Posts Tagged ‘History’

30 Random Things… including Meadowlark Lemon!

December 1, 2015

Meadowlark

1. Gorillas are my favorite animal.

2. I once had an autographed picture of boxer Duane Bobick.

3. My favorite musician is Warren Zevon.

4. In 1978, Olympic swimmer John Naber rushed me off a pay telephone at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

5. My 1999 Toyota Corolla has over 275,000 miles on its odometer.

6. I know all of the words to the Canadian National Anthem.

7. I’m a card-carrying member of The Three Stooges fan club.

8. I once rolled ten strikes in a row the very first time I used a new custom bowling ball that I bought on eBay. Never came close since.

9. Boiling in hot water is my preferred way of cooking hamburgers.

10. Shoulders are my favorite female body part.

11. I once ran into goaltender Bernie Parent coming out of a convenience store and held the door open for him.

12. I regret not picking up the cork from a champagne bottle celebration after Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Shiek to become wrestling champion.

13. While also working at the Madison Square Garden Network in New York City, I once gave Wayne Gretzky a television set.

14. As a child, I remember throwing up in the dentist’s chair. The dentist had hairy fingers and I gagged on a loose hair.

15. I like redheaded women.

16. Of all the movies that I have ever seen, I think I have watched “Goodfellas” the most.

17. The tip of the middle finger of my right hand needed 14 stitches when it nearly got cut off in the spokes of a bicycle.

18. I always had success fishing using slices of hotdogs as bait.

19. I remember crying when I once missed an annual episode of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Had to wait 364 days to see it again.

20. Tying a postcard to a helium balloon to see how far it travels is something I always wanted to do.

21. In my youth, I was almost electrocuted playing “Hide The Penny” at a neighbor’s house. He hid it inside a lamp fixture.

22. I unofficially once held the world’s record for snatching a pile of quarters that were first balanced on my extended elbow.

23. Seeing Meadowlark Lemon and the Harlem Globetrotters perform live was a childhood thrill of mine. Immediately following that exhibition, I got to see Billy Cunningham score his 10,000th point as a Philadelphia 76er against the Cincinnati Royals.

24. My blood type is O Positive… universal donor.

25. As a kid, I nearly choked to death on a sour ball piece of candy.

26. “Act your age, not your shoe size” was a common expression. The closet I came was wearing size 12 at age 13.

27. I once won something in a drawing from a local television station but the letter arrived AFTER the deadline to pick up the prize.

28. I stand exactly 6 feet 0 inches tall.

29. I keep currency inside my wallet in ascending order with all Presidents facing the same way.

30. I once accidentally sent my first-born child to school with a can of beer in his lunchbox. Later I had some explaining to do with the school principal.

Red Skelton Loved To Paint Clowns

October 5, 2015

Canvas, 11x14"

Comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997) always considered himself a clown rather than a comic. He believed his life’s work was to make people laugh so he wanted to be known as a clown because he defined it as being able to do everything.

In 1943, Skelton began producing artwork but did it privately for many years. He said he was inspired to try his hand at painting after visiting a large Chicago department store that had various paintings on display.

Skelton’s artwork of clowns remained a hobby until 1964 when his second wife Georgia, a former art student, persuaded him to have his first public showing of his work at the Sands hotel in Las Vegas where he was performing.

Skelton believed painting was an asset to his comedy work as it helped him to better visualize the imaginary props he used in his pantomime routines.

When asked why his artwork focused on clowns, he first said, “I don’t know why it’s always clowns.” After thinking a moment he continued by saying. “No, that’s not true. I do know why. I just don’t feel like thinking about it.”

Jayne Mansfield Almost Was Ginger On Gilligan’s Island

September 30, 2015

Gilligans_Island

With her acting career on the decline, blonde bombshell movie actress Jayne Mansfield was offered the part of Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island but turned it down at the advice of her third husband.

She continued taking bit parts in small B-rated films with an occasional appearance in a respectable production. She also worked in nightclubs.

A couple of years later, Mansfield would be tragically killed along with two other adults in an automobile accident in Louisiana while headed for a television interview. Her three young children with her in the rear of the car survived the crash, one of which was future actress Mariska Hargitay.

Jayne Mansfield was dead at 34 years of age. Had she been a castaway member of an iconic situation comedy filmed in California, she might have lived.

Gutzon Borglum: Four Presidents Get Stoned

September 27, 2015

Mount_Rushmore

The faces of four American presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln –
are carved from a granite mountainside high above the treetops of the Black Hills.

The Mount Rushmore carving took fourteen years to complete and cost $1 million, yet this Shrine to Democracy is priceless to Americans.

Visited by nearly three million people each year, this bucket list attraction is a meaningful part of vacationing in nearby Rapid City, South Dakota.

Between 1927 and 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot busts to represent the first 150 years of American history.

Each head is as tall as the entire Great Sphinx of Egypt and majestically perched five thousand five hundred feet above sea level.

http://www.earthcam.com/usa/southdakota/keystone/mountrushmore/?cam=rushmore_cu

Happy Trails: Roy Rogers Had Some Rough Ones

September 19, 2015

Dale_Trigger_Roy

Roy Rogers was born as Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 5, 1911. He lived to be 86-years-old.

Besides being a singing cowboy and famous western movie and television star, he had quite a rough life. I never realized how rough he had it until recently.

When Roy was nearly 35-years-old, he was left with two small girls and a newborn son, all under 6 years of age, when his second wife Arline died from child birth complications. He and Dale Evans met and got married and had nine total children between them. Four were adopted.

In 1950, Robin Elizabeth was born with Down’s Syndrome. She died just before turning 2-years-old. Their Korean-American daughter Debbie died at age 12 in a church bus accident on its return from a goodwill mission at an orphanage in Mexico. Their grown adopted son Sandy died in the military while based in Germany.

Roy and Dale Evans were devout Christians and I have a feeling that their strong belief in that faith helped get them through the hard times.

Roy Rogers has several stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted in the Western Performers Hall of Fame in Oklahoma. His own museum was prominent first in California then it moved to Missouri before closing down in 2009.

His name and wholesome character were licensed to a chain of fast-food restaurants in 1968. He made a lot of money during his lifetime but being rich and famous couldn’t shield him from suffering some heavy tragedies during his long and illustrious career.

 

The Fine Line Between Sheer Brilliance And Insanity

September 16, 2015

vinnie

I didn’t even know who American pianist/composer/author/comedian/actor Oscar Levant was but now feel the need to apologize for paraphrasing him.

Natalie Wolchover of LiveScience asked the same question, “Why Are Genius and Madness Connected?”

Her views: “Many of history’s most celebrated creative geniuses were mentally ill, from renowned artists Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo to literary giants Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allan Poe.

Today, the fabled connection between genius and madness is no longer merely anecdotal. Mounting research shows these two extremes of the human mind really are linked — and scientists are beginning to understand why.”

The rest of her research becomes scientific and goes into explaining details about bipolar disorder. http://www.livescience.com/20713-genius-madness-connected.html

Not exactly the direction where I was heading but one of life’s little mysteries, only less mystifying.

Ty Cobb Was Much Taller Than I Ever Imagined

September 16, 2015

ty_babe

I’ve heard and read all the stories about Ty Cobb.

He is baseball’s all-time leader in batting averge. His lifetime percentage is .367 — led the major leagues 12 times in that category. Three times, he batted over .400.

It is common knowledge among baseball historians of how nasty and aggressive Cobb’s competitive spirit was.

How driven he was. How hated he was. By his opponents. By his own teammates. He had a reputation all his own.

To be fair, I have also read of other descriptions of Cobb as being a charitable man. Some accounts say he wasn’t as vile or as despicable as the media made him out to be.

However, when I stumbled upon a picture of him standing next to the legendary Babe Ruth, I was shocked by how tall Cobb
was.

I knew that Ruth stood about six foot two inches. The two Hall of Famers were just about standing eye-to-eye.

I somehow thought that Cobb, being the prototype lead-off hitter, was maybe five foot nine inches or perhaps five foot ten inches in height. Tops.

So I reached for my old copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia. The bible of baseball information. The book is huge. Over 1700 pages. Three inches thick.

I looked up “Tyrus Raymond Cobb.” Twenty-four seasons in the major leagues. Mostly played with the Detroit Tigers. Two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics.

Lo and behold: Six foot one inch.

To quote broadcaster Mel Allen, “How about that?”

That definitely surprised me.

How Hollywood Got To Be Named Hollywood

September 14, 2015

hollywood sign

A real estate developer from Toronto named Hobart Johnstone Whitley is claimed to be the original namer of Hollywood. He and his second wife, Gigi Ross, supposedly came up with the name while on their honeymoon in California.

Another story claims that a man named Harvey Wilcox from Kansas purchased property in California for the development of homes. His wife Daeida met a woman on a train who mentioned that she had named her Ohio summer home as Hollywood. Daeida liked the name so much that she applied it to these new subdivisions.

The famous hillside sign spelling out “HOLLYWOODLAND” on Mount Lee in Griffith Park was built in 1923 for the purpose of advertising the housing development with that name. It was covered with 4000 lightbulbs and was never intended to last for more than one or two years.

Over time, the sign sustained much damage and deteriorated badly. In 1949, the City of Los Angeles Parks Department took over the responsibility of repairing and rebuilding the sign. “LAND” was removed from the sign, as were the light bulbs.

In 1978, the entire sign was replaced with letters made of steel. Nine donors each gave over $27,000 to fund the $250,000 restoration project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Hollywood.

The Return of the Naugles Fast-Food Mexican Restaurant

September 13, 2015

building

Naugles fast-food restaurant that specialized in serving tacos and hamburgers was started in California by former Del Taco partner Dick Naugle. By 1986, it had built up to 225 locations in the United States. Unfortunately, by 1995, economic business trends had changed and the last remaining location in Nevada had closed down.

Based upon a 2006 blog by a nostalgic consumer, the Naugles defunct restaurant chain is starting to make a comeback. After a twenty-year absence, an Orange County test kitchen materialized and experienced overwhelming demand and support. Developmental plans of restoring the former food company are in the works with the same mission statement slogan that Dick Naugle originally envisioned back in 1970: “Prepare food fresh – Serve customers fast – Keep place clean.”

Missing aviator Amelia Earhart probably captured and executed as spy by the Japanese

August 25, 2015

mili_atoll

When famous female pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan didn’t arrive at Howland Island in the Southwest Pacific in 1937, it was thought that they had run out of fuel and crashed to their demise.

Researchers have proven otherwise. Witnesses claim that they had landed off-course near the Marshall Islands and taken into captivity by the Japanese to Saipan Island.

Noonan was allegedly beheaded and Earhart either faced a firing squad or died from disease.

The two flyers were nearly completing their round-the-world trip aboard a twin-engine Lockheed Electra at the time of their disappearance.