for Aikens, where she will join Mr. Sherlin at their cottage, Green Shingles, to pass the remainer of the Winter."


Radio was big in 1937.  Some of the big name comedy stars were: Jimmy Durante,  Bob Hope, and Bert Lahr.  In the late evening, listeners tuned in to the following stations which could be reached by New York City residents (some of these are still in existence): WABC, WEVD, WEAF, WMCA, WOR, and WJZ.  Late listeners would be treated to sleep-inducing music from the following orchestras:

Pryor Orchestra
Busse Orchestra
Lyman Orchestra
Lopez Orchestra
Barron Orchestra
Brandywine Orchestra
Fitzpatrick Orchestra
Jones Orchestra
Travers Orchestra

I wonder how many, if any, of these orchestras survived the thirties.

During 1937, a new lightweight microphone, called a "salt-shaker" was developed by the Bell Telephone Laboratories.  Unlike other "mikes", this one may be mounted on a desk or floor stand, or it may be suspended from the ceiling.  This was a big breakthrough for radio.

BTW: does anyone remember "Uncle Don?"


Yes, there was television in 1937.  There were a few thousand viewers in the NYC area.  It must have been nice to have no "sitcoms".


There was a big theater following in 1937, as there is now.. and some of the plays are still being produced, either as originally given or in updated versions.

The Yiddish Folks Theatre on 12th Street and 2nd Avenue was giving sell-out performances of a "real Yiddish Operetta" called: The Galician Rabbi.


I think that you can "google" 1937 movies and see the names of all of them, but the best one might be "It Happened One Night" with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.. it came out in 1934, but was still a "hit" in 1937.  Another great one was "Modern Times" with Charlie Chaplin, that came out in 1936.


Opera continued to be big, even in the Depression.  The "Met" was the place where all great or would-be great opera stars wanted to perform.  Evening prices ranged from 50 cents to $2!

It was interesting to me to read that Mussolini had arranged cheap Saturday matinees (Sabato Teatrale) so that "the little man" could afford theater and opera.  For 10 cents, that little guy could see the same show in the afternoon that costs $5 to see in the evening.

BTW: "The Metropolitan Opera House is probably the only theatre in the Broadwaysector with a bar, and it does a thriving business.  The most popular drink is Scotch and soda." 

As one might expect, beer and wine were not purchased anywhere near as much.

Other Items of Interest

You,too, can learn to dance like Fred and Ginger.

(Henny Youngman jokes: "I learned dancing from Arthur Murray.  Later, I found it was more fun with a girl.)

Do you play the piano?

Want to travel to Boston? You can't beat this price!

New Traffic Code

A new set of traffic rules went into effect in February 1937:

No turns, left or right are permitted on red lights..unless you have an arrow or a sign, or a policeman pointing in that direction.

No movement is permitted during the "dark" period when traffic lights are changing color.  (Did they have different lights in those days?)

No driving more than 15 mph over the speed limit (called "Dangerous Driving).

No weaving in and out of traffic (called "Dangerous Driving).

(Other rules from December 1936:)

General speed limit of 25 mph.

No more "car-watching" racket. (?)

No more taxicab jockey evil"... (?)

No more "highway sales to motorists by street hawkers"... (?)

(I know how bad it is to drive in New York City now.. it must have been "pure hell" in 1937.)


Please join me next time for Part 2: Life Around the World in 1937.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

That's no bull!

All of my life, I have been intrigued by cows.  In fact, there is no time that I can remember when I have not opened the car window and called "MOO!" to my friends grazing in a farmer's field.  However, did you know that cows speak foreign languages?  That's right.. in France, cows say: "MOI!" and in Poland, they say: "OOM!" 

Once, my daughter Diane mentioned that she liked cows too, and from that point on, whenever anyone tried to think of a gift for her.. they got her some form of a cow.

Diane worked for a large purveyor of foodstuffs, including milk, and had a role to play each year in their massive display of available wholesale items.  She elicited my help one year.. and I was allowed to draw white lines on the mustache areas of good-natured attendees and take pictures for the famous "Got Milk?" program.  Lots of fun.

I've always thought there was something mystical about cows, and recently I found out that I was right. In reading an eye-opening book titled "Beef" by Andrew Rimas and Evan D. G. Fraser, I came across the following quote from The Prose Edda (Norse Creation Myth):

"Then said Gangleri: 'Where dwelt Ymir, or wherein did he find sustenance?'  Haerr answered: 'Straightway after the rime dripped, there sprang from it the cow called Audumla;  four streams of milk
ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir.'

Then asked Gangleri: 'Wherewithal was the cow nourished?' And Haerr made answer: 'She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man's hair;  the second day, a man's head;  the third day, the whole man was there.'"

Cows are considered sacred in India.  To quote an interesting excerpt from "God's Lunatics" by Michael Largo: 

"From ancient times, Indians considered cows as a symbol of wealth and providers of life-sustaining milk.  In Hinduism, the cow's sacred status is tied to the religion's story of creation: Lord Krishna, an important figure in Hindu mythology was reincarnated five thousand years ago as a cowherd.  Coming back through reincarnation as a cow in India would be a positive turn, since the animals are treated with the rank of the highest Brahmin priests.

Feeding a cow in India is considered good luck, but injuring or killing one is still a criminal offense.  The cow remains a representation of generosity and motherhood; in 2008, a population of more than 200 million Indian holy bovine roamed the countryside and city streets.  If you step in cow dung it's still thought of as a blessed omen, and Indian cowpies are believed to have antiseptic qualities as effective as any industrial-strength disinfectant."

Cows are helping out in lots of other ways.  For instance, if it wasn't for the aorta from a friendly cow, Robin Williams would not be making jokes today.

Sadly though, I've been informed that "house licking" is not covered by some insurance policies.

Ah.. oh yes, it will be Valentine's Day shortly, and there is a great website that combines love items and items of our love (namely: cows).  Take a look:

At that site, you can also find some "cow jokes," such as:

Q. What do you call a cow with no legs?
A.  Ground beef.

Q. What do you call a cow that has just given birth?
A.  Decalfinated.

If you GOOGLE "cow jokes" you will discover that there are a number of sites devoted to such. Meanwhile, to close out, here are a few classics from my files:

Q. Why do cows wear bells?
A. Because their horns don't work.

Q. Why did the cow jump over the moon?
A.  Because the farmer had cold hands.

Two cows were browsing in a farmer's field.  One says: "MOO!"
The other says: "Hey! I was just going to say the same thing!"


Monday, January 23, 2012

There is no joy in Charm City!

This is a sad day for those Baltimoreans who were expecting to make a long-overdue trip to the Super Bowl this year.  The Ravens lost a tough one to the Patriots.  I'm sure my Massachusetts relatives are dancing in the streets... while my Maryland relatives are crying in their beer.  Such is life.. there's always next year, guys.

Meanwhile, life (and death) go on. 

01. Football Father Figure Fades Away.

Joe Paterno died yesterday.  On the same day that he died, one of the FM stations aired a mini-interview with him.. again about him and Sandusky.  (Did you "out-of'-towners" know that one of Baltimore's TV sportscasters is named Jerry Sandusky.. and of course you can guess that his life has not been the same recently.)

02.  Media Exposure?

A 47 year old Catholic Priest was recently arrested for sitting in a "shop movie theater" (whatever that is), naked from the waist down.  His Bishop, in this instance, did the right thing and removed him from his post in a Baltimore County church. 

... segue to nudist jokes:

a.  At a nude wedding, the best man is not always the best man.

b.  At a nude wedding, where does the best man hide the wedding ring?

(Sorry about that)

03.  The Newt wins big in South Carolina.

Democrats are celebrating!

04.  Romney goes on the attack!

"Mitt" is going after "Newt" at last.  Democrats are worried.

05.  Oprah is crowned Queen!

At a major book event in India, all eyes turned to Oprah Winfrey, our queen.  Crowds cheered her and followed her around, completely ignoring a "real" queen who was also in attendance.   Maybe Oprah will run as Newt's running mate.  However, based on some dumb things that Newt has said in the past, he probably thinks that billionaire Oprah is receiving food stamps.

06.  Don't mess with Maryland women!

(Oprah worked for Channel 13 in Baltimore for several years.) 

A lady in Chestertown, Maryland got mad because a male friend would not admit that he owed her ten dollars... so, she threw drain cleaner in his eyes and blinded him.

07.  Priorities

I just read where the CEO's of our major religious organizations all have the following schedule of allegiance: 

Christian First
American Second

I wonder if any of the upcoming debate questioners would ask a question about that.  How would the candidates answer?  BTW our founding fathers were almost all Deists. 

08.  Jim Hightower sez:

I've written about gadfly Hightower before.  He claims that "Dubya" (as he calls him), when asked what Americans should do at 911 time, said:  "Go out and shop!" 

Jim picks on lots of "airheads" regardless of Political Affiliation.

09.  Immortality

As some people have noticed, first class postage became 45 cents a couple of days ago.  Elaine asked me to get a lot of 44 cents "Forever" stamps before time ran out.  Our Post Office only had commemorative stamps left.   But so what.. they work.  From now on, all first class stamps will be  "Forever".   Isn't that nice to know?   I remember when I could send a first class letter for (hold your breath) THREE CENTS!  And, at the same time, we got 2 (count'em) TWO MAIL DELIVERIES EACH DAY!  (Boy, am I old.)

10.  Father, Are you a Chaplain in the Navy?

That's the question a lady posed to the Priest mentioned above.. when he said "No".. she said: "That's funny because I can see your navel."


Jiri Hulcr,  PhD, says that the human belly button is filled with lots and lots of strange bacteria. He is connected to the Belly Button Biodiversity Project.

11.  They're still at it!

Those wacko religiosos from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, have announced plans to picket the funeral of Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek Croused.  College students have been advised not to talk to them or acknowledge their presence.  The 40 members of that church are all related and must share similar idiocy genes.

12.  Co-bed education?

In the fall of 2012, Towson (Maryland) University will be establishing "gender-neutral" housing options open to students in two dormitories (Halls).  Are frat houses and sorority houses now "gender-neutral", other than on weekends? My, how times have changed. In my day, we had to live in "gender-specialized" caves and write our homework in cuneiform characters on flat rocks.



Saturday, January 07, 2012

Religious Views

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I updated this blog.  I'll catch up by talking about Religion today.  I feel qualified to talk about that subject because I have been involved with a number of religions over the years (like Newt Gingrich?.. no, not quite like him).  I have been a Quaker, a Baptist, and an Atheist (among others).  My late wife was a Catholic and my kids were brought up as such.  My current partner is a Lutheran and I live in a community sponsored by that church.  I suspect that I am still considered a minister in the Church of the Modern Apostles, and I consider myself to be kind of  an agnostic Deist at the moment.. having been a computer programmer for many years, I seem to understand how a Demiurge might work.

Some of the most hypocritical people I have ever met were ordained ministers and priests.  Some of the least hypocritical people I have ever met were ordained ministers and priests.  I respect the rabbis and imams that I have met.  I do not like "yellow pages" that show only Christian businesses.  I do not think it was proper for Lowes to discontinue advertising on a "Muslim-related" reality show.  I know some wonderful people who do not conform to stereotypical male/female roles.

There you have it.  I've bared a lot of my soul.  As a member of the Toastmasters organization, you are taught to never use sex, politics or religion as a subject of a speech.  Baloney!  Those are the things that most people are interested in.  So.. here it goes with religion, I'll get back to the other two subjects in another blog entry:

Always start with a joke:

My friend, Sid Simon sez:  A little boy was looking through a family Bible and a leaf fell out that had been pressed.  His mother asked: "What is that?"  The boy replied: "I think it's Adam's underwear."

Roger Williams

I was surprised to read in the Smithsonian Magazine that "breakaway religion" guy and founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, in the last years of his life, worshipped at no church at all.  He had fought all of his life to allow everyone to worship as they pleased, and concluded finally that God's will was better interpreted by individuals than by institutions.  (Sounds like the theory of the Church of the Modern Apostles.) 

Thomas Jefferson

President Jefferson and several of the other founding fathers were Deists and convinced that there was that Demiurge I mentioned above.  Jefferson did feel that the teachings of Jesus were important and wrote The Jefferson Bible, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.  Beacon Press of Boston published a beautifully crafted copy of this work.  I bought my copy in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at a Civil War book store. 


I hear that even Ruppert Murdoch is now tweeting.  Does Pope Benedict tweet?  I had heard that the Vatican has a Facebook presence.  I went to Facebook and found POPE2YOU, a very interesting site for all persons with a religious interest.


In July of 2007, the Pope declared that Roman Catholicism is the only "real" Christian religion.  He said that Protestant churches "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense."  Hmmm.

Liturgical update?

I recently attended a memorial mass for a friend and was surprised to read a document to be followed during the mass.  It outlined changes approved this year by Catholic Bishops.  For instance:

1: Old Text: 
Priest: "The Lord be with you."        People:  "And  also with you."

New Text:
Priest: "The Lord be with you."        People:  "And also with your spirit."

2: Old Text:
"Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth."

New Text:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will."

(I like the old text better.. it had a definite pleasant flow and rhythm that the new text does not.)

3: Old Text: (Nicene Creed)
"We believe..."

New Text:
"I believe..."

It was tough for us non-Catholics to get used to the non-Latin mass.  Now we'll have to get used to the new-English mass.


I read where there are now 77 million members of the Anglican Church that was created by Henry VIII because of a snit with Rome over his desire to dump his wife and marry his mistress.  I also read that there is a schism developing among Anglicans over the election of women and gay bishops.. and the condoning of same-sex unions.

To capitalize on this, the Vatican is making it easier for Anglicans to "come home" to the Catholic church.  In fact, they will even be accepting married Anglican priests and seminarians.  (I thought that this was the case already..?)

Related Catholic stories on my blog:

If you are so inclined, you could do a search of this blog for a few religion-related stories:

Priest's dog attacks Joe.. "You ain't Catholic, are you?"

Same attack dog and Priest elope with our baby-sitter.

Joe takes Catholic in-laws up ladder and into the Choir Loft.

Joe grabs wife and runs out of church at wedding.

Future father-in-law yells: "He's not Catholic!!"

A religious story in the news:

Two muslim teen-agers were recently arrested in the U.S. for painting burkas on the posters of women thought by them to be "immodest".  They received probation and a fine.

The End of the World:

End of World: 1998:  Henry Hall predicted that the world would end in 1998 because 666 + 666 + 666 "equals 1998, you computer dummies!"

End of World: 2008The Lord's Witnesses also use convoluted numerology to predict the end on March 21, 2008.

End of World: 2011: Famous old Harold Camping predicted May 21, 2011.  "The Bible guarantees it!"

If you are interested in more of these End of World predictions, visit:

Always finish with a joke:

A submission by The Orange Peel Gazette, East Baltimore, Maryland:

The preacher was dissatisfied with how little his congregation put in the collection plates on Sundays, so he learned hypnosis.  He began preaching his sermons in a monotone.  He swung a watch slowly in front of the lectern, and at the end of the sermon he said, "Give!" and the collection plate was soon full of twenty-dollar bills.

This worked for weeks.  The congregation sat mesmerized during the sermon, staring at the watch swinging, and when he said, "Give!" they gave everything they had.  Then one Sunday, at the end of the sermon, the chain on the watch broke, and the preacher said, "Oh, crap!"


Happy New Apocalyptical Year!