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/

 

Facing Reality

How does one progress through trial and tribulation?

Since the writing of the biography of my father I have been honored by people wanting to interview me. I have found that people are very interested in discovering how “racism” affected Eddie’s progress in his career. My initial reasoning for writing the book was to provide inspiration to those people who think they “can’t” become successful. So I am having to adapt.

However, I believe that Eddie did not waste his energy focusing on racism. Eddie focused on finding what he liked to do and doing it the best he knew how so that he would not have to continue to live the life of poverty into which he was born. It took him a little while to get started but once he did he was on his way.

One hundred years ago my father, Eddie Green, at age 26, was drafted for  World War I.

Because he was a Black man (or African as it says on his registration card) he was asked to tear off the bottom portion of the card. Along with the world, he was introduced to a world at war. And this is when he wrote his first song.

Eddie wrote his first song in 1917. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Perhaps President Hoover’s volunteer predicament prompted Eddie to do some writing that would become his first and biggest hit song. When America went to war interest  was not high, men were not volunteering. Good men were hard to find. President Hoover decided to inaugurate the draft. The song had nothing to do with war, but the title was relevant, and the song was written as a blues song, the type of music that was becoming popular.

Life in America in 1917 for Black also included lynchings, and jim crow laws. There were deadly riots in 1917. But Eddie and other Blacks like him persevered. Through  the hardship and prejudice of the Jim Crow era, several black entertainers and literary figures gained broad popularity, such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, with whom Eddie worked, and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, with whom Eddie also worked. They struggled, but they did it. They got work where and how they could. They practiced. They improved their craft.

By 1927 Eddie was appearing at Ciro’s in The Creole Follies(1927) August in Michigan per the Daily Globe, ‘Creole Follies Co.’ At the Ironwood”, as a dancer and singer. He had also begun performing as a comedian. He was funny. He was really funny.

In 1936 you could hear this voice saying: with Milton J. Cross making the following announcement: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I am very delighted to be allowed to participate in this demonstration on television. For your dedication, we draw on that droll comic, Eddie Green and his partner, George Wiltshire, offering a little philosophical erudition.

By 1937 Eddie was on the radio co-hosting a show with Louis Armstrong: Mr. Bob Hayes of The Chicago Defender, in his column “Here and There,” began his May 22, 1937 column, thus:, “It was like turning back the pages of yesteryear when we were greeted by our life-long pal, Eddie Green, NBC artist now being featured with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Harlem Review.” His craft was propelling him into bigger things.

Standard Brands Inc. (Fleischmann Yeast) through J . Walter Thompson Co. announced the full talent line-up of its all-negro show which will make its debut over 30 NBC-Blue network stations, April 9 at 9-9: 30 p.m. Eddie Green and Gee Gee James, a comedy team, with Louis Armstrong and his orchestra will be the regular talent. Program will also feature negro guest stars. Octavus Roy Cohen, well known writer of negro fiction, will do the script. Radio Daily April 1937.

Also in 1937 Eddie left Harlem with his (3rd) wife, in August of 1937, to join the Show Boat cast in Hollywood, according to the California Eagle newspaper. Hollywood!

In 1947 the California Eagle did a piece on Eddie in their “Trail Blazers” column. The article spoke of Eddie’s twenty-three years in show business, fifteen years of before-the-mike experience, and thirty years of technical radio knowledge. It mentioned his beginnings with “Fats” Waller in the 1920s and his progress to Duffy’s Tavern. It also spoke a little about his days as a “Boy Magician,”, and of how Eddie began to be booked on all types of radio shows. This article also mentioned the fact that Eddie was a 32ndnd degree Mason and that he had spent the last year working actively with the NAACP.

Born in Baltimore in 1891 to extreme poverty he propelled himself, through talent, determination and willingness into a successful career as an entertainer because he wanted a better life for himself. And along the way he was able to provide laughs with his comedy, entertainment with his dancing and acting, and employment through his production companies and movies. When his career ended at the time of his death in 1950 he was a beloved comedian on one of the most popular radio programs of that era. He had no enemies. He was known as a funny man, a good businessman and a regular guy by everyone he met.

Racism may be a reality, but it can be overcome.

Thanks, for stopping by.

Please check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

http://www.bearmanormedia.com

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

 

Black Magician History Month

black-herman

I love researching topics for these posts. One of the ways I pick topics is to check the dictionary to see what words people are looking up currently. Through this process I get the experience of acquiring new knowledge. I have copied information here that I found “really” interesting and is a good fit for Black History Month.

I did a book reading at a local library this past Friday and while I was reading the first chapter of my book I was reminded that my father, Eddie Green, the subject of the book, had begun his entertainment career as a “Boy Magician.” Eddie left home at about age nine, taught himself to read, read books on magic and began performing around Baltimore in churches and halls. By the time he was sixteen he was hiring assistants and he performed his magic acts until he began appearing on stage at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia in 1917 and someone told him that his comedy act was so funny he should drop the magic part, which he did.

So I’m looking up words and I found the word “ruse” had been looked up quite a lot lately.  Hmmm. Ruse means a clever or artful skill, or artifice, i.e. trick. My personal opinion is that in these instances “ruse” was not looked up in regard to magic but I chose to use it that way because of this post.

I also found this article that states, “the methodology behind magic is often referred to as a science (often a branch of physics) while the performance aspect is more of an art form….Dedication to magic can teach confidence and creativity, as well as the work ethic associated with regular practice and the responsibility that comes with devotion to an art.  Hass, Larry & Burger, Eugene (November 2000). “The Theory and Art of Magic“. The Linking Ring. The International Brotherhood of Magicians. Magic is also a form of trickery, artifice or a ruse.

Eddie was very skillful in this art form. I believe magic is what helped Eddie hone his comedic presentation and also helped with his dedication to his career.

I decided to look up any other Black Magicians (cause I had never heard of any) and Lo and Behold I found a long list of men and one woman. I focused on this first guy Black Herman. So funny. He was born one year later than Eddie. And he was quite famous.

Black Herman was an African-American magician who combined magic with a strong separatist and militant political message, and became one of the most important Black magicians in history. His mission was to promote his view of Black power by attracting attention and support using stage magic, occult magic and superstition.
Born in Amherst, Virginia, Benjamin Rucker learned the art of illusions from a huckster named Prince Herman. The two ran a medicine show, performing magic tricks to attract customers for their “Secret African Remedy”, a tonic that was mostly alcohol with some common spices added for good measure. When Prince Herman died in 1909, Rucker, then only 17 years old, continued to travel with the show, focusing on the magic and dropping the medicine show.
Creating his own stage persona, Rucker took the name “Black Herman”, partially in honor of Prince Herman, and partly as an homage to Alonzo Moore, the famous African-American magician who was known as the “Black Herrmann”. (I never knew this.)

After 1910, Black Herman made Harlem, New York his home base. He was exposed to, and greatly influenced by, the radical racial philosophies of Marcus Garvey and others who were fighting to improve the lives of African Americans. He began to incorporate a political message into his shows, playing to all-Black audiences in the South, but to mixed crowds in the North, a very unusual and great achievement for his time.

Black Herman was an ethnic nationalist, a contemporary of activists Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington. Increasingly throughout his career, his shows promoted the message of Black pride. Garvey, Washington and Black Herman all offered talismans for sale to ward off racism. Benjamin Herman Rucker 1892-1934.

Thanks to  MagicTricks.com for providing this information.

Oh yea, one of the names on that list I found was, Eddie Green.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, bearmanormedia.com

 

 

 

I didn’t think he’d go this far!

mygrandsonegforfacebook

My Grandson, Edward and my father. The idea to write my book came about through my desire to present to my grandson, Edward,  an example of what can be accomplished regardless of obstacles. I didn’t know he was gonna go this far!! The man has no fear. I turned on my computer, clicked on Facebook and here is a picture of Edward at an Alligator Park in Florida. What the!!. I am a grandmother so my first thought is What the!! Edward has lost his mind! My daughter’s reaction was that he is afraid of nothing. Like his great-grandfather.

Edward’s grandfather, Eddie Green despite being born in 1891 in Baltimore during an era of blatant racism to poverty-stricken parents,  rose to become a filmmaker, Broadway and movie star, composer, OTR icon and one of the most beloved comics of his time. Talent, determination and courage propelled Eddie to achieve the life he wanted for himself and those around him.

The idea of writing the biography of my father came to me when Edward was about six years old.  He is twenty-six now. Edward has told me that the story of Eddie is indeed inspiring to him now as an adult because he can identify with some portions of the story.  He also told me the fact that I wrote a book is very inspiring to him now, showing him that if a person sets their mind to do something, they can.

One thing I have noticed is that through the years it took for me to write this book, Edward developed into a person who has chosen to be successful in life. He has had the courage to pursue that which he is excited about. He is a good citizen. His job appreciates him. He cooks for his mother when she visits. He likes cats and treats his lady respectfully.  And he is not afraid to pick up alligators. He really did not need this book to become who he is today. It’s probably in the genes.

Maybe a young person you know would be inspired by this biography Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Though it is written also for anyone looking for motivation.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

http://www.bearmanmedia.com (publisher)

 

 

 

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