Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: music

You Need a Victrola Right Now


And if someone you know is an early adopter and already has a Victrola, why not give them some random recordings for Christmas?

oh, the round kind, my favorite


Friday, November 1, 1912

“There was an exciting hairpulling, lasting at least five minutes, in front of Knowlton & Bennett’s drug store, shortly after 4 o’clock, Thursday afternoon. In this case, hairpulling is no figure of speech, for the three women involved, Mrs. Ethel Boley, Mrs. Bessie Slade and Mrs. Hazel Turner, made the rats and Marseille waves fly. The scrap has the same effect on the tonsorialists as a dog fight and the crowd that gathered around the combatants was liberally sprinkled with white coats from shops near and far.”

Charles Conway, a one-legged professional high diver, was arrested in Lima, Ohio, along with his wife. They were wanted in connection with the Chicago murder of Miss Sophia Singer, a Baltimore heiress. Conway admitted he knew he was wanted but denied any connection with the crime; his wife became hysterical. They had two suits of clothes, which they admit are the property of the murdered woman’s lover, in a trunk at their hotel room.

Speaking of murder, a man in Moline, angered when his ability as a musician was belittled, killed his life-long friend with a chair.

Saving Up Coupons for Mother

Here is a comic song performed by Nat M. Wills in 1909. If you like it, you can download the MP3 at the Free Music Archive. (You can download it even if you don’t like it, but what would be the point?)

Friday, October 4, 1912

The Courier-Herald has published an extensive list of Mr. Roosevelt’s planks, along with evidence that Congress has already enacted them.

The well-known local violinist Sol Cohen has contributed an article about Sousa’s appearance last night at the Illinois theater. He calls Sousa’s band “probably the best of its kind in the world.”

Monday, September 30, 1912

Two men claim to have seen a biplane fly over Urbana at ten o’clock this morning! “There is considerable speculation over the event as coming of the stranger of the air was not heralded.”

The sorority rushing season closed on Saturday “amid bedlam on John street. A burlesque band of students paraded in derision, while whirling autos driven by co-eds, carried pledges from their rooms to the sorority houses. There was plenty of excitement for two hours.”

John Philip Sousa, who will be here on Thursday, loves trap shooting. “Although he is an excellent shot, it is said he misses clay pigeons oftener than he allows a member of his band to play a false note.”

On Friday and Saturday at the state fair, Madame Somebody-or-Other from Cuba will drive her automobile down a 75-foot incline and turn a triple somersault! (I cannot make out her actual name, because there is a spot of jam over it. Strawberry, I believe.)

Illinois Socialists filed their list of presidential electors and University of Illinois trustees with the secretary of state; all of the trustee candidates are women of Chicago. And finally, the champion corn husker of Illinois sued another man for $20,000, charging “alienation of his wife’s affections.”

Saturday, September 28, 1912

Here is the only local news that I found interesting today:

[On the back of this photograph is written “Illinois Theatre behind Flat Iron Building.” The photograph is from the website of the Champaign County Genealogical Society; go and check out their other historical photos, courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives. —Ed.]

Police say that a man who suicided in Pittsburgh was a member of a band of anarchists who meet each Sunday at a cobbler’s shop. He was, they say, assigned to kill President Taft, but he lost his nerve and threw himself in front of a train.

Before There Was Television

This ad appeared in the Courier-Herald on September 28, 1912.

Eva Tanguay, Queen of Vaudeville

I’ve just heard a wonderful radio program about Eva Tanguay, who was a sort of rock star before there was rock music. The show is an interview with Andrew Erdman, who recently published a biography of the diva. Highlights include a horribly scratchy 1922 recording of her voice, singer Bree Benton “channeling her inner Eva Tanguay” on a few songs, and finding out how Eva once jabbed John Philip Sousa in the buttocks with a large hatpin.

“Eva Tanguay: The Queen of Vaudeville” on Soundcheck (WNYC, stream-on-demand)
Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay (official book site, includes a sample chapter)

Monday, September 9, 1912

Today was the first day of school in Urbana. That horrid Nellie person was in my class, and I don’t want to say any more about that. On to the paper!

A local woman, Mrs. Mary Frame, explains that she did not attempt suicide. She drank ice water and was seized with cramps, so she took a spoonful of laudanum. She claims she was “overcome by the heat and the effects of the ice water rather than by the drug.”

Whoever set the type for this article about an Urbana man getting a contract with a big orchestra must have been overcome with excitement, because part of the headline reads, “WILL PLAY FIRST VIOLIN WITH CINCINCINATTI SYMPHONY.” (Maybe he considers Cincinnati particularly sinful?) In any case, the orchestra’s board of directors includes President Taft’s wife, so it is particularly prestigious. Mr. Sol Cohen the violinist abandoned his plans for individual concert work because the New York managers wanted “from $3,000 to $5,000 to book him and from 5 to 10 per cent of his earnings. Mr. Cohen learned that, no matter how skilled an artist, they bleed him to the finish as long as he remains in their hands.”

I don’t really understand what is going on at the Mexican border, but apparently the situation is very grave, and senators have charged that President Taft might send the army into Mexico, make himself a “war president,” and “rely upon that to bring victory to himself and the Republican party in November.” The president declared that it would be “hard to conceive of a president who would use his office to throw the country into a way that experts have predicted could not end in less than two years, that would cost millions, that would mean the sacrifice of thousands of lives and ruin for years to come the basis of the nation’s friendship with the Central and South American republics.”

And even farther away from both my town and my understanding, rebels have taken over Yunan, a walled city of 100,000 inhabitants. The governor general was driven out by the town’s own army. “Yunan province is one of the most prosperous districts of China,” the article says, “inhabited by an intelligent class of people.”