Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walt Whitman: A Face Always Toward The Sunshine

Today is the birthday of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), a free spirit easy acknowledged as the most extraordinary poet in our history. His life bridged the American experience from the early Romantic period in literature to the advent of hard realism as the end of the century approached.  I'm not sure what presence he has these days in the public school systems across the country but the baby boomers - born  between 1946 and 1964 - had a full dose of his poetry beginning in elementary school. For more information on Whitman, including an extensive biography, visit the outstanding resources at the Walt Whitman Archive.

File:Walt Whitman - George Collins Cox.jpg
Whitman in 1887

I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, 
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Much of Whitman's poetry has been set to music. Sometimes the blend of music and existing poetry has limited success and authors often do no think favorably of such adaptations. I think Whitman would have approved especially with the music coming from fellow a impressionist, in this case Frederick Delius. This composition has been a personal favorite for forty years.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photo, George Collins Cox, restored by Adam Cuerden, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

poem, www.poets.org

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - From Sea To Shining Sea

This day begins like any other but it is unlike any other. It is Memorial Day, a day when we honor men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice in service to their country. Although both its date and scope have changed over time, its central meaning remains strong. At virtually every crossroad town across this country there will be old soldiers, flags, a speech or two, and prayers. These events will take place at memorial walls bearing the names of the honored dead. Invariably, the audiences will be small, but firmly dedicated to the idea that the nation will always remember the cost of freedom.

They gave their lives that we might live out our own in an experiment of community called the United States. Take some moments today and reflect on what these heroes have given you and your family. From sea to shining sea let us experience this day to its fullest; that is, with remembrance, thanks, and celebration. 

Benny Goodman: The King Of Swing

Today we recognize the birthday on May 30, 1909, of clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman.

A candid photo of the King of Swing taken about 1970

In 1935, Goodman's orchestra performed regularly on an NBC Radio program entitled, "Let's Dance." It was broadcast live across the country. Young people in the East were fast asleep when his orchestra hit the airways, but it was perfect timing for the West Coast. A strike ended the broadcasts after a few months and the band decided on a coast to coast tour. In the interior states, the tour was a disaster because people didn't care for "upbeat" jazz arranged for orchestra. The band was looking forward to the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles as the last stop and an end to the pain. When they arrived, thousands of young fans who had heard them on the radio were waiting to hear them in person. What was to be a welcome end to a disastrous tour turned into the beginning of the Swing Era.

Eighteen months later on January 16, 1938, the now famous Goodman Orchestra presented a jazz review in Carnegie Hall. Music historians generally regard this legendary performance as the most important concert in the history of jazz and popular music. After the performance jazz was quickly accepted as mainstream American music.

The concert closed with Sing, Sing Sing featuring Gene Krupa on drums, Harry James, Ziggy Elman and Chris Griffin on trumpet and Jess Stacy's celebrated response to Goodman's nod for an unexpected piano solo. I think this performance alone would have changed the world of music. 


Photos and Illustrations:

public domain photo, author unknown, ebay.com

Benny Goodman entry, wikipedia.org

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Feast Of The Visitation

File:DARET Jacques Visitation.jpg
Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St. Vaast Alterpiece)       Jaques Daret, Netherlands/Belgium, 1434-35

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation. This minor festival was adopted in 1389 as a day to remember and commemorate the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth and Elizabeth's joy at the coming of "the mother of my Lord." Elizabeth shares her joy and proclaims the reason for her happiness. It is not that she is with child; rather, it is that Mary is with "the Child." She bears the Savior of the world. So, too, we rejoice, for our salvation is at hand.

Magnificat / Song of Mary

Chorus: Magnificat anima mea Dominum / My soul magnifies the Lord,

Aria: et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo, / and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior;

Aria: quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae. / For He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.

Chorus: Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes, / For behold, from this day all generations will call me blessed.

Aria: quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius, / For the Mighty One has done great things to me,and holy is His name;

Duet: et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies timentibus eum. / And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

Chorus: Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui; / He has shown strength with his arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

Aria: deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles; / He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly.

Aria: esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes. / He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away.

Trio: Suscepit Israel puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae, / He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy 

Chorus: sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini eius in saecula / as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.

Chorus: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen. / Glory be to the Father, and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen


Photos and Illustrations:
wikimedia.org, Staateliche Museen, Berlin

quotation, Abiding Grace Evanglical Lutheran Church, bulletin, May 29, 2016
Magnificat, text and translation, wikipedia.org

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 - Sunday

A day for contemplation. . .

Maurice Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Georgia On The Edge Of Summer

I thrive in the heat and sweat of a subtropical summer in what the magazine, Southern Living, calls the Lower South. And there's something very comforting about the formation of the season's first tropical storm especially so close to the Georgia Bight. There is no wish for the winds, torrential rains, or high flood tides to bring trouble. Rather, it is the realization that the climate cycles have reconfirmed what we can expect from the trade winds that brought many of our ancestors to the New World. In fact, the first such storm in 1495 left Christopher Columbus and his crew begging for salvation and motivating their captain to venture in such storms only "in the very service of God."

In Georgia, the trades usually creep in softly around the middle of May. They are on schedule this year following the passage of what's likely is the last cool frontal boundary we'll see until October.  At this hour Tropical Storm Bonnie churns in a stationary position about 300 miles southeast of Atlanta. The storm's light east winds by late morning brought high cirrus and horsetails overhead by sunset.  Overnight, the wet and windy storm will drift close to the coast near Savannah then move northeast paralleling the coast before passing Cape Hatteras and into colder water and eventual disintegration. All Atlanta can expect from Bonnie is a breath of northern wind and a quick return to the southeasterly trades.

When the trades return to the Georgia coast, they will bring in the puffy and low fair-weather cumulus clouds that race over the beach. Occasionally the high cirrus and horsetails will precede them signaling waves of unsettled weather that may develop into hurricanes. Thankfully those friendly cumulus clouds simply sweep inland twenty miles or so where they meet hot air rising off the Georgia landscape. This cloud wall in the sky often transforms into a brisk and exciting line of thunderstorms sometimes extending from the city-state of Charleston to the Players Club fairways at Ponte Vedra Beach. In Savannah you can almost set your watch by the showers that drench the forest city at 3:00 on summer afternoons.

Tybee Island Georgia (aerial)
Tybee Island, Georgia

For years I watched from my home and work on the coast as this light show over Savannah arced north and east toward Hilton Head. Sometimes when the land breezes swept in early in the day the storms moved over us. Such a magnificent show. Most storms over Tybee Island ended by midnight. In the early morning hours a quiet southeasterly breeze resumed and embraced the island in salt-saturated humidity and a haze that turned golden with the sunrise. If you slept on a porch or without air conditioning, Boat-tailed Grackles scrambling in the island's oleader bushes often made greeting the sunrise a certainty.

On the Georgia Sea Islands, it seems the trade wind days never want to end. Instead they dwindle ever so slowly into weeks of spectacular warm, dry, cloudless days, cool nights and warm water lasting into November. Of course, the occasional tropical storm can interrupt the coastal idyll that is the norm on the sea islands. It is to be expected and respected by those who share the fragile boundary of life at the ocean's edge.

Evening view of salt marsh from US80


Photos and Illustrations:
island photo, tybeebb.com
salt marsh, Fort Pulaski National Monument Handbook, 1954.

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 - Saturday

A Soldier's Burial

by General George S. Patton (1943)

Not midst the chanting of the Requiem Hymn,
Nor with the solemn ritual of prayer,
Neath misty shadows from the oriel glass,
And dreamy perfume of the incensed air
Was he interred;
But in the subtle stillness after fight,
And the half light between the night and the day,
We dragged his body all besmeared with mud,
And dropped it, clod-like, back into the clay.

Yet who shall say that he was not content,
Or missed the prayers, or drone of chanting choir,
He who had heard all day the Battle Hymn
Sung on all sides by a thousand throats of fire.

What painted glass can lovelier shadows cast,
Than those the evening sky shall ever shed,
While, mingled with their light, Red Battle's Sun
Completes in magic colors o'er our dead,
The flag for which they died.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bob Dylan At 75

The legendary songwriter, Bob Dylan, turns 75 today. As expected the cultural observer at Powerline, Scott Johnson, has outdone himself this year on his Dylan tribute. His first post, Not Dark Yet, discusses the man and his significance in the world of music and beyond. His second post is devoted to Dylan the songwriter and features several likely unfamiliar covers of the master's work. 

Bob Dylan was only 21 on July 9, 1962 when he walked into the Columbia Recording Studios in New York to record a song to be included on his second album. The song, Blowin' in the Wind, brought him fame and recognition as one of the nation's leading folk poets in the twentieth century. The lyrics and Dylan's comments on the song were published in June 1962 in the folk journal, Sing Out. He said this:

Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some ...But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away.

The music critic, Andy Gill, said this about the song in his book, Classic Bob Dylan, 1962-1969: My Back Pages:

Blowin' in the Wind marked a huge jump in Dylan's songwriting. Prior to this, efforts like The Ballad of Donald White and The Death of Emmett Till had been fairly simplistic bouts of reportage songwriting. Blowin' in the Wind was different: for the first time, Dylan discovered the effectiveness of moving from the particular to the general. Whereas The Ballad of Donald White would become completely redundant as soon as the eponymous criminal was executed, a song as vague as Blowin' in the Wind could be applied to just about any freedom issue. It remains the song with which Dylan's name is most inextricably linked, and safeguarded his reputation as a civil libertarian through any number of changes in style and attitude.

The song remains a poem for our times, perhaps all times.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photo, 1964 Yearbook, St. Lawrence University, New York

Bob Dylan entry, wikipedia.org

Monday, May 23, 2016

Featuring Artie Shaw On Clarinet

Today is the birthday of Arthur Arshawsky (1910-2004), the clarinetist, composer, band leader, and author better known as Artie Shaw. To say that Shaw was complex and difficult would be an understatement. He was married eight times, greatly disliked fame, and resented the conflict between creativity and the music industry so much that he virtually abandoned music in the early 1950s. Perhaps his life illustrated a never ending search for perfection by a man who could have approached it in any number of fields. When he died in December 2004 at the age of 94, he was recognized as one of the century's finest jazz clarinetists and a principal force in the development of the fusion of jazz and classical music that would become known as "Third Stream Music." 

Entertainment Weekly said this about him in his obituary:

Artie Shaw, one of the most popular bandleaders of the big-band era and the choice of many critics and musicians as the best clarinet player in jazz history, died on Thursday at his home outside Los Angeles. The ”Begin the Beguine” hit maker was 94 and apparently died of natural causes.
As a swing bandleader in the 1930s and ’40s, Shaw aspired to be considered a high-minded composer of art music, but his popularity kept getting in the way, with fans always clamoring to hear such monster hits as ”Begin the Beguine” and ”Frenesi.” Though he loathed the comparison, he was inevitably likened to Benny Goodman. Both were immensely popular, clarinet-playing big-band leaders, both were children of Jewish immigrants (Shaw’s given name was Arshawsky), and both had been among the earliest white ensemble leaders to integrate their groups racially (Goodman with players like Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton, Shaw with Billie Holiday and Roy Eldridge). During World War II, he joined the Navy and formed a band that crisscrossed the globe playing for U.S. troops; the band literally toured to exhaustion, leading to Shaw’s medical discharge.

File:Artie Shaw in Second Chorus 2.jpg
Screenshot of Artie Shaw from the 1940 film, Second Chorus

Fed up with music he turned to writing an autobiography, several novels and short stories, and an unfinished historical fiction trilogy on the jazz era. For a more thorough examination of even more facets in the life of this restless musical genius, visit this link at Swing Music Net for his obituary and this entry for his Wikipedia biography. There is also a 1982 film biography featuring Shaw available on You Tube.

Here is Shaw and his band performing Begin the Beguine, one the "monster hits" mentioned in the quote above:

Technically, I think he was at the top.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photograph, commons.wikimedia.org, archive.org

wikipedia.org entry

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Frank Capra

One of the greatest names behind the Hollywood camera of the 20th century was that of writer, director, and producer, Frank Capra. He was born in Sicily on this day in 1897. Capra was certainly old school and confined virtually all of his film making to black and white. I read recently where young people have little interest in watching films unless they are in color. That means a huge inventory of significant motion pictures - including Capra's - may soon be neglected along with a major segment of the industry's history. How unfortunate because shooting in black and white is an art with focus on story line, the interplay of light and shadow, and texture. Color often limits or conflicts all of these elements.

Frank Capra.jpg
Frank Capra portrait from the 1930's

So what did Capra produce in his black and white world? Here's a small portion:

It Happened One Night (1934)

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)

Lost Horizon (1937)

You Can't Take It With You (1938)

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

War Department Film Series (1942-45)

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

Here Comes The Groom (1951)

Each of these films received Academy Award nominations and all but one - It's A Wonderful Life - received Oscars in one or more categories.   Undoubtedly Capra leaves us a rich legacy in 20th century film entertainment. It's a legacy anyone can enjoy and there's a good chance we'll learn something about the human condition we share.


Photos and Illustrations:
portrait, public domain photo by Columbia Pictures, operarex.highwire.com


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Katherine Anne Porter: Of Ships And Fools And Passing In The Night

The American writer, journalist and activist, Katherine Anne Porter, was born on this day in 1890 in the west-central Texas town of Indian Creek. She led an often troubled yet exciting and eccentric life. By the age of forty she was an acclaimed and widely read author but it took another thirty years and the publication of her novel, Ship of Fools, before she found financial security in her craft.

In the mid-1960's the University of Maryland awarded Porter an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. As a result of the association that developed between her and the university she moved many treasured personal possessions and her papers to the school to be housed in the Katherine Anne Porter Room, at that time located in McKeldin Library.   

For a biographical sketch illustrating her place in American literary history go here.

Readers interested in Porter as a writer will enjoy this 1963 Paris Review interview conducted as part of their Art of Fiction series.

On a personal note: Back in 1968 I spent about two weeks doing research in special collections on the top floor of McKeldin Library at Maryland.  At the elevator and in the hallways I kept meeting this small, elderly, white-haired woman with a jovial smile and friendly conversational attitude. She seemed far too helpful to be a typical university librarian.  Years later I read how much Porter loved the academic setting and interacting with students, learning about them, their studies, and their plans for the future. It wasn't long before the realization hit that my "little old librarian" was none other than Katherine Anne Porter. Oh to have those two weeks back. This time I'd ask the questions.


Photos and Illustrations:

Katherine Anne Porter, wikipedia.org

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Mom was the fourth of seven children born to a farm couple whose deep lineage in the western Virginia mountains has been lost to history before 1800. She and my dad met at a community dance in 1931 and married in the fall of 1933. By that time she had worked in a silk mill and as an etcher and designer in a glass factory. Later, she worked throughout World War II as a quality control specialist in a massive synthetic fabric plant that provided most of the war's parachute materials.




With my birth she became a full time mother and homemaker, but still found time to enjoy her church family, reading, gardening, nature, frequent visits with her large family, and vacations on Pattersons Creek in Burlington, West Virginia. She was taken from this world far too early in 1976 after a long illness. 




There's no question that I miss her and I'm sorry she did not live to enjoy her daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Still, I feel her goodness has been with us helping to shape our family over these near forty years. Wouldn't have it any other way. She was a great mom, full of love, compassion, a wonderful sense of humor, and dedication to family and friends.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Orson Welles: "One Should Make Movies Innocently...."

There will never be another cinematic alchemist quite like Orson Welles. Interested in experiment and discovery in the performing arts, he was a remarkably talented actor, writer, director, producer, and more who was born this day in 1915. Before he was thirty, he had terrified the nation with his realistic Halloween presentation of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds (1938) and awed film audiences with Citizen Kane (1941). Welles was already a rather contentious artist when he achieved almost instant fame. His creativity and drive helped label him as a difficult, if not reckless, personality and he never endeared himself to the Hollywood in-crowd. As a result his film legacy was limited to a number of noteworthy productions and a long list of unfinished projects, and "may have beens." The achievement of early fame and the fast and loose pursuit of art at almost any cost gave him a unique perspective on creativity and the entertainment industry. Although he appreciated his solitude he was never one to shy from the limelight and delighted in interviews and personal appearances where he could deliver and endless stream of anecdotes in his rich, unforgettable baritone voice. 

Welles died in 1985 but many pundits could answer the question, "Whatever happened to Orson Welles?", by saying he had left his world decades earlier. This year his masterpiece, Citizen Kane, turns 75. The film continues to appear at the very top of "best of" lists and doesn't appear to be threatened by new technologies in the industry. I suppose Welles really struck close to the pure definition of art when he created that film. The industry - what's left of it in Hollywood - will always owe him immensely for what he brought to it and for the treatment his genius received at the hands of the motion picture cartel.

Here is the master at work in film and in a personal interview.

First, the famous "crane shot" from his 1958 film, Touch of Evil.

And here is Welles in a 1960 BBC Monitor interview discussing Citizen Kane.


Photos and Illustrations:

Title quote, wikipedia.org, Orson Welles Quotes,  Interview with Leslie Megahey for The Orson Welles Story (1982); transcribed in Mark Estrin's Orson Welles: Interviews. Jackson. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2002, page 209.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alan Shepard: First American In Space

Fifty-five years ago today Alan Shepard became the first American in space. The launch came about three weeks after Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first person to reach that void. Shepard was an Annapolis graduate - Class of 1944 - and one of the original Mercury Seven, those chosen to participate in the nation's first formal manned space flight program.

Alan Shepard in the 1960's

On that day, Shepard reclined 80 feet above ground at the top of a Mercury-Redstone rocket. I'm sure he didn't have time or inclination to worry much about the long string of embarrassing rocket failures that had plagued the launch vehicle program. Thorough testing, including the launch of a chimpanzee earlier that year, contributed to the acceptable risk limits that permitted human - greater great ape, so to speak - flight into space. I recall reading about the astronauts' insistence that a window be retained in the Mercury capsules to dispel the concept of "spam in a can" flying that even a monkey could do.

Here's a documentary video of that historic fourteen minute flight.

A decade later Shepard returned to space commanding the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. This time his launch vehicle - Saturn V - was a bit taller at 363 feet. He also got a chance to hit some golf balls very far into the moonscape. After his career as an astronaut he became a successful businessman and advocate for the commemoration and perpetuation of the exploration of space.

Today John Glenn is the last living member - he's 95 - of the Mercury Seven. Their human and technological story which actually begins during the latter years of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics - NASA's predecessor - is nothing short of remarkable. If you want to learn more about the early years of the American space program, I highly recommend Tom Wolfe's book, The Right Stuff. The movie adaption (1983) is worth watching as well but don't ignore the book and Wolfe's wonderfully entertaining style.


Photos and Illustrations:
photo by NASA, sourced from www.astrosaur.us

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jane Jacobs: At The Heart Of The Livable City

I was pleased to see that today's Google Doodle honored the birth of Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), an American pioneer in the planning of livable cities. There were no plans on my part to write a blog post about her but as the day wore on the thoughts reached a tipping point and what follows is the result.

Jacobs was an unorthodox thinker unconstrained by an academic specialty - she never got a degree - and shaped by some extraordinary career opportunities in New York, a city she loved and enjoyed for almost forty years. In the crucible that is the Big Apple she became a notable participant-observer and a defender of the occupants who called the place home. You could say she brought emotion and feeling into a profession dominated for half a century by the coldness of central planning and Modernist architecture. Today, wherever you live, be it Manhattan in New York or in Kansas or Anytown USA, the imprint of Jane Jacobs can be found in the public spaces around you.

Although she left us a sizable written legacy, I remember her for two books, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) and The Economy of Cities (1969). The first book is a landmark study in the concept of livability in the organic city. I read both books during urban geography studies in graduate school and later applied much of the contents to my work in historic preservation in Savannah and in national park planning, design, and operations in the Southeast. Wish I could say that about the thousands of other pages I had to read in "school."  

For more insight on the Jacobs legacy read this brief essay by Peter Dreier at the National Housing Institute website.

Her rather extensive obituary from the New York Times provides additional information and interesting anecdotes.


Photos and Illustrations:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Birthday Of Der Bingle, Bing Crosby

Here's a short note this evening on Bing Crosby, born on this day in 1903 in Spokane, Washington. His death in 1977 ended a remarkable entertainment career covering more than fifty years. I remember him for four reasons. First is his recording of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. As long as people think about the security and warmth of home and family - and when will that stop - they will appreciate Crosby's recording. His version has sold the most copies - over 100,000,000 - of any song ever recorded (Guinness World Records). Second is the series of "Road picture" comedies he made with co-stars Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour between 1940 and 1962. Third is his role in two films, Holiday Inn (1942) and its remake, White Christmas (1954). Crosby premiered the song, "White Christmas," in 1942 to a receptive public already weary from the early months of World War II. [Holiday Inn is a better film than its lavish, colorful remake but it's still a fine film.] Fourth is his series of Christmas specials for television.

Crosby and family in a still from his 1974 Christmas special

Crosby's career peaked about 50 years ago, but his impact on the entertainment industry, as both a star and entrepreneur, is still with us. For the full story, I suggest readers visit his official site after reading the Wikipedia link above.

Can't end this article without a link or two to Bing in song. Here he is with the Andrews Sisters in 1944 singing a Grammy Hall of Fame entry, Don't Fence Me In

And here's Bing singing upbeat, comedic and conversational with Jane Wyman in the 1951 film, Here Comes the Groom. The song, "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer) won the Oscar that year for best music, original song.

Bing Crosby used his baritone voice in combination with new recording technology to develop a personal singing style that made him the nation's top entertainer for a generation beginning in the mid-1930s. Young people probably know little if anything about Crosby. He died in 1977 but I think he sits at the pinnacle of the 20th century American entertainment industry--along with his close friend, Bob Hope--and is well worth learning about if you enjoy popular culture. If you enjoy the Great American Songbook, Bing is an essential.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photograph, Bell System, eBay item