My father liked two things for sure: Pretty women and he liked being happy. From the first time he went out on the road with his first song in 1919, through his movie making days in 1939, ’40 and ’41 his ensemble included chorus girls and comedy. He even incorporated dancing girls, tap dancers, singers and comedic skits in his last 1949 movie that depicted Blacks and how they dealt with life after the Atom Bomb. For those new to this blog you can see his last movie on YouTube-it’s titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb. A young lady (Margaret Westfield) sings a song called “You can Always Believe Your Heart” which Eddie wrote. I am still looking for information on Ms. Westfield.
Eddie became a household name as Eddie, the waiter in the radio program Duffy’s Tavern, during the last ten years of his life. Everyone loved Eddie. February is Black History Month. I am going to inundate social media with “fun Eddie stuff”. I want to get him as much exposure as possible. I want to get as many people as I can to experience Eddie’s good nature and for them to get a few laughs as well. I think our world could use uplifting right now. Eddie’s life story is truly inspiring. I will also be pushing the biography I have written about him, “Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer“, it’s much more fun that that “other” book everyone is talking about these days.
In this still from Eddie’s 4th movie you can see that Eddie (in the striped shirt) liked being silly (which is why, I am sure I like silly jokes: What kind of flower is that on your face? Tulips!!! Hahahahaha!) There were even chorus girls in this movie.
Inspire someone today. I chose to write a book “Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer” to inspire my grandson. He was six when I came up with the idea, he is twenty-six today and the book just published in July of this year.
My very first post talked about the words “I can’t” because I heard that from my grandson a lot when he was little. Just so happens my father, who died when I was three, found success through talent and determination to escape the poverty he was born into. I figured his story would show my grandson that “you can” despite seeming obstacles.
Eddie’s rise from poverty played out mostly in the world of entertainment, with offshoots into the restaurant business. And the book became not only a book to inspire my grandson but a book about the entertainment business in the 1900s. Because Eddie was Black the book is also filled with information about other Blacks prominent in show business back in the day. It became sort of a Black Entertainment history book. So it became a book about a Black man in America, as well as an inspirational book. People have told me the book should be required reading for young people in schools. So could also be seen as educational. My main group has proven to be people who follow entertainment nostalgia. Old time Hollywood, Old Time Radio shows, old all-black cast movies. A wide variety of folks, young and not so young.
My desire to inspire my grandson with his great-grandfather’s story morphed into wanting to inspire any person who thinks “they can’t .” So I was blown away with the interest generated by this book in the Nostalgia field. I have discovered that a lot of people knew about, remembered and have actually seen my father perform. I have been made aware of the fact that there are young people who are fascinated with success stories from the 1900s, for the very reason I wrote the book, inspiration. Also, I have happily realized the interest this book can garner in the Black community as a success story of a Black man, both personally and professionally, in a time of great racial discord.
I am going to put more energy also into sharing Eddie’s rags-to-riches story with as many people as possible, such as The young adult (YA) age group, or teen-group. Because they are the future. They need to have access to stories that will give them hope. I hope to make this book available to younger children although it doesn’t have any colorful pictures. I also want to market to Black Ancestry sites because genealogy is a big deal today.
Sure, I want to sell a million books. My father’s first song sold a million copies in one year in 1919 (A Good Man is Hard to Find), and people are still recording it, imagine that! But this book began out of love for my grandson and grew into something I could share with people everywhere which makes me happy. And if I make lots of money I will be able to say that I am self-supporting through my own contributions.
In the late 1930s my father told a reporter that in his opinion “radio was a very, very difficult field for Negroes to get into, but the benefits were worth the try.” If he could see how effort has worked toward America having it’s first black President, I know he would be very proud.
A little over a year ago, I posted my first blog with these words:
Dean Koontz once said, “I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.”
I found this quote while doing research for a book I will eventually complete. I began my research in about 1998 because my then small grandson’s favorite word seemed to be “I can’t.” Usually in regard to why he did not finish his homework. His homework was always too hard. I came up with the bright idea to enlighten him on what a person can accomplish, by telling him about, and by writing a book for him, about my father, his grandfather, Edward (Eddie) Green, who was a black man born in poverty in 1896 and who rose to prominence despite many obstacles.
Today, as you can see from the above picture, my grandson is no longer small, and I have completed the book. I have to say that my bright idea has also been good for me, in that I have gained a bigger and better understanding myself, of just how hard Eddie had to work to get where he got. For instance, in the above paragraph I have 1896 as Eddie’s birthdate, well, just last year I discovered that Eddie was really born in 1891 (SS application), so I guess he figured the age thing was a factor in getting ahead. Especially in entertainment, which is where Eddie’s talents took him. We all have this ability in one way or another.
When I began this blog I said I wanted to inspire people. I thought I would post poetry from time to time. Totally got away from that idea, because sharing my father’s ups and downs became paramount. Unfortunately, though I have gotten to the point in my posting that I have to slow down on what I share about Eddie or there will be no point to writing the book. My posts so far have touched on instances in Eddie’s life up until 1945 and he died in 1950. I will continue posting on Eddie and my book writing adventure, but today I am going to post a poem written by my brother, Brian.
Brian’s many talents include writing poetry. I asked Brian early on to write a poem for me, but he wanted to write on a religious theme. I told him that this was not a religious blog, that it was about inspiring people. Haha, don’t laugh. Anyhow, I have realized during my research that people are inspired in many different ways, through many different pathways. Brian is a funny guy (we have different fathers, but his father was the “life of the party” kind of comedian), Brian has a passion for writing poetry. Give him a word and you’ve got a poem. He loves to read and will pull out his pocket bible, or his latest historical article, in a minute. Today, before he got interested in the Super Bowl, I asked him to give me a poem over the phone, and I got one. Interesting that today just happens to be a Sunday.
It’s so good to know that even in the midst of our experience in this mortal life, Thank you Jesus is our reply, cause everything’s going to be alright!
So many things going on in our lives, can’t wait to fret something in a hurry! Remember the Lord said, Calm down, do not worry!
I wrote this to say my message is all about him; all the loving ways he is, we can do nothing without him.
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.
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.
However, at the New York Public Library there is archived information about:
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.
In my last post, I wrote about finding my father’s WWI Draft Registration Card and the added information I discovered on the card. Eddie did in fact, show up on June 5. Eddie had a small child at the time, and I have no idea if that made a difference in whether a man was sent off to the war. As a side note, the first training camp for black officers was set up in March, of 1917.
In the meantime, Eddie was working as an actor at the Standard Theater on 12th and South in Philadelphia.
Eddie was 25 now and he was working and supporting a family, though times were difficult.
There was also a riot that year: The city of East St. Louis, Illinois was the scene of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 20th century. Racial tensions began to increase in February, 1917 when 470 African American workers were hired to replace white workers who had gone on strike against the Aluminum Ore Company.The violence started on May 28th, 1917, shortly after a city council meeting was called.
Life was happening, as always. Some good, some bad. It is difficult to write inspiring stories without including the “bad”. But it does help to highlight the success stories. Not everyone gets caught up in what is wrong in this world. Even when it is difficult to stay out of the madness. Hey, that sounds inspiring, doesn’t it?
On August 10, John Lee Hooker was born, and on December 18, Ossie Davis was born. Good things were to come.
On December 28, Eddie copyrighted his first song “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, which would go on to become a hit. He wrote 29 more songs over the next 15 years, five of which are still under copyright.
I absolutely do not expect anybody to read the above, because it is so small, it’s just that I suffer with a need to show verification of my findings and maybe whoever is reading this can see my father’s signature on this draft card on the left side. This is the most foolproof way for me to know that I am discussing the right Eddie Green. If you are new to this blog, this is where I am journaling about my father’s life as an entertainer back in the day, way back. Along with this project, I am writing a book about my father. I started this blog also as a way to share my journey and to, hopefully, provide inspiration to those who need a push to get out there and pursue their dreams.
I stumbled across this 1917-1918 draft card a few days ago while looking for some other unrelated information about my father. Now that I have an up-to-date computer system, I have access to more records. This card provided a lot of new information, for example, it listed Eddie’s address as1405 Ten Pin Alley, Baltimore. So, of course, I went on-line to find this address, but it no longer exists, which is not surprising. What I did find was this:
I finally found the Index of Streets and Alleys found in Records, Plats, Atlases and Miscellaneous Drawings at the Baltimore City Archives compiled by Rebecca Gunby, 1993. And there between Pratt Street and Washington Blvd. I found Ten Pin Alley. It was actually an alley that people lived in, in 1917.
10 Ft Alley: n of Pratt St 1959 M4205
10 Ft. Alley: Ten Pin Alley
10 Ft Alley: Washington Blvd
Here is a picture of Fells Point Alley, which was located in about the same area.
Eddie, who was still calling himself Edward, and who had a wife and child, and who would, in a few months write his first and most famous hit song “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, probably could not imagine to what heights his talents would take him while he was living on Ten Pin Alley in 1917, or maybe he could. Maybe he saw himself jamming on Tin Pan Alley, I don’t know. What I do know is that I found a May 1949 article that says:. ” . . . It is now being said by Pigmeat Markham and John Mason, a duo of funny lads themselves, that Eddie has so much money now that he has stopped counting it and started weighing it.”
That’s all for now, good people. Thanks for stopping by.
I had the television on the other day and I heard the phrase “those who have gone before us”. I only caught a glimpse of what was on the screen, but I think they were showing photos of people who had overcome some adversity. When starting this blog, I had considered using this phrase as the title of my blog because I want to write about the people older than us, from whom we have acquired a bit of knowledge which helped us get through life, people who have inspired us.
I was inspired by my mom.
My mother was 86 when she died and I know that during her lifetime she endured some trials and tribulations. In 1959, she came so close to dying at age 36, our neighborhood minister was called in to pray with her. She received 60 pints of blood from the sailors in Long Beach, got better and came home weighing 86 pounds. Life went on, she had a husband (the second), five kids, a household to run and she held a series of jobs. Unfortunately, she also had a complicated personal life which caused turmoil, but she always persevered. She married a third time in 1966 and for 40+ years was on a roller coaster ride. In 1998 mom lost a son. In 1997 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2007 she was planning a birthday bash for me but she wound up in an emergency room with an embolism and from there she went into a hospice, the local Catholic priest came this time. She surprised everyone when she got better and left the hospice. She went back to hospice a couple of years later. She had cancer, but unless you were family or her doctor, you would never have guessed. I never heard my mother complain to anyone about how rough life was.
One day it dawned on me just how strong my mother had been through her life and what an inspiration she was to me. I shared that thought with her, and I am glad I did because her smile was like a ‘thank you’ for sharing that with her.
Mom lived life as it was and rolled with the punches, and then she got up and went to look at Jeopardy, her favorite television program.
Take a look around at those who came before you and see if you can recognize how they have been an inspiration in your life. And then, show your respect.