With Valentines day around the corner, I think it’s finally time to share my birthday trip this past May (2017) to Paris, France for my 40th. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl (after watching ‘An American in Paris’) to visit the city of Lights & Love and my wonderful husband made that dream a reality.
I of course documented every second of our “Paris on a Budget” trip, so that I would never forget a single moment. Don’t worry friends, I won’t bore you with ALL the photos, but here is Part 1 of the most fantastic trip ever!
My husband knows me well, very well so it was a wonderful surprise that I found out we were staying a short 20 minute walk to my favourite monument ever…The Eiffel Tower AND we had a view from our hotel room. (Note: Before you look at photo below please note that I said a “view” of the Eiffel Tower)
Our room was an L Shape which meant that we also had a fantastic view of the River Seine (we would sit here at the end of our nights with a bottle of Champagne and cheese and enjoy the beauty of Paris). It was so great that I literally ran around my room trying to figure out what to stare at first (no joke lol).
While I was staring out my window in awe that I was actually IN Paris I noticed there was a mini Statue of Liberty on the bridge you see in the image above. Turns out it was a gift from America to Paris in 1889 (as you know France gave the US the original Lady Liberty). COOL!
Extra Read: Extended history of why this mini statue exists can be found HERE.
We arrived on May Day (May 1st), so many things were closed but that did not stop us from heading out and exploring. We were starving so we did dinner first at a pub called, O’Neil (sorry no french food this night) that was hopping with Parisians and tourists and had good reviews. It was wonderful! The burgers were outstanding super inexpensive and they also brewed their own beer (which my husband and I loved as we are craft beer fans). Plus the staff and the manager treated us like we were old friends, we loved it and ended up going back on my birthday later on in the week.
After dinner we hit the pavement and just started to wander the streets taking in the beauty & history that was around us.
We eventually ended up at the Louvre and took in all that was there (we had tickets to see the inside of the Louvre later in the week).
Our evening ended with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. OMG the tower is even more beautiful up close and personal, I shed a tear it was so wonderful to see.
Day 2: Notre-Dame and wherever else we could visit on a budget before our feet fell off.
As stated above, my husband and I were on a budget and from our research Paris is known to be pricey. To save money, we went to the large grocery store that was next to our hotel each day and stocked up on food to eat as we walked around. This really helped us on costs. Also in our neighbourhood was a great bakery that sold delicious baquettes (and sandwiches) that we purchased to add to our food stash. Great cost saving tip!
Notre-Dame was a must see on our list and it was totally free to visit as long as you did not head up to the Bell Towers and the crypt (which had a fee). I have been itching to see this church in person ever since my Art History classes in University, especially the Rose Windows AND the Flying Buttresses (an incredible archtiectural detail). I was not disappointed.
My Flying Butresses-So PRETTY!
After Notre-Dame the sun was out and the weather was beautiful and we had nothing planned EXPECT to find me a French Macaron. ‘Un Dimanche A Paris‘ was where we stopped and boy was it good.
The last half of our first full day in Paris, included picking up a bottle of wine and some cheese and heading to the most beautiful park I have ever seen (we don’t have parks like this in Toronto), called ‘Jardin du Luxembourg‘. The park is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace (seen below). The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, model sailboats on its circular basin, and picturesque Medici Fountain, built-in1620 (Source).
Palm Trees, kids playing with boats in a pond and even an Orangerie (bottom left image), this park has it all.
BUT I think my favourite part of this whole visit was having a bottle of wine with my husband and watching the world go by. In fact my husband was so relaxed that he ended up falling asleep and I was left alone with a half finished bottle of wine………Hiccup!
After a long day and some dinner at a delish Vietnamese restaurant, we headed back to our hotel to have a bottle of Champagne and watch the boats go down the Seine, but not before checking out the Eiffel Tower light show from our local bridge. A great way to end our 2nd day in Paris.
The Winter Olympics are right around the corner (February 9th) and I’m ridiculously excited because they are hands down my favourite (sorry Summer). Maybe it was because I grew up downhill skiing, watched figure skating on TV with my mother and cheered on Canada’s hockey team to gold medal wins. Whatever it is, I love these Olympics and so today’s Vintage Photo Tuesday is dedicated to them.
1st Winter Olympics: Chamonix, France 1924
General view of the Olympic Stadium.
Figure skaters Medalists-Herma Planck-Szabo of Hungary, Ethel Muckelt of Britain and Beatrix Loughran of the U.S.A. Planck-Szabo won gold, with Loughran and Muckelt taking silver and bronze respectively.
Pairs Figure Skating: Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet (FRA) 3rd.
English speed skaters training in Chamonix for the Games.
British Four-Man Bobsleigh team (this totally looks safe).
28th January 1924: The British Curling team.
St. Moritz, Switzerland 1928-These Winter Games were the first to be held in a different nation from the Summer Games of the same year.
Opening ceremony-the Canadian delegation.
Competitor jumping over barrels.
15-year-old figure skater, Sonja Henie of Norway takes the Gold during the Games. Her record as the youngest winner of an individual event stood for 74 years.
Lake Placid, United States 1932
Group portrait of the American men’s Olympic ski team seen on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, February 4, 1932.
Ski trail finish line.
Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany 1936
Alpine Skiing-Oddbjörn Hagen.
German skater Maxi Herber practives her jumps in preparation for her performance, with partner Ernst Baier, in the Mixed Doubles Figure Skating Competition. Herber and Baier went on to win the gold medal in the event.
16 Feb 1936: Fireworks explode above the big ski jump tower during the Closing Ceremony.
St. Moritz, Switzerland 1948. After a 12-year break, caused by World War II these Games were named the “Games of Renewal”.
Hedy Schlunegger (Switzerland-Left) becomes first women’s downhill winner.
Barbara Ann Scott (Canada’s Sweetheart) becomes the first and only Canadian woman to win figure skating gold.
Oslo, Norway 1952
Austrian skier Trude Beiser-Jochum (#8, left) and German skier Anne Marie Buchner (#3) watch one of their competitors in the Women’s Slalom event.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 1956
Anne Heggtveit (CAN) 29th, at the start.
This last image is the conclusion of our Vintage Photo Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed taking a chilly but interesting walk down Winter Olympics lane?
Question Time: Are you a fan of the Olympics? And if so what is your favourite sport? Share in the comments below and Happy Tuesday Friends!
I don’t know about you friends, but here in Toronto the weather has been making me miserable (and sick). Freezing one moment, snowy the next, warm(ish) another day and no sun for days. Winter you are making me blue and you’re keeping me indoors, a lot more than normal!
The one good thing about seeing the inside of my apartment all the time, is all the reading and video watching I’m accomplishing. So today’s post is all about some of my favourites, starting with our first article…
About: Fashion did not stop when war was declared. In the first Paris collections shown after the start of World War II, practical clothes were designed with an eye for beauty. Utilitarian coats and trouser suits, zipper-front jumpsuits and print cotton frocks were cut with a smart look and a sense of style. Life went on between the air raids and women still looked in the mirror. Where hope existed, so did fashion.
‘Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96’ article by The New York Times.
Unsung for seven decades, the real Rosie the Riveter was a California waitress named Naomi Parker Fraley (seen below on the right). Read her story HERE.
About: In the 1950’s, Vilma penned a vivid account of her single life as she blossomed into womanhood. She worked and played in the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. As a “Camera Girl” on staff at some of the main tourist attractions of the time such as Clifton’s Cafeteria, The Paris Inn, China Town and The Pike (in Long Beach), she made her living strolling through the crowds with her camera offering a souvenir photo for a keepsake of the exciting nightlife.
By 1938, clarinetist Benny Goodman was already known as “The King of Swing” — the leader of the most popular dance band in America at a time when swing jazz was America’s most popular music. But nobody knew how it would be received in Carnegie Hall, America’s temple to classical music.
Goodman and his supporting cast would go on to claim a new place for jazz on the American cultural scene that night, in what has come to be seen as the most important jazz concert in history.
Read about the Concert HERE and watch some of the highlights below.
About: Photographer Bruce Davidson investigates a teenage gang in Brooklyn, New York, capturing the spirit of post-war youth culture that inspired the rival gangs of West Side Story.
NEW BOOK ALERT!
Some of you might have remembered the book I mentioned on my blog (and had a contest for) called ‘Birds Eye View‘ from Canadian Author Elinor Florence? It is the unforgettable story of an idealistic young woman who joins the air force after her town in Saskatchewan becomes a British Commonwealth Air Training Base during the Second World War. Well I LOVED it (read it twice) and now Elinor is about to release another novel called ‘Wildwood‘ (seen above) and I was able to have an advance read.
About the book:
Broke and desperate, single mother Molly Bannister of Phoenix, Arizona, accepts the stern condition laid down in her great-aunt’s will: to spend one year in an abandoned farmhouse deep in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. If she does, she will be able to sell the farm and fund her four-year-old daughter Bridget’s badly needed medical treatments.
With grim determination, Molly teaches herself the basic pioneer skills, chopping firewood and washing her clothes with melted snow. But her greatest perils come from the brutal wilderness itself, from blizzards to grizzly bears. Only the journal written by her courageous great-aunt, the land’s original homesteader (from the 1920’s), inspires her to struggle on.
But there’s another obstacle to her success: an idealistic young farmer, Colin McKay, wants to thwart Molly’s strategy to sell her great-aunt’s farm to an oil company. Will Molly be cheated out of her inheritance after all? Will she and Bridget survive the savage winter, and what comes next? Not only their financial future, but their very lives are at stake.
The story was absolutely wonderful and a must read for all my vintage readers. I especially enjoyed reading about how 1920’s life was for a Canadian Pioneer Woman. Fascinating!
We have now reached the end of our roundup for this almost finished month and I hope you enjoyed all my finds. If you have something that you read or watched recently, please share in the comments below. I still have plenty of winter to get thru……
Gene Stevens. Music Collector, Historian, DJ and Vintage Traveller. These are just a few of the titles for Zoomer Radio’s resident host of Vintage Favourites and the subject of today’s interview.
Note: This interview is chalked full of incredibly interesting information (and I’m not just saying that because it’s on my blog, it’s great!), so make sure you set aside some time to read all about Gene and his adventures.
Before we begin our interview here is a brief bio on Gene:
born and grew up in Toronto … record-collector and, prior to broadcasting career, a live DJ for dances/weddings, etc. (first radio gig – University of Toronto Varsity Radio show host.)
In broadcasting since 1972 – as on-air host, music director, promotion director, program director and general manager in Leamington, Peterborough, St.Catharines, Brampton and Brantford, before Toronto.
Previously: AM 740’s first Program Director from launch in 2001 through 2011.
Previously: Program Director at Toronto’s EZ Rock 97.3 1995-2000, and various other positions including Program Director of Toronto’s 590/CKEY in late 80s.
Host of ‘Vintage Favourites’ Sundays 2:00 – 4:30pm. (on-air since March 2007).
Gene is a music collector and has often lectured to university groups on the subject of pop music and culture. He has traveled the America’s and Europe, and loves history and film.
Part 1: Zoomer Radio (Part 2 (below part 1) will focus on fun vintage miscellaneous topics)
Q. You have worn many hats in your career, what do you currently love about being a radio host? What do you love about doing the ‘Vintage Favourites program?
A. My first passion was playing music for people. I took my 45s to house parties as a teenager and soon realized I could ‘run the party’, from a corner turntable. Once I started learning about the music’s history, I loved to tell stories about the songs and the artists. From those basement house parties and then spinning records at weddings, I wanted to move to the next level, and play my songs to a huge audience as a show-host on a radio station.
The only way to really ‘manage the show’ was to be the station’s Program Director. At my third station (St.Catharines) I was appointed Program Director at 25, and took on the job – with all its challenges and demands – really, to play what I thought was the best music selection for a particular radio station’s targeted audience. It’s been such fun, and so very fulfilling, to research listeners’ preferences, differentiate your station from others, put the finest programming together, and to ultimately satisfy the audience, day in and day out.
After 40 years in management, with various radio stations in various cities, working through the changing times and technologies, and having completed ten years as the first Program Director of AM 740, I wanted to shed the management work in 2011, and return to my original passion – to tell stories about the music I love. I wanted to stay ‘on the Zoomer team’ and I’m truly fortunate that our founder Moses Znaimer – who’s a fan of ‘Vintage Favourites‘ – invited me to continue the show I had launched back in 2007.
What I love about hosting ‘Vintage Favourites’ – is the total freedom I’ve been given and the trust our management has in me. I’m inspired to explore the exciting and fascinating musical times we’ve lived through, and tell its countless stories for our Zoomer audience.
Q. Do you have a favorite Vintage Favourites Episode?
A. Since launching in 2007, I’ve created over 560 editions of ‘Vintage Favourites’ – in addition to over two thousand short and long-form music features during my career – so it’s difficult to pick a favourite episode. I really enjoyed the 2016 series of ‘The Vintage Year‘, where each week I put the spotlight on a specific year between 1930 and 1979, highlighting the top news, sports and entertainment stories along with the biggest songs of each year. That was fascinating. But then, I also loved last year’s ‘Music City‘ series, spotlighting songs about cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, LA, Detroit, New Orleans, Memphis, Liverpool, London and Toronto.
There was a show inspired by our founder, Moses Znaimer, about God – pop songs about religion, and ‘the big issues’. Then there was the show with math professor Jason Brown, invited to speak at IdeaCity, who discovered exactly how The Beatles created ‘that note’ at the start of ‘A Hard Day’s Night‘ – although I never liked arithmetic, I loved ‘The Mathematics of Rock’n’Roll‘ edition (Watch Jason’s talk HERE). Another stand-out show was the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, interviewing our ‘Conspiracy Show’ host Richard Syrett, and playing songs about Kennedy. I suppose one of my real favourites is telling the story of how rock’n’roll evolved – tracing it back to early R&B, even earlier to the late 1920s, and even earlier to 1913’s ‘The Rite of Spring‘ by Igor Stravinsky and the uproar it caused. There are many ways to tell that story, and I look forward to telling it again later this year.
Q. You were the program director at the beginning years of Zoomer Radio, how has the station changed since 2001?
A. Well, everything is always changing – right? The only constant is ‘change’. That’s a law of nature, and it certainly applies to radio stations. There are three key areas of change. First is the age of the ‘target audience’ and the passage of time, second is ‘texture’, and third is ‘focus’. I’ll give you a brief overview.
Our purpose was – and remains – to be that unique station serving a ‘older demographic’. The so-called ‘target audience‘ (the age group a station hopes to primarily attract) when we launched was 50+. In 2001, that meant someone who was aged 15 in 1966, or earlier. At present, Zoomer Radio is designed to appeal to a 45+ audience, and that means someone who was aged 15 in 1988, or earlier. I mention ‘age 15’, in reference to a long-standing research theory that says people form their primary music tastes around that age; songs from our teenage years remain ‘special’ forever. Of course, our musical tastes mature into adulthood, and we will appreciate, and even love, music from later years – but those teenage songs will always appeal in a different way. So, the first difference is a result of the time that’s passed since our launch; the 15 year old of 1966 and of 1988, have a different tolerance/appetite/expectation of music.
And one of those key differences can be described as ‘texture‘. Put simply, someone who grew up with the electric guitar as the primary source of pop music has a different appreciation and acceptance of music, than someone who did not. (In the decades to come we’ll see that same discussion over growing up with ‘rap’ music) Our station’s ‘texture’ was originally ‘softer’ and ‘gentler’; and the ballads gave us a romantic content in a medium tempo. We used to say “we don’t rock, we swing.” That’s now changed to a more uptempo, energized ‘texture’.
Finally, there is the difference in the ‘focus‘ of the music mix. In our early days I adhered to the conventional wisdom of a narrow focus – every successful radio station had a clearly defined and consistent ‘sound’ you could distinguish instantly. That wisdom said your advertising and promotion bring listeners to sample your sound, and hopefully decide to stay; that sound needed to be as consistent as possible to maximize one’s marketing efforts, and to continually ‘deliver on your promise’.
However, the past decade of increasing digitization, has given us almost limitless choice, on demand. Shorter attention spans have led to less patience, and a kind of restless energy – while a musical smorgasbord is only a click away in our omni-present ocean of choice. One’s music tastes are constantly being teased, satisfied, and altered. Put your personal music library on ‘shuffle’, and you’ll bounce around the various music genres that comprise your accumulated personal experiences with music.
That’s now reflected in Zoomer Radio’s wider focus, which I might describe as ‘diffused’ – offering the listener a ‘shuffle-like’ ever-changing palate of musical memories, from the many genres in our station’s huge music library. After our launch, we played ‘All Time Favourites‘, represented pictorially as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley. In a typical half-hour you’d hear John McDermott, Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Michael Buble, Anne Murray and even Glenn Miller.
Today we play ‘Timeless Hits‘, and our menu is much wider, with more unexpected ‘surprises’; a typical half-hour could feature Beatles, Four Tops, Guess Who, as well as Meat Loaf, Dixie Chicks, April Wine, and even Jimmy Durante. In a nutshell, our station has evolved to reflect the changing times, demographics and tastes.
Having said all this, I want to add, the station launched with – and continues to this day – with a dazzling variety of specialty shows that satisfy various groups (and sub-groups) of music fans with big band, Irish, British Invasion, and blues programs, rock’n’roll oldies, countdowns, celebrity profiles and themed programs. That genuine effort to offer substantive and compelling content has never changed, and I believe, is a defining characteristic that separates us from ‘the rest’.
Q. If Zoomer asked you to create a new radio program right now, what would you create?
A. I’m very satisfied with the wide latitude of music genres, themes, and selections I now explore weekly on ‘Vintage Favourites’. The station already has so many wonderful and long-running specialty programs (many of which I launched) … it’s pretty hard to find a ‘missing niche’. But – since you asked – I think the 1950’s and early 60s would be fun. A program dedicated to the pre-rock’n’roll pop music of that era, as well as that innocent early ‘pre-Beatles’ sound.
Part 2: Miscellaneous Vintage Questions
Q. My readers are collectors of vintage items; and I have read that you’re a collector of music. How long have you been a collector and can you let us know what your favourite item or most prized possession is?
A. Ah collecting is such a blessing – and a curse. I first caught ‘the bug’ in the late 1960s, collecting 45 rpm records. First came the CHUM Chart hits of the day – as well as the CHUM Charts themselves. I eventually collected all the CHUM Charts from the early 60s through to their end in the mid-80s. Alas, I stupidly marked many of them and glued them into scrapbooks – immediately devaluing them as ‘collectables’. I did the same – marked my name – on many of my earliest 45s.
Later came the trolling through dusty record store basements, private collections, and the insatiable acquisition of new songs, and the endless search for ‘holy grail’ oldies.
I learned to respect the collection, and accumulated hundreds of vinyl albums and 15,000 45s – all neatly jacketed and much-loved. I learned so much about music, and collecting – until one day, vinyl died! The CD era had arrived, and when I moved into Toronto, I could no longer afford to dedicate an entire room to my vinyl. And there was family and children, and other priorities. Besides, ‘vinyl was dead’!
So I built up my CD collection, and sold my vinyl – often a bargain-basement prices. Thus I learned about the ‘curse’ of collecting – its obsessiveness is only matched by the pain of letting it go. Then came the Internet, streaming, and putting your music onto your laptop’s hard-drive – huh – no more need for CDs either? How many times did I let the industry (and technology) fool me into buying the same songs in newer ‘formats’? So don’t even ask me how I feel about the ‘Return of Vinyl’ – Bah, humbug!
My prized possessions are some early records including ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale‘ (my first purchase), and the many I have with artist autographs on them, along with a pretty decent CD library with artist autographs, some signed books and plenty of photos. One of my ‘surprise favourites’ is a hard cover copy of ‘Papa John‘ – autobiography of Mamas and Papas’ John Phillips, who signed it: ‘To Gene. This is the last damn book I’m signing.’ Ha – what a character he was.
Q. If you could interview one musician that is currently no longer with us, who would it be and why?
A. A fascinating question: My first (and shakiest) interview was while a student at U.of T.’s Radio Varsity, I was asked to interview Kelly Jay, of Crowbar. It was 1971, and Crowbar was having a big hit with ‘Oh What a Feeling‘ – and I was scared. Kelly couldn’t have been nicer – virtually carrying the interview by himself.
Over my career, I was rarely the go-to guy for interviews – I tried to schedule the stars to speak with our strongest on-air hosts – and that wasn’t me. But in all those years, and the many various meetings, I’ve been blessed to meet and chat with everyone from Tony Bennett to Phil Collins, The Everly Brothers to Julian Lennon, Michael Buble to Anne Murray and so many more.
Who would I like to talk with – who’s no longer with us ? Well, Elvis comes to mind, of course. But so does someone like Sam Phillips, who owned SUN Studios – can you imagine the stories? Yeah, I’d like to chat with Sam Phillips – about Elvis and Roy, Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash, and how it was in the south, being among the few who’d work with blacks and whites, and feeling the change coming, and catching ‘lightning in a bottle’ that July night in 1954 when he recorded ‘That’s All Right’ with Elvis, and Scotty and Bill.
Q. 2017 was a year of loss in the music (and film industry) and you recently did an ‘In Memoriam’ show discussing all the musicians we had lost this past year. Which ones in particular hit you the hardest and why?
A. Every death is sad, and a loss – knowing a real family somewhere has lost their loved one, while we fans will never again hear anything new from him/her. I think the death of Glen Campbell moved me the most because of the cruel ravages of Alzheimer’s – a brilliant musician, terrific entertainer and great singer, who faded away – from his family, friends, fans and his own fantastic life-story. That really is sad.
Q. It’s a Saturday Night in Toronto, where do you go to listen to live music? Do you have any bands or venues in the city that are your favourite that my readers should check out (I’m particular to Grossmans Tavern and the Cadillac Lounge)?
A. My very first concert was Lighthouse in St.Michael’s College high school gym, and soon after, I saw my first arena show – Creedence Clearwater Revival at Maple Leaf Gardens. Once I got into ‘the biz’ I was privileged to see so many shows in huge venues and tiny intimate cabarets. I also spent precious hours waiting backstage to glimpse some star for a 15 second handshake and photo, or autograph. Nowadays I seldom see live shows. Among my favourite spots are the CNE Bandshell – I’ve gone to the EX every year of my life! The Cameron House is delightfully intimate, and I liked The Cadillac Lounge. And, really, does any place sound as good as Massey Hall? I remember singing on that famous stage – OK, I was in my high school choir and it was the Kiwanis Festival – but still…
Q. I saw on the Zoomer website that you did a program on why you felt that 1957 was the best year for Rock n Roll (The 50’s in a nutshell were pretty awesome)? Can you summarize for this interview why you felt this way?
A. Although I was only 6, and still a decade from starting to listen to radio (yeah, a late bloomer) … I’ve come to appreciate how massive rock’n’roll was in 1957. That was the year this new music for kids really broke through. ‘That’s All Right‘ was ‘the big bang’ in 1954; ‘Rock Around the Clock‘ was the first #1 hit in 1955, and Elvis broke through in 1956 … but it all came together in 1957 – Elvis was ‘The King’, Buddy, Jerry Lee, Fats, Chuck, Don & Phil – they all had hits, Sam Cooke gave us soul, and ‘American Bandstand’ went national, bringing rock’n’roll into every living room, and Ricky Nelson became our first TV idol. It would never again be so pure, so powerful, so precious. In 1958, Elvis was drafted, soon after Buddy died, Chuck was jailed, Jerry Lee married his 13 year old cousin and was banned, Little Richard found religion, and ‘payola’ showed how commerce was taking over; ‘American Bandstand’ would bring on a second wave of pretty boys, perfect for the TV sponsors. By the time The Beatles revived us after JFK’s death, rock’n’roll was ready for its maturity as ‘rock’ – darker, harder, heavier, cerebral, ethereal, surreal, and … and changed. 1957 was ‘the best year’!
Q. Beyond music, you also are a big film buff. Many of my readers, including myself are lovers of film particularly vintage movies (I’m a big MGM Musical fan). What is your favorite genre and why? And of course we would love to know what your most favorite movie of all time is?
A. You’re right, I love the movies. In fact, if anything’s taken some of my time away from music, it’s the movies. My girlfriend Trudy, and I, see at least one new movie almost every week, and probably rent another. Favourite movies are a bit like favourite songs – tough to decide, and easy to change your mind by mood – but here goes: Among the classics I love ‘Casablanca‘ and the film noir genre – ‘Double Indemnity‘ and ‘Postman Always Rings Twice‘ are such watchable classics. My all-time favourite is probably ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ – and although I own the Indiana Jones box set, I never watch it. That’s the funny thing about favourite movies – at least for me – I don’t choose to actually watch them. I’d rather spend that time watching something I haven’t seen. Among recent movies, I loved ‘Star Wars – Last Jedi‘ and ‘Get Out‘ was good, but my favourite of ’17 is the less-well known British award winner ‘I, Daniel Blake‘. A ‘little’ film about British bureaucracy – gritty, stark, sad, and rewarding.
Q. Several of the blog posts I do over here on the Vintage Inn, has a 1920’s-1960’s‘Canadiana’ history focus, I just love learning and sharing info on less talked about topics like vintage dance halls, women on the home front etc. If could go back to one moment in history and watch it happen as an observer what would it be and why?
A. History is my favorite subject; I love history books, historic films, and, of course – the history of popular music ! I’ll give you two answers; the first relates to music. I’d love to be there in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, on one of those sweaty nights in 1962, when The Beatles were just breaking, and ‘the in-crowd’ was right there. That’d be fun. I’d also love to be a ‘fly on the wall’ during the Warren Commission hearings, to hear just how the ‘story’ of the JFK Assassination was manufactured – it’s a defining moment in a Boomer’s life, and for many of us – me included – that mystery confounds us to this day. Who, how, and why?
Q. I have heard that from your travels you have many fantastic stories. It would be great if you could share 1 or two of those stories that my vintage readers and zoomer listeners would love to hear.
A. My travels have taken me across North America and Europe several times these past 5 decades – and as a history buff, I’ve been drawn to places both famous and infamous, places of great performance and terrible tragedy. But staying with music – among my favourite places included the Elvis pilgrimage from his birthplace in Tupelo, to various locations in Memphis, including Graceland, SUN studios, the Overton Park Shell, and Beale Street. I enjoyed visiting Hamburg’s naughty Reeperbahn district to check out the places where The Beatles first played during the early 60s. I’ve stood in the decaying shell of the punk music palace – New York’s CBGB’s, and country music’s hallowed Ryman Hall, Cleveland’s Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, LA’s Grammy Museum, Detroit’s Motown studio, Chicago’s Chess Records studios and London’s Marquee Club.
Here’s one story in some detail:
The legendary Les Paul – an inventor of the electric guitar and hit-maker of the early 1950s – was a regular listener, from his New York home, during our early years as ‘AM 740’ in the 2000s. This station has a huge night-time signal blanketing much of the north-east. One evening Les Paul called in to chat with our on-air host Bob Sprott, and that started quite a friendly relationship between them. This living legend – Les Paul – phoned in several times and for delightful chit-chat with our own, very knowledgeable, ‘legendary host’. It so happened, I was planning a vacation trip with my twin daughters to New York, so I decided I’d drop into the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway where Les Paul entertained weekly. My girls and I took our seats, and soon, in walked the man himself – who had just recently played the room with an adoring Paul McCartney. There were no guest-stars that night, and Les, approaching age 90, would only do a fairly short set. But afterward, he sat and met every person who wanted to see him – that certainly included my daughters and me. He spent a generous amount of time – and confirmed my question about his car accident decades earlier, which broke his arm so badly it had to be permanently set – as he directed – in a guitar-playing position. And, yes, he signed a t-shirt for our Bob Sprott, and posed for a nice photo with my girls and me – one for the albums, and for the ages! Les Paul – one of only a few inductees to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame with a permanent exhibition.
Q. Last Question: Sun Records vs Chess Records who had the better lineup in your opinion (or is this an impossible question)?
A. Hah – chocolate or strawberry (neither studio was ‘vanilla’ !) Elvis or Chuck Berry? Are you kidding? That is impossible. I think it comes down to personal taste. My tastes lean toward SUN – I love rockabilly, and it was ‘created’ right there. But one of history’s most famous R&B classics – ‘Rocket 88‘ by Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner, was recorded at SUN Studio by Sam Phillips in 1951. He then licensed it to CHESS Records in Chicago where it was distributed. So, one of the all-time greatest R&B classics actually belonged to both SUN and CHESS. SUN gets my nod – because it had a wider scope, doing R&B, rockabilly, rock’n’roll, and country … whereas Chess focused on blues and R&B.
I was fortunate to tour both legendary locations. Another story?
My girlfriend Trudy and I visited Chicago a few years ago, and by the time we got to 2120 S.Michigan Avenue, the doors were closed, and I was left peeking into the storefront window. As the custodian was leaving, he saw me looking forlorn – and my Trudy asked him to ‘puhleeze’ consider letting me in – ‘just for a little peek’. He couldn’t refuse – and took me in for a whirlwind – and personal – tour of where the Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley/Muddy Waters magic happened. I think I floated out of there …
BIG GIANT THANK YOU to Gene for taking the time to answer my million questions (Gene is just so interesting and I had to share all the stories). I hope you enjoyed this interview and you can check out Gene’s show every Sunday 2:00pm-4:30pm (online or on the radio at AM740/96.7FM) on Zoomer Radio.
Recently on Instagram my friend Meghan posted a link to a Canadian history mini movie called “Dancing was my Duty” (video avail at end of post). It was about the WW2 homefront work of the women in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. Now being a swing dancer and a lover of Canadian history from the 40’s, I instantly needed to see what this as all about.
WOW was my reaction after I watched the movie. How have I never heard of this in my history classes? These women did so much for the homefront in such a short amount of time and their story needed to be shared.
So friends lets not have you wait a minute longer and fill you in on the Canadian women who “knitted socks and hats and scarves and absolutely all of the nice, warm, cozy things that our military personnel needed in Europe”(Quote from Janet Guildford Halifax Women’s History Society Chair).
Background of Halifax during WW2
September 10th, 1939 Canada declares war on Germany. Halifax, a small gritty seaport city of only about 78,000 instantly becomes the principal and closest staging point in Canada for the war in Europe (Source).
In just over 5 years the city would grow to 117, 000 as an influx of transient sailors, soldiers and airmen and, often, their families came and went. These new numbers of “residents” would strain every resource and create a shortage of housing and diversions for the troops, who were often bored while waiting for active duty (Source). The people of Nova Scotia and Halifax stepped up and volunteered their services (in huge numbers), with the majority being women. They worked in canteens, service clubs and hostels, providing food, entertainment and a ‘home away from home’ for the thousands of troops who flooded into the city.
Women joined national organizations such as the Red Cross, the IODE, the Salvation Army, and the St. John Ambulance. In the Halifax/Dartmouth/Bedford area alone there were 18 separate branches of the IODE.
Local women also formed and launched groups such as the North End Services’ Canteen, the Halifax Central Magazine Exchange and the ANA Club. The hand of friendship was extended to thousands by churches and clubs offering hot meals and entertainment.
Women also formed groups to knit what were called “comforts” for sailors and merchant seamen, and for people in England, who were dealing with the German bombings. The women volunteers made quilts, clothing and bandages, collected salvage, helped organize blood donor clinics and encouraged people to buy war bonds.
World War II brought Royal Navy warships and Armed Merchant Cruisers to Halifax, spilling hundreds of sailors on to the streets in 1940-1941. They encountered a city which had become very ‘straight-laced’ during the 1930s.
Drink was available but under restricted circumstances that gave way to bootlegging and speakeasies. Social conventions of the time also looked down upon informal mingling of the sexes outside of marriage. As a result, there was not a lot for servicemen and war workers to do — so many took to entertaining themselves outdoors, and as they wished.
Before long, a network of hostels and canteens sprang up throughout the city, catering to servicemen and seamen and providing them with food, drink, a bath, sometimes a bed, and always a friendly ear. There were Merchant Navy Hostels, YMCA Huts, Knights of Columbus Huts, Salvation Army Canteens, IODE Canteens and the North End Service Canteen, as well as dedicated clubs for servicemen from foreign countries such as France and Norway.
The most famous of them all, the Ajax Club, opened in 1940 and welcomed naval ratings and petty officers from all the Allied navies. Monthly attendance was estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 men — until the club was unceremoniously shut down in 1942.
Another wartime entertainment initiative, The Halifax Concert Party, was created out of freely-given volunteer talent; show after show was produced throughout the war years for an unending sea of men in uniform. As well, troops and Halifax residents alike were routinely entertained by travelling productions such as The Marcus Show, which brought ‘the world’s foremost exposition of female loveliness’ to town, to relieve the tedium and horror that was otherwise known as war.
Ping Pong Game at RCAF Station Dartmouth.
North End Services Canteen.
Marcus Dance Show-1941.
Taking a break during or in-between shows-1941.
Naval Personnel at a dance-1941.
Service personnel and civilians at Orpheus movie theatre Barrington Street, Halifax.
Ajax Club-5 pints of beer or 10 glasses are allowed each man (that is a lot of beer!).
Evening of Music at the Quinpool Road Hostel-1942.
After the war ended, Halifax returned to normal fairly quickly (however not without a big bang, which you can read all about HERE). The troops went home, Canadian troops returned and the women went back to the lives that they had before the war started. Life carried on without any recognition to the hard-work and sacrifices made by these women.
Present Day & Wonderful News!
In 2017 these amazing women finally received public acknowledgment with the below monument, thanks to the efforts from the Halifax Women’s History Society. Thank you to the society and thank you to the women of Nova Scotia.
Read about how this historic monument came to be HERE.
Dancing Was My Duty
It is now your turn to watch the movie that is the focus of this blog post. Click on the image below to be taken to the film. Enjoy!
NOTE: Out of Canada readers, I have been notified that CBC would let you watch the video. I have currently dropped them a line to see if there is anyway around this. I will update here if a solution is found (updated Jan 14th, 2018).
Nova Scotia Archives has a excellent virtual exhibit (where many of my images came from) on Halifax’s war effort. Check it out HERE.
Question time: How did you like this post? Have you heard of these amazing women before? Maybe you have your own story to share about a grandmother, mother, aunt etc. who were one of these volunteers. Share your thoughts and comments below, I love hearing from you!
It’s that time of year again! I’m off to Las Vegas for a fun weekend celebrating German Karneval (Mardi Gras). I cannot wait to get out of Toronto because right now it’s so cold all my windows and patio doors are frozen shut! That is too cold way too cold. Bring on the sunshine and pools (even though many of the pools are closed during this time of the year as it’s offseason. Not my hotel though!).
For today’s post, I put together a roundup of ‘Vintage Vegas’ images to help put me in a sunny mood for a visit to one of my favourite cities.
Lets throw a quarter into the machine and begin the fun!
TWA 1956 Travel Advertisement.
Alaska Motel, Las Vegas 1949.
The Sal Sagev Hotel (now the Golden Gate Hotel) on Fremont Street, Las Vegas.
The postcard also shows the El Trovatore Auto Court on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona.
Group photograph of entertainers at the Dunes, including Anna Bailey and Frank Sinatra.
Photograph of a showgirl posed at the swimming pool of Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino, [May 22], 1955. The Moulin Rouge was the first desegregated hotel casino, it was popular with many of the black entertainers of the time, who would entertain at the other hotels and casinos and stay at the Moulin Rouge (source).
Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas, 1955.
The Westerner, Circa 1950’s.
Las Vegas gambling scene, 1930s.
Neon sign for the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall (Las Vegas), after 1958.
Photograph of the June Taylor Dancers posing at the Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, circa 1949.
Vintage Las Vegas ~ Flamingo hotel cocktail napkin “The Show Place of the Nation”.
Travel Western Airlines!
1950’s Strip Fun.
One last picture before we leave. Circa 1950s.
That is it for this weeks post and now I’m off to pack. If your interested, follow my adventures on Instagram and have a great week friends!
Question Time: If you have been to Vegas before, share your favourite hotel or things to do in the comments below I would love to know!
As we approach New Years Eve, I want to take a moment to wish all of my readers..that is YOU, a Happy New Year! It has been quite a year for everyone and I’m so happy that my little blog has been a source of distraction and enjoyment for many of you. On my side it has been a pleasure and a joy to put together these vintage posts and I look forward to many more in 2018.
So thank you for being such loyal readers and I hope you stick with my blog as I have many exciting topics, images and fun ahead.
Christmas Parties, yummy foods, holiday cocktails, vintage dresses in reds & greens, it’s truly a marvelous time of the year! I love this season and since it’s almost gone, I’m going to extend it as long as I can with a post filled with lovely vintage photos of Christmases gone by.
“One quick photo with the tree before we head out everyone!”
Christmas at Sea-WWII Sailors aboard USS Cebu. Can you see the “Fireplace” and Christmas Tree to the right of the photo?
Smile for the camera before you open the presents!
1957-Sometimes the wrapping paper is more fun than the gift itself.
1950’s family photo. Hi Lassie!
2 little girls enjoying their gifts in the 1940’s. According to the description on ‘I Love You More Photos‘, the girls are playing with toys they just got for Christmas..a miniature umbrella clothes line, a small washing machine, laundry tub and ironing board.
1950s- When your home is small, your tree also becomes small. It’s not the size that matters it’s how you decorate it with tinsel that does.
1950’s – The little black dress at the Christmas party never gets old….
Group photo to remember their time together.
December 15th, 1956. The Ladies Christmas dinner (not super clear but there are mini trees on the table).
And that brings us to the end of this roundup of wonderful holiday photos. Thank you for stopping by friends and…..
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE VINTAGE INN (aka Liz)!
Want to see more Christmas Vintage Images? Check out the following posts:
Bea Wain is considered by many to be one of the best female vocalists of her era. A self-taught singer, with an expressive but understated swing style, she worked hard to leave her mark in the Big Band & Radio world.
Today’s post is all about this incredible and talented woman.
Born Beatrice Wain April 30th, 1917 in the Bronx, New York, her singing career would begin at the young age of 6 on a radio program titled “NBC Children’s Hour,” where she earned $2 per broadcast (Source). Blessed with a raw talent and the knowledge that she wanted to be a singer, Beatrice would never took a single singing lesson growing up. Dance and piano lessons she agreed to but never singing.
“I never wanted anybody to teach me how to sing,” she said in an interview with Sara Fishko for the New York public radio station WNYC in 2013 (Source).
This raw talent would keep Beatrice busy, singing with various radio shows and even cutting records for popular big band leaders. One particular record with Artie Shaw in September 1937, saw her name accidentally go from ‘Beatrice Wain’ to ‘Beatrice Wayne’. Then later on record labels, her name was shortened (without her permission) to “Bea” by the record company, ostensibly for space considerations.
She would get her big break in 1937, when she emerged from the chorus on the radio show “The Kate Smith Hour” to sing an eight-bar solo. The arranger Larry Clinton, who was listening, needed to hear no more. He was forming a band at the time and quickly signed her to be its vocalist.
“I did a lot of singing, choral things,” she recalled. “And he heard me on the Kate Smith show. He didn’t see me. Actually, it was very strange, because . . . I had a call and went to the phone and this man said, ‘My name is Larry Clinton. I’m starting a band and I’m looking for a girl singer and I would like you to make some sides with me.’ Which was really cuckoo [laughs], ’cause I said to myself, ‘He never saw me. He never really heard me, it was just a few bars. And he told me to meet him at RCA Victor the next week, he was recording, and he sent me a tune to do, and I did it. And the first time I saw him was when I walked in the studio (Source).”
Following this recording session Bea remained with the band and would make her debut with Larry Clinton officially in the summer of 1938 at the Glen Island Casino, New Rochelle, New York. This would be the turning point for Larry Clintons Orchestra because as they were broadcasted live across the radio wires, theirs and Bea’s popularity would rise.
Bea Stated: “If we played in an elegant ballroom, it was very nice. We played a lot of colleges, and that was fun. As I said, I was very young. We played at Yale, we played at Princeton, we played [at] the University of North Carolina… you know, we just went on the road, and you went from one to the other. And they all couldn’t wait until the band arrived, because the band became very popular on account of these radio broadcasts (Source).”
During her time with The Larry Clinton Orchestra, Bea would go on to record several hit songs:
Her Signature Song: My Reverie and was top of the charts for 8 weeks in 1938. (Video Link)
After a year and a half with the band, she tired of the road trips and poor pay for recordings** and left to perform on her own. At this time she was also a married woman to radio announcer André Baruch who she had met on the Kate Smith Show (where she was singing in the chorus if you remember my mention above). They had married May 1st, 1938.
After the orchestra, Bea would go on to have a successful radio career singing in programs like CBS’s, “Your Hit Parade” from 1939-44 where her husband Andre was also the announcer. Monday Merry-Go-Round (NBC Blue 1941-1942) and Starlight Serenade (Mutual 1944) (Source).
During WW2 while her husband served overseas, Bea would do her part by performing at Army Camps and Naval Bases for the troops. Upon his return they would go on to host a radio program called “Mr. and Mrs. Music,” a daily program on WMCA in New York, on which they doubled as disc jockeys and interviewers.
In 1973, the couple moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where they had a similar radio show before relocating to Beverly Hills. During the early 1980s, the pair hosted a syndicated version of “Your Hit Parade”, reconstructing the list of hits of selected weeks in the 1940s and playing the original recordings on-air (Source).
Around the same time, Bea was featured on TV’s “Jukebox Saturday Night”. She was sensational, proving that her voice was still very much intact and that she was still a force to be reckoned with.
Bea passed away this year at the age of 100 on August 19th, 2017 (Andre passed in 1991).
In a 2004 interview with Christopher Popa, Wain reflected: “Actually, I’ve had a wonderful life, a wonderful career. And I’m still singing, and I’m still singing pretty good (Source).
Thank You for all the music.
Other Awesome Facts about Bea:
*Ms. Wain was voted most popular female band vocalist in Billboard’s 1939 college poll (Ella Fitzgerald was second) (Source).
*She is considered by many to be one of the best female vocalists of her era, possessing a natural feel for swing-music rhythms not often found among white singers of the day. With regard to technique, she excelled in pitch and subtle utilization of dynamics. She also communicated a feminine sensuality and sang with conviction in an unforced manner (Source).
*Wain was also the first artist to record the Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg classic “Over the Rainbow” (on December 7, 1938, with Clinton’s orchestra), but MGM prohibited the release until The Wizard of Oz (1939) had opened and audiences heard Judy Garland perform it (Source).
Friends, I hope you enjoyed learning about this beautiful and talented star of the Big Band Era. I had heard of Bea in passing, but did not realize what a true talent she was until now. Bea will be on rotation on my playlist going forth and she will always be mentioned when discussing the women of the big band era.
Question Time: Have you heard of Bea Wain? If yes then please share your favorite song in the comments below, I would love to know what it is!
**Bea made $50 a week (about $870 in today’s dollars) working every night all summer with the Clinton band at Glen Island and only $30 for a three-hour session recording four songs. That meant that while songs like “My Reverie” and “Deep Purple” reaped a fortune for others, she made all of about $7.50 (or about $130 today) for each song (Source).