Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence. ~Rosalynn Carter.
Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. (Me, this is me)
Once in a Psych class we were given an assignment, to question our friends and relatives as to how they view us. One question was “describe my level of self-esteem.” Two people got me spot on. Johnny said that my level of self-esteem was not as high as I would like it to be, and that sometimes I am not happy about it. Karta said “I have seen you consciously make an effort to raise your level of self-esteem, unfortunately you still struggle, because a person cannot live up to impossible standards.”
My self-esteem is tied in with a desire to be flawless. So of course I am never quite satisfied with me. The class assignment was in 2004. Two days ago I fully realized the meaning in Karta’s words. I want to be perfect. A mundane thing opened my eyes to this big realization.
I called the office of the producer of the tv sitcom The Jeffersons to speak with him to try and get some quotes for the new book I am writing on The Jeffersons. His assistant told me she would get back to me and let me know when he would be available. Thinking they would certainly not call back that same day, and needing groceries, I went to the market. I turn my cellphone off when I drive and when I shop. When I turned it back on later, they had called me and said I had 40 mins. to return their call before the producer went into his next meeting. Of course, that time had passed. Then began my “critical self-evaluation”. What a maroon!! I should’ve known they would call!! I blew it!! I’m a big dummy!!.
Then, from out of the blue, something occurred to me. I had to eat and there was no food in the fridge so I needed to go to the store. They will call again, she said so. This is not a bad thing, it’s simply a timing snafu. And then I realized that I had wanted the situation to work out perfectly. The way it had worked in my head. I want to be perfect in every thing I do. If something involving me does not work out my level of self-esteem plummets. Then it hit me. Aha!! I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I don’t even know what perfect is, so if I reached it I wouldn’t even know! Right after I acknowledged that fact I DID begin to experience a feeling of confidence as Rosalynn Carter said. Now I will no longer spend 3 hours trying to find the perfect pictures to go with my posts!
So, I called the producer’s office again. I told them I just could not wait for them to call me back. I now have an appointment to speak via cellphone to the producer of The Jeffersons on the 29th of this month for 30 minutes!
I do get to experience things in life that I see as perfect. We have a new in-law and a brand new baby in our family. I think this is a perfect picture. Say hello to Mr. Spivey and his son Kaison.
To quote (or misquote) a line from a movie “What a year it’s going to be!” I’ll open my house in Malibu . . .ok, never mind this post is actually about beginning a new venture that will make the transition from my first book writing journey, smoother.
2019 I will be focusing on two adventures. I will be saving money for my first trip to Baltimore where my father was born. I will be attending a convention while there and I hope to see some friends I’ve made since writing a biography about my father, and maybe I will be able to visit the part of town Eddie lived in. I am not a flyer but I have decided that being in a plane does not mean I may die, living definitely means I am going to die, so I might as well put in the effort to realize my dreams by getting on a plane to Baltimore. Plus I will be giving a presentation at the convention. How cool is that?
I will also be focusing on writing my second book. This will be a non-fiction about the 1970s sitcom, The Jeffersons. I am so tickled!! Someone actually gave me the chance to write another book! Now, when anyone asks me what I do I can say “I am a writer.” I spent my early years pursuing a singing career, then worked 30 years as a Secretary then retired. And now a whole new career has blossomed. I love it. And, I have actually found a connection between one of the characters from The Jeffersons and my father, Eddie Green.
Sherman Hemsley played the part of George Jefferson. While doing a bit of research I found this excerpt from an interview done in 1975, Mr. Hemsley was asked if he watched other Black tv shows. His reply: “Listen, I don’t even watch my own show, because I don’t own a television set. But I used to like ‘Amos and Andy.’ I loved them. ” Olean Times Herald May 9, 1975 by-line Arthur Unger. If you have followed me for a while you know that my father was a character on the Amos n Andy radio show in the 1940s. I don’t know if Mr. Hemsley heard the radio program or watched the tv show of the 50s and 60s but he says he “loved them”.
In 1949, the year before Eddie died this article was printed. “Gosden still speaks the parts of Amos, Kingfish and Lightnin’. Correll enacts Andy and Henry Van Porter. Eddie Green is Stonewall, the lawyer; Ernestine Wade is Sapphire, wife of Kingfish, and Wonderful Smith plays various roles as needed.” Rochester Democrat Chronicle 1949
I began this blog as a companion document to the biography I wrote about my father. My findings went from 1917 with his song “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, into his Burlesque career in 1921, where to my horror he was billed as Eddie (Simp) Green, LOL. Articles like this one helped me verify I had the correct Eddie Green. “Eddie (Simp) Green, the acrobatic dancer, is singing his own songs with “The Girls-De-Looks” Burlesque Show. “Nelson’s comment on his act in the review of the show is very favorable. Eddie is a good business man and has his own publishing business at 131 West 135th Street. New York. He is contracted with the show for the next two years.”
I finished the book with news of Eddie’s last movie from 1949 and his death in 1950. The following article appeared in the Los Angeles California Watts newspaper:
Billed tor Two
Patrons of the Largo and Aliso Theatres will be pleased to learn that Mr. Berman, well known manager of both these houses, is now negotiating with Sepia Productions, Inc., who has just produced a new musical comedy featurette entitled, “Mr. Adam’s Bomb.”
Mr. Berman said. “I believe that my patrons would want to see this picture, not only because of the fact that it has an all Colored cast, but it features one of the best comedians in the country-— Eddie Green.
I am so proud of my father. And though I will continue to mention him here, periodically, I am too thrilled to begin a new book writing journey. I’m movin’ on up!!
During the past month I have gotten closer to beginning a second book and during my research on other star’s of the entertainment world I was reminded of a resentment I formed while writing the book on my father, Eddie Green. At one point in time Eddie was famous. It said so in the newspaper articles I found. In 1937 he opened his first Bar-Bee-Q shop in New York. According to the Pittsburgh Courier:
“Eddie Green, star of radio and stage and screen (RCA-NBC television program 1936) has entered another field with the opening of his swanky and cozy Bar-Bee-Q shop on Seventh avenue near 126th Street In the heart of the section frequented by sportsmen, actors and artists of all kinds. In the short space that it has been opened, this food emporium has become a rendezvous for celebrities of the theatrical world. Though well-known for his work on the stage and screen, Eddie Green is best remembered as the radio comedian who appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the full hour Sunday evening- NBC “Echoes of New York Town” program, sponsored by the light and gas companies of New York cities, and won a marked degree of success for his effort in this spot. Besides, his various guest appearances on any number of programs, including Rudy Vallee’s, Mr. Green just recently completed a week’s contract as star comedian (opposite Gee Gee James, of “Gibson Family” fame) of the Fleishmann Yeast Hour, which costarred Louis Armstrong. His portrayal of the characters selected for him to play, won the hearty approval of metropolitan radio critics.”
Eddie’s Emporium was listed in the local newspapers under the Café section: Listed under the Cafe Section – Manhattan, under American food: Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q 2149 8th Ave., New York Specializing in Southern Bar-Bee-Q. Finest South’n hospitality. E. Green. Host. Mind you, Eddie was born in Baltimore and spent most of his years in New York, but he loved “South’n” cooking. (8th and 116th Street today).
My point is that he was well-known in 1937. By 1939, he had started his own film production company and had made two movie featurettes, Dress Rehearsal and What Goes Up.
My resentment came about as I realized that Eddie’s name was in the newspapers right along with other stars who are still well-known today! What began as an inspirational story morphed into a vehicle to get Eddie out of the shadows and back into the spotlight where he belonged.
Newspapers ran ads like these (minus pictures):
1941Buffalo Courier Express December 14 PLAZA THEATER – Michael Redgrave “SONS of the SEA”
1941 Buffalo Courier Express December 14 SHEA’S BUFFALO – Bette Davis “NOW VOYAGER”
“RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL” – Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes Up”.
You will notice that he was the last on the bill after the “Serial” and his movie was not in upper-case letters. Even though it says he was Famous. But Eddie was a Black man and the movie was a featurette and this was 1941.
My resentment has faded over time, because as I look at what Eddie accomplished in his life despite any negativity I am proud of him as a person. He was a hard-working man. He loved what he did and he payed it forward in how he got along with others and in helping those less fortunate. He was able, in 1941, to share his profits:
Eddie Green to Play Host To 250 Poor Christmas Eve
“Eddie Green will play host to 250 of New York City’s poor on Christmas eve morning. Along with Arthur Oliver, manager, and about a dozen of the girl employees of Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q, they will assemble at the Eighth avenue link of this popular chain of restaurants where they will pack and hand out Christmas baskets containing roasting chicken and all of the fixings that go to make up a good dinner. Tickets for these baskets have been distributed among quite a few responsible persons who in turn are giving them to families that they know to be in need.”
My father was a Good Man. I only got to know him through writing his biography. And I have been given great insight into what it really is to be “Famous”. I love you, Eddie.
These days it is so difficult to write inspirational, motivating posts. Posts that bring smiles and laughter. Posts that are entertaining. The political climate sucks so bad right now it is impossible to ignore. I chose to watch an ad placed by President Trump recently. How disheartening. A Reuters headline read: “Sickening’: New anti-immigrant Trump campaign ad stokes outrage”. And it was sickening. And truly sad, to me. Sad and un-Presidential. Low. An article in the Politico talks about President Trump never being shy about branding female political enemies with “personal and demeaning” insults. How is this presidential? How can he even allow himself to communicate on such a level. He sits on the highest seat in the land, for Heavens sake. And I guess that is the point. He’s the President. He can pretty much do what he wants. Thank goodness he backtracked on that “consider it a rifle” statement about rocks being thrown by migrants towards U. S. military. The newspapers (Politico) printed that he has since said “I didn’t say shoot”.
But, truth be told, chaos, hatred, intolerance and violence are not new to 2018, and can be found in all walks of life, no matter race or gender or age. Mass shootings. Family murders. School shootings. Gangs. Road Rage.
Just as an example, I bought a Los Angeles Times this past week and was shocked to read an article about a happening on the Senate floor in 1856. I came home and looked up this affair on Wikipedia:
“The Brooks–Sumner Affair, occurred on May 22, 1856, in the United States Senate when Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) used a walking cane to attack Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA), an abolitionist, in retaliation for a speech given by Sumner two days earlier in which he fiercely criticized slaveholders, including a relative of Brooks. Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head using a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Brooks didn’t stop when his cane snapped; he continued thrashing Sumner with the piece which held the gold head. Brooks later boasted “[The pieces of my cane] are begged for as sacred relics.” Apparently, his constituents sent him hundreds of new canes. – “Caning of Charles Sumner”; Wikipedia”
One of Brooks buddies stood by and kept the other Senators from interring. One human being caning another, brutally. And getting kudos for doing so.
Another example closer to 2018:
“On February 20, 1939, the American Nazi Organization (The Bund) held an “Americanization” rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden, The rally, attended by 20,000 supporters and members, was protested by huge crowds of anti-Nazis, who were held back by 1,500 NYC police officers.” – June 2017 The Atlantic
My father lived in New York at the time. He had just returned from the Coast after trying out for a part in the movie Gone With The Wind. Three months later he was appearing on Broadway in a new play “Hot Mikado” with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. He had two bar-bee-que restaurants at the time in New York. As a Black man in 1939, who had been born back in 1891, this must have been a trying time.
Seems that there will always be some form of dis-unity on planet Earth. But we have not destroyed ourselves yet. Is that because the good is still outweighing the bad? Certainly no one man can destroy that which keeps us strong and resilient. Examples like my father show us that. Millions of survivors show us that. Kindness, Joy, Love and Happiness exist. Share it.
Gee Gee James Refuses To Bow To St. Louis Jim-Crow ‘NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME” So said she after being told she had to enter a nightclub through the back door. In 1939, after being invited to see a play by the general manager of the Whites-Only Club Plantation in St Louis, Gee Gee was unpleasantly surprised to find when she got there that she would have to go in through the back door and through the kitchen. She said that she “did not see why she should not be allowed to go through the front door like all the other paying guests.” She also said she “just can’t quite get used to prejudice and jim crowism.”
Apparently the Club Plantation was a hot spot in 1939 and was considered one of the outstanding spots In the nation and one of the most pleasing places for Black artists and entertainers to work, however Blacks were not allowed in to see the shows. Gee Gee was invited in because she was in vogue at the time as an actress, but they still would not let her arrive through the front door.
Never having experienced this I tend to forget that Black entertainers of the early 1900s faced blatant racism constantly. Maybe even daily. It had to have been a constant stressor. Yet, actors like Gee Gee and my father, Eddie Green, lit up a room when they walked in. They were gracious off stage and dedicated to their craft on stage. These trailblazers have, because of their fortitude, become my heroes. I chose to write about Gee Gee James today because she and my father were once comedic partners. But like Eddie before I wrote my book, Gee Gee has pretty much been forgotten or over-looked. In this extremely bad copy you can see her from 1937: “Luis Russell, Eddie Green, Gee Gee James and Louie Armstrong, who on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Fleischman Yeast Company, made show world history.”—Photo by Continental News 1937
I found this wonderful article by Billy Rowe, a well-known Black journalist of the Pittsburgh Courier (1937):
ROWE NEW YORK, April 15,—”A packed house, a wildly enthusiastic audience, an atmosphere of intense joy. A leader with a captivating personality, directing a band, which like himself, knew how to swing . . . Standing before the ears of the nation awaiting the signal to commence *the first all-colored coast to coast radio program. Yes, it was a great achievement, and a personal triumph for all connected with the presentation of Louie Armstrong and his orchestra, Gee Gee James and Eddie Green, for they were the feature players making history in the world of colored show business.”
Gee Gee had been in show business a few years before appearing on the radio program. She and her husband, actor Ernest Whitman, who also performed with my father, were featured in an Old Time Radio program “The Gibsons“. She was also a singer, a dancer and a Broadway star.
As a matter of fact, Gee Gee was performing on Broadway when she got the invite to the Club Plantation. The play was No Time for Comedy at the Barrymore Theatre in 1939, and ran for 179 performances. The cast included Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Esterbrook and Katharine Cornell. Gee Gee was cast as “Clementine” and “has been received in millions of American homes via the airwaves and who is savoring success after success.”
Gee Gee James refused to be treated as less than any other human being just because she happened to be Black. In 1939. And she was successful. She helped pave the way for other Black people, other minorities, and other women to be treated with respect and dignity. I believe we must remember and uphold these trailblazers, and not let them fade out of view. Because though they are no longer here, they are still role-models and worthy of continued attention.
Well, after writing this I feel like I have just made a speech. So I will bow and say thank you, for stopping by.
Everyone can enjoy music. Any race or gender. It’s not normally about who is playing it. It really does not matter who is performing the music, only the notes matter. I think, however, what does matter is, who writes the notes and the lyrics. Who gets the recognition. I am happy that despite the fact that my father wrote his first song way back in 1917 his name is still listed as the writer. It’s pretty much a well known fact. And many, many people have recorded or performed Eddie’s song. Just recently a friend played it in a hotel where he works as a pianist. He was surprised how many people recognized the song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is still being played by someone, somewhere in the world.
The song was made popular in 1919 by a White woman, Marion Harris, the first widely known White woman to sing jazz and blues. Then Sophie Tucker (the Red Hot Mama) fell in love with the song and sung it night after night in her nightclub act. Alberta Hunter took it after that. Bessie Smith, Louie Prima, and on and on. It’s been a fox trot, it’s been played with a ukulele. It was sung by Frank Sinatra in a movie joined by Shelley Winters. However, until I wrote Eddie’s biography most people were unaware that the writer of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was a Black man.
What I have known for a long time is that there are many songs written and/or performed first by African-Americans that became widely popular through White singers who wound up getting the kudos (think Elvis and “Hound Dog”).
John Turner Layton, Jr., was an African-American songwriter, singer and pianist. Born 1894, he died in 1978. Turner Layton’s buddy, Harry Sterling Creamer, born 1879, died 1930, was also an African-American song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 to 1929. These men were talented, dedicated, and also patriotic as you can see by their first album. And like my father, Eddie, also appeared in vaudeville.
These two men wrote the song “After You’ve Gone” in 1918. Like Eddie’s song, Marion Harris helped make this song popular, as did Sophie Tucker. Edyie Gorme has sung the song, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.
“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was also a popular song with music by John Turner Layton, lyrics by Harry Creamer. Sung by The Andrews Sisters (1950) Freddie Cannon, Bing Crosby, Jan and Dean (1963!) among others. Yet, how many people are aware of the fact that these songs were written by African-American men? Where is their recognition?
Layton and Creamer were even commissioned to do a play. ” COBURNS PLAN MUSICAL SHOW: Mr. and Mrs. Coburn. it was learned last week, have practically completed negotiations for a new musical play which they plan to produce. The play is called “The Three Showers,” and the book, lyrics and music were written Jointly by Harry S. Creamer and Turner Layton. If George M. Cohan consents to fix up the book of “The Three Showers,” as is contemplated by the Coburns.”
About 1924 Turner Layton went to Europe. He teamed up with a Mr. Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone and enjoyed a great deal of success. Per the Pittsburgh Courier, 1927: “Turner Layton, Clarence Johnstone Are Playing To Big Crowds In London.”
Like Eddie, Turner Layton was often mentioned in the Black newspapers even as late as 1950, Pittsburgh Courier, 1950: “The Turner Laytons with daughter Alelia vacationing in usual swank style on French Riviera. Turner Layton happy at relief of gas rationing . . . Rolls Royces do less than 8 miles to the gallon. ” The man had a Rolls Royce.
We hear the songs and even recognize the people who sing them and that’s cool. But the recognition of the fact that there is much widely popular music that was written by African-Americans is absent in America. There, I’ve said it. Which is why who wrote the music matters, today. Music is universal. As is the African-American contribution.
Hey, thanks, for stopping by.
Check out my book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.
Happy September 13th! No special reason, just feeling good today. I joined a couple of Facebook Blues Groups and found a whole ‘nuther group of folks who remember my father, Eddie Green, because of some of the songs he wrote. I love the Blues. I love music, period. Music is the one thing that can help me snap out of a funk. Haha, especially funky music. I have been listening to George Clinton and James Brown lately. And the Blues. The groups I found are basically into the Blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Down Home Blues. Blues. Butterbeans and Susie were a comedy team from 1917 until she died 47 years later. The typical act featured a duet, a blues song by Susie (often a “double entendre`” blues song), a cakewalk dance, and a comedy sketch. One of their more popular double entendre` songs was “I Want a Hot Dog for My Roll”, performed by Susie.
Eddie did not write the hot dog song but he did collaborate with Janie Edwards to write “A Married Man’s a Fool” which was sung by Butterbeans. “A Married Man’s a Fool If He Thinks His Wife Don’t Love Nobody but Him”, was also a favorite back in 1924. I enjoy sharing these pictures with groups because I found out that there are many people who want to not just read about different subjects, they also are more than willing to share the knowledge they have gained with others. Someone sent me the photo I have here. Eddie actually wrote a play with the same title. I thought that was all there was.
The biography I have written about my father, though well researched and full of interesting stories and articles about his life, could have been twice as long. Wrapping my head around beginning a second book about my father, “Eddie Green-Back By Popular Demand”, is still in the “Should I or Shouldn’t I” stage.
One of the other ideas I have been considering was suggested to me by a few friends. They think my book would make a good teaching tool in a college or university. Because it is an example of a Black man’s rags-to-riches climb through early 1900s America. What motivated him, how he sustained himself at nine years of age after leaving home. How he interacted with others that made them want him around. That made them keep calling him back to perform on their radio shows more than any other Black person at the time in the 1930s. How he used comedy to propel him to Hollywood. I did not even consider getting my book into schools until it was suggested. But, just last week someone mentioned it to me again. This week I asked for advice. I found out about curriculum development and matching it to the grade level and state learning objectives. I copied a paragraph from a friend to help me flesh out objectives: “The book delves into his professional life, analyzing step by step his path through times in which few black entertainers could reach the kind of success he had. There’s also as much as possible about his personal life to give a sense of who and where he was while climbing the ladder to Fame”. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But, by golly, I am Eddie Green’s daughter! And my mother’s daughter! Talk about inspiration. She lived ’till she was 87 and had been told she was going to die at age 36. She bought her first computer at age 80 when she came out of her first Hospice as a breast cancer survivor. Tenacity, Determination. An optimistic outlook. Or in my mother’s case, stubbornness.
My thoughts are swirling today. The anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up. She started out on this book writing journey with me but she did not see the published book, nor did she get to see even half of what I unearthed about Eddie’s life. Mom was 30 years his junior and was only married to him five years. During the time he was most famous. Of course, she had the real thing. Good thing Eddie didn’t believe that “A married man’s a fool” stuff. Mom was his 4th wife!
My question is “didn’t Black people ever watch old time radio?” I have begun to realize the magnitude of commercialism and how it played into Blacks being ignored in this world in the early 1900s. While researching African-Americans and their relationship to Old Time Radio I did a Google search for “Old Time Radios”. The search engine game me dozens of images of families sitting around the radio listening to a program. Some actually were looking at the radio as if it was a television. However, none of these families were Black. I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that despite all the African-Americans in America at the time, there was little representation in the radio industry. According to J. Fred MacDonald “the industry in its so-called Golden Age offered only limited opportunities for black men and women to develop.” Even though there was a huge need for personnel.
Of course, there were Blacks working in radio as janitors, or electrical assistants and even an announcer or two. They had to come in the “other” door, though. And there were Blacks performing on the radio, such as my father, Eddie Green, who became Rudy Vallee’s protege’ or Eddie “Rochester” Anderson from the Jack Benny program. My father was evidently so funny that Rudy Vallee would feature Eddie over and over. Then there were shows that were hugely popular with everybody (maybe not the NAACP), such as, Amos n Andy. People everywhere literally stopped what they were doing to listen to this program. Eddie was the lawyer, Stonewall in this program. There must have been some Blacks sitting in front of their radios, or if they did not have one a person could stand in front of their local storefront and listen to the broadcasts. Yes, I am beginning to really see how segregation kept Black people “out of the picture”, except in some rare instances. I mean we were THERE.
Today, If you look up Old Time Radio (OTR), not the Beyonce’ concert, you will get a lot of information about all the White radio suspense, cowboy, comedy and horror shows.
Old Time Radio shows produced by Blacks got a toehold in maybe the late 30s. The one I have researched so far, though got its start on June 27, 1948. Mr. Richard Durham began a radio program titled “Destination Freedom”. Now….. if you look up OTR shows online you will get a lot of sites that post lists of shows and you will get sites that let you listen to lots of shows. Until two days ago I hadn’t found one site that had a list of a Black OTR program.
Two days ago I found one that has a list and lets you download shows of Mr. Durham’s Destination Freedom.Old Time Radio Downloads. They have won my heart. They actually have clippings of each episode of “Destination Freedom” for my listening pleasure. I love them. Maybe some day this show will appear in the internet search engines under OTR, Old Time Radio, that is.
In the 1940s when my father, Eddie Green, was looking for women to dance as chorus girls or to star in one of his movies, he would put on beauty contests. Beauty contests were not exactly new in 1940, but they were definitely segregated. Which means that these contests only got media attention from the White owned newspapers. If you were to google “beauty contests” from the 1940s, you could find many images of the White ones, but none of the Black ones. This particular contest was for Miss Sepia America. Anyhwho, this is not a post about segregation. Or beautiful girls as it says in the first article from 1940. “Eddie Green Bringing Six Beautiful Girls to Affair At Claver (The St. Peter R. C. Claver Church, located in the Burrough of Brooklyn was hosting their annual post-season Basketball Game and Matinee Dance.) This is a post about communication, then and now.
As it is next to impossible to read this article from 1941, I will type it out. From the Courier-Post (Camden, New Jersey) – 09 Oct 1941: “Each and every fine cat in Harlem is figgering on draping out in their most much of hard-hitting togs, donning their up-to-date sky pieces and collaring a broom down the midway to Harlem’s Renaissance Casino on the early black of Oct. 9. To dig the most mad lay-out of fine and mellow chicks Eddie Green’s gonna drop on them. Now Eddie is a square (and actually needs some prayer) when it comes to beating up his chops on a bid like this to you. So trilly up Harlem way and dig in on something to gumbeat about . . .Now if that spiel is too panicky for you to latch on, and you’re a Lane from Spokane, or a Home from Rome, may I simply say the date is the early black of Oct 9th. So be on hand to gim those gams…..Dig?”
The funny part here is that it says my father was a square which is probably why I think of myself as being square. But I had a difficult time trying to understand just what this article was talking about!
I do know what “fine cat” means (I’m not THAT square) and I know togs are clothes. And back in the 1940s men were always sharp (meaning they always made sure they looked good). If you were going to the Renaissance Casino you definitely had to look good because the Renaissance Casino, provided the backdrop for the area’s most elegant dances and exciting sporting and political events. In the 1940s it was also one of the few places Black people could go to have a good time. And of course I know the article must mean Eddie was bringing some of his beauty contestants for the fellows to ogle.
After I read that article from the Courier I just had to look up some other terms people have used over the years since the forties. I didn’t really use much slang until the 60s when everything was groovy. I particularly liked “Be there or be square”. Oh, and “book it” (meaning to leave from where you were. “Chick” is a word I still use today. My step-dad could always use some extra “bread”.
Then “book it” became “split”. If you were smoking some grass you had to watch out for the “fuzz”, can you dig it? Women were “foxy” and “phat”, word? Pretty soon everything was “totally tubular”, dude. And then along came Run DMC and I was “illin”. As far as slang goes I think I kind of petered out about this time, though I still hang on to “cool”. So before I bounce I will share with you what I think about slang today. WTF does cray-cray mean anyhow? Being a square, of course I thought LOL meant “Lots of Love”. (LMAO) It took me an hour to figure out what my daughter meant when she sent me this one night while texting: gn. (Oh! good night) She ended one of her texts with ty-I thought “why would she end her text with my nephews name-then I found out it meant thank you (ty, get it?) ROFL. Sometimes it’s hard AF to figure out what people are talking about. But it’s all good.
Hi there. When I started this blog at the end of 2014 it was to provide a platform for myself as an author. I was writing my first book. A book about my father, Eddie Green. I have since written the book, had it published and even won an award. As Eddie died when I was 3 years old, researching the book allowed me to become acquainted with him and his life in entertainment. What I have learned is that the writing of the book did not mean that I had all of Eddie’s story.
Once people read the book they started sending me new information about Eddie. At library presentations people came up and told me stories about Eddie. I’ve been introduced to people in the magic entertainment venue because Eddie started out as a magician, and I’ve learned more new stuff. So, I started researching again. In the book I mentioned that Eddie wrote and staged a play titled Playing The Numbers. Just a couple of lines because that was all the information I had. Two weeks ago while reading an old 1920s magazine article I discovered how Eddie was presented with this opportunity.
According to the article, Frank Schiffman, general manager at the time, of the Lafayette Theater, New York, decided to remodel. On June 4, 1925 the theater hardly knew itself when the doors were thrown open for the opening. A new carpet was laid In the lobby. The entire front was scoured, revealing forgotten beauties In the exterior. A new electric lobby display was installed, new flooring was laid on the stage and the Interior repainted. A brand new pipe organ was also installed.
It was decided that Inasmuch as the management was so closely associated with the Apollo Theater which had been so successfully operating for the past year, it was rather natural that a similar policy, somewhat modified, should be given a trial. Therefore Eddie Green who had been an Important comedian in the Apollo cast was commissioned to organize a miniature stock company that each week will present a IS-minute performance that will consist of mutual numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, would be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood. the Lafayette Theater reopened Thursday, June 4, with a program of continuous motion pictures and vaudeville.*
7th Ave. At 132nd-St.
Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. JUNE 4-5-6,7
WM. de MILLE’S (Cecil’s brother, btw) MEN and WOMEN Produced by Paramount AND A Big Vaudeville Bill Including PLAYING THE NUMBERS Written and Staged by EDDIE GREEN With Henrietta Lovelace, Grace Smith, Eugene Pugh, Lorenzo McLane and a Chorus of CREOLE VAMPS Matinees 15c & 25c Eves. 25c, 35cf 50c
Midnight Show Every Friday Performances continuous I p.m. to 12 midnight
THE MOST ELEGANT THEATRE IN HARLEM CATERING TO THE BEST COLORED PATRONAGE
So now I know a bit more of the particulars. Frank Schiffman was also the man who fell in love with Eddie’s first movie Dress Rehearsal and made a deal to debut the movie at the Apollo Theater in April of 1939.
I have also learned a bit more about the star of the vaudeville bit, Henrietta Lovelace (sometimes spelled Loveless). I have really had to dig to get information on this lady. Unfortunately, pulling up Black entertainers names from the early 1900s from the internet is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. However, I did find this in the New York Age:
“HENRIETTA LOVELESS Of Washington, D. C, who went to New York with Irvin Miller’s Blue Moon early this season, is now on tour with Chappelle and Stinette’s Kentucky Sue. They played the Grand Theater in Chicago last week. Miss Loveless graduated from Fisk University in 1921 and studied music and voice culture under Mrs. J. A. Robinson, an Oberlin graduate. She is the wife of Lorenzo McLane, noted comedian, of Montgomery, Ala.”
Then there is this: 1924 Elmore Theater “In McLane and Loveless you will see the greatest musical comedy team that has been played in Dixie. Their comedy is clean and of the highest grade; their songs are snappy and the latest numbers. To hear Henrietta Loveless sing “Mammy Loves Her Child,” will knock one cold”, says J. A. Jackson in the Billboard; and this one: Jack’s Cabaret, on Congress St., officially opened for the summer Saturday night, beginning its 20th year as a local entertainment place. Miss Henrietta Loveless, who sings in the Sophie Tucker style, leads this year’s floor show.
Henrietta Loveless was born on August 26, 1903 in Polk County, Georgia, USA. She was an actress, known for Murder in Harlem (1935) and The Spider’s Web (1927), an Oscar Micheaux film. She died in 1934. Just before she passed away she was the star of the newest Broadway hit Swing Out The News. It was said that “the vehicle gives vent to all that it’s name implies—satire and burlesque on all present day affairs, especially The New Deal Administration. It’s swift gay, exhilarating. crisp and modern in every way. Rex Ingram, and Henrietta Loveless, playing the father and mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt Tones, the Harlem new-born son, on relief under the F. D. R. New Deal Program really steal the show.”
The play itself was supposed to celebrate the fact that there was a change a’comin for the poor and destitute of the country. And the New Deal programs did indeed put millions of Americans immediately back to work or at least helped them to survive, but thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s wage minimums because some white employers considered the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes”. However, since Blacks felt the sting of the depression’s wrath even more severely than Whites they welcomed any help. (Wikipedia) So I am going to continue to “lift” Black entertainers who persevered but seem to have been erased from history.
My father worked his butt off in order to bring himself out of the poverty into which he was born. He was talented and “a regular guy”. He got along with people. Even though he lived in one of the most dangerous periods of American history for a Black person.
And, of course, I am going to mention the White people who have been instrumental in helping their Black fellows progress. My father was a ham operator and he spoke to people all over the world. I love that!!!
Thanx, for stopping by!!
*Radio Daily, 1925
Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer