Category: vintage History

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

.

 

 

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

Who is Dawn Hampton? 15 Awesome Facts about Dawn

This Weekend in NYC I am attending a celebration of life for one of the most amazing woman I have ever met, Dawn Hampton (she passed away Sept 25th, 2016). She was an awe-inspiring woman who achieved so much in her life and what she gave to the Lindy Hop world alone will never ever be forgotten.

It is also Black History month, so I think it’s important that the planet (or at least my readers) learn a bit more about the unforgettable Dawn and her accomplishments.

Dawn Hampton

Before we begin, please note that today’s post is a Repost from Toronto Lindy Hop which originally posted Aug 12, 2015 (over a year before Dawn passed away) and written by yours truly.

Dawn Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Dawn was born in 1928, in Middletown Ohio and was one of 12 children in her family.

2. Her father Clark Deacon Hampton, Sr., had a family band and vaudeville act, which was part of a traveling carnival. Dawn grew up listening to the music of the family band, ‘Deacon Hampton’s Pickaninnys’.

Deacon Hampton's Pickaninnys

3. Dawn began performing at the age of 3 and two years later sang “He Takes Me to Paradise” (Source).

4. When she was very young, she wanted to be a ballet dancer then she found out that ballet does not swing (source).

5. In the mid 1950s Dawn and her sisters became the ‘Hampton Sisters’ after several of their brothers went off to study music. They had a very long career together.

Hampton-Sisters
Hampton Sisters (left)-Carmelita, Dawn, Altera, Virtue

6. 1958 Dawn joined the cast of the Off-Broadway hit show, “Greenwich Village, U.S.A.”. The show ran for a year at New York’s legendary ‘The Bon Soir’. An original cast album of the show features several solo tracks by Dawn.

Dawn Hampton
Source: Richard Skipper

7. During the early 60’s, Dawn worked as the house singer at the ‘Lion’s Den’. The Lion’s Den was also the scene of a singer’s talent competition. Barbara Streisand relates in a Vanity Fair interview that one of her first times singing on stage was at one of these competitions. She tells how she was a little unnerved, because she came on stage after Dawn, “and the lusty applause for Dawn Hampton [was] ringing in my ears.”

8. Surgery in 1964 to her vocal cords saw Dawn lose most of her vocal range BUT she never lost her eagerness or ability to perform and her optimistic spirit.

9. Dawn spent much of the next 20 years performing  as a cabaret singer in clubs around New York City. Reviewers called her a “singer’s singer” and dubbed her the “Queen of Cabaret”.

Dawn Hampton Cabaret Performer

10. Dawn is talented in writing music and lyrics: In 1989 Dawn collaborated with pianist/performer Mark Nadler, writing music and lyrics for the honky-tonk mini-opera ‘Red Light’ which was given the Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC) Award in 1990. Dawn and Mark also collaborated on ‘An Evening with Dawn Hampton’, which enjoyed an extended run at ‘Don’t Tell Mama’.

Dawn also wrote the music and lyrics for the play “Madame C. J. Walker” (Madame (1867-1919) was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Eulogized as the first female self-made millionaire in America).

Lastly, she would find time to write a book with her niece, entitled ‘Two Penny Soap Opera’.

Deacon Hampton's Pickaninnys
Source: Richard Skipper

11. 1992-Dawn appeared with Frankie Manning in the Movie ‘Malcom X’.

12.  In the late 90s and into the early 00s, Hampton took advantage of the craze for swing dance by bringing to the scene her smooth style and theatrical presence that has brought her international acclaim. She has never stopped since those early days.

Dawn Hampton and frankie Manning
Dawn Hampton with Frankie Manning (June 2007) by photographer Eli Pritykin.
Dawn Hampton
Dawn Hampton, Ryan Francois, John Dokes – Splanky at Frankie’s Centennial Savoy Ball 2014 – Photo by Jane Kratchovil

13. Dawn lives in NYC and can be found in New York City dancing and listening to some of the best swing bands around.

14. Dawn and her family are in a documentary called ‘The Unforgettable Hampton Family’ that aired in 2011 (click on image to watch doc).

The Unforgettable Hampton Family
Source: Culture Unplugged

15. Dawn has been known to answer her phone saying “God Is Good. The Light Is On!” (source).

Dawn Hampton
Source: Advanced Style Blog Post

In Conclusion: 

Watching Dawn dance heightens the experience of merely listening to jazz and reunites the relationship between music and movement. In Dawn’s own words, “The light IS on!”

Check out Dawn’s talk at TLH Sunday of TOWLHD, as well as watch her dance dance dance 🙂

Lastly, here is my husband and I with Dawn during her visit to Toronto in 2015.

Dawn Hampton Toronto Lindy Hop

Hope you enjoyed learning about Dawn and her life. If you are interested in watching the celebrations this Saturday, they will be livestreamed HERE

Liz

The 1940’s Celebrity Vintage Ads of Royal Crown Cola

Did you know…..Royal Crown Cola (Created in 1909) used to be one of the most innovative companies in the beverage industry? It came out with the first canned soda, the first caffeine-free soda, and the first 16-ounce soda. It was the first to take diet cola mainstream, and the first to stage nationwide taste tests (Source).

royal crown cola vintage bottle

BUT due to lack of strong marketing skills (compared to Coke and Pepsi) and a diet cola ingredient controversy in the 60’s, RC has remained a strong but forever back burner cola to the big names.

RC Cola Vintage Taste Test Sign

Today’s post is going to feature some of the 1940’s advertising that RC Cola created when it decided to invest money into print and television ads, hiring stars like Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford and Shirley Temple, to state “You Bet RC Tastes Best!”.

RC Cola Tastes Best

RC Cola must have paid a pretty penny to have Betty Grable in their ad. At this time, Betty’s famous “Pin-up” image was in every soldiers hands, launching her into super stardom.

Betty Grable RC Cola vintage 1940s ad

Anne Baxter (lets take a moment to admire her hair and dress in this ad…wow!).

Anne Baxter RC Cola 1940s vintage ad

The Little Rascals-1941

little rascals rc cola vintage ad 1940s

Gene Tierney-1945

RC Cola GENE TIERNEY vintage ad 1945
Source: Flickr

If the “Duke” aka John Wayne loves RC Cola, then we all better love RC Cola!

John wayne vintage RC Cola 1940s ad

This same goes for when Gary Cooper says drink the cola.

Gary Cooper RC Cola 1940s vintage ad

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth RC Cola vintage ad 1940s

Good old Bing Crosby and his horse, love Royal Crown Cola.

Bing Crosby RC Cola vintage 1940s ad
Source: Flickr

Hot Lips Page probably drinks an RC Cola before every show!

Hot lips Page RC Cola Vintage ad

Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard for Royal Crown Cola (1945)

Even Skating Champs like Sonja Henie love the taste.

Vintage RC Cola Ad 1944 Sonja Henie

And that my friends is the end of today’s sampling of images because this post could go on and on for days (they used a lot of celebrities during this time period). For my last request, I will encourage you to read this super interesting post on the History of RC Cola by Metal Flosses, HERE (it’s very informative).

Question Time: Have you tried RC Cola? Do you love it? Is it truly better than the big names as many people state? I don’t know if we can get it in Canada but I’m going to take a look.

Thanks for stopping by!

Liz

My favorite Vintage Online Reads & Videos for January 2017

Another month is zipping on by like it was almost never here, can you believe it? I have had a fairly quiet month, beside my yearly Vegas Trip for German Karneval (Mardi Gras), I have stayed pretty close to home. This means I have had lots of time to do some reading and some YouTube watching. Today’s post is a highlight of some of the vintage goodies I have enjoyed this month.

breakfast in bed vintage image

Today’s post features:

  • Women pilots making their mark in history
  • Badass animals of WWII
  • Stories of a shop girl
  • Fiestaware
  • Room to Room Guide to Vintage Shabby Chic
  • Rare photos from the birth of the ‘New Look’
  • Miss Toronto Pageant 1938 & 39
  • Mary Tyler Moore Bloopers

Grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy.

1. Bessie Colman and the Women Pilots History Shouldn’t Forget by CNN

Bessie Coleman 1920s vintage photo

Thursday’s Google Doodle was of a woman, named Bessie Coleman. Bessie was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot license. She was also the first American woman to hold an international pilot license. Wow this is truly fantastic!

I have had never heard of Bessie but she will forever be on my mental mantle of awesomeness, right up there with the other women mentioned in the above article.

Bessie Coleman birthday google doodle

2. The 26 Most Badass Animals from WWII by Buzzfeed

vintage image of dog with canadian soldiers ww2

3. There is a Twitter page called ‘Diary Dear‘ that tells the tales of a shop girl living in Toronto, starting in 1938. They tweet a page from her diary every day and so far what I have read has been fascinating for the vintage lover like myself. I will be interested to see if they get far enough into her diary where she begins to mention WW2, and what it is like in Toronto at that time.

diary dear vintage diaries of a shop girl living in toronto

4. The ingenious story of how Fiestaware invaded the baby boomer kitchen by Stephanie Buck

fiestaware dishes

5. Need ideas on how to give your home a bit of that Vintage Shabby Chick look? Then this Room by Room Guide to Vintage Chic by Laura Preston, inspired by the Rosebery Hotel is perfect for you!

room by room guide to vintage chic

6. LIFE with Dior: Rare photos from the birth of the ‘New Look

Designer Christian Dior in his Paris salon, 1948
Source: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

7. “Toronto, the city with the most beautiful girls”. Miss Toronto Pageant 1938 and 1939 (LOVE THIS!)

8. Sadly we lost the wonderful Mary Tyler Moore this week, but I think one of the best ways to remember her, is thru laughter. Enjoy!

marytylermoorequote

Have a great weekend Friends!

Liz

 

Remembrance Day-Roundup of Interesting Canadian WW2 Posts

Today is Remembrance Day and I will be spending it acknowledging the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country. As for my blog today I wanted to supply you with a roundup of posts done about Canadian’s/Canada specifically during WW2.

Canada Poppy

Starting off, please head over to my friend Elinors Blog ‘Wartime Wednesday‘. I have mentioned her before on this blog (several times to be exact) because it’s a wonderful piece of Canadian History (and beyond) that needs to be read by everyone! All month she has been sharing blog posts on her Facebook (and other social media channels) on stories from her new book ‘My Favorite Veterans’ and they are fascinating. Please take the time to read some of them today.

wartime-wednesday Elinor Florence

2. Another friend Jessica from Chronically Vintage wrote a marvelous blog post on the ‘Canadian Ration Book of WW2‘. It’s a interesting read on how Canadians handled rationing.

Canadian WW2 Ration Book

Side Note: Jessica and her husband suffered a devastating loss recently as a fire swept thru their home due to arson and destroyed everything. If you can help with anything please visit Jessica’s Blog post about this loss and donate whatever you can (I have). Thank you so very much.

3. Victory Gardens. “We urge every citizen to endeavour to grow more vegetables in order to make an appreciable difference in the situation that confronts us,”– Emily Schofield and Elizabeth MacKenzie

victory-gardens-canada

I personally have written various posts on Canada during WW2. Here are a few of them:

4. Tale of the Canadian Army Show. This idea behind the show was to entertain troops, promote recruitment by enhancing the army’s image, to increase the sale of war bonds, and to bolster civilian morale.

Canadian Army Show

5. The Canadian ‘Rosie the Riveter’-Veronica Foster.

veronicafoster-ronniebrengungirl-smoke

6. ‘WW2 Air Force Uniforms for Canadian Women‘.

5-wds-on-parade

This blog post is very special today, not just for the content (provided by Elinor Florence) but because of the below comment I recently received from Marie:

I served in the RCAF Womens’ Division during 1942-46 stationed in Ottawa at Princess Alice’s Barracks. I am now 92 yrs old and remember those years with much fondness. I just recently had my greatcoat cleaned and pressed and donated it to the Legion in Aurora, Ont. My family still enjoy my tales of my time as a WD.I am grateful that I was able to serve Canada during that stressful time.

Isn’t that comment incredible? I’m so glad that Marie reached out to share this with myself and my readers. Thank you for your service.

And with that comment, I’m going to end this blog post today so that I can go off and reflect.

Thanks for stopping by friends!

Liz

Vintage Photo Tuesday: Canadian Women on the Home Front during WWII

vintage-photo-tuesday canadian women during ww2

This Friday is Remembrance Day, so for this week’s blog posts I am going to focus on Canada during WWII. That means today’s Vintage Photo Tuesday are images of Canadian Women on the Home Front, doing their part for their Country.

canadian-ww2-propaganda-poster-conserving-food
War production and savings poster regarding a variety of goods for reuse or repurposing as war supplies, 1940 – 1941 Source: Collections Canada

1943-Time to punch in and begin your service for Canada.

1940s-vintage-womans-style-canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada

January 1943-Mrs. Mackay using a Riveting gun at a shipyard in Pictou, Nova Scotia.

ww2-canadian-woman-working-for-the-war-effort-vintage-photo
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Defense workers on the line.

defense-workers-on-the-line-ww2-canadian-image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Not all women during WWII were working on items for overseas, there was regular upkeep needed of items already made in Canada. Like the train pictured below.

canadian-women-during-ww2-working-vintage-photo
Source: Library and Archives Canada
Female worker Margot Bourassa shellacs the body of a fuse in the breakdown room of the Cherrier plant (Montreal) of the Defense Industries Limited.
canada-1940s-bomb-girls-vintage-photo
Source: Collections Canada

At the same plant mentioned above a woman sews cordite bags. On a vintage hair note, check out that style. Wow!

1940s-vintage-image-of-woman-working-at-factory-canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada

It was important in some factories that the workers minds did not go idle, so music was played to help combat this. The below picture is of 2 women workers selecting the music to be played from their central control room at a Montreal factory.

1940s-canadian-women-working-in-a-factory-vintage-image
Source: Collections Canada

Female munitions worker Françoise Corbeil turns out parts while listening to the piped music in her factory.

1940s-canadian-woman-at-work-in-a-factory
Source: Collections Canada

Break Time! Group of female workers enjoying a break from their work at a munitions plant.

vintage-image-of-1940s-canadian-woman-taking-a-break-at-a-factory
Source: Collections Canada

Testing lenses, at the Instruments Division of the Canadian Arsenals Ltd. optical plant. On another vintage hair note, nice to see hair that looks like mine when I style it (not perfect!).

vintage-hair-1940s-canadian-woman-working
Source: Collections Canada

The Perry Sisters, employed at the Dominion Arsenals Ltd. plant, armed with rake, watering can and pitchfork, help look after the vegetable garden where they are working (looking mighty cute I might add).

1940s-canadian-women-gardening-vintage-image
Source: Collections Canada

1943-Women of the Aluminum Co. wait in line to get an autograph from famous Canadian fighter pilot ‘George “Buzz” Beurling‘. Helen Fowler is the lucky lady first in line.

buz-beurling-canadian-pilot-world-war-2-vintage-photo
Source: Library and Archives Canada

After a hard day in the factory there is nothing better than catching a few rays with friends. French-Canadian women at Dominion Arsenals (Personal Note: I adore this image).

1940s-vintage-image-of-women-in-swimsuits-and-summer-clothes-canada
Source: Collections Canada

Hope you enjoyed the images of our hard-working Canadian ladies of the 1940’s. Thank you for your service!

Liz

(Blog Post Main Header Image Source)

A Peak Into My Vintage Collection- Early 1950s Nancy Drew Books

Growing up I was a huge book reader, I read anything I could get my hands on, but one of my favorite series was Nancy Drew. Her super girl sleuth style and cool friends like George the tomboy, Bess and Ned her boyfriend had me coming back for more, time and time again. I think I must have read every book written from the 1930s-60s and to this day are part of my fond memories of my childhood.

Vintage Nancy Drew Covers

So it was with delight and excitement that when I saw a collection of 1950s Nancy Drew books for sale on Ebay several years ago, I knew I had to buy them right then and there (especially since my books from my childhood were long passed on to others to enjoy).

Today’s post will show off my books, as well as supply you with a bit of history and other vintage goodies on the Super Sleuth herself…Nancy Drew.

Brief History of Nancy Drew Books:

Nancy Drew is a fictional American character in a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer (who also created the Hardy Boys Series). Stratemeyer believed that a woman’s place was in the home, but he was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls’ interest in mysteries by offering a strong female heroine.

The character first appeared in 1930 and was an immediate success. The 6,000 copies that Macy’s ordered for the 1933 Christmas season sold out within days. In 1934 Fortune Magazine featured the Syndicate in a cover story and singled Nancy Drew out for particular attention: “Nancy is the greatest phenomenon among all the fifty-centers. She is a best seller. How she crashed a Valhalla that had been rigidly restricted to the male of her species is a mystery even to her publishers.”

The character of Nancy Drew has gone through many permutations over the years. Despite revisions, “What hasn’t changed, however, are [Nancy’s] basic values, her goals, her humility, and her magical gift for having at least nine lives. For more than six decades, her essence has remained intact.”

The books are ghostwritten by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. They have sold over 80 million copies in 25 different languages (Source).

My Collection:

Early 1950s Vintage Nancy Drew Book Covers with 1940s Style Binding (1950-53)

950s-vintage-nancy-drew-books-covers

About the Binding:

The 1940s Style binding is one of the earliest types of Nancy Drew library editions.  The front covers of most books have a line drawing based on the original Russell Tandy dust jacket art from the 1930s.  The overall style matches that of the 1946 regular editions that have the solid blue cover, large blue silhouette, and the dark blue lettering. These books were bound as early as 1950 and as late as 1953. This particular library binding is unquestionably the scarcest and most difficult to acquire of the Nancy Drew library editions (Source).

Front cover of the books:

Front Cover of Nancy Drew 1950s Books

Inside cover of all the books:

inside 1950s Nancy Drew Book

Inside image.

1950s Nancy Drew inside image

Another inside image.

1950s Nancy Drew inside image

Now that you have seen my collection lets check out some other examples of early years Nancy Drew Covers (1930s-50s):

1930s

1930s-vintage-nancy-drew
Source: Series Books
1930s-nancy-drew-vintage-cover
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth

1940s

1940s-nancy-drew-book
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth
1940s-nancy-drew-vintage-cover
Source: Nancy Drew Sleuth

1950s

Nancy Drew The Ringmasters Secret 1950s

nancy-drew-vintage-book-cover
Source: Series Books
haunted-showboat-nancy-drew-book
Source: Series Books

Nancy Drew in the Movies:

1938-1939 Four Nancy Drew Movies were created, starring Bonita Granville as Nancy and Frankie Thomas as Ted (not Ned! What?!).

1930s Nancy Drew Movies
Source: NY Times

And in the 1970s there was television series starring Pamela Sue Martin (also featuring the Hardy Boys). Then the last movie version was in 2007 with Emma Roberts as Nancy.  It seems from lack of onscreen exposure that Nancy is not too popular in Hollywood.

nancy-drew-emma-roberts-movie
Source: Wikipedia

The Vintage Inn Final thoughts:

Nancy Drew is an iconic fictional character that will never fade into history. She may go thru more changes on her looks and her who she is as a character (don’t we all) but in the end, she will always be the teenage girl with an eye for super sleuthing and adventure. The stories I fell in love with as a kid (and still love today).

For more reading on Nancy Drew history (and many other cool items and topics) please check out the fantastic website ‘Nancy Drew Sleuth‘.

Question time: Are you a Nancy Drew fan? Or were you a fan of other series of books? If so please share.

Liz 🙂

‘Lets Dance’-Port Dover Summer Garden Dance Hall

There is a little town 2 hours SW of Toronto called Port Dover, known for their famous ‘Friday the 13th’ Biker get together. However between 1921 and 1979 Port Dover had a Dance Hall that people made the trek to Dover every summer for….Summer Garden was its name.

Today’s post is for the Blog Series I started in 2013 from a book I read called “Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions” by Peter Young.

Port Dover Summer Garden 1920s

Summer Garden was actually 3 halls overs the years. The first one was built-in 1921 by Ben Ivey and named by his mother (the opening night band was a 12-piece singing syncopated group from Detroit-Charles Cody). Erected on series of wooden supports which had been sunk many feet into the sand below the water (as seen in above image), it was unfortunately demolished by a huge storm (the storm took out its legs) in the winter of 1929 (source).

Ellen and Fred on beach, Port Dover August, 1923
I wish the below image was able to be larger, as it shows a lovely couple ‘Ellen and Fred on beach in Port Dover 1923 with the First Summer Garden in the background. Source: Archives of Ontario

Summer Garden # 2 opened for business by Ben again in May 1929 (Featuring Emerson Gill on opening night) and was wisely located further up the beach. Built in 19 days by volunteers it lasted 3 years before it was burnt to the ground while the townspeople stood by and cried (source).

Summer Gardens 2 Port Dover

Here is a song by Emerson Gill I imagine was played on opening night.


Not letting any of this get Ben down he stood tall and erected Summer Garden # 3, on May 24th 1932.

Summer Gardens 3 Port Dover

In 1936 Ben passed the management torch to his son Don, who would go onto become somewhat of celebrity to those who visited the Garden. He was known for managing the ballroom with Ivey League class — wearing a white suit and ever-present red rose and everyone called him ‘Pop’ (source).

Don Ivey Summer Gardens Port Dover
Source: Lets Dance by Peter Young

With high energy and an octagonal dance floor, it was the place to go to get down. If you couldn’t afford the cover charge, the walls of the dance hall were so thin, you could stand on the beach and take in the concert (source).

A favorite of Servicemen during WW2 stationed at nearby flying schools, dancers travelled far and wide for a day at the beach and night of dancing. Bands in the 40s included Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa.

Port Dover Summer Gardens Big Band Poster
Source: Lets Dance by Peter Young

There is a great quote in Peter Young’s book from Margo Kerber who went to Gardens during the 1940s.

“We’d take the trolley in Galt for a weekend in Port Dover and the Friday and Saturday night dances. You couldn’t wait to get back the next weekend. One of my friends is happily married to the boy she met then in Dover”.

Dance of the Roses

The Famous ‘Dance of the Roses’ was a dance that became Don’s baby and the highlight of the summer dance season. With the walls covered in roses and the best big bands playing the night, it was the Biggest Dance Affair in Port Dover.

1950s and on, saw bands like Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks, Guess Who and Lighthouse play the venue, all who speak with great fondness of the venue.

With high energy and an octagonal dance floor, it was the place to go to get down. If you couldn't afford the cover charge, the walls of the dance hall were so thin, you could stand on the beach and take in the concert (source).
Note: Don Ivey is to the Left in this picture in the White. Source: oocities.org

1969-1972 Summer gardens

Summer Garden Guy Lombardo and Lighthouse - Port Dove
Source: PBase

January 8th, 1979 the fun ended as the Summer Gardens was torched by an arsonist and once again burnt to the ground. It was sadly never rebuilt and now is a summer garden picnic area where families enjoy ice cream and picnics.

Summer Garden Farewell

The night is chill, the ballroom deserted
The sound of dancing feet is gone
The sound of music has faded away
There is no sound of voices, they have disappeared
There is no laughter
Farewell, dear old lady Summer Garden.
There are tears I cannot hide, so I smile and say as the flames die
Smoke gets in my eyes…

– Don Ivey, January 9, 1979. (Source)

I recently visited Port Dover for the first time and while I could not find this picnic area personally (I don’t think I looked hard enough), I did take the picture below and day dreamed that this was the view that many dancers saw while taking in summer air, after a night dancing to some of the biggest bands in the world.

Port Dover

Other ‘Lets Dance’ Posts: Kenwick on the Lake, CNE Tent, Palace Pier

Liz 🙂

Vintage Travel To Do List: Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

I have started a collection of “Vintage Travel Destinations/Locations” that I would like to visit at some point in my life, over on Pinterest. This collection is slowly growing but one of those places is the ‘Grand Hotel’ on Mackinac Island, Michigan (US), seen above. It’s right out of something from the Great Gatsby and has a history that goes back to 1887.

For today’s post I’m just going to share some of the history with you, stunning images and a cool tidbit about a certain famous female swimmer from the 1940s.

Vintage Mid-Century Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Brochure
Source: Pinterest

Brief Overview of the History of the Hotel: The Grand Hotel has a marvelous page filled with a much more detailed history on the Hotel (then what I will supply you) which you can read HERE.

July 10th, 1887: Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. It took only 93 days to complete and rates are $3 to $5 a night.

1890’s: Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – longest in the world (880 feet in length)—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.

Turn of the Century: The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s (there are still no automobiles allowed to this day on the Island).

1919: Hotel rates are $6 per person.

1935: A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.

1957: Michigan Historical Association selects Grand Hotel as a State Historical Building.

1980: Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, is released (there are events at the hotel celebrating this very popular romantic movie. The next one is in October).

1989: The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.

There are also 5 suites in the hotel named in honour of former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush.

Five U.S. Presidents — Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman — have visited Grand Hotel.

Images of the Grand Hotel:

Grand Hotel and Golf Course, Mackinac Island, circa 1915.
Source: New York Social Diary

 

Grand Hotel Menu 1890 Mackinac Island
Source: Wikipedia

Postcard showcasing the famous porch from Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Vintage Postcard
Source: Pinterest
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

Interior of the Grand Hotel (it’s Fancy!):

The Dining Room

The dining room at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Source: Joeybls Photography

Sadies Ice Cream Parlor

Sadies Ice Cream Parlor Grand hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Grand Hotel

Woods Restaurant

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

The Lobby

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

Entrance to the grand ballroom…oh my…..

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Joe Braun Photography

Some of the Hotel Rooms & Suites:

Grand Hotel Mackinac Islands Rooms
Source: Historic Hotels

Since the only vehicles allowed on the Island are emergency vehicles and in winter snowmobiles, the only way to reach the dock from the hotel is via horse-drawn Carriage.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island carriage
Source: Wikipedia

Now which famous swimmer from the 1940s & 50s has a tie to the hotel? That is…

Esther Williams in This Time For Keeps’, 1947:

On site there is a pool called the Esther Williams Swimming Pool (5000 gallons) . It was named this because she filmed the movie ‘This Time for Keeps’ with Jimmy Durante at this hotel.

Full image of the scale of this massive pool.

Esther Williams Swimming Pool Grand Hotel
Source: Style blue print

Visiting:

The hotel is only open between May & October, so if you would like to book just head to their website and begin the fun. And please take loads of photos!

Dear friends, would you visit the Grand Hotel? Or maybe you have? If so please tell me all about it.

Liz 🙂

P.S. Stay tuned for more “Vintage To-Do List” as this is a new series I’m starting.