Stay up there until you learn to play ukulele

The Prescott Evening Courier reported on the 23 July 1929 that pilots Dale ‘Red’ Jackson and Forest O’Brine broke the then world record for continuous flying — 271 hours worth!

Among the motives for the endurance flight, apart from breaking the record, was the fact that each pilot received $1324 each for exceeding the old record by 24 hrs. (Remember, $1 in 1929 is about the same as $60 today)

The other motive — or reason, at least — was the fact that Mrs Jackson had told her husband not to come down until he had learned to play the ukulele. “That” said she, “would keep you up there for quite a while.” He must have been a virtuoso by touch down time.

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 5:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Ukulele, Baseball and Murder

The Gettysburg Times (5 August 1929) reported the fatal shooting of a ukulele player by former major league baseball player, Samuel (Red) Crane.  Crane shot John D. Oren at Bria’s Hotel and Crane’s ex-girlfriend, Ms Della Lyter,  as the two sat at a table in the Hotel.

Oren was playing the ukulele at the time of the attack, and he tried to use the ukulele as a weapon of defence. He managed to hit Crane a couple of times before falling with two gunshot wounds in his abdomen.

Crane then fled the scene, but three hours later he surrendered to police. He was bleeding from a head wound that the ukulele had left, so, after his arrest he was sent to hospital for treatment. Oren died hours after the shooting, and Ms Lyter died a few days later.

Crane was found guilty of the second degree murder of both his victims. He served at least 15 years in prison.

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm  Comments (5)  
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Ukulele Lady caught out of tune (or out of the box)

Seemed to have been a number of racehorses named after the Ukulele in the 1920s, some for good — some for not so good — reasons.

The New Zealand Truth reported in April 1929 that some funny business had been going on at the local trotting meet (that’s a horserace where the jockey sits in a little cart which the horse pulls along).

Apparently a new comer, Ukulele Lady, did very well at its first race in NZ — surprisingly well, in fact, until it was discovered that ‘Ukulele Lady’ used to be called ‘Pandora’ in Victoria, Australia, where it had quite a good reputation (3.34 over 1.5 miles and 4.45 for 2 miles). Somebody just forgot to mention these facts of history and nomenclature to the handicapper. Things do slip one’s mind from time to time.

This is neither Ukulele Lady nor Ukelele Lady (Wikipedia)

Another trotter, Ukelele Lady (we assume it was a different horse), in November 1929, was also doing very well, running the first mile in 2.2o, but was finally beaten by the proverbial nose.

Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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The New York Times and the death of the ukulele


New York Times, February 3, 1929, (Sunday Section: Arts & Leisure), Page 123. The ukulele has gone the way of all fads. One may look forward to a Summer minus the tinkling of “Aloha, O” throughout a ferry ride and a night’s attempt to slumber. The college boy no longer considers the ukulele an indispensable part of his equipment for higher learning. The high school girl has shelved her “uke” with her slave bracelet.

This perception of decline in the popularity of the ukulele might have inspired one plank of a presidential candidate, Mr. Plushbottom, in 1928. But there is evidence that some college boys saw the advantage of ukuleles in higher learning, at least at Duke University, in the year 1950.

Sophomore, Duke University, 1950 -- with ukulele

Picture from Chanticleer, Duke University, 1950, p. 200 (search — I suspect (but cannot be sure) that the ukist might be identified on p. 169 of the same publication.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 6:47 am  Comments (1)  
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