BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Sep 2018, 13:50

What goes around, comes around.

Marie Wormington was born in Denver, Colorado, on September 5, 1914, and went to college there, too. She majored in anthropology, and made a hit with Professor E. B. Renaud, partly because of her keenness for the subject and partly because her mother, like Renaud, was French, and she was bilingual. Anyway, she performed brilliantly as an undergraduate, and on graduation snagged a curatorship at the Colorado Museum of Natural History in 1936. On Renaud’s recommendation, she also did fieldwork in France, but her focus was primarily on ancient and prehistoric humans in the New World. Industrious and brilliant, she published a standard textbook in the field when only 25 (Ancient Man in North America, 1939), and another at 33 (Prehistoric Indians in the Southwest, 1947) but feeling the need of further academic qualification she ‘did’ Radcliffe (MA, 1950) and Harvard (PhD, 1954). But part of her career frustrations arose from the fact that she was a she. Even at Harvard, incredibly, one of her professors required her to take notes sitting outside the lecture room. “No Ladies” were allowed in his classes. Nor was she, a forceful personality, one to take her frustrations lightly, and after decades of conflict with her boss at the museum (more than gender issues were involved) she was fired in 1968. He also closed her department, perhaps as if to say ‘lock the door behind you and leave the key.’ Outside the museum, however, her reputation was secure, so it was not just ironical that, also in 1968, Marie Wormington became the first woman to be elected president of the Society for American Archaeology. She continued to write, to collect honorary degrees, and to lead digs in the west (her husband, George Volk, an oil geologist, often served as camp handyman and dishwasher). In 1988, as if to complete a circle, that door reopened and Marie Wormington was appointed Curator Emeritus at the museum. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Sep 2018, 13:01

The lawful sovereign of the Sikh nation. Duleep Singh, proclamation, circa 1886.

A former student, in her polished but enthusiastic ‘letter from London,’ recently posted on Facebook, recounted her visit to the Tower, its ravens, and its crown jewels. She didn’t mention the Koh-i-Noor diamond by name, but it’s there, secured to the British crown by the treaty that ended the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49). That treaty also brought a promise of personal fealty to the young Queen Victoria from the even younger Maharaja of Lahore, Duleep Singh, born in Lahore on September 6, 1838. He was probably sincere enough; having come to power at the age of 5 as the result of a series of palace murders, he may have felt well shut of the rewards of independent rule. As if to put an exclamation point to his sincerity, he converted to Christianity (in 1853) and, upon being shipped back to Britain, greatly impressed Victoria and then set about learning how to be an aristocratic Englishman, belonging to all the best clubs and establishing a country seat at Elveden in Suffolk for his German-Ethiopian wife, Bamba Müller, and their children. But the promise to Victoria didn’t last. Duleep attempted to return to India (without leave), , reconverted as a Sikh, and (from the Aden protectorate) proclaimed his sacred right to rule Lahore. He even plotted with the French and the Russians, who had their own interests in the subcontinent, and with Irish nationalists. All went for naught, and once back in Europe, in Paris, he married Ada Wetherill, an Englishwoman (for Bamba had died), and asked the old Victoria for a pardon. This she granted, graciously, in 1890, and Duleep and Ada settled back at Elveden. Among Duleep’s several children (from both marriages), two (Sophia and Catherine, Bamba’s daughters) have already been mentioned in these anniversary notes, for they became leading suffragists. What Duleep might have thought of that, we’ll never know, for he died in 1893, after the two princesses had graduated from Oxford but before they really hit their stride. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Sep 2018, 14:12

brevity and inaccuracy

An English reader writes to remind us all that Duleep Singh’s very bright princesses, Sophia and Catherine, could not have graduated from Oxford, for no matter how well they did at Somerville they did not graduate BA because women were not allowed to matriculate until 1920 (for Oxford) and 1938 (at Cambridge). Not being members, so to speak, they could not walk away with the club ribbon.
Both women lived such extraordinary lives that they’ve each had their own “anniversary note” (in past years), in which (given space) I got it right. But since this week’s note was about their extraordinary father, I had to keep it short. I feared that, had I said “attended,” some readers might have put them down as rebellious college dropouts as well as rebellious suffragists.
In England, to recap, all sorts of people were—historically—kept out of the student bodies (and the faculties) of both institutions. Thus Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson by name) was—had to be—in Anglican orders in order to teach mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford and tell those magical tales to Alice Liddell and her sisters. The girls were daughters of the college’s dean but as far as I know none attended Oxford, and certainly none graduated there.
The barriers started to come down in the 19th century. Women’s colleges first appeared in Cambridge in 1869 (Girton College) and at Oxford in 1879 (Somerville). The Singh princesses studied at Somerville, and like so many of their sisters did rather well, but their accomplishments did not include a baccalaureate degree. Besides Sophia and Catherine, I have memorialized the founders of both colleges in previous anniversary notes.
The society that became Girton College, indeed, had first to meet in a village over 30 miles outside the city, so as not to distract or embarrass Cambridge’s young men. The five young women who attended were taught by volunteers (male faculty willing to travel and engage in speakeasy tuition). On July 4, 1998, Cambridge tried to make amends to about 900 women still alive who had “attended” there before 1938 (and passed their exams) by granting them degrees. I’m not sure whether Oxford ever did the same, but today it has a woman vice-chancellor. Anyway, it’s pleasant to think of Charles Dodgson, Alice Liddell and her sisters boating on the Thames on July 4, 1862, when he first told them a story about Alice’s magical world, through the looking-glass. That first story took him five miles to tell, upstream, and I am sure that, being a gentleman, he rowed. Alice was but a girl, and she was only ten. Bob

It's time we had a better chap in the War Office. General William Ironside to Neville Chamberlain, early 1940.

One way to become memorialized is to place (almost everywhere) a recognizable monument. It helps if that monument (however unsightly) performs a useful function. So let’s get to know those ubiquitous British traffic signals, each sporting a large, yellowish-orange bulb sitting atop a black and white striped pole. Two of them, at either end of a zebra crossing, inform motorists and pedestrians that here is a crossing place, one where even a little child has right of way over even an articulated lorry. Or should have. The beacons were instituted in 1934 by Leslie Hore-Belisha, then Minister of Transport. It may be that calling them “Belisha Beacons” was intended as a mild insult, for British motorists had hotly opposed his speed limits, too, and because Hore-Belisha was a Jew, born Isaac Leslie Belisha, in Plymouth, on September 7, 1893. In 1912, his widowed mother remarried a senior civil servant, Sir Charles Hore. Young Isaac, then at Oxford, changed his name to Leslie Hore-Belisha, perhaps the better to assimilate. And perhaps not. But assimilate he did, not only at college (where he was president of the Oxford Union), but in the war (he rose to the rank of major), and then in politics, first as Liberal MP for Plymouth Devonport. He joined Ramsay MacDonald’s coalition government as a junior minister and became Minister of Transport in 1934. When the National Government collapsed, Hore-Belisha survived (as a “National Liberal”) to serve as Minister of War in Neville Chamberlain’s government. There he did some good work as the war approached, but his imperious manner (and his considerable ego) did ruffle feathers, both in the military and in the commons. Anti-Semitism also, very clearly, played a role in his removal from office in 1940 and then his failure to find a suitable role in the Churchill government. Amends of a sort came in 1954 when he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Hore-Belisha of Devonport. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Sep 2018, 13:00

The person who can give me life, alas, kills me . . . O woeful fate. Lyric from the madrigal Moro, Lasso, Al Mi Duolo, by Carlo Gesualdo.

We’re not quite sure when Carlo Gesualdo was born, but in his case it may be more appropriate to remember his death date, September 8, 1613. For Carlo Gesualdo de Venosa, besides being known for his lute playing, his lyric madrigals, and his sacred music (he was a composer ahead of his time) was also a murderer. Gesualdo was born, probably, in 1566, probably in Venosa, a minor princely state in Italy’s far south. This uncertainty may owe to the fact that he was a younger son, destined for a churchly career, but when his elder brother died he became heir apparent, left Rome, and in 1586 prepared for his princely estate by marrying a noble cousin, Donna Maria d’Avalos. There is no evidence that they were happily wed, and soon she commenced an affair with the Duke of Andrea which lasted until (in 1588 and in flagrante) both were murdered by Gesualdo. In Renaissance Italy, murdering your wife and her lover did not over-excite the courts, and so Prince Gesualdo was left to his lute. But the murders were quite gruesome (the mutilated bodies were left outside the palace for all to see), and Gesualdo and his crime passionel became famous. At the time, it inspired several poems, and had it come sooner Shakespeare would have loved it. Finally, in 1976, Gesualdo and his crime were remembered David Pownall, in Music to Murder By. The play is not often performed as it requires the principal actors to be accomplished musicians (lute, classical guitar, harp) plus an off-stage chorale of three (a tenor and two sopranos: the music is by Gesualdo). The plot is a fantasy invoked by a determinedly obtuse American musicologist—Helen Euterpe—who is writing a book on Gesualdo. Her visit to the castle, her questions, and perhaps her surname (for Euterpe was the mythological muse of music and a demon on the lute) stir forth ghosts, those of Gesualdo, Donna Maria, and her lover, but also that of Peter Warlock, an eccentric early 20th-century English composer (and suicide) who found Gesualdo’s music inspiring and useful. There is a replication of the original murders and, at length, Euterpe herself falls victim to Gesualdo (or his ghost. It is not made clear). Paulette and I saw its World Premiere, and it is a brilliant piece of theatre. Quite apart from anything else, it’s a reminder that historians do indeed disturb the sleep of the dead. If Music to Murder By ever comes to your town, see it twice. As for justice . . . Carlo Gesualdo married again, abused but did not murder his second wife, and may have been killed by her in 1613. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Sep 2018, 13:01

When I beheld the oppressor and saw his iron hand stretched forth to seize me as his prey, the cause of the slave became my own. Sarah Douglass, speech, 1832.

Sarah Mapps Douglass was born on September 9, 1806, and at the top end of Philadelphia’s free black society. Her parents were already identified as abolitionists and also active providers of better education among the black community. Sarah Douglass went her mother’s Quaker way for most of her life, and from her “conversion” of 1832 (both political and religious) campaigned against slavery and for the free black population. Sarah’s family was wealthy enough to educate her and her brother Robert at home and confident enough to encourage both children’s enthusiasm for art. Robert became a noted painter (the first African-American to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), and in his Arch Street shop Sarah sold her fine needle work and millinery. She also wrote and published poetry, usually in local and national anti-slavery journals. Sarah Mapps Douglass became a prominent abolitionist, friend and confidante of the Grimké sisters, Angelina and Sarah, and was an attendant at Angelina’s 1838 wedding to Theodore Dwight Weld. By that time, Sarah Douglass had her own school for black children, and also taught adult literacy classes and ran a library service through her Female Literacy Society. In the wider world, Sarah donated money (as well as poetry) to Garrison’s The Liberator, and attended (and spoke at) state and national abolitionist conferences. In Philadelphia, she took Quakers to task for their racist attitudes towards free blacks and for a time left the Society of Friends, but by the 1850s was reconciled (and taught in a Quaker school). Not satisfied with mere literacy as essential to black welfare (and after a short and unhappy marriage), Sarah attended medical classes (at Philadelphia’s pioneering Female Medical College) and took her knowledge into the streets to educate black women in science and health issues. She retired from active service in 1877 and died in 1882. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Sep 2018, 11:23

Police dogs and clubs, tear gas, and inclement weather never deterred her. From a biographical note on Rose Norwood by Susan Ware.

At the end of WWII, the Jordan Marsh chain built a new flagship store in Boston, and they did a bang-up, Art-Deco-modern job. At the same time, their workforce was being organized, and the chief mover was a woman in her late 50s, Rose Norwood. She remembered the Jordan Marsh house detectives’ (futile) efforts to keep her out of the building, but once she’d finished with the Norwood sales and auxiliary staff, the detectives asked her to help organize them. For Rose Norwood was lion in the union movement, and she never rested. She was born Rose Finkelstein, in Tsarist Russia, September 10, 1890. Once in Boston, her father worked in the garment industry and her mom opened a small grocery. Rose left school before graduating to find work, fetching up as a telephone operator. The company had begun to hire women, figuring they would be more compliant than men, but they’d reckoned without Rose, a charter member of the Boston Telephone Operators’ Union. Finding the employers resistant, and getting no help from male-dominated unions, Rose led the ladies out on a successful strike (1919). She then worked in the garment trade, organizing all the while. She married Hyman Norwood, in 1921 (wearing a dress made by her union comrades), and besides raising two kids continued on her merry way, leading unionizing efforts in several fields (jewelry, public employees, even boilermakers, et cetera ad infinitum. Rose took a special interest in organizing black workers, including daily maids in private houses, and was always alert to the rights and powers of women workers: in their workplaces and, significantly, in union halls. She also was a leader in the effort to open jury duty to women, which in Massachusetts succeeded only in the 1950s, just after her Jordan Marsh successes. Elder stateswoman of the working class, Rose Finkelstein Norwood was widely mourned, but not universally, when she died just after her 91st birthday, in 1980. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Sep 2018, 12:46

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty. Jessica Mitford.

“The Mitford Girls” inspired several paeans to the delights and irritations of human diversity (including a 1981 musical and, in French, a fictional trilogy). It’s a strange fate for six female children of the English aristocracy, all educated at home, but they played roles as children that may have predicted their real-life outcomes. Even “the most rural of them all” (as John Betjeman called Pamela, the second eldest) had her eccentricities, but Jessica Mitford, the youngest (born September 11, 1917) was the most rebellious, spending twenty years in communist parties (first in Britain, then the US), and then proving too ornery for party discipline. At 20, ‘Decca’ (the family’s nickname) ran away with her second cousin to fight in the Spanish Civil War (two of her sisters and both parents were fascist sympathizers) and married him. After his death (in an RAF action over Germany), she threw herself into war work, then moved to Oakland (CA) with her new husband, an American civil rights lawyer. They made their home a refuge for radicals of all sorts, too various for the CP. They left the party in 1958, and she embarked on her real career as writer. Predictably she wrote as an iconoclast, taking on not only America’s racism (in a series of Esquire articles) but our peculiar death industry (The American Way of Death, 1963), our bad war (The Trial of Dr. Spock, 1968), and our cruel and unusual prison systems (Kind & Usual Punishment: The Prison Business, 1973, a book that today needs reprinting). She also formed a cowbell and kazoo band, “Decca and the Dectones,” in which she sang (and made two LPs). In 1996 she arranged a Neptune Society funeral for herself, which cost her family $533.31. Nancy Mitford was, Herb Caen wrote, true to herself in life and in death: “the rarest of birds, an exotic creature who rose each morning to become the sun around whom thousands of lives revolved.” Not bad for a rich girl from Oxfordshire. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Sep 2018, 02:43

Mail from Bob this morning......

Those Mitford girls confused even your faithful scribe, who substituted “Nancy” for Jessica in the last lines of today’s anniversary note. Thanks for the correction are owed to a very faithful U City reader.
To give them all their due would take five more birthdays, and not all of them will ever appear, but for the record they were
Nancy (1904-1973), novelist and memoirist
Pamela (1907-1994), rural eccentric.
Diana (1910-2003), Lady Mosely, noted fascist, who first married a Guinness but then fell in with Sir Oswald.
Unity (1914-1948), devotee of Hitler. Her middle name, oddly enough, was Valkyrie.
Jessica (see today’s note)
Deborah (1920-2014), Duchess of Devonshire and author of several books about the Cavendishes’ “home farm,” Chatsworth.
Their brother Tom (b. 1909) was killed in action, in Burma, near the end of WWII.
Bob

Image

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet visited it before moving on to Pemberly, and it represented Pemberly in at least one film adaptation of the novel. Deborah Mitford presided there for several decades before moving to smaller quarters as the dowager duchess.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 12 Sep 2018, 10:09

It all goes to show how different siblings can be! :smile:

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Sep 2018, 13:17

Far more civilized than the average Boer farmer. Sir Alfred Milner, British High Commissioner, on the character of Abraham Esau, blacksmith, ca. 1902.

In Genesis, Esau plays an odd role, though he is Abraham’s grandson and (by a whisker) first-born of Isaac and Rebecca. He is the “hairy man,” the “hunter,” who sells his birthright for a mess of pottage. So it’s a puzzle how and why Abraham Esau, a ‘Cape coloured,’ acquired his name. But acquire it he did, at his birth on September 12, 1864 in a northern district of Cape Colony. He was brought up in service with an English settler, William Seton. Seton’s paternalism made a nice change from the way Boers (dominant in the area) treated people of color, with Bible readings and holiday outings for the farm workers, and Abraham is remembered even today in the area’s folk memory as a “colored Englishman.” At a Methodist school he acquired some literacy, and on the Seton farm considerable skills as a blacksmith and carpenter, and he took these assets away to settle (in 1890) at Calvinia. He also took with him a considerable pride in being “Englische” and, enjoying the limited civil rights granted in the Cape, became a well-known and respected ‘village smithy.’ Tall, muscular, dignified, and dressed (when not at his forge) in stylish clothes, he was active in local temperance crusades and trusted as a man of his word by local magistrates. Predictably, in the Boer War, Abraham Esau took the side of the British. He rode patrol (on a great black horse), led public celebrations after the relief of Mafeking and petitioned local for permission to arm his fellow coloreds against the Boer threat. He was thus a marked man, and when in 1901 the Boers took Calvinia he was tortured, then brutally executed. Under torture he did not break, and his heroism became legendary. After the war, Calvinia’s Anglicans erected an Abraham Esau Chapel which stood as a memorial until, with Apartheid, the chapel was confiscated and demolished. Today, under the new South Africa, Esau’s grave is a recognized national monument, and there is some talk of rebuilding that chapel. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Sep 2018, 13:22

It is worth doing your duty, to the best of your ability, for duty’s sake. Walter Reed to William Gorgas, 1902.

Long ago I read a biography of Walter Reed in a series for young readers that stressed humble origins. hard work, and monumental, often heroic achievement. Walter Reed fit the bill, handsomely. His Virginia birthplace, still preserved, was decidedly modest. Born there on September 13, 1851, and grew up a kind of church orphan, his Methodist minister father always out “on circuit.” But he worked hard, persisted, and graduated MD (at age 18!!) from the University of Virginia. After collaring a second MD at NYU, he joined the army medical corps and served first in the American west, all the while developing an expertise in epidemic diseases, including among the Apaches. Out west, he and his wife began a family (two sons and a Native American adopted daughter, Susie), and returned in 1893 to Washington to join the George Washington University faculty and continue his army work in epidemiology. In my reading, and in popular understanding, Reed then discovered the vector agent of yellow fever, the mosquito, working in Cuba during and after the Spanish American War (1898 et seq). The trouble is, he didn’t. Walter Reed was a team player, and in his publications, speeches, and private letters he took pains to credit the yellow fever ‘discovery’ to his medical team at Camp Lazear (named after a team volunteer who died of the disease) and, above all, to a Cuban ophthalmologist, Juan Carlos Finlay y de Barrès (1833-1915), who (fascinated, as was Reed, by the germ theory of Louis Pasteur) suggested the mosquito in 1871 and then did further research that was capitalized on, and extended, by Reed and his team. Had Reed lived longer, the world would have become even better informed about Dr. Finlay’s role (for Reed was modesty incarnate), but Reed died (acute appendicitis, 1902). After Reed’s death the army, newly alert to public relations opportunities, transformed a very fine epidemiologist into a monument. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Sep 2018, 13:38

When you reached the age of reason, I secured you from the influence of human prejudice; when your heart awoke I preserved you from the sway of passion. Rousseau, Emile: or, On Education, 1762/

Only last week I mentioned the Lunar Society of Birmingham, England, which (circa 1750-1810) met on the night of the full moon to discuss (and experiment with) the new knowledge that spun off from—and fed—the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment. Among the society’s kaleidoscopic interests were many that arose from members’ faith in ‘human nature.’ They’d moved on from Locke’s tabula rasa to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s more radical notions about humankind’s native innocence and its infinite malleability. One member, Thomas Day, took it so far as to pick out a human subject (from a foundling hospital) and educate her to become his helpmeet, partner, and muse. Her name (which he gave her) was Sabrina Sidney. We don’t know when Sabrina was born (she died on September 14, 1843), but it was probably ‘about’ 1757. Day ‘picked her out’ in 1769, when he was 21 (one of the younger members of the Lunar Society), and trained her up to be a modern woman and, well, his wife. This sort of thing was illegal, so an older, married friend (another Lunarist) was Sabrina’s formal guardian and her ‘apprenticeship master.’ Some of Sabrina’s education, or training, was quite bizarre (Shaw’s Professor Higgins to the nth power), but it worked well. Once Sabrina passed through Day’s mill (and her puberty) she turned out to be an attractive modern woman, right down to being too ornery for Day’s taste (ironies abound in Sabrina’s story) and in 1778 he married within his own class. So Sabrina married one of Day’s friends, the abolitionist poet John Bicknell (among the Lunar Society’s aims was the extirpation of slavery). They had two children and might have lived happily ever after, but Bicknell died in 1787. But by now Sabrina Bicknell had acquired her own circle of friends, including Charles Burney and his sister, Fanny, Maria Edgeworth, and Erasmus Darwin, and with their help and her intelligence she lived out a long and reasonably prosperous widowhood, still an object of curiosity but also, and very much, her own woman. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Sep 2018, 05:32

Show me a character whose life arouses my curiosity, and my flesh begins to crawl with suspense. Fawn Brodie.

At Lancaster University from 1981 to 1997 I taught a final-year seminar in American religion “from Jamestown to Appomattox” (1607 to 1865). Early America recklessly spawned new communions and played havoc with old ones, and students were warned that we would study both processes from secular standpoints. Theological truths were not our business. Congenial to most, this consensus sometimes dissolved when we got to the Church of Latter-Day Saints. “Mormonism,” based on a modern revelation, called some to adopt an aggressive, even satirical skepticism. In this they were sustained by a biography of Mormonism’s first prophet, Joseph Smith, by a scholar who was a Mormon apostate, Fawn Brodie. Born Fawn McKay (in Ogden on September 15, 1915), she grew up in a family peppered with eminent churchmen (a grandfather was president at Brigham Young U., an uncle would become the 9th president of the LDS), and she was a believer. Her first publication—a poem—appeared in 1925 in a Mormon youth magazine. Inspired by her increasingly skeptical mother, Fawn became a doubter and then, in graduate school at the University of Chicago, an apostate (although she did marry Bernard Brodie, a secular Jew, in a Mormon service). And she set about writing her Smith biography. No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (1945) is in “tone” respectful of its subject. It won a scholarly prize and generally favorable reviews. But its conclusions were devastating and, together with its methodology (a kind of psychohistory), it encouraged some undergraduates to sensationalize the story of Smith himself, to regard as stupidly credulous his thousands of disciples, and thus to miss the fascinating complexities of religious history. Brodie herself went on to academic stardom, if occasionally controversial (as with her psychobiographies of Jefferson and Nixon). And, almost always, my seminar regained its even keel to sail serenely on to the Transcendentalists, their Concord philosopher, their woodland hermit, and their even odder heresies. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Sep 2018, 14:46

I was a white woman in a black business who couldn't carry a tune. Florence Greenburg.

From about the late 30s, the geographical focus of pop music shifted from Tin Pan Alley (West 28th St. just west of Fifth Avenue) to the Brill Building, a bit further uptown at 1650 Broadway. The building was named after a hatmaker whose retail shop occupied the ground floor, but upstairs (there are 11 floors) it was home to, first, the big bands (the Dorseys, Glenn Miller, etc.), and then in the 1950s, Brill signed, produced, recorded, and promoted modern pop, R&B and all that. Among others who have worked there or passed through, we find Neil Sedaka, Bobby Darin, B. J. Thomas, Bobby Darin, Paul Simon, and a New Jersey housewife called Florence Greenburg, who might be called the odd woman out. Born on September 16, 1913, she’d become bored enough with her life as a suburban mom (and, in election years, Republican volunteer) to take up music promotion in a small way (local rock ‘n roll groups), and when (in 1957) her daughter came home raving about a girl group at her high school Florence auditioned them in her living room. Thus were birthed The Shirelles (Shirley Owens, Micki Harris, Bev Lee, and Doris Coley) and, also, Mrs. Greenburg’s new life as a leading music producer-entrepreneur. She had connections already at the Brill Building, and after “I Met Him on a Sunday” and “This Is Dedicated to the One I Love” Florence moved in with her own label. She stayed for 20 years, founded three labels, formed a partnership with Luther Dixon, and eventually occupied a whole floor. It all came crashing down in the late 1970s, but in the meanwhile Greenburg and Dixon were (more or less) directly responsible for (inter alia) B. J. Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”), The Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”), the Isley Brothers (“Twist and Shout”) and, not least, Dionne Warwick (“Walk on By”). Bette Midler had plans to make a musical about Florence Greenburg, which didn’t happen, but one did appear on Broadway in 2011: Baby It’s You! (a Shirelles title). A Brill Building documentary hit the airwaves in 1999; since then the Brill has undergone “renovation,” but it’s still a very musical address. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Sep 2018, 12:49

Nay, sure, he’s not in hell! He’s in Arthur’s bosom . . . He made a finer end, and went away an it had been any christom child. Mistress Quickly's eulogy for Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry V

Shakespeare’s plays, let’s face it, are full to overflowing with memorable characters, but I think only one of them appears in three plays (and gets a eulogy in a fourth): Sir John Falstaff, the boon companion of Prince Hal before Hal became Henry V and got serious enough about war to win at Agincourt and serious enough about kingship to abjure his salad days with poor old Falstaff. These were history plays, and Falstaff was likely based on Sir John Oldcastle and named after Sir John Fastolf, but Shakespeare could easily have picked Sir Thomas Latimer. All three were paraded in medieval chronicles (WS’s main sources for the Henry plays) as prominent among the “Lollard knights,” heretics in high places, successfully defiant (at first) in their court connections (notably John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster), and although Oldcastle was, eventually, a Lollard martyr many of them (including Latimer) died peacefully in their sleep while orthodox bishops gnashed their teeth in disappointment (the bishops would have had the axe or the stake). Sir John Latimer (born on September 17, 1341), was among the wealthiest, a Northamptonshire knight related by blood and marriage to the noble de la Warrs and, indeed, a favored courtier of Richard II (and Richard’s mother). We don’t know why he became a Lollard, but Latimer (and his wife Lady Anne Beysin) sheltered Lollard priests and absorbed their views, distrustful of worldly wealth and anticipating Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine in their dissent from and contempt for the ‘human inventions’ of medieval Catholicism. With Falstaffian bravado, Latimer even sued his bishop when the latter tried to serve Latimer with a warrant. Latimer’s will, and Anne’s, named Lollard knights as their executors, specified Lollard style for their funerals (in humility and in fear of God), and directed the executors’ care to the poor of their parish. And so it was done, peaceably without pomp, in 1401 for Sir Thomas and 1402 for Lady Anne. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Sep 2018, 13:31

You are invited to come to see the Earth turn, tomorrow, from three to five, at Meridian Hall of the Paris Observatory. Invitation sent out, in Paris, on February 3, 1851.

The Texas Board of Education has encountered difficulties in understanding the relationship between “theory” and “fact.” Sometimes the difficulty has been in social studies (e.g. in history), but more spectacularly it’s been in science. Thus, since evolution by natural selection is ‘only a theory,’ then other ‘theories’ (such as that advanced in the Bible—and the Koran!!—or the idea of ‘evolution by design’ ) deserve mention or even equal time. I think these problems are self-induced and immune to solution, but let’s try the “theory” that the earth revolves on its axis. That was a theory for a very long time, and by the 19th century (at least outside of Flat Earth “circles”) it enjoyed consensual adherence, but when (in 1851) addressed by Jean Bernard Léon Foucault it remained “only a theory.” Foucault, born in Paris on September 18, 1819, was intended (by his parents) for a medical career, but a blood phobia put paid to that, and he began to drift through the sciences (still a plausible strategy in those days), making or assisting progress in several areas, notably physics, astronomy, anatomy, and photography. His experiments on the speed of light came close to some facts of the matter (and incidentally demolished the corpuscular theory beloved by Descartes and Newton). But then Foucault turned to the rotation of the earth and, borrowing ideas from the Italian Vincenzo Viviani, he constructed his experiment, massive enough that it had eventually to be installed in the Paris Panthéon. Eureka!! Our earth did, after all, revolve on its axis. Overnight, “Foucault’s Pendulum” became epidemic; copies appeared (like measles?) in many European and American cities, and awards rained down on Foucault’s head. But the notion that the earth and other large planetary bodies must revolve on their axes remains “only a theory.” As far as I know it has yet to be disproven (although some axes are oddly aligned) and thus, so far and in practice, it’s a “fact.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Sep 2018, 03:13

Mail from Bob this morning.

A former student and extremely faithful reader of my anniversary notes offers an in-practice illustration of the theory that the earth revolves on an axis. I especially like his use of the correct term, “moment.” As with many practical demonstrations of physical theories, the math is way, way, too complicated for me, and my reader sent only prose. As follows:

The most important part of a chimney head is the finishing courses on the drum. This is what gets all the weather and is attacked by the fumes in the flue gas. When new, various materials were used, solid stone, cast iron or specially cast terracotta segments. Peter cast the concrete rim at Ellenroad in six segments joined together by one inch diameter copper bars, two to each joint. The joints were sealed with bitumen. This made a very strong and durable rim which would last for longer than we cared to think about! He told me he once saw that Firs were demolishing a chimney that he had put a new rim on by this method and he had a word with the jack in charge on the site intending to warn him about this. Professional rivalry arose and it became evident that Firs’ man didn’t want to know anything Peter told him. Peter said that the consequence was that when they dropped the chimney, the rim rolled off down the hill like a big Polo Mint and demolished part of the mill! He added that they weren’t much good as they felled the stack on their air compressor! There is always an element of rivalry in trades.
There was one funny story about our job at Ellenroad. Peter had a young lad working for him at the time. He was a cheeky little bugger but sharp with it. I arrived one morning just as he was setting up at the chimney base to start hauling bricks up to the top. He was looking puzzled and I asked him what was the matter. “I don’t like this chimney, it’s haunted!” I asked him what brought him to this conclusion and he said he’d show me. He went into the chimney base and held the weighted hook on the fall of the tackle until it was still. Then he stood back and said “In ten minutes that hook will be swinging until it touches the wall!” I took him to the hut and we had a cup of tea. When we went back, sure enough the hook was gently swinging like a pendulum and was almost touching the side. He said “There you are, I told you so. It must be haunted, there’s no wind to move the chimney!”
He was right of course, it wasn’t the wind but it wasn’t haunted either. I told him that what we had was probably the best Foucault Pendulum in the world as its “moment” was over 200 feet! I explained that what he was looking at was a vibration caused by the earth wobbling on its axis as it turned and that the principle had been understood for hundreds of years. I don’t know whether he believed me but he seemed happier about it afterwards!
For various reasons too complicated to explain here, this chimney-based experiment would not work at the equator.
Cheers, and thanks to my former student for extending my practical understanding of the theory.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Sep 2018, 12:38

"The Flying Hobos" take "Miss Ames" for a transcontinental spin. 1932.

Iowa State was one of those places where African-Americans knew they could get a college degree. After all, George Washington Carver studied there in the 1890s, got two degrees, joined the faculty, then (after he went to Tuskegee) came back some summers to do research. (My grandpa’s first master’s scholarship at ISC involved him in supporting Carver’s summer work). In 1919, Riley and Cora Banning brought their son James to Ames so he could major in electrical engineering (in their home state, Oklahoma, no university that offered EE would admit black students). But James Herman Banning really wanted to fly, and in nearby Des Moines he found an instructor willing to teach a black kid how to do it, and an airfield willing to let it happen So James flew, and so he dropped out of EE, set up an auto repair shop, and set about earning enough money to fly some more and, maybe, to own his own plane. He became good enough at flying that, in 1928, the Bessie Coleman Aero Club (Los Angeles) made him its chief pilot. It was a club for black people, and Bessie was the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Banning was mostly engaged in instruction, but he did stunt flying as well, and some tours, and he nurtured the idea that he would be the first black pilot to fly across the country. And so it was that on September 19, 1932, James Banning and his co-pilot, Thomas Allen, took off on their historic flight. Their machine—“Miss_Ames”—was 14 years old and pretty rickety, their wallets empty, but Allen was a gifted mechanic and Miss Ames flew like the wind, most of the time. The flight was partly financed—at nearly every stop—by local black communities excited by the prospect of black aviation and black aviators. That fundraising took time, but their time aloft and en route was only 42 hours. That was not a record time, but they made it, didn’t they? Sadly, James Banning was killed in an air show crash, in 1933, in a different plane and with a white pilot at the controls. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Sep 2018, 12:54

Just get it down on paper, and then we'll see what to do with it. Max Perkins.

Literary reviewers of the ‘decline and fall’ school often say that no one, any more, knows how to write. For these jaundiced (often aging) critics, too many new novels are sloppy novels. It’s not just syntax (although, almost always, syntax is an issue), but the charge may take in historical and cultural context, even ‘the facts’ (an odd but pregnant charge in fiction criticism). Without really testing this view (as I age, do I find it more congenial?) I like to attribute it to the disappearance of the great editors, chief amongst whom was “Max,” or William Maxwell Evarts Perkins, the great grey guru who (starting when he was not at all grey) convinced a previously conservative publisher, Scribners, to take stabs at modernism and flights into the unknown. Under Max’s editorial aegis, Scribners took into its stable not only giants like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but lesser-knowns like Vance Bourjaily and Marjorie Rawlings, popular authors like James Jones, and “mere” humorists like Ring Lardner. Max Perkins was born in New York City (but into an old New England family tree) on September 20, 1884. He graduated from Harvard (he majored, of course, in Economics) in 1907 and soon joined Scribners as (of course) its advertising manager. But he wasn’t a marketeer so much as a gifted talent scout who felt strongly that talent always needed cultivation, criticism, and correction. The first big talent Perkins found was Scott Fitzgerald, whose often-rejected manuscript “The Romantic Egotist” hit Perkins’ desk in late 1918 and left it (after two years’ conversation) as This Side of Paradise. Perkins’ most monumental achievement was to pare Thomas Wolfe’s verbosity down to where his novels could be lifted by a reasonably fit adult. And, amazingly, most Perkins authors (even Wolfe) ended up liking the man who dared to tell them that their genius wasn’t yet good enough, and without help might never be. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Sep 2018, 13:05

We believed in the existence in this country of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price and staked everything on it. Sir Allen Lane.

In early modern England it was not unusual for a child to be placed with more prosperous (often childless) relatives, a kind of intra-family apprenticeship that could also be a leg up socially. It has become less common today, but it did happen to young Allen Williams when, about 100 years ago, he left his birth family in Bristol to join his Uncle John Lane in London. Allen Williams was born on September 21, 1902; he became Allen Lane in 1919. For young Allen, still only 17, it meant fuller immersion in his uncle’s Bodley Head Ltd., a leading publishing house (and a daring one). Following John Lane’s death (in 1925) Allen joined the board and then, at 28, became company chairman. He made Bodley Head even more daring, publishing Joyce’s Ulysses, but it was a struggle with his board (members feared prosecution), and Allen Lane had a yen for independence. Nor did he aim only to publish controversial stuff. In the midst of the depression, Allen Lane envisaged a mass market for quality literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) that he would publish in cheap but distinctively designed paperbacks. Edward Young, then an untried book illustrator for Bodley, gave Allen Lane the logo he wanted, a penguin, and the distinctive orange or green covers, and other publishers (sure that Lane would fail) got him his start by releasing copyrights they thought had exhausted their sales potential. In 1936, Woolworths ordered 63,000 volumes, newsagents followed, and so Penguins (masquerading as paperbacks) waddled into British high streets and railway stations. “Pelicans” and “Penguin Classics” soon followed (classier, slightly more expensive books), and by the time Allen Lane brought out Lady Chatterley’s Lover (in 1960, involving a spectacular and significant obscenity trial) he was Sir Allen Lane and at the top of his form. Later in the decade came Puffin books (for kids, of course). Lane then survived a battle for control of the Penguin Press but not one with bowel cancer; he died—widely mourned—in 1970. ©

Later.....
A former neighbor (and Lancaster University colleague) and Anniversary Note subscriber will be the first of several British subscribers to correct my date of birth for Puffin Books.
I blame myself. It was probably in 1943 or 1944. Didn’t read my sources closely enough this morning. Bob Bliss
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Sep 2018, 10:16

He understood better than anyone the point of being alive. Candida Green, about her father and, perhaps, herself.

We know that “On the day that she was one// There were apples in the sun// And the fields long wet with rain// Crumply in dry winds again.” The poet, Patrick Kavenagh, actually wrote those lines on Candida Rose Lycett Betjeman’s birthing-day, September 22, 1942. Candida’s father, John, not yet England’s Poet Laureate, was then a reasonably well-known “hack” (his word) in wartime employment as press attaché in Britain’s Dublin embassy. Her mother, Penelope, was of aristocratic stock. Once the war was over the family took up country life, and Candida did gymkhanas and then studied sculpture. She fell in with a fast crowd, two of whom (Ingrams and Wells) founded the satirical magazine Private Eye (to which she contributed) and another (a leftish journalist called Foot) called Candida “the most beautiful woman in Oxford.” But Candida married Rupert Green, an up-and-coming tailor who founded Blades and draped the frames of (inter alia) Ringo, John, Paul, and George. She had four children of her own and wrote serious stuff, mostly paeans to the English countryside (at least those parts of it she thought “Unwrecked”: a series that appeared in The Oldie, a later Ingrams venture aimed at elderly iconoclasts). Her work also appeared in Vogue, Country Life, and 16 books; and she did much to honor the memory of her famous father, her “best friend” (except for Rupert). She edited his letters, his prose, and selected the sculptor who did in bronze the windblown and portly Sir John Betjeman who now stands so charmingly in St. Pancras Station. Something of Candida’s sense of humor can be found in her presenting (on John’s centenary) a volume of his poems to the mayor of Slough, Berkshire, which contains the 1937 couplet, “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough// It isn’t fit for humans now.” Candida apologized for it, on John’s behalf. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Sep 2018, 09:11

Shatter the icons of slavery and fear. / Replace/ the leer/ of the minstrel's burnt-cork face/ with a proud, serene/ and classic bronze of Benin. From "A Different Image," Dudley Randall, 1970

Minstrelsy was so deeply embedded in American culture that when Edward Peter Whaley broke into the business in 1905 he had to black up with burnt cork even though, in the common parlance, he was already “black.” Born in Alabama on September 23, 1877, and orphaned at an early age, he’d found his way to New York City where he’d survived on the street, gathering social skills, until he fell in with Harry Scott, a black vaudevillian from Ohio, and together they formed a corked-up cross-talk act (with Whaley as the straight man, formally attired and slightly snobbish) that made a big hit. Soon they were offered an 8-week booking in England, which is when Whaley had to get a passport (where he gave that birth-date and birth-place, both almost certainly wrong). They hit the British boards first at the Sheffield Hippodrome in November 1909 as Cuthbert (Whaley) and Pussyfoot (Scott). In England they made an even bigger hit and they decided to stay. They headlined in London and Bristol and on tour in Europe and Australia, and by 1920 were making £10k a year, big money, big enough to bankrupt themselves twice. By 1930 they’d satisfied their creditors and become movie stars, renamed as Mott and Bayley (a pun, I think, on medieval castle architecture). See, for instance, The Kentucky Minstrels (1934). They each married, produced several children (two sons, one each, joined them on stage), and acquired a new form of stardom on the BBC and performing for wartime troop concerts in North Africa and Europe. Scott, or Pussyfoot/Bayley, died in 1947, and Whaley soon retired to run a nice hotel on Brighton’s Marine Parade that he called Whaley House. There, he and his staff hosted African-American performers on tour, including folks like Duke Ellington and Adelaide Hall. Whatever his real age, and birthplace, Edward Peter Whaley died in 1960 as a British citizen. His ashes were scattered in Brighton. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 24 Sep 2018, 13:31

When the lunatic is met with ideas incompatible with his delusion he distorts facts , , , to preserve the inner consistency of his delusions. E. Franklin Frazier, 1927.

E. Franklin Frazier (the ‘E.’ is for Edward) was born in Baltimore on September 24, 1894. It was impossible for him not to become race conscious. Two grandparents had been slaves, and 1894 saw the height (or depths) of white Americans’ virulent racism, Jim Crow legislation backed up by “Lynch Law.” Frazier’s birth year saw 134 lynchings of African-Americans (in one Louisiana county there were eight in one week), and two years later the US Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” doctrine would legitimize American apartheid. As an adult, Frazier would study all this, make his mark on American scholarship, and (literally) integrate the American story. He began life pursuing W. E. B. Dubois’s notion that a “talented tenth” would lift up black America, studying maths and classics at Howard, but he sidetracked into sociology and history, and as he mastered those disciplines he lost faith in the talented tenth. He did not study his “race” as a separate subject, but as threads in the whole fabric of the USA. Indeed, he first came to prominence at Morehouse, in Atlanta, where his 1927 article on “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” argued that white Americans’ “Negro-complex” drove them mad. James Baldwin would later make much of that insight (The Fire Next Time and Blues for Mister Charlie, both in 1964), but in 1927 it drove Frazier out of Atlanta under threat of being lynched himself. More significantly, its view that the pathology was general among whites maddened even liberal Atlanta, and so the campaign to remove Frazier (as if a quarantine was a cure) was led by the Atlanta Constitution. In the long run it was a good thing for all of us, whatever our epiderms’ melanin content, for E. Franklin Frazier moved on to his PhD (at Chicago, 1931) and to his great works, The Negro Family in the United States (1939), The Negro in the United States (1949), Black Bourgeoisie (1957), and (posthumously) The Negro Church in America (1963). ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Sep 2018, 13:46

Six feet of ground or as much more as he needs, as he is taller than most men. King Harold's legendary response to King Harald's demand for English territory, Stamford Bridge, 1066.

In his The Isles: A History (1996) Norman Davies took pains to point out that “old England” (before Chaucer, perhaps even before Henry Tudor) is a figment of our modern imaginations. Before the Battle of Hastings, October 14, 1066, when the Normans took over, “England” was a congeries of kingdoms, usually at war with each other and often speaking different tongues or dialects. Then the Norman French dynasties, with their extensive French estates, often could not do much to whip England into shape But it may be that Hastings wasn’t the turning point, even though it was there that the last Anglo-Saxon king of what we might call ‘England’ took an arrow in the eye and yielded his kingdom to William the Conqueror (who before Hastings was known as William the Bastard). The truly decisive battle may have taken place just before, September 25, 1066, to be exact, at Stamford Bridge, east of York, between King Harold Godwineson of “England” and King Harald Hardrada of “Norway.” The Norse army was big (it took 300 longboats to transport it to Northumbria), and was swelled by “English” renegades (including Tostig Godwineson, Harold’s brother). But the battle went Harold’s way, decisively (both Duke Tostig and King Harald were killed), but King Harold’s “English” army had had to make a forced march north to win it, and then it had to make a forced march south to face the Norman threat, and by the time it got to Hastings it may well have been too frazzled to win at tiddlywinks, let alone advanced medieval warfare with the Norman French (who themselves weren’t French at all, but another bunch of displaced Vikings). Besides losing the battle and his life, King Harald Hardrada’s other distinction was that he was younger stepbrother to King Olave Haroldsson, aka St Olaf. But that’s yet another story of Anglo-Norse-Danish-Norman kingships, and would involve introducing yet more confused boundaries, family spats, bloody raids, and lost kingdoms. ©

[Uncle Bob reads the right books........]
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