Creepy “Ukulele Lady” under the Rain Tree — Wasted

J. Edward Brown wrote a story for the Australian Women’s Weekly, which appeared in the issue of 23 July 1969. It was called “Ukulele Lady”, and Richard A. Whiting’s great old standard of 1925 was to terrify Glenda, the wife of the new Resident Commissioner of a South Sea Island.

A former Resident Commissioner had been murdered in his bedroom by a native with a bush knife. The murderer was later found under a Rain Tree calmly playing “Ukulele Lady”, on a ukulele. And even now, many years later, it is said that ghostly strumming of that tune can be heard on nights when the moon was full.

Glenda, upon hearing the story, dutifully and singularly, heard the sound of the ukulele and “Ukulele Lady” every full moon. She never dared lift the large bedroom rug that was said to cover the blood stains. Contemplating these things drove her to drink. (WC Fields said that a woman drove him to drink, and he never had the courtesy to thank her — but that’s another story).

Anyway, with such a promising start, the story fizzles through a few bouts of imagined ukulele playing and tiptoeing over a shaggy rug until she decided to peak under the rug, saw nothing, then started happily whistling … you guessed it, “Ukulele Lady” — no one else was murdered, no apparitions, no gurgled screams, just her laughing at herself at the end of a very dull and unfunny story.  

Ripped off.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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Shot while playing ukulele…

You might remember the former baseball star who shot his ex and her ukulele playing friend in 1929?  Here are a few more ukulele players who found themselves on the wrong side of a gun.

In 1923, The New York Times reported that a girl playing ukulele in a boat on a river was hit by a bullet fired from the Pennsylvania shore by an unknown assailant.

In 1925, The New York Times reported the trial of Ms Marci who was accused of murdering a Mr Bagnana. It seems that they were playing ukulele and singing together, but they also had brought their guns along. Mr Bagnana appeared threatening, so Ms Marci shot first.

In 1928, The Chicago Tribune reported  that a policeman shot a college student for playing ukulele. Daniel Wharton, 22, was shot — he says — while trying to replace a broken string on his ukulele. A policeman ordered him to stop and… The policeman said that it was in self-defence.  The uke player was going to attack the officer. Daniel said the policeman hit him first.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 7:47 am  Comments (1)  
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Hideous Saxophones replace melodious ukuleles

The Schenectady Gazette of 1 December 1925 tells of the switch from ukuleles to saxophones, and of Mr Charles E King’s lament: Saxophones are making “the night hideous with their wails”.

Mr King said that the old Hawaiian songs had melody and were sung with stringed instruments, notably the ukulele, but with the rise in popularity of the saxophone, people who don’t know either music or their instruments are picking their own way through a tune — sometimes two or three together, resulting in all noise and no music.

Mr King believed that modern movies, dances and radio have killed the home-made quality music of Hawaii.

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 6:07 am  Comments (2)  
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Practice Ukulele in Jail, Says Judge

The Norwalk Hour reported on 9 October 1925 that James A. Manning will have to practice his ukulele playing in jail. Apparently he was nicked for stealing an overcoat from the YD Club, Temple Street, New Haven. He says that he was drunk and a nice person at the club said he could wear it. John L Long said that he didn’t let Manning wear the coat, and it was John L. Long’s coat.

Manning said that he was no thief and that he was just about to open a dance and ukulele school. The judge fined Manning $15 and sent him to jail for 15 days, telling that him could dance and practice his ukulele there.

More people in gaol should dance and play uke, I think.

Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Did the ukelele inhibit her free-style?

Ms Gertrude Ederle denied  that her ukulele playing in anyway contributed to her failure to make the swim across the English Channel (The News, 17 September 1925).

Her trainer, Jabez Wolffe, claimed that she neglected her training to play the happy little instrument. “That’s a lie,” said Ms Ederle. “I played my ukelele only during the evening after the day’s training had been concluded. It was my relaxation.” She insisted that she had done everything in training that her coach had required. Ms Ederlie’s first attempt failed when her trainer ordered another swimmer to take her out of the water. He claimed that she was in difficulty; she denied that too.

Trudy Ederle -- without ukulele (Wikipedia)

Happily, in 1926, she succeeded in her second attempt at the channel, finishing the swim in 14 hours 30 minutes and breaking the previous record (held by Enrique Tiraboschi) by about 2 hours.  Her record stood 24 years.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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