The Blues Can Be Fun-And Other Swirling Thoughts

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.

 

https://archive.org/details/78_a-married-mans-a-fool_butterbeans-eddie-green-janie-edwards-clarence-williams_gbia0039656b

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!

Hey, thank you, for continuing to stop by.

 

 

 

 

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We Were THERE

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.

https://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/historical/destination-freedom/the-making-of-a-man-1948-07-25

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

“The Whole Town is Talking About Eddie Green”

According to today’s news, a new Black female movie director who has just finished directing Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time”, has been chosen to direct Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” for Warner Bros. I have been following her rise, and when I read the words Warner Bros., my father flashed into my mind because he did a Warner Bros. Vitaphone Film.

The film is titled Sending A Wire. I felt that here is a connection (if somewhat remote) I can use to help make Eddie relevant to today. You know, Eddie was Black, he was a director, he worked with Warner Bros. and he was a Trailblazer.

I also communicate via Twitter. So I tweeted this information to the female director, yes, hoping for some type of acknowledgement. I am still in the process of promoting the biography I have written about my father and I am trying every way I can think of to get his story seen. I read somewhere that I should “do the same thing everyone else does, but do it differently”. Huh?? So I’m just doing what I think this advice is saying. I want to bring Eddie back to the fore of people’s minds. Because he was a trailblazer who was the best at what he did. His story can provide that pin-in-the-tush type of motivation for others.

Sending A Wire started out as a skit in a play titled Hot Chocolates and went on to become quite popular. From my book:

There was also “Sending A Wire”, written by Eddie, featuring Eddie and Jimmy Baskette, as a customer and clerk, respectively, in a telegraph office. The New York Age called Sending A Wire “riotously funny”. Evidently, Eddie was “knocking them ga-ga” in his telegraph skit at the Hudson.

James “Jimmie” Baskette, born February 16, 1904, would later become best known as “Uncle Remus” singing the song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” in the 1946 Disney feature film, Song of the South.
Connie’s Hot Chocolates was hailed by critics and was touted as being fast, funny and frank. Hot Chocolates would go on to have 219 performances. The closing date was December 14, 1929.

The skit from “Connie’s Hot Chocolates”, “Sending A Wire”, became a Warner Brother’s Vitaphone film that was said to be the funniest Vitaphone comedy act “which has yet been produced”, and that it “kept thousands shaking with laughter.” The film is registered in the Library of Congress as Sending A Wire, Eddie Green and Co. New York Age February 1, 1930.

“Sending A Wire”, would go on to be shown at Loew’s Main St. New Rochelle Theater, December 7, 8 and 9, billed as “Eddie Green & Co.”, featured between the Hearst Metrotone News and Irene Franklin, and, at the Strand Theater on the same program with a Mickey Mouse cartoon called The Jazz Fool.

Okeh Records would record the song “Sending A Wire” with Eddie Green and Company (which can be found at the Library of Congress under Black Films: Paper Print Collection.)


At the time, Commander Richard E. Byrd, an America Naval Officer had started an expedition to the Antarctic, and had set up a base camp named “Little America” in the Antarctic on the Ross Ice Shelf. The Gannet Newspapers, which at the time included the Albany News and The Knickerbocker Press, decided to put together a stellar list of entertainers to perform over radio stations WGY and WHAM to be broadcast to “Little America”, for the enjoyment of the explorers. Commander Byrd would receive the short wave and the broadcast wave lengths to all broadcast listeners in the United States. Amsterdam Evening Recorder: “Tonight’s radio program for Commander Byrd-Radio entertainment, originating in three different cities will be broadcast by WGY and its short wave stations to Commander Richard Byrd and his men in Little America.

Eddie was added to the program specifically to do his “Telegraph Skit” which was said to be “one of the funniest skits on the stage.” Eddie would perform along with Ralph Rainger, the composer of “Moanin’ Low”, who was also invited. Some of the other stellar performers included Rudy Vallee, Fred Allen and comedian Ted Healy. At the end of the program letters and messages from the men’s families were read over the air.

Regarding Eddie Green’s performance on the radio program, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said “The whole town is talking about Eddie Green, prime colored comic, who will put on one of the funniest skits on the stage. He will dash from the Hudson Theater immediately after the final curtain to the National Broadcasting Company where he will re-enact his side-splitting “Telegraph Office” skit for Commander Byrd and his crew.”  (Brooklyn Daily Eagle July 18, 1929).

“The whole town is talking about Eddie Green.” What a wonderful line to read about one’s father in the newspaper.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer-BearManor Media publisher

Love is Always Relevant

Hi there. This is me sitting in the “green” room at an NPR station (National Public Radio) waiting to go on the air for an interview with In Black America. I will let you know when it will be aired. My daughter, Melony, is my photographer. So the interview was about my father, Eddie Green and my experiences with researching and writing this book. But I started out with this photo for a specific reason which I will get to further on.

Racism exists. Unfortunate but true. When I started this blog I had no intention of using this space as a place to address racism. The intent was to share what I see as my father’s rags-to-riches story in the absolute presence of racism. To show how Eddie dismissed the obstacles and became a favored comedian, actor, composer and filmmaker in the early 1900s. I hoped to be able to inspire others with his story. Besides, I think our troubles today are more about hate as opposed to all about race.

Given recent events here in America, and given that my father was a Black man I feel a need to I chime in with my two cents on the issue of color. Which for me as a light-skinned Black woman is a bit different in how I have been treated through my life.

In 1917 when Eddie signed up for WWI his Registration Card listed the following:

 

Name Edward Green
Race African
Birth Date 16 Aug 1891
Birth Place Maryland, USA
Street Address 1405 Tenpin alley
Residence Place Baltimore, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland, USA

If you notice his race is listed as African even though he was born in Baltimore. On the card it is listed on the bottom half of the left side of the card, which is also torn as a way to identify the Blacks from the Whites. Since then he’s been colored, and he’s been a Negro. He died before he could become Black or African-American.

No matter. Eddie went on his merry way and became successful. Successful on stage, with other greats like Jackie “Moms” Mabley, “Pigmeat” Markham, the sixteen Apollo Rockettes and actor Ralph Cooper (whose nickname was “The Dark Gable”).  “Moms” Mabley was still Jackie at that time and James Baskette had yet to become “Uncle Remus”.

 

Then there was Tam O’Shanter. He did a one man show about an Irish poem writen by Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and lyricist. He recited the poem on stage. I would have loved to see that.  This was in 1930. I don’t think Eddie had any problem being African. Or Negro. When he became a filmmaker his letterhead read Of, By and With Negroes. But Eddie was an entertainer and an artist. He wanted to be in show business. As a person. Eddie worked well with everyone according to the articles I found. He was likeable.

 

Eddie found fame through Duffy’s Tavern. Seen here with the crew about 1942 or so, left to right, Charles Cantor,  Eddie, Ed Gardner (Archie) and creator of the show, Florence Halop and Alan Reed. Eddie began with the first radio episode in 1941 and as Eddie, the waiter became a household name. Two tapings a day for east and west coast during the season until 1950.

 

Now, back to me. My mother, Eddie’s fourth wife, was light-skinned. Her father was Italian. I did not grow up with the same color issues as Eddie. My Black friends called me “High-Yellow” when I was a kid and one or two still call me that today. When I was young my friends would laugh at me and say I danced like a White person. Yes, they meant it as an insult. There is so much emphasis on being Black today I have begun to feel left out. There is a lot of talk about “melanin”. Twitter got upset because a light-skinned Black woman was chosen the winner of a Black beauty contest. There is a sense of displeasure there. Where’s the love?

Anywho, don’t be surprised as I begin a slow transition into sharing thoughts and feelings that are important to me today, while I also continue to show my father’s life and times as being relevant and inspirational in today’s world.

With love. Thanx, for stopping by.

Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

 

 

 

I AM WRITING FOR POSITIVITY

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Hi there!!  The above picture is me working on the proofing and editing of the first draft of the book about my father, Eddie Green, Star of Stage, Screen and Radio from the 1920s through 1950.

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It’s hard work!  And very time consuming!  And in the process of verifying information, I keep finding new information that just must go in the book!

For instance, I found my father’s 1917 WWI registration card and on the card where it says “Race”, Eddie wrote in “African”.  So I started reading about Africa and how Blacks first came to America and what happened after they got here, and I wound up on a site discussing Billie Holiday and her singing of the song “Strange Fruit.”  So I looked up “Strange Fruit” and found the story of the man who wrote the song.

Mr. Abel Meeropol (February 10, 1903-October 30, 1986), was a writer, teacher and song-writer.  Mr. Meeropol wrote this song after seeing a photo of the hanging of a black man because the photo affected him so profoundly, in regards to the inhumanity of racism.  Billie Holliday received the song through another source and recorded the song and Mr. Meerepool became well-known through this song.

Mr. Meerepol was a man of compassion.  He cared about people.   He was at the house of W. E. B. DuBois one evening and he met the orphaned sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  Mr. Meerepol and his wife got to know the boys and began to care for them and eventually adopted the boys.  Mr. Meeropol passed away due to complications of pneumonia at a Jewish Nursing Home in Massachusettes when he was 83 years old.

Mr. Meerepol was the type of person I would like to know.  His thought process is what attracts me and somehow ties in with what I have been trying to incorporate into my posts.  That even though there are awful things that happen in the life, there are people who genuinely care about others, no matter what their “color”.   It’s people working together.

Ok, then I was thinking about all the help I have had since I began my book project from people who don’t know me from Adam.  I have received legal help, help with radio scripts, cd’s, free books.  I talk with people in the U.K.  I have been feeling really grateful for the help I have received.  And just wishing the race question could be a little simpler.

So then I start thinking about what to put in my post today.  My last post dealt with Eddie’s first movie in 1939, so I decided to write about the fact that Eddie, while working in the “Hot Mikado”, and contemplating his next movie, was also in charge of “The Miss Sepia Beauty Contest” at the 1939 Worlds Fair.  But when I went on-line to get information, I could find nothing about Miss Sepia or Eddie at the World’s Fair.

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The Perisphere NYWF 1939-40

However, at the New York Public Library there is archived information about:

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All correspondence, speeches, exhibition material, pass and address lists, and financial records  relating to the planning and presentation of “Negro Week” at the New York World’s Fair, 1940, became the property of the growing Schomburg Collection in New York.

“Negro Week” consisted of festivals, exhibitions, song and dance recitals, choral and symphonic music, concerts, religious services, guest speakers and a children’s program.  Noted events during the week included a dramatic sketch of the “Life of Booker T. Washington” performed by the Rose McClendon Players and performances by the Karamu Dancers, Eubie Blake, W. C. Handy, James P. Johnson, Cecil Mack and Philippa Schuyler.  There were speeches by W.E.B. DuBois and L. D. Reddick relating to various aspects of black contributions to American culture.

There was also a beauty contest.  The Pittsburgh Courier printed “South Carolina Beauty Wins
“Miss Sepia America Crown”, with a picture and this blurb under the picture:  ” Helen Lewis, wins first prize honors in nation-wide beauty contest in New York.   The second photo presents “Miss (Sepia) America” and her running mates.   “New York is a great place,” Helen agrees in final photo, as she goes on sight-seeing tour with Eddie Green, master-mind behind contest.”

Back in the day, news about Black endeavors only made it into Black newspapers.  Things have changed.  We, people, make the changes together.

imagesThank you so much for stopping by.

NPR music, E. Blair npr.org 2012

Pittsburgh Courier, 1940