How to put the fun back in politics

From The Argus, 18 September 1937:

U.A.P. Candidate Faces the Music — and Plays it

Mr. T. W. Mitchell, the United Australia party candidate for Benambra at the State Election, faced the music in a double sense when he reached Koetong, a small former mining town in the Upper Murray district, to deliver his policy speech. He found a band and guard of honour to welcome him.

As a tribute to his Scottish ancestry, the band was kilted; but the only sporrans that could be obtained in the district were the straw envelopes from beer bottles.

Each bandsman had a musical instrument of some kind and did his best to play and the guard of honour presented arms with shotguns.

Not to be outdone, Mr Mitchell dived into the boot of his car and produced a ukulele.  He played a selection with the band before inspecting the guard.

When the time came for him to speak, Mr Mitchell had for his audience almost every man, woman, child and dog in the district.

Mr Mitchell is well known in the Upper Murray district. He owns a station near Corryong.

Beat that Mr Plushbottom!

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Nurse and ukulele: grounds for divorce… (NZ, 1930)

The New Zealand Truth reported 18 September 1930 (page 8) that a woman wanted to divorce her husband for his alleged misbehaviour with a nurse who had been brought in for a week to help him recover from pneumonia. He says he never did, she says she always suspected him.

Here’s a snippet from the court proceedings:

Mr Shorland: You’ll admit to a trivial flirtation with Nurse Gibbard?

— No. I’ll not admit that.

Did you ever kiss her? — No.

You just had musical evenings with her? — That’s all.

Did you have many of these evenings? — My wife invited her twice. I should say that she was there two or three times. She came one afternoon just when I was getting about. She came at my wife’s suggestion and brought her ukulele and music with her at her request.

You play some instrument? — I play the piano.

Your wife does not play or sing, so why should she have invited the Nurse Gibbard to the house? — She likes music.

His wife said that the nurse “seemed to be a bright, lively sort of girl … She had no friends, and my husband suggested that we invite her around to our house.” It was when the wife followed husband and nurse to the park that the trouble started, apparently.

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

The finest ukulele player in the world (1911)

From the New Zealand Truth, 27 May 1911, page 6:

Mr Earnest Kaai

 Director of the Royal Hawaiian Concert and Musical Organization
and the finest Mandolin and ukulele player in the world.

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Jack Diamond’s Sweetheart and ukuleles

A story from a New Zealand newspaper, The Otautau Standard, 1 September 1931 … but it’s about happenings in the USA.

Girl and a Gang Leader

Marion Roberts, the former show girl sweetheart of Jack Diamond, New York’s notorious gangster, has herself become the leader of a gang of gunmen who are operating throughout the New England States, according to police.

She has been identified as the leader of a gang which held up two assistants at a chemist’s shop at Middleton, Connecticut, recently, and escaped with all the money in the cash register as well as a banjo and a ukulele.

Marian Roberts, gangster and ukulele player

The former Ziegfeld Follies girl is known to have been very fond of the banjo and ukulele, which she played professionally. The two assistants state that a motor-car drove up to the shop and the girl and two companions got out and entered the shop. All three immediately produced revolvers and ordered the assistants to keep quiet. One of the robbers then forced the assistants into a back room while the girl and the other bandit looted the shop.

In 1931, the ukulele might have been of more value than the takings from the cash register… depression and all that, and … they sold ukuleles in chemist shops — for the medicinal benefits they provide.

PS. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 2 May, 1931 (page 2), reported that Marian might have been involved in the kidnapping and torture of two truckmen — a real sweetheart.

PPS. The New York Magazine of 14 November 1988 (pp. 47-48) tells of 4 attempts to kill Jack “Legs” Diamond’s made by his business rivals (only the last was successful — go figure). Apparently Marion’s nick name was “Kiki” — sweet.

PPPS. Just reading ‘Harpo Speaks’ and it seems that the first girl in a blonde wig that Harpo Marx ever chased across a stage was Jack Diamond’s girl friend — might have been Ms Roberts.

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

For the Girl who has everything and nothing– a ukulele

From the Hawaiian Gazette, 23 May 1913:

Left Trunks, Took Ukulele

When Miss Isonina Davies, daughter of N. R. N. Davies, proprietor of the Grand Hotel at Yokohama, arrived at San Francisco on the steamship Persia, May 14, from Honolulu, all the baggage she had to concern herself with consisted of the clothes which she wore when she went ashore, and a ukulele and a camera.

It wasn’t that the young woman didn’t have any other baggage. It was only after she sailed from Honolulu that it was discovered her trunks were not aboard. While she was leaning at the rail watching Diamond Head fade from sight and strumming her ukulele, her trunks reposed on the wharf here, while the transfer man was tearing up and down the wharf wondering what the young woman would say when she discovered her loss. But Miss Davies did not lose her temper. She strummed her ukulele just a bit more. Fellow passengers of the fair young woman came to her rescue with wearing apparel. A wireless message was sent to Honolulu and the transfer man sent the trunks on the following steamer. When she when down the gangway at San Francisco the customs men inquired for her baggage.

“You’re looking at it,” smiled the young woman while the inspectors gasped in astonishment.

Those hotel heiresses…

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ukuleles and charity (1900)

The Independent (Hawaii) of 18 September 1900 related the following story:

Charming Charity

There is a clergyman at Lihue (writes a correspondent) whose heart has gone out to the starving people of India and who is collecting money for them in a novel but very pleasing manner. When Luna is looking down in her brightest way on the Garden Island generally and Lihue specially the reverend gentlemen gathers around him eight beautiful Hawaiian girls with guitars and ukuleles, and other sweet instruments. A “bus” is awaiting the party. The parson and the sweet singers squeeze into the vehicle and then they go forth serenading the good people of Lihue and passing the hat around for contributions to the poor Hindoo. The noble people of Lihue may swear under their breath when the parson’s “bus” wakes them up but how many can resist the plaintive notes of “Ahi Wela, Moanalua” and other sweet hymns sung under the direction of a man of the cloth. And when the moon hides her face the noble band goes home and the Indian starvation fund has been swelled, and all sleep soundly on a conscience which says “nobly done.” Who wouldn’t be a charitable reverend on Kauai.[sic]

There’s something about the tone of this report that isn’t too sweet.

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Ukuleles, and why [some] girls find maths hard…

The Evening Ledger, Thursday 24 May, 1917 (page 13):

Mathematic Marathon at William Penn High

Girls in Concentration Contest — Cipher Against Ukulele Rag and Tooting of Auto Horns

Imagine trying to add a column of figures a yard long while a squad of brain distractors whistled, strummed on ukuleles, banged on pianos, sounded automobile horns and beat time with their feet on an oaken floor!

But 300 girls did this thing today in a concentration contest at the William Penn High School for Girls. All of them survived the ordeal, but many suffered considerable mental agony before it was through.

The first problem in the contest was a brain-racking one in addition. The girls were handed a column of figures that would have staggered an intrepid double-entry bookkeeper. The ukuleles tuned up immediately the girls started. Ragtime music on pianos strove to push the young women from their mental speedways, and piercing whistles jumbled up figures on the mental blackboard and made contestants start all over again.

[Editorial note: no calculators, of course]

After the stunt in addition, the girls were given some knotty problems in quadratic equations, linear equations, simple interest, percentage, factoring and bank account.

And all the while it was a running skirmish of 300 agile brains with noise. The way those tantalizing ukuleles upset calculations and piled up figures and equations in distorted heaps was a spectacles that would have rumpled the patient spirits of the pedagogues of old.

I always knew ukuleles had a place in education.

four girls, friday the 13th, and ukuleles

The Mohave County Miner and Our Mineral Wealth, a journal long associated with sun, sand, surf, girls and ukuleles, did in fact publish the photograph below on Friday the 13th of October, 1922:

four girls with ukuleles -- be very afraid

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 6:26 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

“Hawaiian” music, America and the ukulele (1917)

The Evening Ledger, 2 June 1917, reported the following vital information on page 9:

By the phonograph editor

It was “The Bird of Paradise” which first brought Hawaii prominently before the eyes of Americans. Once the craze for the Pacific Island was established in the United States, the ukulele and the lai retained their grip on popularity. It has been impossible to dislodge them from their vogue in this country. But with all the furor over Hawaiian music, very few persons have troubled themselves to find out the source of this insinuating, smoothly flowing, sensuous melody.

As a matter of fact, strictly pure Hawaiian music is never — or at least rarely — heard in America. [I snipped out a bit] The Hawaiian ditties strummed on ukulele by young chaps at college and played by restaurant orchestras come from Hawaii right enough. But they are not essentially Polynesian.

About 1820, when the language was being formulated [?], the island was visited by groups of missionaries bent of Christianizing the people. These purveyors of the Gospel, like all religious teachers, were accustomed to sing hymns, most of them German, since the missionaries were, in many cases, themselves of Teutonic origin. The brown skinned pupils quickly took up the hymn tunes, adapting them very slightly to measures that were natural to the Hawaiian mind and love of rhythm. The result today is the sort of thing you heard in “Stop, Look, Listen!” and in the vaudeville specialties of Toots Paka and her troupe.

This reminds me a little of a comment in The Argus of 1935.

Sun, sand, wool and ukulele (1917)

The picture below appeared in the Evening Ledger (Philadelphia) on Thursday, 19 July 1917:

Two young women and one ukulele

The note reads:

“Your beach suit must be knit if you are to be strictly “in the swim”. The beach costume on the right is of striped grey wool, with a knit belt to match. The leaning toward black and white suitings still remains, as the other costume bears witness. Not least among the fads is the ukulele.”

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,