Ukulele Murder

You might recall that I posted the following headline a post or two ago: Suspect Held to Answer in Ukulele Death. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1926. Well, here’s some detail gleaned from the San Jose News, 12 February 1929:

Fredrick Galloway confessed to killing Andrew Pashuta in San Jose on the night of 22 May 1926. Galloway, a deserter from the army, had met Pashuta through their interest in playing the banjo ukulele. Apparently they had an argument, and Pashuta threatened to reveal Galloway’s whereabouts to the army. Galloway used the crank of Pashuta’s car to kill him, and then dumped the body in some trees, returned to Pashuta’s house, stole his victim’s ukulele, drove south, dumped the car and sold the ukulele. Galloway, in fact, had left a trail anyone could follow, and he was soon arrested. He confessed to the murder.

At his first trial, Galloway was condemned to death, but he won a retrial and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Galloway decided not to contest that decision, fearing that he might be given the death penalty again — public opinion was hot at the time, as there had been a number of murders just then in the area.

All I can say is that we can be thankful for starter-motors in cars (cranks were used to kick-start old cars), because we can’t be sure that arguments won’t break out even between ukulele players.

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Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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Ukulele illusions shattered

The Toronto Star 20 March 1945 was dismayed to report that the ukulele was unfit for use in the South Pacific. Brought up to associate those tropical islands with hula girls and ukuleles, the reporter learnt from Ms Belmont (founder of the Metropolitan Opera guild no less) that ukuleles fall apart there. I wonder what she was doing with the uke… Oh, and nothing was said as to the stability of hula girls.

Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ukuleles in the headlines… and mostly in court

Looking for old ukulele stuff can lead to interesting discoveries. A few examples follow:

UKULELE PLAYER GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE; Neighbor Tells Court She Called Police at 2 A.M., but the Noise Increase When They Came. The New York Times, 25 October 1927. (Was he hanged?)

Jazz Tunes on Ukulele Lure Canadian Deer to Parked Car. The New York Times, 25 June 1928 (Then what?)

PRACTICE UKULELE IN JAIL, SAYS JUDGE. Hartford Courant, 9 October 1925 (Oh dear, was it that bad?)

Suspect Held to Answer in Ukulele Death. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1926 (not of the ukulele — case of murder)

JAIL UKULELE THIEF? COURT PREFERS NOT. Los Angeles Times. 13 May 1923 (It’s ok to steal ukuleles!)

WRATH SHOWN BY UKULELE IKE. Los Angeles Times. 2 May 1931 (Divorce court)

MAN BEATEN UP WITH UKULELE. Los Angeles Times, 29 April 1930
Someone was beaten into unconsciousness with a ukulele following an argument with three strangers in a Los Angeles. (Now, that’s some ukulele — made in USSR?)

Ukulele Ike Is Bankrupt. New York Times, 18 March 1933 (Remember that divorce?)

May Breen Sues to Make Union Recognize Uke. Chicago Tribune. 8 November 1931 (Serves them right)

So be careful you ukers, or we’ll see you in court.

Sixteen Beautiful Girls — and each one actually playing the ukelele

The Truth newspaper, New Zealand, carried a bit of propaganda on 7 January 1922 from Harry B. Burcher, producer of shows:

 If there is anyone on this side of the world who knows all that’s worth knowing about modern musical comedies, revues, etc., it’s surly Mr. Harry Burcher. Trained up at the Lyric in London and with experience under Geo. Grossmith and further as a producer of the above mentioned “stuff” in America, he was brought to Australia by Hugh J. Ward in 1914. This side of the world he has had the producing of of score of works of the aforesaid class. This introduction is mainly to impress “Truth’s” readers with the fact that this gentleman has had a wide experience and knows his business, and that his opinion of the stage girl of the Southern Hemisphere is worth quoting. He stated recently: “In ‘Oh, Lady, Lady,” I had sixteen girls on the stage, all beautiful, all beautifully dressed, all perfect in their teamwork, and each one actually playing the ukelele, not merely strumming under the corner of an orchestra clash. I maintain that in any other country that number would have made a sensation. Americans have said to me if that could be done at the Ziegfeld Follies, it would be the sensation of New York. I only know that I could never have got the London girl at the Gaiety or Adelpi to do anything approaching it.”

Whatever would Flo have said about that — all he had were Cliff Edwards and Ruth Etting!

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Londonderry Air

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ukulele club — no violins please.

On 22 November 1922, The Colville Examiner gave notice of the forming of a ukulele club in the local high school:

A ukulele club has been formed under the supervision of Miss Stephen. They held their first meeting this week at the high school. Any of the students who have stringed instruments other than violins and who wish to join this club please come to the next meeting.

Is this ok?

Well, one has to maintain high standards in ukulele clubs. (Double Bass pic from The New York Tribune, 2o August 1922.)

Published in: on February 20, 2010 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ukulele — playing the goat

Here a great shot from 1919 — a goat doing the shimmy to ukulele music (from the New York Tribune, 14 September 1919).

Girl, uke and goat to go

 The caption reads:

‘Now that the Dancing Masters’ Association has put the taboo on the shimmy, Geraldine Rays, of Los Angeles, is at a loss to know what to do with her pet goat. He’s the original Shimmy Kid, and just can’t make his feet behave when his mistress plays, “Oh, Minnie” on the ukelele.’

My attempts so far to identify the tune, “Oh, Minnie” have led me to “Minnie the Moocher” (too late), Minnie Bannister of Goon Show fame (too silly), and Minnie Mouse (too silly and too late) — my search continues.

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Me Tarzan … play uke!

A young Johnny Weissmuller, a future Olympic swimming champion (5 gold medals) and movie Tarzan, appeared with ukulele in the New York Tribune of 30 July 1922: 

18 year old Johnny Weissmuller with ukelele

 The caption reads, in part: 

The Fastest Swimmer the World has ever Known…. Johnny Weissmuller, the eighteen-year-old swimming marvel of the Illinois A.C. of Chicago, holds twenty one world’s records at distances between 50 to 500 yards…. on Saturday [he] easily scored a victory in the National A.A.U. 440-yard free-style championship, winning by fifty yards in 5:16 1-10. At left, Johnny tickles the ukelele just to prove he has other accomplishments. 

Go ape!

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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Ukuleles that I’ve never seen…

The Music Trade Review of 3 October 1925 ran an advertisement for three new ukuleles from the Progressive Musical Instrument Corp. — they were … (and I’m only reporting what they said in 1925) … “the Al Jolson ‘Big Black Boy’ ukulele, the Eddie Cantor ‘Golden Tone’ ukulele, and the ‘Ukulele Ike’ Cliff Edwards ‘Own’ ukulele.” 

The first of these instruments was the Edwards ukulele made in two models and dealers acclaimed it the greatest hit in ukulele history. Each bears Cliff’s autographed trade-mark. They achieved immediate popularity. Following these numbers with the other two models bearing the endorsement of two of the world’s greatest musical comedy stars, names known to all theatre goers and phonograph record buyers. Progressive dealers are now recognizing these instruments as a wonderful business-getting combination.

I’ve never heard anyone anywhere (except in the MTR) refer to these instruments. A quick google has revealed nothing … except this so far.

Reproduced courtesy of The International Arcade Museum and the Musical Box Society International.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm  Comments (5)  
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Red River Valley

Just an old tune that I first heard 38 years ago…

Published in: on February 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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