“Joy of Living”

You Couldn’t Be Cuter, by Ruby Newman And His Orchestra; Ray Morton; Jerome Kern; Dorothy Fields, 1938

Weegee, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (965.1993)

Object details: gelatin silver print, paper size: 12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)

Weegee, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (119.1992)

Object details: gelatin silver print, paper size: 14 x 11 1/8 in. (35.6 x 28.3 cm)

Around 4:30 AM on Thursday, April 16th, 1942, Frank Whalen (a 32 year old resident of Astoria) was drunkenly driving north on Third Avenue with Joseph Mahoney (a 32 year old resident of Astoria, Queens) and Stanley Sandler (a 23 year old resident of Astoria). Just below 42nd St., Whalen’s car crashed into a pillar of the Third Avenue elevated railway. The car “bounced from pillar to pillar of the elevated structure and finally, all but demolished, came to a stop and burst into flames at 42nd Street.” (The New York Sun, April 16, 1942, p. 5). Whalen and Mahoney were able to jump out of the car and suffered relatively minor injuries. Sandler was in the back seat and “his body was thrown clear of the wreckage.” He landed on the street.

Whalen was arrested for vehicular homicide and felonious assault. He resisted arrest and attacked an on-duty police officer, Patrick Flannery (resident of Sunnyside), who was nearby.

Whalen was held in the nearby Bellevue Hospital’s prison ward. He was denied bail and “arraigned in Manhattan Homicide Court on charges of homicide and driving while intoxicated and in Manhattan Felony Court on a charge of slugging Patrolman Patrick Flannery.” (Long Island Star-Journal, April 25, 1942, p.12.) In May 1942, Whalen was sentenced to 70 days in jail for drunken driving. Whalen had a criminal record, he was arrested twice for grand larceny.

Father Thomas McNulty gave Sandler, partially covered in newspapers, his last rites on the sidewalk below the Tudor Theatre marquee that read “Irene Dunne in Joy of Living also Don’t Turn Them Loose.”

77 years ago yesterday Weegee made a great photograph. 77 years ago today PM published (one of three versions of) Weegee’s great photo.

PM, April 17, 1942, p.7

Car Hits 3d Ave. L – One dies, Two Hurt

1. Few minutes before photo, this car was going north on Third Ave. near 42nd St. It smashed into L pillar, burned to this wreck.

2. Wheel of car rammed curb 40 feet from car body. Stanley Stanley, Astoria, died in wreck. Car was driven by Frank Whalen, Astoria.

3. Whalen, injured, battled with cops after recovering from shock of crash. He was handcuffed, forced into ambulance by officers.

4. Under double-bill movie marquee, body of Stanley, was covered with newspapers and coats by policeman. Technical charge of homicide was lodged against Frank Whalen, who was taken to Bellevue Hospital for observation. Another passenger, Joseph Mahoney, also was hurt.
PM, April 17, 1942, p.7

On April 21, 1942 The New York Times reported that the number of traffic accidents in New York City declined in 1942, as compared with the previous year. In the first few months of 1941 there were 465 accidents, resulting in 7 deaths, and 544 injuries. In all of 1941 there were 239 people killed in auto accidents. In the first few months of 1942 there were 335 accidents, resulting in 10 deaths, and 384 injuries. On January 1, 2019 The New York Times reported that “The total number of people killed in traffic crashes in New York City fell to 200 last year, down from 222 deaths in 2017 and the lowest level since the city began tracking such deaths in 1910.”

Weegee (1899-1968), [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (2184)

Object details: original black and white 4×5 inch negative

Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, pp. 88-89

This man covered up with newspapers was killed in an auto accident. The driver of the car was arrested, but put up such a terrific battle…cops had to put handcuffs on him.
Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 89

“Joy of Living” was released in 1938 and starred Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. In April, 1942, if any of the 7.5 million residents of the Naked City had gone into the Tudor Theatre, 650 Third Ave., (originally named the Tuxedo Theatre) and watched the double feature, they would have seen:

“Joy of Living” 1938

You couldn’t be cuter
Plus that you couldn’t be smarter
Plus that intelligent face you have
A disgraceful charm for me

You couldn’t be keener
You look so fresh from the cleaner
You are the little grand slam
I’ll bring to my family

My ma will show you an album of me
That will bore you to tears
And you’ll attract all the relatives
We have dodged for years and years

And what’ll they tell me?
Exactly what’ll they tell me?
They’ll say you couldn’t be nicer
Couldn’t be sweeter, couldn’t be better
Couldn’t be smoother, couldn’t be cuter
Baby, than you are

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Merce Cunningham Centennial

Barbara Morgan, Merce Cunningham – Totem Ancestor, 1942 (545.1986)

Totem Ancestor: Choreography: Merce Cunningham; Music: John Cage; Costumes: Charlotte Trowbridge)

Arnold Eagle, Merce Cunningham in Appalachian Spring, Martha Graham Company, 1944 (552.1987)

Appalachian Spring: Choreography: Martha Graham; Music: Aaron Copland; Set design: Isamu Noguchi

Arnold Eagle, Appalachian Spring, 1944 (99.1989)

Jack Mitchell, Merce Cunningham, 1975 (434.1983)

David Seidner, [Merce Cunningham], 1978 (2007.120.13)

John Loengard , Merce Cunningham, 1987 (188.1987)

Happy 100th birthday Merce Cunningham

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“Speaking of Pictures… A New York Free Lance And Curious Passerby Photographs the News”

Life, April 12, 1937, pp. 8-11

Weegee, [Weegee inspecting trunk containing body of William Hessler, who had been stabbed to death, Red Hook, Brooklyn], August 5, 1936 (2212.1993)

Weegee, [Weegee inspecting trunk containing body of William Hessler, who had been stabbed to death, Red Hook, Brooklyn], August 5, 1936 (19718.1993)

Around 8 AM on August 5, 1936, Nathan Berlin, an employee of a nearby lumber yard, saw an old black trunk wrapped in rope in a vacant lot, near 701 Court St., in Red Hook, Brooklyn, within earshot of the Gowanus Canal. Curious about the contents, Berlin opened the trunk, then called the police. Inside the trunk was William Hessler, 31 years old, “5 feet 3 inches tall, dressed in brown trousers with a white pencil stripe, new white shirt and brown shoes. There was a plain gold band ring on the small finger of the left hand.” (The New York Sun, August 5, 1936, p.10). He had been dead for eight to fifteen hours. Hessler was “stabbed 48 times with an ice pick and tied with a clothesline.” Initially the police thought that he was shot. The stab wounds, forty were near the heart, were discovered by the assistant medical examiner. Hessler was identified by the police from his fingerprints. In the few years before his death, Hessler was arrested twice, for extortion and kidnapping, but not convicted. It was believed that the killers were going to dispose of the Hessler-filled-trunk in the Gowanus Canal but were interrupted and deposited Hessler-in-a-trunk in the tall grasses growing in a vacant lot. As police processed and investigated the trunk (after Fellig made his self portraits) and surrounding area for evidence, finger and foot prints, it began to rain.

Pleasant thought: Did you know that when underworld gang members leave a corpse in some convenient trunk on a dump, as they did with William Hessler, small time Brooklyn extortioner, they leave a nickel with it for carfare across the river Styx. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 18, 1936.

Weegee, Manhattan Police Headquarters, Police Teletype, 1937 (2203.1993)

Life, April 12, 1937, pp. 8-11

#OnThisDayInHistory, 82 years ago today, Life magazine published the above profile of freelance photographer Arthur Fellig. In 1937, “Just two years after embarking on a freelance career, Weegee gains national recognition as a leading news photographer. Both Life and Popular Photography profile Weegee in feature articles focusing on the photographer more than his work.” (Murder is My Business, p.233.) In the Life profile six out of thirteen photos are Fellig self portraits; and feature the photographer working, sleeping, or dreaming. Henry Luce’s Life magazine was a little more than a year old; Fellig was 38. One way Fellig became famous and successful: “His work is his whole life.”

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Paul Robeson

Vandamm Studio, Paul Robeson, 1930s (1558.1990)

Paul Robeson and His Life

Robeson is a college man – a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, with degrees from both institutions. He is athlete – scholar – actor – singer, and outstanding in these fields.

He was born in Princeton, N.J., on April 9, 1898. His father, born in slavery, was a minister – his mother, a school-teacher. The family moved some years later to Somerville (N.J.), where Robeson [1898-1976] went to school and sang in the choir of his father’s church. Even before he entered Rutgers, he had made a reputation for himself as a debater. One day, two Rutgers professors, acting as judges in a high school debate in which Robeson took part, were impressed by his sincerity and powerful, moving voice. They asked him later if he had thought of college, and encouraged him to enter Rutgers.

Robeson did so with the idea of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a preacher. But his prowess at football was such as to make him All End man for two seasons. After winning his degree in Rutgers he played for two seasons in professional football. Then he decided to take a post-graduate degree in law at Columbia. He completed the three year course at Columbia University and took his degree. At the time of graduation he appeared in a play in a nearby Y.M.C.A. The rising Eugene O’Neill, playwright, Kenneth McGowan, producer, and Robert E Jones, scenic director happened to be in the audience. They were vividly impressed with the young negro’s talent, and Mr. O’Neill went back stage and asked Robeson to appear in his “Emperor Jones”. Robeson laughed at the idea, but O’Neill insisted.

Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson as “The Emperor Jones,” 1935 (783.1984)

[This photo is included in one of the current exhibitions: Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection, February 8 – April 28, 2019, International Center of Photography, 250 Bowery]

Robeson was finally persuaded to try for the part. To his astonishment he found himself taking the final curtain to a widely cheering audience, first of many he was to know in his exciting career. There was now no resisting the tide which carried him on to other stage triumphs, “All God’s Chillun,” “Black Boy”, “Porgy” and eventually his unforgettable appearance in “Show Boat.” He definitely abandoned all thought of a law career. His phenomenal success lay not alone in his dramatic gifts but in the marvelous quality of his speaking voice.

He had always loved to sing but it had never occurred to him to consider the concert stage until he was induced to give a recital of Negro spirituals in New York. The emotional splendor of his resonant bass-baritone held spellbound the throng that had come to hear him. For his next concert a long line waited in snowstorm, only to find the house sold-out. Soon after, he went abroad and sensational reports of music successes drifted back from London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Robert Capa, [Dorothy Maynor and Paul Robeson at the party following the soprano’s Town Hall debut, New York ], November 19, 1939 (2830.1992)

His return to America was in the nature of a triumphal entry. He was now a world-famed singer and his own native land was waiting to acclaim him. From coast to coast he toured, thrilling the ear and the soul through the medium of his great voice.

Back to Europe again for long concert tours and a career in motion pictures, topped by the film version of “Emperor Jones,” Robeson remained away for four years during which time Americans missed his concerts and the emotion-charged beauty of his singing. Not to have heard Robeson sing “Deep River” and “Water Boy” is to have missed an exalted experience.

Gordon Coster, Paul Robeson, 1940s, (2010.119.13)

His return to this country in 1940 was signalized by one of the most exciting radio adventures of the season, the first performance of Earl Robinson’s folk-oratorio “Ballad for Americans“, a work whose freshness of spirit and novelty of style opened up an entirely new concept of American music. It was introduced at the premiere of the Columbia Broadcasting System’s new “Pursuit of Happiness” program and has since been released in stirring recordings.

Paul Robeson has played since then the part of Othello in the Margaret Webster Production of the tragedy by William Shakespeare. His London and New York success in that great tragedy was repeated in every city where it was shown last season. Montreal won’t forget his interpretation of the Moor with the outstanding Iago of Jose Ferrer. Back to the concert stage Paul Robeson will return to his regular public everywhere in Canada and in the United States.

Source: [Paul Robeson Othello performance schedule], 1944-45 (1402.1990)

[Paul Robeson Othello performance schedule], 1944-45 (1402.1990)

Unidentified Artist, Tops, ca. 1938 (1404.1990)

Paul Robeson was born 121 years ago today, April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Regards, February 3, 1938, p. 14, (2011.8.30)

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“A Mirror of Reality”

Unidentified Photographer, [Backs of Eight Unidentified Women with Long Hair], Image (Sheeting): 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. (8.9 x 6.4 cm), Tintype, ca. 1880 (2413.2005)

Unidentified photographer, Ida Cushman as “The Giggler”, Alice Cushman as Queen Elizabeth, Julie Hood as “The Dancing Girl”, Helen Gardner as Cleopatra, Una Longfellow as Maud Miller, Rye Beach, New York, Overall (Sheeting): 6 7/8 x 4 3/8 in. (17.5 x 11.1 cm), Mat: 8 5/8 x 11 3/8 in. (21.9 x 28.9 cm), Tintype, 1874 (2008.81.73)

Unidentified Photographer, [Four Unidentified Men in Frames], Overall (Sheeting): 3 9/16 x 2 1/2 in. (9 x 6.4 cm), Tintype, ca. 1875, (2008.81.8)

Jerry Uelsmann, Little Golden Hamburger Tree, Gelatin silver print, 1970 (516.1994)

Hans-Jürgen Burkard, Ulon Uda, Siberia, Image: 13 1/8 x 19 in. (33.3 x 48.3 cm) Paper: 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm), Chromogenic Print, 1989 (137.2003)

Alfred Gescheidt, Bird-Dog, Image: 11 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (28.6 x 36.2 cm)
Paper: 19 7/8 x 16 in. (50.5 x 40.6 cm), Gelatin silver print, 1964 (379.1984)

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Baseball Players

Unidentified Photographer, [Two Baseball Players], ca. 1875 (84.2004)

Tyson & Son, [Two Female Baseball Players], ca. 1918 (2011.17.1)

Unidentified Photographer, Henry, 1920s (2010.71.1)

Unidentified Photographer, Women’s Baseball Team, ca. 1910 (2011.17.3)

Unidentified Photographer, Victoria Plaza, School girl’s pitcher for Passaic NJ girls baseball team who pitched no-hit game against Rutherford NJ girls., April 1921 (2011.17.2)

Almost one hundred years ago Victoria Plaza struck out twenty batters while pitching a no-hitter. There were scores of articles (and at least one poem) penned about that achievement, here are five:

Girl Twirls No-Hit Game
Miss Victoria Plaza, pitcher for the girls’ baseball team of the Passaic Public School No. 12, yesterday won the distinction of being the first of her sex to pitch a no-hit game. Miss Plaza’s opponents, the East Rutherford grammar school girls, were unable to solve her mysterious delivery. Passaic won 7 to 1. The Brooklyn Standard Union, April 27, 1921.

First Girl Credited With Pitching No-hit Game
To Victoria Plaza, pitcher of the girls’ baseball team of Passaic public school No. 12, falls the honor of being the first feminine hurler in New Jersey to enter the no-hit class. In a well played game which was watched by 300 fans No. 12 defeated the East Rutherford Grammar school team by a score of 7 to 1, the visitors getting a run on a pass and two errors.
The East Rutherford batters were unable to solve the mysterious delivery of Miss Plaza, who fanned twenty of the twenty-nine batters who faced her. Only three reached first, and one of them was run down between the bases. Amsterdam Evening Recorder, April 27, 1921.

Watch Her, Scouts!
Hurls No-Hit Game

Today’s nomination for baseball’s hall of fame is a female pitcher who twirled a no-hit game. The hurling of Miss Victoria Plaza of the Passaic, N.J. public school team No. 12 yesterday was insoluble to the batters of the East Rutherford (N.J.) grammar school. She struck out twenty batters. Passaic won, 7 to 1, their opponents scoring on a pass and two errors. Chicago Daily Tribune, April 28, 1941, p. 15.

The insider says:
That over-crowded institution, the Hall of Fame, has another candidate. This time it is, Victoria Plaza, pitcher of the girls’ baseball team which represents Passaic, N.J. Public School No, 12. The young lady admits pitching a no-hit game against the Rutherford Grammar School team the other day. In addition, she struck out twenty of the twenty-nine batters who faced her. The Saratogian, April 28, 1921.

To a Jazzabelle

Vicoria Plaza, a schoolgirl of Passaic, N.J., is the first of her sex on record known to have pitched a no-hit game of baseball. – Newspaper note.

A real pazzaza, that’s you, Victoria Plaza,
And high in Fame’s Hall stands your name.

A contract from Gatti Cazzaza, you would soon hand the razz-a
Just to hurl another such game.

Philadelphia Enquirer, 1921.

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Opening Day at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn

Charles E. Stacy, [Opening Day at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn], April 1913 (2012.23.1)

To celebrate the opening of Ebbets Field in 1913 there were three openings: an exhibition game against the Yankees (Highlanders) on April 5th, a “special” season opener against Philadelphia on April 9th, a day before the season was to officially open (apparently the unseasonably cold weather limited attendance), and there was a “regular opening” against Philadelphia on Friday, April 18, 1913, at 3:30 PM.

The musical group in the foreground of Charles E. Stacy’s (5th Ave. and 9th St.) wonderful panoramic photo is Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band. In October 1912, to commemorate the last game played at Washington Park, between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers (also known as Superbas and Robins), Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band performed. The last song they performed was “Auld Lang Syne.” Ebbets Field opened the following spring and Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band performed at the opening ceremonies. (The sheet music is barely visible, but it appears to be an early version of “We Will Rock You” composed and orchestrated by a very young Dr. Brian May.) The New York Times reported that Ebbets Field cost $700,000 (approximately $17,586,310 in 2019) to build.

On April 5, 1913, Brooklyn defeated the Yankees 3 to 2, in front of 30,000 enthusiastic fans, while 5,000 more waited outside, unable to get in. I think Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band performed at both games. (On a Saturday afternoon, November 13, 1909, at the corner of Dekalb and Flatbush Avenues, the celebration of the breaking of the ground for the Fourth Ave. subway featured the “formal breaking of ground by chairman Wilcox, to accompaniment of patriotic airs by Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band and explosion of bombs.”) What did the first and third opening games look and sound like?

Ebbets Field Opens With A Victory

There was an abundance of pomp and ceremony about the opening of the new park. Early in the afternoon thousands of people were waiting at the gates and the police had their hands full getting people into the marble rotunda. They admitted the fans in small droves, squirming and pushing, and tramping on each other’s feet, and then locked he gates until they were in their seats. Then they opened the gates again and admitted another howling squad. It was slow work, but finally the park was jammed before playing time.

The inside of the park was a picture. The great stand of steel and concrete loomed high in the air, holding its admiring thousands. The upper and lower tiers of boxes held the galaxy of Brooklyn’s youth and beauty embellished and intensified by a glorious display of Spring finery and gaudy color.

The girls of Brooklyn never turned out to a game like this before, and it’s too bad they never did, because, from now on they will always be considered a big feature of a ball game at the new park.

The day was made to order. It was one of the nicest little Spring days the oldest inhabitants of Flatbush could remember. And the sky – no baseball opening description could be complete with out giving the sky a few lines. It was the same glorious canopy of pale blue arched from horizon to horizon and flecked here and there with filmy clouds of white, which looked like little puffs of smoke…

…And the band played and never stopped. The air was full of music and gladness…

…The band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” while the Stars and Stripes were unfurled to the breeze… and the band played “Here Comes Your Daddy Now”… [To the delight of Mr. Ebbets.]

The snap-shot brigade followed the parade over to the lower row of boxes…
The New York Times, April 6, 1913.


National League Leaders to Meet Phillies in Brooklyn To-day.

If any Brooklyn fan has the idea that C. Ebbets is through with his openings, he has another think coming to him. So far, the Flatbush Squire has had only two openings…

The demon Brooklyn holiday inventor wishes it to be known far and wide that to-day he will hold his regular opening at the palatial Ebbets Field. The Philadelphias, who licked the Superbas [Dodgers] on the Special Opening, will also be the attraction at the Regular Opening…

There will be no more flag raisings at the Brooklyn stadium for the time being. Charley, the greatest patriot of them all, would have loved to raise Old Glory again, but thought two flag raisings and parades were enough

However, Ebbets has several other frills up his sleeve, and of course, the music will be there. It would be impossible to hold an opening with out a band helping to enliven things up. Dan Shannon’s Military Band has again been hired for the occasion, and it will begin the proceedings at 1:30.

The musical programme for the regular opening at Ebbets Field follows:

Salutation. “Hail Columbia” [composed by Philip Phile (Pfeil), 1798]
Military March, “King Sol”… [Jack] Glogau [1909]
Overature, “The Beautiful Galatea”… [Franz von Suppé, 1865]
Scenes from “Carmen“… [Georges] Bizet [1875]
Caprice, “Some Boy“… Stern [Gene Buck, Dave Stampler, 1913]
Excerpts from “The Honeymoon Express“… [Jean] Schwartz [1913]
Daddy Has a Sweetheart” [“And Mother is Her Name”]… Roth
Snooky Ookums“… Snyder [Irving Berlin, 1913]
Gems from “Alma” [Jean] Briquet [1910]
Selections from “The Lady of the Slipper”… [Victor] Herbert [1912]

Music by Shannon’s 23d Regiment Band.
The New York Press, Friday Morning, April 18, 1913, p. 4

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