America! Relax.

Every now and then I get the urge to SAY something (my daughter would attest to that). Today I want to reassure my fellow Americans that the Post Office is a lasting establishment. A true American entity. Since its inception we have had mail delivery continuously six days a week. Didn’t I learn about the pony express in grammar school? As a child I thought those pony express riders were heroes.  The mail got through no matter what. The phrase “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, was modified over time to refer to postal service workers, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from their appointed rounds”. I mean, for heaven’s sake, Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General. The organizing of the Post Office was signed into law by President George Washington on February 20, 1792! This was major.

A few years later we gained The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970-Here is the first paragraph: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.” We have since updated the USPS logo. Eagles are powerful, stately, determined and undeniably American, which reflects the spirit of the Postal Service and its employees.

The Marvelettes waited patiently for their mailman everyday. Or should I say postman. Wait, oh yea, wait a minute Mr. Postman-What a hit that was. Mail delivery was essential to living life. Still is. To so many people. People waiting for love letters or prescriptions. People waiting for hospital supplies. Checks. At one point Saturday delivery was almost cancelled, however, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, passed reversing the cuts to Saturday delivery.

And how many of you remember Mr. McFeely? Speedy Delivery!! He stopped by Mr. Rogers place every day. He was always on time and always had a smile on his face. He was so much fun. One of the most popular characters on the show. Mr. McFeeley would sometimes bring videos to show children how macaroni or plastic combs were made. I always looked forward to mail delivery when I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Today I read that our postal system is by geography and volume the globe’s largest postal system, delivering 47% of the world’s mail. Nothing since the pony express has brought the United States Postal Service to a halt. Yet according to an article I read today by Bill Moyers, “citizens tremble” when they think of voting by mail as opposed to going outside and voting in person. Because of one man.

In my opinion, one man does not hold all of the power. Society may act as though they believe one man can disrupt a complete American system which might be what would cause people to tremble. But it’s not true. I believe today’s Post Office “scandal” is being used as a way to derail the American public’s thinking process. To confuse.

I say, relax. Don’t be skeered. Thank your mailman or mailwoman. They are a part of a great institution. I should know, I used to be a mail sorter.

Fun Fact: My father, Eddie Green, once got in trouble with the Post Office, according to my mom. Eddie would dress my mom’s female friends in long scarves, take pictures and send them on postcards to men who ordered them through magazines. One of the photos showed a bit too much and Eddie became a friend of the postal inspector. (Not really, he had to pay a substantial fine.) I wonder if he got his idea from this Mata Hari postcard?

 

 

Thanx, for stopping by, KCB

You Better Recognize!

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.