The Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm-Ina Ray Hutton

She had rhythm, she had style and she was the leader of the first all-female swing band to be recorded and filmed during the 1930’s. World meet Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears!

Ina Ray Hutton

Ina ray hutton and her melodears 1930s

First up a little bit of information on Ina’s early years:

  • Hutton was actually born Odessa Cowan in 1916
  • She grew up with her half-sister June (also a successful singer) in a black neighbourhood on Chicago’s south side.
  • When Hutton was a child, United States Census records called her and her family “negro,” and “mulatto,” when the Bureau used that term.She would “pass” as white for the rest of her career
  • Her mother, Marvel Ray was a local pianist and entertainer in Chicago
  • Iva would go on to study dance with Hazel Thompson-Davis and received a rave revue in the Chicago Defender when she was only 7
  • In 1930, at age 14, she made her Broadway debut with Gus Edwards at the Palace Theater in New York.  As Ina Ray, at age 16, she was a featured singer and dancer in George White’s “Melody;” at 17, she joined the Ziegfeld Follies (Source).
1930s Ina+Ray+Hutton
Source: Alchetron

The Melodears…

In 1934 at the age of 18 she was approached by Irving Mills to lead an all-girl orchestra called the Melodears. At the same time she was also encouraged to change her last name to Hutton, to take advantage of the notorious reputation of the Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton (Source).

Ina Ray Hutton

THE BAND IS A HIT! and would go on to tour solidly for five years and became one of the first all-girl bands to be filmed for Paramount shorts. Those shorts were:

  • Feminine Rhythm (1935)
  • Accent on Girls (1936)
  • Swing, Hutton, Swing (1937).

(Link to Accent on Girls Video) & (Link to Swing Hutton Swing Video)


The Glamour

The band and Ina’s style never made them wallflowers. The Melodears’ outfits ranged from boyish trousers to long, ultra-feminine, sequined outfits. Downbeat magazine reported that Hutton’s stage wardrobe included 400 gowns (Impressive!).

Ina Ray Hutton

Ina Ray Hutton

Ina Ray Hutton

The end of the Melodears but not the end of Hutton’s career

1939 saw Ina disband the Melodears, due to being tired of being seen as a ‘Novelty Act’ and also being tired of “all the glamour”. She formed an all-male band in 1940 and dyed her hair brunette to really emphasis the “done with glamour” part (that will do it! Ha Ha). This new band would perform together till 1949 and would even appear in the 1944 movie ‘Ever Since Venus‘.

Ina Ray Hutton as a brunette

The ‘Ina Ray Hutton TV Show’

From 1951 to 1956, Ina had her own TV show that saw the return of her All-Girl Orchestra (yay!) and the return to being blonde as well.

Ina Ray Hutton 1950s with band for tv show
Ina and some of the band. Source: Ebay

Here is Ina on her show with her singer sister (who had a good career herself), June Hutton (Link to video).

The Music

Hutton’s last recorded performance came in the 1975 film ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’.

Throughout her career Ina did not cut very many records, but she did have a lot of radio play, which has allowed future generations to be able to enjoy her talent. Below is a sampling of her songs and a link to where you can buy her collection of music.

Ina Ray Hutton collection of music 1930s to 1940s

  • What’s the Good of Moonlight
  • Truckin’
  • Georgia’s Gorgeous Gal
  • Witch Doctor
  • How’s About Tomorrow Night
  • Tess’ Torch Song
  • PLUS MANY MANY MORE! Buy/listen to her collection HERE

Her Personal Life

She married and divorced Lou Parisotto, Randy Brooks and Michael Anter (seen below in their 1958 wedding photo).

Ina Ray Hutton marriage photo 1950s
Source: Ebay

Her fourth husband, Jack Curtis, preceded her in death. Ina died in 1984 at the age of 67 from complications from diabetes.

Her Legacy

While Ina’s story may not be as well-known to the world (I’m helping to fix that!), you cannot deny that she paved the way for a wave of female bands who took off in the 40s, as well as being a pioneer in fashion and television. She was a true talent and an amazing light in the world of music and was truly “The Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm”.

Lastly, there is a very popular family band in Sweden called the Carling Family band. The lead singer (Gunhild Carling) very much reminds me of Ina. In fact I would not be surprised if she is one of her influences.

Here is the Carling Family band at Frankie 100 with a performance they did in Central Park (I was there for this and it was AMAZING!!! Don’t miss a single moment). (Link to Video)

 

What did you think of Ina friends? Wasn’t she just remarkable? I will be adding her to my collection of swing music greats, that is for sure.

Liz

 

The Vintage Easter Roundup

Easter is this weekend (mmmm chocolate) so for today’s post I wanted to do a roundup of all things that fall under the category, “Vintage Easter”. This will include photos,ads, kitschy vintage Easter items for sale and anything else I can find. Of course it’s all from the 1920’s to the 1960’s because as you know, I just love those time periods.

Let the Easter Fun Begin!

Doris Day 1950s Easter Image

What used to be an annual tradition in Toronto was the Easter Parade. Here is an image from 1924 of stylish Torontonians walking past the Sunnyside Pavilion. Even all bundled up the women still look incredibly elegant.

1920's easter parade toronto

Easter chocolates and candy are not just for little kids (1950’s).

1950s vintage easter image
Source: Ebay

It’s important at any age to don your best dress for the Easter festivities. Aren’t these 2 girls just adorable?

1960s two little girls in their easter dresses vintage photo
Source: Tumblr

Bunnies as presents (only a good idea if approved first), circa 1930’s.

1930s vintage photo of boys at easter with real bunnies
Source: Etsy

You know you have been a good girl when you get to pick something up for Easter BEFORE Easter (1950’s). On a side note, I believe I own a similar purse that the lady looking at the camera is holding.

1950s bakery selling easter goods vintage image
Source: Tulsa Gal

A big part of Easter is all the wonderful foods that are served when the family gets together. Good thing it was a popular to post ads with recipes to help boost sales of products. Here are a couple of cake recipes to help make your Easter a bit more vintage.

1950's easter bunny cake vintage ad
Source: Click Americana
1950s vintage cake ad receipe
Source: Click Americana

How about Kitschy items for your table? Like this 1950’s Swedish Table Runner.

Swedish retro vintage 1950s printed linen design tabelcloth runner with green/ yellow/ pink flower/ chicken Easter motives on grey bottom
Source: Pinterest

A 1930’s Bobble Head Bunny planter makes perfect sense when wanting to add a touch of fun to the decor.

1930s bobble head bunny planter vintage
Source: Etsy
vintage 1950s plastic easter bunnies
Source: Etsy

Every egg needs a place to rest before being gobbled up.

Vintage Silver Plated Egg Cup Chicken in Nest Egg Holder 1950s
Source: Etsy

The Look: Gentlemen do you need a tie for your weekend activities? Then look no further than Wembley Ties (1954).

1954 Wembley Ties Ad - Easter Time is Wembley Time - 1950s Spring Neckties for Men
Source: Etsy

Need other tie options? How about Easy Tint Ties (1947)?

Easter Tint Ties by Manhattan - 1947 advertisement
Source: pzrservices

The men are all set, now ladies what will you wear? Maybe one of the pretty dresses pictured below?

Vintage Easter Dresses Ad
Source: Etsy

Matchy Matchy so you don’t lose each other in the Easter parade (I would assume).

Cardigan ad Pandora Sweaters, March 1953
Source: Pinterest

For those who like to adorn their outfits with kitschy brooches, then this vintage style carrot is perfect.

Easter bunny carrot brooch 1940s 1950s style
Source: Etsy

If you are wearing a carrot brooch then you really do need earrings to match. Like these super adorable 1940’s/50’s flocked bunny earrings pictured below.

Vintage 1940s-1950s Flocked Easter Holiday White Bunny Rabbit Earrings
Source: Etsy

Don’t forget the Easter Bonnets! 1928 Ad.

1928 Easter Hats vintage ad
Source: Old Advertising Tumblr

Chocolates and a hat..Oh My!

1946-- Sally Victor hats Whitman's Chocolate Ad
Source: Flickr

Cards are always a big part of this time of year, as American Greetings reminds us in 1949.

American Greeting Cards Ad 1949 (Easter)
Source: Pinterest

I tend to like to give out funny cards to family and friends and I know my hubby does too. Here is one from the 1950’s I just know I would end up with from the mister.

1950s vintage easter card front
Source: Etsy
1950s vintage easter card inside
Source: Etsy

 

Have a wonderful Easter Weekend friends!

Liz

Ruth Lowe-The Canadian Gal Behind “I’ll Never Smile Again”

A few months ago, my mother sent an article over to me via email and said “I think you might like this for you blog”. I opened it up and it was a small article on a Canadian woman named Ruth Lowe (who I had never heard of). It was a very interesting read about her life, her famous song “I’ll Never Smile Again”. and how she played a BIG part in Frank Sinatra’s success.  Indeed a perfect post to share with my readers and today friends…..is that day.

Meet the beautiful Ruth Lowe.

ruthlowe I will never smile again

Ruth lowe vintage image

And now please take a moment to acquaint yourself with her song “I’ll never smile again” (Link to video).

Ruth’s Earlier Years:

  • Born in Toronto, August 12th, 1914 to US-Canadian parents.
  • They moved to California when she was very young and she lived there during her early teens.
  • The family returned to Toronto with only the piano after her fathers grocery business went sour during the depression. The same piano that Ruth and her sister Mickey had learned to play on.
  • After her father died, Ruth quit school at 16 and found a job in the ‘Song Shop’ where she demonstrated sheet music on the piano. This trade was called “Song Plugging” and if customers liked what Ruth played (plugged) they would take it home to learn.
  • During her evenings, Ruth played in a very intricate two piano act with her friend Sair Lee at various nightclubs.
  • One day while at the store, Lowe heard that the famous all-female Ina Rae Hutton Orchestra (The Melodears) needed a piano replacement for their 1935 appearance in Toronto. She got the job and so impressed Hutton that she ended up touring the United States with the orchestra for a few years after (Source).

Here is a clip from 1936 “Doin’ the Suzie Q”, that I believe should feature Ruth on the piano. Can we also take a moment to be in awe of Ina’s outfit…wow! (Video Link)

How the song “I’ll Never Smile Again” came to be:

While traveling with the Melodears in 1938 in Chicago, Ruth met Harold Cohen a music publicist and fell madly in love. They were married and lived happily until a year later Harold died tragically during surgery*. Ruth returned home to Toronto devastated and during this grief she penned “I’ll Never Smile Again”.

Lowe told the Toronto Daily Star in 1940 that the ballad “seemed to fill my head and guide my fingers as I picked it out on the piano (Source)”.

Here are the sad words Ruth Lowe wrote:

I’ll never smile again until I smile at you
I’ll never laugh again what good would it do
For tears would fill my eyes
My heart would realize that our romance is through
I’ll never love again I’m so in love with you
I’ll never thrill again
To somebody new within my heart
I know I will never start to smile again
Until I smile at you
Within my heart I know
I will never start to smile again
Until I smile at you.

Song Success and Frank Sinatra:

Life went on and Ruth found herself working as an accompanist at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she passed on the sheet music to the song to Toronto composer-conductor Percy Faith. Percy would later record the song for his CBC radio program ‘Music By Faith’. The Song made it’s official Debut!

It was not till a few months later though when the famous Big Band leader Tommy Dorsey was performing at the 1939 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) that Lowe (who wanted to take her song to the next level) took matters into her own hands. Lowe waited — acetate recording in hand — by the musicians’ tent for her friend, a guitarist with the band, who arranged a meeting with the New York bandleader at the Royal York Hotel (Source).

One year later Dorsey who liked the song and thought it had some merit, decided to test out on a ‘Coming-Out’ number for Frank Sinatra, who had joined the orchestra as their new vocalist.

Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey 1940s vintage image

The recording, of “I’ll Never Smile Again,” was released on May 23rd, 1940 (as heard in the version I posted above).

Frank Sinatra Ruth Lowe and Tommy Dorsey
Frank Sinatra, Ruth Lowe and Tommy Dorsey. Source: National Post (& Tom Lowe Sandler)

The Song was a SUCCESS! It was No. 1 track on the very first Billboard sales chart in 1940 (seen below) and it propelled Sinatra into Super Stardom that would carry on for decades.

Lowe told her son (Tom Sandler) that the timing — it was the beginning of the Second World War — was key to her success. “It was a song that spoke to everyone in the country,” he says. “Their loves were going to war and most of them weren’t coming back” (Source).

First billboard Chart 1940
Source: Billboard

After this success, Ruth was approached by Sinatra in 1942 to write a closing song for his radio program. The song she wrote was “Put Your Dreams Away”, which would go on to become  Frank’s Signature Song (Video Link).

After Frank…

Ruth married Nat Sandler and happily settled into married life and kids in Toronto. She continued to write songs and play the piano, but her day’s of traveling with orchestras and pushing for her music to be produced were behind her.

In 1955 one of the most popular television shows at the time, “This is Your Life,” devoted a full segment to Ruth Lowe. She was loved that much by the public.

This is your life tv show

Ruth passed away on January 4th, 1981 at the age of 66. In 1982 her 1940’s “I’ll Never Smile Again” received an honorary Grammy and in 2003 she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

In the end Ruth’s greatest tragedy ended up bringing her career success and a place in history. The only thing left is for Ruth to have greater distinction in the Canadian music world. Her son Tom is pushing for her to receive a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and to also be acknowledged by the Junos (The Canadian Grammy’s). I could not agree more and I do hope it happens sooner then later.

Thank you for the music Ruth.

Liz

*Other sources have said that Ruth’s husband died after 2 years of marriage.

A Peak Into My Vintage Collection – Adopted Vintage Photos

Several Posts ago, I started a series entitled ‘A Peak Into My Vintage Collection‘ where I showcased some of the items I currently collect. This week, I wanted to show off my photo album of ‘Adopted Vintage Photos’. Photos that I have found in various places (mostly from my beloved Gadabout Vintage) and have loved so much that I could not leave them behind to be lost forever.

vintage photo album from the Vintage Inn Blog

Several of these photos you might have seen if you have been following my blog for sometime and many of them will be new to my new followers (Hi new readers!). Whatever the circumstance that finds you here, I hope you enjoy this post.

———–

The first 2 images are my newest purchases to the “Family”.

I adore all the small details in photos, like in this image the champagne coupes on the table (New Years Eve Party maybe?) and how the lovely woman in the photo is the only one who notices the picture being taken.

1940's vintage photo of couples at a fancy dinner

Photos like the one below, are really wonderful tools to answers questions that pop up in the vintage clothing world. One in particular I see/hear frequently is, “Did women in the 40’s actually wear flowers in their hair”? And the answer is “Yes”, as seen in the evidence below AND above.

1940's vintage image of girls all dressed up for a dance

If you ever get a chance to visit Gadabout Vintage in Toronto, you will notice that the pictures are in drawers, upon drawers so finding a ‘full collection’ is not always an easy task. So it’s also a fantastic surprise when my individual photo purchases, come together as a collection when I arrive home. The 3 groups of images below are examples of this.

1940's vintage images of stylish women with family
Stylish 1940’s family
1940's vintage image of a couple with their car
New Car Purchase?
1940's vintage photos of stylish men and women
Friends and family

The next image came in a souvenir frames and it’s from Toronto’s 1st Luxury Hotel, The King Edward (which is still in business today).

1940's souvenir photo taken at Toronto's King Edward Hotel

The lovely couples on date night at ‘The King Eddy’.

Date night 1940's photo taken at King Edward Hotel Toronto

Friends, here are more photos (but not all) of my ever growing collection from the 1930’s-50’s.

1940's Vintage Images of Men and Women

vintage images from 1940s to 1950s

collection of vintage photos 1940s and 1950s

vintage images of women 1940s and 1950s

vintage images of women 1930s and 1950s

vintage images of women 1940s and 1950s

vintage images from 1940s and 1950s

Hope you enjoyed my collection!

Check out past ‘My Vintage Collection Posts’ below:

Question Time: Have you purchased anything in the last while, that adds to your OWN collection of something?

Liz

Dig That Dish-The Coolest Vintage Recipe Book Around

I wanted to share with you my latest vintage find, which just happens to be perfect for anyone hosting a 1950’s, 1960’s and even a 70’s party.

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Dig that Dish’ by Ruth Chier Rosen is a book on ‘Teen-Age Party Menus & Recipes For All Occasions (See perfect for your next themed party!). The version I have is copyrighted 1960 but it was gifted to a Mrs Sapoco at Christmas time in 1978 (was Mrs Sapoco a Teenage bride?).

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

While doing research on this book I found out that Ruth is a very popular cookbook writer and has written around 40 books over her career (Her first book was published in 1950 and the last in 1971).  She even has a website called ‘Food of the Fifites‘ where you can learn about all that she has done, read about her life on her blog and even purchase many of her books.

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's Ruth Chier Rosen

Speaking of books, here are some of her cleverly named ones.

have cookbook will marry by Ruth Chier Rosen vintage cookbook
Source: Food of the Fifties.

104 confidence-building recipes for the budding home chef, both brides and grooms – Published 1956.

vintage cookbook by ruth chier rosen on cooking fish
Source: Food of the Fifties

From Nets to You: A Log of Fish Recipes – Published 1953.

freeze-n-easy_large vintage bookbook by Ruth Chier Rosen
Source: Food of the Fifties

90 tested and true recipes for turning your freezer into an anytime restaurant with all the trimmings – Published 1960.

cyranodecasserole vintage cookbook by Ruth Chier Rosen
Source: Food of the Fifties

Cyrano de Casserole: A Nosegay of Casserole Recipes – Published 1955.

tomato-well-dressed-salad-cookbook_large vintage cookbook
Source: Food of the Fifties

110 inventive salad and dressing recipes to tickle your palette and cinch your waistline – Published 1953

masquerade-leftover-cookbook_large vintage cookbook
Source: Food of the Fifties

132 re-purposing recipes that help you create new meals from yesterday’s left-overs – Published 1962.

And my personal favorite…

pop monseiur champage in food and drink vintage cookbook
Source: Food of the Fifties

Pop, Monsieur: Cooking with Champagne – Published 1956 (I really need to find this one for my collection).

Now lets head back to my book…..

A successful party takes ideas, organization, and your shoulder to the wheel.
When it is successful there is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you put it across. The easiest way to do it is to set a theme, decide on the kind of food your crowd likes and provide enough space and opportunity for activity to keep the party moving.
The following party ideas can be used in combination with your own ideas and we hope they will spark some new ideas of your own. The food is all easy to prepare and you can do it yourself as part of the fun of having a party.

Here is a sampling of what you will find inside…..

The Themes:

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

SPRING:

  • Graduation Buffet
  • Pre-Prom Dinner
  • April Fool’s Gathering
  • A Progressive Party

SUMMER:

  • Hobo Hay Ride
  • Summer Theatre Party
  • Splash Party
  • 4th of July Barbecue

FALL:

  • Record Party
  • Halloween Square Dance
  • Post Football Game Supper
  • Sweet 16 Party

WINTER:

  • Ice Skating Party
  • New Years Eve Party
  • Christmas Party
  • Valentine Party

Each theme is broken down with party ideas, overview of recipes and then detailed instructions on how to make each of them. Here are a couple of examples.

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Easiest recipe in the whole book.

Dig that dish Vintage Cookbook 1960's

Pretty cool right?!

Before I end there was one other goodie in the box. A letter written in July 19th, 1977 from ‘Mommie’ to ‘Lenny (?) & Precy’ from Brilon in Germany. It seems that the mother is traveling visiting friends (I think) and is gone long enough that someone is sending her money and she is buying gifts to send home.

I love when I find items like this in my vintage finds, it just brings another time to life.

vintage handwritten letter

 

Question Time: Have you heard of Ruth or her cookbooks? Maybe you own one or a few. If so please share with everyone what you have in your collection.

P.S. For a more detailed breakdown on how to host the ultimate 50’s party, please visit my post HERE.

Liz

Vintage Photo Tuesday: The Social Dance

Spring has sprung here in Toronto and I know in many other places all over the world (thank goodness!). Hearing the word spring made me think of the themed dance ‘The Spring Fling’ and then I wanted to find all the photos related to this dance to share with all of you.

Well friends..I was out of luck, there really are no photos entitled “Spring Fling”. This really surprised me because I thought that this type of dance was popular in day’s gone by? Yes? No? If any of my readers have the answer please let me know in the comment section. So that said, for today’s Vintage Photo Tuesday we are going to just focus on images from the 1930’s-1950’s showcasing ‘The Social Dance’.

 Mouse over image to zoom Vintage-June-17-1939-Duluth-Mn-Council-of-Jewish-Juniors-Spring-Dance-Card Vintage-June-17-1939-Duluth-Mn-Council-of-Jewish-Juniors-Spring-Dance-Card Vintage-June-17-1939-Duluth-Mn-Council-of-Jewish-Juniors-Spring-Dance-Card Have one to sell? Sell it yourself Details about Vintage June 17 1939 Duluth Mn. Council of Jewish Juniors Spring Dance Card
Source: Ebay

Let’s begin!

You cannot have a proper dance without the “King & Queen”, so I introduce to our lovely 50’s couple who will oversee all the dances being shown today. They are joined by the “Duke”, the “Prince” and the “Princesses”.

1950's Vintage Valentines Dance black and white image of guys and girls
Source: Flickr-St. Mary’s Digital Archives

Oct 27th,1945 the Woody Herman Orchestra performs for eager dancers at Maple Leaf Gardens (Toronto). Dancers on the side of the stage and all the rest of the dancing seems to be happening further back (behind all the people watching).

woody herman 1945 maple leaf gardens toronto playing for a big dance
Source: Toronto Archives

It’s the Simpson’s Teen-Town Time dance at Maple Leaf Gardens (1940’s) featuring Bobby Gimby (Toronto Orchestra Leader), Art Hallman (popular Canadian Tenor) and Ken Watts.

1940's Simpsons Sears Teen Town Time Dance at Maple Leaf Gardens
Source: Toronto Archives

“Dance with me”

Canadian Archives 1940's social dance vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Dancing close in a crowded Toronto dance hall in the 40’s.

1940's toronto dance hall vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

It’s Boogie Time (circa 1950’s)!

1950's vintage image of women dancing at a social dance canadian archives
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Sometimes social dancing also involves social standing and social sitting.

1940's social dance vintage image library and archives canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada

1930’s social dance at the Transportation Building, Toronto, Canadian National Exhibition.

1930's social dance at the Transportation Building, Toronto Canadian National Exhibition
Source: Library and Archives Canada

The Calm before the Dance. This is earlier then the images from the 30’s to the 50’s that I’m focusing on today but it’s such a marvelous photo that I just had to share.

1910’s Dancing Pavilion at Bo-Lo, Bois Blanc Island, Detroit River.

Dancing pavilion at Bo-Lo, Bois Blanc Island, Detroit River vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

1940’s Canadian Highland Regiment soldier and beautiful woman share a dance together.

1940's canadian solider and woman dancing vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Emma Willard 1950’s School Dance.

1950's dance vintage image Emma Willard School
Source: Emma Willard School

1940’s social dance, view of the busy dance floor.

1940's social dancing vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

The Closeup.

1940's swing dancing vintage image library and archives canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada
Couldn't We Keep on Dancing? From On with the Dance: Vocal Fox-trot
Source: Abebooks

Unfortunately we cannot keep on dancing, BUT I hope you enjoyed this week’s Vintage Photo Tuesday! VPT will be back in 2 weeks with another exciting group of images.

Liz

 

91st Anniversary of the Savoy Ballroom-Home of the Happy Feet

If you’re a Lindy hopper or a lover of the 1930’s/1940’s, you know the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. You know that it is the hallowed ground of swing dancers everywhere and the ‘Home of the Happy Feet’. All the greats played here AND danced here and anyone who was anyone passed thru it’s doors. It truly was a magical place, where your skin colour did not matter, only the music and the dance did.

The Savoy Ballroom Harlem Plaque, NYC
Savoy Plaque on the grounds where the original dance hall stood

The Savoy turned 91 years old this past March 12th and for today’s post I wanted to bring to life this legendary ballroom. Whether you know it’s story already or just discovering it for the first time, reading and watching videos about the Savoy never gets old.

Please grab your dance shoes friends because we are off to 596 Lenox Avenue, between 140th and 141st Streets to visit the famous Savoy Ballroom.

savoy ballroom colour vintage image
Source: The Savoy King

Brief History & Facts about the Savoy:

  • Owned by Moe Gale, a Jewish man, and managed by Charles Buchanan, an African-American business man, the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors on March 12, 1926 right in the middle of Harlem
  • It was the first racially integrated public place in the country
  • The Savoy was modeled after Faggen’s downtown venue, Roseland Ballroom
  • 10,000 square feet in size, was on the second floor and a block long. It could hold up to 4,000 people
  • The interior was painted pink and the walls were mirrored.Colored lights danced on the sprung layered wood floor and it had 2 bandstands (which allowed continuous music all night long)
  • The spacious basement checkrooms could serve up to 5,000 patrons with swift and efficient ease
  • Approximately 700,000 patrons visited the ballroom annually; and, consequently, the floor had to be completely replaced every three years
  • Nicknames included: “Home of the Happy Feet”, and “The Track” because of the elongated dance floor
  • Over 250 name and semi-name bands were featured at the Savoy. Bands like: Chick Webb, Fess Williams, Erskin Hawkins and Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans (who were just some of the house bands), Benny Goodman Orchestra, Count Basie and Duke Ellington (were some of the guest bands)
  • Lindy Hop made its appearance in the ballroom and became its staple dance until it closed it’s doors. Purportedly named after Charles Lindbergh’s solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927 it signifies the entire historical period known as the Swing Era
  • Herbert White, a.k.a. Whitey, an ex-boxer and bouncer at the Savoy, organized and cultivated a group of the best young Lindy Hoppers (and had them appear in theaters around the world as well as in films. They were called ‘Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers‘.
  • Lindy hop legend Frankie Manning noted that patrons were only judged on their dancing skills and not on the color of their skin
  • Part of the floor where the professional Lindy dancers ruled was on the 141st street side of the room and was then referred to as “the corner”. Only Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers could dance and work routines there. Dancers today know it as the “Cat’s Corner”.
  • It is estimated that the ballroom generated $250,000 in annual profit in its peak years from the late 1920’s to the 1940’s
  • “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, a 1934 Big Band classic song and jazz standard recorded by Chick Webb, was named after the ballroom
  • The Savoy closed permanently October, 1958 and was turned into a housing complex now called the “Savoy Park”.
  • Sources: Savoy Plague.org and Wikipedia

Images of the Ballroom:

Video Link

Savoy ballroom Harlem outside
Source: The Savoy King
The Savoy exterior vintage images harlem
Source: The Savoy King

savoy-ballroom 1930s 1940s vintage image

savoy-ballroom interior postcard
Source: Flemingsbond.com

The Famous Dance Floor.

Savoy-Ballroom harlem inside dance floor view
Source: The Savoy King

The Dancing

dancers at the savoy ballroom
Source: The Savoy King
dancing at the savoy ballroom 1940s harlem
Source: The Savoy King
dancers at the savoy ballroom 1930s 1940s vintage image
Source: The Savoy King

These photos were not taken at the Savoy but here is the famous Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers dancing somewhere in NYC in their jackets.

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers jackets nyc vintage image
Source: New York Public Library

The Advertisements

1930s-1940s-savoy-ballroom-flyers
Source: Dogpossum.org
chick webb savoy poster 1937
Source: The Savoy King
savoy-ballroom-starts-regular-season-new-york-amsterdam-news-wed-oct-1-1930
Source: Sharon Davis

 

Battle of the Big Bands (this was a regular feature at the Savoy)

Two of the most famous battles involved Chick Webb & The Benny Goodman Orchestra (May 11th, 1937) and Chick Webb vs Count Basie w/ Billie Holiday & Ella Fitzgerald (January 16th, 1938). Chick Webb won both times in the battles making him the ‘King of Swing’!

Savoy Goodman vs Webb

Video Link

Chick vs Basie the Breakdown:

Count Basie vrs Chic Webb at the Savoy Ballroom vintage poster

Battle of the Bands at the Savoy Ballroom Chick Webb vs Count Basie
Source: Swing Music.net

Truck on Down for a Battle of the Bands with not 2 but 4 Bands! Who will you pick?

Savoy Ballroom Battle of the Bands vintage poster
Source: Dogpossum.org

Super Cool Tidbit:

Did you know that in Ian Fleming’s James Bond book ‘Live and Let Die’, Bond visits Harlem and the Savoy?

By the time they left the restaurant it was ten-thirty and the Avenue was almost deserted. They took a cab to the Savoy Ballroom, had a Scotch-and-soda, and watched the dancers.
Most modern dances were invented here,’ said Leiter. ‘That’s how good it is. The Lindy Hop, Truckin’, the Susie Q, the Shag. All started on that floor. Every big American band you’ve ever heard of is proud that it once played here – Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Galloway, Noble Sissle, Fletcher Henderson. It’s the Mecca of jazz and jive.’
They had a table near the rail round the huge floor. Bond was spellbound. He found many of the girls very beautiful. The music hammered its way into his pulse until he almost forgot what he was there for (Source).

Before I close I will leave you with one more amazing short video about the Savoy (great interviews and images) and a photo of my husband and I recreating a famous Lindy Hop move in front of the plaque (this is tradition for all dancers).

Video Link

The Savoy Ballroom Harlem Plaque, NYC

I sure hope you enjoyed this visit to the Savoy Ballroom friends and don’t be afraid to visit again and spread the word about the greatest ballroom on the planet!

Liz

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The Women of Canada’s Heritage Minutes: 1900’s to the 1940’s

March 8th was International Women’s Day and in honour of this day Heritage Canada released it’s newest ‘Heritage Minute‘. The Heritage Minute is various pieces of Canadian history in an easy to digest 1 min or less video. These minutes (formally called ‘Historica Minutes: History by the Minute‘) have been part of the Canadian culture since 1991 and have been learning tools for students, adults and also subjects of many parodies.

Canada's Heritage Minutes

Their most recent video is about The Edmonton Grads (1915–40) a women’s championship basketball team coached by Percy Page. During their 25 years as a team, the Grads won an astounding 95 per cent of their matches. The Grads were national and world champions, often defeating their opponents by lopsided scores. The team won the Underwood International Trophy (USA–Canada) for 17 years straight (1923 to 1940), and was undefeated in 24 matches held in conjunction with the Olympic Summer Games in 1924, 1928 and 1936.

The edmonton grads womens basketball team
Source: Globe and Mail

For today’s post I wanted to showcase some of the women of Canadian history (like the Edmonton Grads) who have made their mark in various ways, focusing on the time periods from the 1900′ to the late 1940’s.

———–

Nursing Sisters: The minute commemorates the service and sacrifice of women on the front lines of the First World War through the retelling of a real event from May 1918. It is the story of two of the nearly 3000 trained nurses who served overseas.

Agnes MacPhail: .1935-Canada’s first female MP (members of Parliament) contributed to the reform of the Canadian penal system.

Mona Parsons: 1945- Mona Parsons is sentenced to a Nazi prison camp (but escapes execution) for helping downed Allied airmen escape.

Nellie McClung: 1916-The next video depicts Nellie McClung’s confrontation with Premier R.P. Roblin to win the right to vote for Manitoban women. She is noted for staging a ‘Mock parliament, attacking votes for men’.

Pauline Vanier: Is part of one of Canada’s most remarkable families who worked tirelessly to aid displaced persons and refugees during the Second World War (1939–1945).

Emily Murphy: 1929-Recounts how Murphy and a group of Canadian women secured the rights of women as persons throughout the Commonwealth.

The last Heritage Minute for today’s post, is Viola Desmond. She was an entrepreneur who challenged segregation in Nova Scotia in the 1940’s.

 

Friends, I hoped you enjoyed learning a little about some of these amazing women of Canada. I also hope this post encourages you to go out and learn more about the women of your own country and share their story. Knowledge is power!

If you want to watch more videos or listen to short radio programs on the other women I did not have time to post here, then please visit the Heritage Minutes Website.

Liz

Vintage Photo Tuesday: Family Vacations Part 2

The mass exodus for March Break has begun (or about to begin shortly). Families are packing up their kids and all their luggage and heading off to places like Florida, Mexico and California for a week (sometimes two). When I was a kid, my family was really big into downhill skiing so our March Break trips always involved a skiing destination like Alberta, Vermont or New York State. One year though my brother and I got lucky and my parents took us to a warm vacation spot…San Diego! I remember being so excited to not have to pack 60 layers of clothes for that trip. Ahhh the memories.

Speaking of memories, today’s Vintage Photo Tuesday is a continuation of a post I did last year on the same topic, exploring other people’s memories of their vacations, near and far (I found so many images that I just had to do a part 2). Lets Begin!

Vintage Red Border Kodachrome Slide, Sightseeing in DeSoto Wavecrest, Hawaii, 1950's Original Found Photo
Source: Etsy

Summer 1948. Leaving White River, Colorado.

White River National Forest 1948 Colorado Vacation B & W Photo Snapshot
Source: Etsy

“Entering”. The same family pictured above (now with their son), clearly on a “Forests of Colorado trip”.

Uncompahgre National Forest 1948 Colorado Vacation B & W Photo Snapshot
Source: Etsy

Mountain Lake Cabin Getaway (in an adorable deer sweater).

Vintage Photograph Print of Summer Holiday Woman at Mountain Lake Cabin late 1940s early 1950s
Source: Etsy

It’s not a Holiday if you don’t stay at The Holiday Inn (1960’s).

1960s vintage holiday inn family photo by the pool
Source: Etsy

The Phoenix Rises?

1950s vintage image of woman in front of a hotel
Source: Etsy

1950’s vacationing in Europe. Lots to see and lots of pictures to be taken.

1950s vacation photo of people in Europe vintage image Kodachrome
Source: Ebay

60’s Family Vacation Road Trip. Crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

60s Family Vacation Crossing Mackinac Bridge Original Photo
Source: Ebay

“I’ve arrived, it’s Fishing time!”.

Vintage 1940's photo of vintage trailer and car and man with fishing poles
Source: Ebay

I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a trip I try to always pick up a small souvenir to have a physical reminder of the place I was at. I even do this when I’m transferring thru airports in countries I have never been to (I was technically there, so why not remember it?).

Our couple below, looks like they are about to pickup a few tokens themselves, after they get a picture with the locked up pilgrim.

1950s vacation photos of a couple at a shop vintage
Source: Ebay

1930’s: Inspiration Point-Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is a must see for any traveler. I have only seen it from a plane, so one day I hope to get there and see it “up close”.

Inspiration Point, Grand Canyon 1930s vintage photo
Source: Ebay

Hawaii, a dream destination.

Vintage Red Border Kodachrome Slide..Hula Dancer, 1950's Original Found Photo
Source: Etsy

 

Gathering all these photos together for this week’s post has given me serious Wanderlust. I now want to hop on a plane or jump in my car and go somewhere fun.

Question time: If you could go ANYWHERE right now and cost was not an issue, where would you go? Share in the comments below.

P.S. If you live in Toronto and your looking for something to do this Saturday, I’m emceeing a ‘Nancy Drew Anthology book launch and reading‘. 3pm-5:30pm, FREE, lots of amazing guest readers (and other goodies) and it’s being held in Kensington Market. See you there!

Nancy Drew Anthology Book Launch

 

 

 

 

Vintage Travel To-Do-List: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

For Canada’s 150th Birthday this year,  I am devoting my ‘Vintage Travel To-Do-List‘ posts to cool places in Canada that you and I should visit.

Up first: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, located in Alberta’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

1920s Chateau Lake Louise Vinta
Source: Ebay

Historic Overview:

  • The lake in front of the hotel was originally called “Lake of Little Fishes” by the Stoney Indians who lived in the area. Then it because “The Emerald Lake” after a Canadian Pacific Railway employee who was introduced to it by the Stoney Indians. It would change names one last time, to Lake Louise in honor of Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.
  • 1890-Chalet Lake Louise. One story log cabin constructed on the shores of Lake Louise, it hosted visitors from different dining stations along the railway line as well as day visitors from its elegant sister, the Banff Springs Hotel.
  • While only 50 guests registered at the chalet in 1890, by 1912, 50,000 guests had already slept there.
  • 2 Fires and 4 architects later,  the small cabin dating back to 1911 would become the Chateau Lake Louise standing today.
  • 1900’s Professional Swiss Mountain Guides were brought in to safely guide guests to the summits. Between 1899 and 1954, generations of these Swiss mountaineers taught thousands of visitors and locals to climb and, later, to ski.
  • Early movies shot in Lake Louise include 1928 ”Eternal Love” starring John Barrymore, 1942 ”Springtime in the Rockies” with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda and 1944 ”Son of Lassie.”
  • Hundreds of stars have come here for filming or vacationing, including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Alfred Hitchcock, and Marilyn Monroe.
  • The Chateau has also welcomed dozens of royals including Prince Rainier of Monaco, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan.
  • Due to gas rationing and patriotism, Chateau Lake Louise was closed to the public during WWII (Source).

1909 Lake Louise Chalet (not yet the Chateau)

Lake Louise Chalet Vintage Image 1909
Source: Historic Hotel then and Now

June 1928, now a Chateau (as you can tell from the increase in size).

Chateau Lake Louise 1928 vintage image
Source: Library & Archives Canada

Swimming at Chateau Lake Louise in the 1930’s.

1930s swimming in the pool at Chateau Lake Louise
Source: Heroines.ca

Another view of the pool in the 30’s.

Outdoor swimming pool at the Chateau Lake Louise with swimmers 1930s vintage image
Source: Peel’s Prairie Provinces

Queen Elizabeth II paying a visit.

Queen Elizabeth the second at Chateau Lake Louise vintage image

1942 ”Springtime in the Rockies” with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda.

springtime-in-the-rockies-1942-dvd-betty-grable-carmen-miranda-996-p

INTERIOR: Dining room 1930’s.

vintage image of the dining room of the chateau lake louise
Source: Peel’s Prairie Provinces

Ladies lunching in the Lakeview Lounge, circa 1930’s. Wow what a view!

1930s vintage image of Chateau Lake Louise
Source: Historic Hotel then and Now

Tea Time-1935.

1935 tea time chateau lake louise
Source: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Chateau Today-The Magnificent Grand Lobby.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise grand lobby other view
Source: Redtag.ca

My favorite room-The Victoria Ballroom.

Chateau Lake Louise Ballroom
Source: Design Locations

Lakeview Lounge. An updated version of the room seen in the vintage images above.

lakeview lounge chateau lake louise
Source: Pinterest
chateau lake louise lakeview lounge
Source: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Walliser Stube

chateau lake louise interior Walliser Stube
Source: Redtag.ca
CPR-Vintage-Banff-Image-Poster
Source: Where.ca

 

And that my friends is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. I hope you enjoyed our little online visit of this magnificent hotel and will consider adding it to your own ‘Vintage Travel To-Do-List. I know it’s on the top of mine!

Liz