A MOTHER’S LOVE AND PERSONAL INITIATIVE

Mums and Babies

This is not a political article, though I have been influenced in part by the fact that our 44th President, Mr. Barack Obama was a proponent of the use of personal initiative. There is a belief in some circles that personal initiative and hard work is enough to overcome obstacles confronting young black men. Others pooh-pooh the “bootstrap” approach. They believe that better living conditions, better education opportunities are also necessary to help a young man achieve his potential. Both are good points.

There is also a modern day belief that Black men born into poverty are good candidates for being drawn into a life of crime other than a life of legitimate success. Some modern day beliefs are that “soundbites” in the news contribute to the mindset that Black men (when  arrested in t-shirts and low-cut jeans) are seen as a threat. (Blacks in the News: television, modern racism and cultural change By Robert M. Entman-journalism quarterly, pg 35.)

In 1910, when my father was coming of age Blacks made up only thirteen percent of the population but twenty-seven percent of those were in prison. In the South in 1910, Blacks comprised 30 percent of  the population yet made up 60 percent of those incarcerated (US Census Report 1910).

This racial incarceration gap could have had many causes, including discrimination in arrest and sentencing, differences in family background, lack of job opportunities for blacks, higher urbanization rates of blacks, and differences in educational attainment. (Access to Schooling and the Black-White Crime Gap in the Early 20th Century US South: Evidence from Rosenwald Schools. Katherine Eriksson December 31, 2014.)

When my father, Eddie Green, left home at the age of nine in 1900, the presence of structural racism, the after effects of slavery, the lack of education for Black people, and the lack of healthcare was not a problem for him. The constant objections of White Americans to African-Americans was, evidently, not a problem to him. The lack of job opportunities and differences in family backgrounds was not an issue. He had discovered he could thrive on his own without resorting to criminal acts but through his own talents and his ability to take care of business. He had been raised right.  HE HAD ACQUIRED PERSONAL INITIATIVE-THE ABILITY TO ACT AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES.

For a child born into poverty that life-style is normal. An infant does not realize poverty.   I believe Eddie’s mother provided his early nurturing. Eddie did not have a close connection with his father. I hold the idea that Eddie received love and attention mostly from his mother. Eddie had a love for his mother that he spoke of to my mother.

He learned his work ethics from watching his mother washing countless loads of other people’s clothes and he was hurt by this. He saw that no matter how hard his father worked nothing got any better.  But he also knew  hard work was necessary to survive.

He learned confidence in his ability to take care of himself,  he acquired fearlessness, otherwise how could he have gone out into the mean streets alone. His situation at home prepared him for the streets because what could be worse.

Emotionally, he became the “comedian.” With his comedic talent eventually tending dry humor. He would later become known as a “droll” comedian. Drollery according to the dictionary is a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humor.” Evidently Eddie tapped into this natural aptitude early enough to boost his rise to success.

Eddie taught himself to read and discovered books on magic. He found that he liked performing magic tricks and that he was good at it. It was a way to take a person out of the mundane and into a world of fantasy and wonder. He had also determined that he could thrive by traveling through the city offering to perform as a “Boy Magician”.

More than likely Eddie would have read about or heard about successful Black magicians such as William Carl, who in 1890 was billed as the King of the Magicians with a minstrel troupe called Boston’s Merry Musicians, or Alonzo Moore (c.1870-c.1914) who joined Billy Kersands’ Minstrels in 1904.

Eddie had grown up, also, during the time of great African American role models. Men like W. E. B. Dubois, a Black historian and sociologist, who was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, or Frederick Douglass who was also born in Maryland, a slave and who became a social reformer and statesman.

When Eddie left home at the age of nine, he was a good, self-confident, eager, willing, forward-looking, honest and talented young person. He left with the love of his mother cradling him. His circumstances had not made him angry but became a source of determination to have a better, happy life. When money permitted he moved his mother into Gotham City to be close to him. Over the years he would become successful as a Broadway and movie star, a filmmaker, a composer and as an Old Time Radio icon. By the time of his death he had risen to become one of America’s most beloved comedians.

As a testament to his feelings about being Black, this is what Eddie wrote to a radio program titled “The Negro Hour” in 1938 regarding their theme music: “Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant forceful music, and thus have a theme song that tells the world, “Here comes an upright, fearless, man”

As a testament to his early learning which I am certain came from his mother, he told the radio announcers this: You must remember that you are gentlemen addressing ladies and gentlemen and if for no other reason than that, a gentleman never raises his voice”.

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Alberta Hunter and The Influence of Old Timers

This is the first lady that I heard sing my father’s song “A Good Man is Hard to Find” on a Los Angeles Jazz radio station in 1988. A friend recorded it to a cassette for me. The song I have placed in this post is different but connected. See, I started to write this post about the difficulty in getting today’s public interested in radio artists from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, unless they are older people or people who are into entertainment nostalgia.  And how difficult it has been to get today’s Black people interested in Black entertainers from the same era. Because there are people today (like my younger brother Brian) who have contempt for the “Rochesters” or “Fettchits”. Those slow-talking, yes, sah Blacks, thus making it harder to market the biography I have written about my father who was successful during the early 1900s. They are not proud of these old timers. But I think the fact that these entertainers persevered and succeeded during a time of great hardship for Americans and particularly Black people makes a powerful statement of tenacity that ought to be passed on and on. For instance, our kids today are listening to songs that contain profanity and outright sexual lyrics. But guess what? They need to know that this is not new, they are simply re-stating the same ideas that began back in the 20s with songs like the one below from youtube. Only a bit more subtle.

 

 

Yes, Alberta Hunter! 1895-1984. We now have the internet and cable and smartphones and no longer sit around the radio waiting for Amos n Andy or The Hit Parade or Duffy’s Tavern (with Eddie Green as Eddie, the waiter), or The Shadow, but we ought to remember these pioneers and their determination to follow and achieve their dreams. Black or White.

Then, this morning, my focus for this post began to include Racism. I read an article. On March 31, 2017 someone left a noose in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D. C. The world may have moved on technology-wise, but racism and hatred are still with us. For my Black brothers and sisters this may very well prove to be a reason for not wanting to look back at what some see as negative Black images from the 20s, 30s or 40s. Or maybe they see these as simply by-gone days. But remember, these Black entertainers who came before us witnessed lynchings and still chose to pursue their entertainment dreams. Through courage and determination these old timers left legacies of courage and success. They prove that perseverance, love of life and the desire to provide happiness to others can and will stop negativity from overtaking this world, that the desire to harm others can be lessened and a greater desire to help others can be achieved.

Hey, thanks for stopping by and please share this book info with others.

https://www.facebook.com/EddieGreenBook/

 

Mom at Easter

This Easter I have been thinking a lot about my mom. When she and my father got married in 1945, he was fifty-four and she was twenty-two. Eddie was her first husband. She had finished her Catholic college-prep high school, was still living with her Mother and had a job as an Assistant Highway Surveying Engineer when they married and she moved into the house he bought on 2nd Avenue in Los Angeles, California.

Mom was a nice Catholic girl. She attended and graduated from the Ramona Catholic college-prep high school for girls in Alhambra, California. Ramona was, according to their website, the only Southern California member of an international network of schools sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. a strong sisterhood with continuing friendships for more than 7,000 alumnae, of which mom was one.

Over the years mom’s connection with the Catholic ties became less and less. She did try to send me to Catholic School but it became too expensive. She gave me my first Bible when I was eight years old and even at that age I was shocked because by then she never went to church, Catholic or otherwise. I didn’t get it. Of course, I still have the Bible though it is a little beat up.

However, mom did keep certain Easter rituals. One was buying lilies. She always bought white lilies. According to a site on the internet some Catholic nations regard white lilies as the symbol of the purity and divinity of Jesus Christ and dedicate them to his mother, Virgin Mary. Now, the fact that mom bought these particular flowers seemed odd to me because she told me that when in school she was the young lady who argued with the nuns at Ramona about Mary being a virgin.

Also, she always bought a ham for Easter. We had to go to that store on La Brea in Los Angeles. Which meant I would have to go with her and stand in this long line and I would probably get a little sample of potato salad while there. There is still a mystery as to why we ate ham at Easter but evidently it was a tradition that meant something to my mom. (I’ve found out since those hams were expensive!) But there was still the fact that she had stopped going to church completely unless I dragged her on special occasions.

Then, in 2005 mom asked me to go to Easter Sunrise Service with her at the Hollywood Bowl. First time I learned she even thought about going to Easter Sunrise Service.  Now, the thought of having to get up at 3:00a.m. to get to the Bowl in time did not thrill me. Sitting on those hard slabs looking at a bunch of sleepy people was not much fun. The experience of being in the bowl with so many people waking up to the sunrise was powerful. I experienced a sense of love, tolerance and forgiveness.

My mother never talked much about the meaning of Easter. I have since realized there must have been some meaning in it for her. Her religious viewpoint was more focused on why suffering existed in the world. That’s what she talked about. Believing was difficult for her. But she had her own kind of faith. And it was really more optimistic than she would admit to.

Thanks to my mom I have a faith in which I believe and I have a sense of tradition. I believe in love, tolerance and forgiveness. Mom died in 2010. I haven’t had one of those Easter Hams since. However, for some reason last week I bought a ham slice. And I have noticed those lilies all over the supermarkets. Yesterday I spent the whole day listening to old time gospel music. Happy Easter, mom.

I wish a sense of love and tolerance and forgiveness for our world today. Happy Easter, and thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

Eddie Green and Baltimore, 2 Greats

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The two pictures posted here today have brought me much joy recently. The head and shoulders shot is my father Eddie Green with his Amateur Short-wave Radio Operator pin on his lapel, circa 1940, and the other is a still from a Warner Bros. 1929 Vitaphone film titled “Sending a Wire”. That’s Eddie as a customer trying to send a telegram. The headshot is located at the New York Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the Eddie Green Photo Collection. I got the still from The Vitaphone Project where the employees are endeavoring to preserve old Warner Bros. films.

Eddie was born in Baltimore in 1891. So a few days ago I posted these photos on a Baltimore Old Photos website group. I have been blown away by the response I have received from Baltimore residents. As I type this I have received over 600 replies (likes, comments, reactions) and they are still coming in. Of course I have responded to each comment so I’ve been reluctant to leave my computer because I want to answer immediately. So far placing these photos in the Baltimore site had nothing to do with the biography I have written on my father. The people who are reacting to these pictures are simply people who love their city. They love their city history. Judging by the faces on their posts (I guess they are avatars) these are young people, middle age, older folks, and different ethnicities. To me this is a proud community.

I absolutely do not like to fly but it looks like I am going to have to visit my father’s birthplace. I would love to experience the atmosphere. There has got to be a lot of love in that city. I posted a blurb from my book that said Eddie Green was “a feather in the hat of East Baltimore” according to the local newspaper from 1925. Wait until they get the word that I have written a book about him. From the comments I have received Baltimoreans will be happy to learn more about one of theirs.

I am trying not to get too excited here because life is about ups and downs, but I am having so much fun. Since I started this blog however the process has been up all the way.  I’ve written my book, had it published, and gained followers and friends.  Because of my desire to see my father’s story brought back to the fore of people’s minds in order that they might see an example of reaching one’s goals no matter how many obstacles there are, and because Life has shown me that this is what is supposed to happen, I feel this path I am on is only going to bring me and others more happiness. How it will bring happiness to others is that people who visit my site can be encouraged to pursue their dreams and they will feel fulfilled in doing so.

I love this!

Thanx, for stopping by. And please KCB.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Most Looked Up Word Is…

 

eddiegreenandgrandmanorma

Trying to write positive posts that are relevant to today’s interests has become a bit difficult for me. For inspiration, I turn to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary for the most looked up word of the week. Word #7 has been racism for a while now. Word #1 has been fascism for a couple of weeks. Word #9 empathy and Word #12 is love.

It makes me sad to see that the #1 word is fascism according to Webster’s. Why is that word so much on people’s minds as opposed to the word love? Uh, never mind, don’t answer that question. As for empathy, I have experienced this feeling this past week or so because a mom recently lost her 14 year old son during a heavy rainfall incident in California.  I am a mom and I can imagine how she must have felt. I think this world could use more empathy. As for the word racism, my opinion is that this word will continue to be among the top ten words people look up in the dictionary.

Racism is an old word. It exists where you might not think it exists. My father and my mother experienced this in the late 1890s through the 1950s. Eddie, born in 1891 in Baltimore, Maryland experienced racism from infancy as a Black person in America. One thing about it though, Eddie did not let the harsh treatment of Blacks hamper his rise to success. His career began as a boy magician, he became a filmmaker, a Broadway and movie star, an old time radio icon and a composer. He remained courteous and he was known as a gentleman. He was proud of who he was as a man and he became one of the most beloved comedians of his time until his death in 1950.

My mother’s experiences were different. My grandmother was a very light skinned Black woman who chose to pass herself off as White. Spanish to be exact. My grandfather was Italian. My mother lived most of her life unsure about her heritage. She too was very light skinned. As an adult she chose to identify as Black. Unfortunately, sometimes in order to get a job my mother would apply as White and then would lose the job when it was discovered she was actually Black. Through the years after mom married a second time, her sister-in-law (a Black woman) who sold real estate would take mom with her to meet clients hoping the clients would see mom as White and would therefore be more interested in purchasing the property that was for sale.  In later life mom told everyone who asked that she was a gypsy.

Within my own family racism existed. When my father Eddie would come to my grandmother’s house in Pasadena, California to visit my mother, Norma, my grandmother would make Eddie come in through the back door, because of course anybody could see that Eddie was Black. As you can see from the picture above this did not stop Eddie’s progress. He married my mother during the latter half of 1945. By then he had become a household name and mom reaped the benefits as you can see by her ensemble. Love carried the day. Of course, in those days the places one could go as a seemingly interracial couple were limited. But they were happy.

Eddie died in 1950. We were living in Puerto Rico. We returned to the US on a ship called the SS Puerto Rico. First class. In 2014 I was in a library and a gentleman who helped me locate the Passenger List of this ship was amazed that in 1949 our family sailed First Class on a ship. He was amazed because it was unusual to see Black people sailing First Class back in the day. It is still amazing people today. I do not call this racism, but a by-product of racism. A thought process stuck somewhere in the unconscious.

I guess if the word love was #1 it would seem that folks needed more information on what love is. Sometimes I think we do.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

 

Labor of Love

whyThis past week a political figure’s book sold out in 2 days on Amazon after he received an uncomplimentary response to an opinion that he voiced.  I wonder why? Did the book sell out because of controversy? Is that what people want? Of course, my bright brain then thought “hm, how could that work for me? Could I find someone of note to mention me in a bad light on the internet? Of course, they would have to mention the name of the book I authored, then people would rush to buy my book, to see if I really am as bad as that person said!”  Then I laughed out loud. I don’t want controversy to sell my inspiring, delightful biography about my legendary radio icon, filmmaker, comedian father, Eddie Green.

However, truth be told, I was a bit upset. People seem to be drawn to drama. And the aura surrounding the writing and publishing of this book has no negative drama. There is no negative drama in my life. Will my book sell well with no drama attached to it?

Drama could have been created back in the day when Mary O’Neil of the Knickerbocker News printed her opinion in 1937, she said:  “What that Eddie Green is doing in radio, I don’t know. I still can’t see his type of comedy. But as I said before Vallee can’t have a success every single time.” Rudy Vallee was Eddie’s mentor. (For you younger folks, Vallee was a radio and movie star who helped Eddie get noticed.) I don’t think everyone rushed eagerly to their radios that day to listen to Eddie Green, and see if they could tell just what kind of man Eddie was, but I do know that he eventually became one of the most popular and best loved comedians of his time through talent and determination. No drama necessary.

According to Mr. Frank of the Associated Negro Press Eddie had become very popular through his talent: “This brings up the subject of Eddie Green, the fine comedian who appears occasionally on the Rudy Vallee hour. Eddie, who specializes in burlesques of famous plays and men of history, is one of the few people of color ever to win such radio recognition as a comic.”

Today I looked up Mary O’Reily and I found a very interesting geneology site with information on her family from the 1700s to 2012. At the end of the article they stated that this information was a memorial to their ancestor’s sacrifices and hard work that got them to a nation where they could achieve and accomplish anything. I have warmed up to Mary O’Reily. She was a female journalist in 1937 doing her job. She said what she felt and she was glad to have her job.

My intent when writing this book was to inspire and possibly provide a pin prick of motivation to that person who feels the odds are against them. To be helpful in some way. Have someone say “yea, I could do that!” My focus was to be positive and upbeat. I don’t want controversy to spur sales of my book. This book writing venture has been smoother than smooth because it was supposed to happen. And I know my book will reach the people it is supposed to reach. Btw, the title of the book is Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, for those of you new to this blog and Thank You for those of you who have purchased the book. You are all a part of my Labor of Love.

As always, thanks, for stopping by.

Obstacles….NOT!

obstacles-notLet 2017 be your year of overcoming the obstacles. In our world today there seems to be a lot of obstacles: racism, poverty, joblessness. But I have come to learn in my own life and through writing my father’s biography, that obstacles don’t signify stopping points. Unless you live in Chester’s Mill “Under the Dome.” (A fictional TV program that I loved-the town people couldn’t go under the Dome or around it or through it.) In real life obstacles can be overcome.

If you have followed my blog for awhile you know that I have published a book about my father, Eddie Green. My intent was for this blog and the book to be inspirational. To maybe help motivate someone to follow their dreams no matter how difficult it may seem. My family laughs at the title of my blog Pin In The Tush. But I told them it is supposed to bring to mind what happens when someone is stuck in the tush (or butt, if you prefer) with a pin, they usually jump-they are motivated! Anyhow, the book talks about the fact that my father was a Black man born in 1891 in the most poverty-stricken, segregated part of Baltimore, Md. Jobs were few and far between. I think his mother took in washing and I have almost no knowledge of his father, except that maybe he worked the docks when he could. There was no sewage system then and the houses were falling apart alley houses.

Despite the racism, the lack of jobs, and the poverty, or maybe because of it, Eddie left home at nine years of age, taught himself how to read, through books learned the art of magic and performed magic acts in churches and halls in and around Baltimore. He found work as a handy man where he could and wound up working at a theater where they also let him perform. He wrote a song (a bestseller), and sold it for next to nothing. (It became a bestseller after he sold it.) He took himself and a group of ladies out on the road in the South with his song. He got more work in the Theater, wrote more songs and just climbed from there to become extremely successful in the world of entertainment. Racism did not stop him. He was one of the most sought after comedians on White radio programs. He played Eddie, the waiter on the Duffy’s Tavern radio program through the last ten years of his life. Poverty motivated him. The necessity of having money gave him the impetus to teach himself a skill.

Anyone can enjoy a good life despite the seeming let-downs or road-blocks. This year have faith in yourself, treat yourself well, put in the work, learn something new, love your neighbors and see how you can be an inspiration to someone else.

Hey, thanks for stopping by and please, share this with a friend.

And read: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Publisher: BearManorMedia.com

 

 

What is theWebster’s Dictionary Word of 2016?

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While typing the title of this post I was reminded of  my step-dad, Nate. He used to pick random times to sit me and my siblings down and give us a word to define. Just out of the blue. Of course we never knew the word, we were just kids, but I became a reader of the Dictionary. He also made us do math problems, but today my math skills suck. Anywho, in looking through internet sites trying to find inspiration for writing this post, maybe something about encouragement or love, I came upon the most looked up word in the dictionary for 2016.

One of the words in the running for 2016 was the word “flummadiddle.” It means something foolish or worthless. According to Webster’s Dictionary, flummadidle spiked in look ups around this year’s election process.

It caught my attention because it looked just like a word my father, Eddie Green, made popular back in 1926. The word was “fummadiddle.” As in “Dad doesn’t go in for fummadiddles,” from a story in 1928, or as in “If you got much to say, be quick about it cause I ain’t got no time fo’ fummadiddles!”, from a story in 1919. According to the Dobbs Ferry Register back in 1926: Newest of the catch phrases to sweep the Country via radio is “fummadiddles” and the promoter of the new word is Eddie Green, whose comedy has been heard several times on the Rudy Vallee program. Eddie’s word was said to be the modern equivalent of “Wanna Buy a Duck?”, which was a silly phrase back in the 1920s. Or it was just another way of  was saying “Balderdash!”.

Anyhow,  whether flummadiddles or fummadidles, either word fits in with the in’s and out’s of this years election.

By the way, Webster’s Dictionary Word of the Year is: Surreal-meaning “marked by the intense irrationality of a dream.” A word that also spiked in look ups last month.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

Dictionary picture courtesy of Google Advanced Image Search