Love, Marriage, and ukulele

The New York Tribune, 12 July 1917, reported on the powerful effect that the ukulele can have.

Miss Rosie O’Brien, just 17 years old, came under the spell of the ukulele that Joseph Gonsalves played. The two met at the concert hall at City Island, where young Joseph was performing with the Hawaiian orchestra. Rosie soon was missing from home, on her way with Joe to the Marriage License Bureau. The police were soon on their trail, but by the time they had caught up with her, she was already Mrs Gonsalves.

As if to confirm the ukulele’s power to attract, on the same page is a picture of ukulele toting Pauline Disston, who was recently engaged to John Wanamaker. So it works both ways, and others took the hint.

Miss Disston with ukulele (and friend)

Published in: on March 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Letter to the Editor, 1930

The Evening Post of New Zealand, 28 April 1930:

Sir — The residents of Oriental Bay would be extremely grateful if the police would send a constable to patrol the Parade on Sunday nights. Some people delight in gathering near the Band Rotunda between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. regularly to ‘howl’ their ragtime songs, accompanied by an amateur ukulele player. This behaviour is an annoyance to the residents — I am, etc.

A disgusted resident.

Perhaps Disgusted hopes the constable might sing and play the uke with more decorum? Surely the writer cannot object to people being delighted between such reasonable hours. Oh, but “Ragtime” suggests that our correspondent might perhaps have been about 70 years old. [My daughter says I’m not to jump to conclusions — the writer might also have been an 18-year-old devotee of classical music. Point taken.]

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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Police Raid Ukulele Marathon

The Milwaukee Sentinel of 5 July 1923 tells of a gang of harden ukulele players being apprehended by police in the dead of night.

It seems that the top floor of an apartment building in the Central Park district of New York had become the epicentre of a disturbing noise. Many residents complained, but the police were not willing to tackle the gang (the cops might have been on the take) until the intrepid Inspector Dominick Henry — himself the occupant of the second floor of said apartment building — called headquarters himself and demanded action.

What the police found were seven young men and 3 young women (artists’ models, dancers and students — you know the types), armed to the teeth with ukuleles and at least one banjo. The said that they were endeavouring to break a record for continuous ukulele playing. One of the gentlemen identified himself as Lamberto Obregon, who claimed to be the 20-year-old nephew of the President of Mexico — the president denied it. The ten were dismissed without charge due to lack of evidence against them. Evidence of what? It seems that they had been playing ukuleles loudly after dark, but apparently that had not yet become an indictable offence.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Dancing Snake and Musical Monkey

Here’s an eye-catching headline from the Pittsburgh Press 19 Feb 1917 —

New York, Feb 19. This is the story of a dancing bullsnake and a ukulele-playing monkey. The facts were gathered by teetotalers and written by a man from a prohibition state.

Fannie, a turbulent tailed chimpanzee [sic!] at the Bronx Zoo, fell heir to a demoralized ukulele gotten from somewhere by Keeper Bill Synder. Bill says Fannie has learned to play two bars of ‘Home Sweet Home’ keeping time by swinging herself, pendulum-wise, from her tail rack.

George McCoy spread consternation and the bullsnake all over the Fifty-first st. police station when he left it there because somebody left it with him and he didn’t want it. He told the panic–striken police to whistle and the snake would dance instead of following them. They did.

Now the plan is to present the dancing snake to the ukulele-playing monkey and let them stage a perpetual concert and ball among themselves.

I’d like to know what was in the tea-cup, and where the writer lives now.


Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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McDuffie solves ukulele thefts

Some time around 2o March 1904, a Hawaiian newspaper reported that the ukulele and guitar shop of Jose Do Espiritos Santos was burgled. Eight young fellows, Hawaiians and Portuguese, where fired upon by a constable as they made their escape — none were harmed, but one was recognised and detective McDuffie  made his arrest the following day.  The two who were caught gave up the others. This was their second visit to the ukulele and guitar shop. In January of the same year they had liberated five ukuleles, five mandolines, and a guitar. In their latest hit, they got four ukuleles, a banjo and a guitar. Most of these were recovered from the shops that had been helping the boys unload their loot, which, apart from ukuleles and lesser stringed instruments, included bags of rice, boxes of soap, other sorted groceries and a revolver. They published the names of all who were allegedly involved.

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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